As they do every year, my department is running multiple searches for faculty hires. After all the talks for a given position, the committee solicits feedback on the job candidates.

When submitting feedback on job candidates to a committee is it best to say good things about the candidates you liked and stay silent on the ones you didn't like? Or should I submit comments with both the good and the bad?

Ex. 1 -- Just positive: "Candidate A's talk was impressive in the ways that it does x, y, z. Their work is great....etc." The letter ends there, and I do not mention anything negative about Candidate B

Ex. 2 -- Positive and negative: "Candidate A's talk was impressive in the ways that it does x, y, z. Their work is great....etc. I was less enthusiastic about Candidate B's talk. I found the theory and empirics a bit fuzzy...etc."

The people on the committee are my peers and will assess me in the future through reference letters, tenure letters, informal channels, etc. I am not sure what professional etiquette is for feedback on potential hires, and how negative comments will reflect on the writer.

Note: I am a PhD candidate in political science, although I hope that this questions is relevant to grad students and faculty.

  • Wait--you're a PhD student and the hiring committee is asking you for written feedback on the job candidates? Is this common in your department? – Elizabeth Henning Dec 14 '17 at 21:49
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    Just be honest. Perhaps not brutally honest, but if you overlook obvious problems, that doesn't reflect well on you also. If nothing else, you're wasting the time of the people who have to read your feedback. – Karl Dec 14 '17 at 22:03
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    @ElizabethHenning The committee solicits feedback from everyone in the dept. Sure, grad student opinions probably carry less weight than faculty, but we are asked to give feedback. I think it is broadly true in my discipline, poli sci. It happens at every department I know of, have friends in. – Dr. Beeblebrox Dec 14 '17 at 22:06
  • @ElizabethHenning: My faculty recently organized meetings with prospective candidates for Dean of the faculty, for the explicit purpose of soliciting the students' feedback on the candidates. The invitations went out to all students in the faculty including undergraduates I believe. Maybe it's becoming more common? – nengel Dec 15 '17 at 6:49
  • FWIW, I submitted my feedback and avoided negative statements. I said positive things about candidate 1, and ended by saying "Although I like candidate 2, I think candidate 1 would be a better fit because [brief restatement of earlier points]." – Dr. Beeblebrox Dec 20 '17 at 20:55

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