I recently applied for a tenure-track faculty position. The recommendation letters were not requested when I applied. After 2-3 weeks, I got an email that my referees should send them the letters and it seems they have done some screening based on the email I got.

My question: how large is this initial long list? Will they interview (Skype) all candidates (i.e. those asked for recommendation letters) at this stage? What is the main purpose of letters at this stage?

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    This could vary a lot from school to school, but even aside from that, a fair bit of variation from field to field. At very minimum, you should mention the field in question. – JoshuaZ Jan 3 '19 at 1:20
  • @JoshuaZ: Corrected – sam Jan 3 '19 at 1:23
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    You really can't conclude anything from this. – Brian Borchers Jan 9 '19 at 5:28
  • Any other comments?! – sam Jan 18 '19 at 3:56

If the 2-3 weeks are after the deadline, it looks like they are shortlisting. If the 2-3 weeks are immediately after the deadline or before the deadline, one can't rule out the possibility that they haven't shortlisted and that they just remind of incomplete applications.

On another note, I wouldn't take reference letters too seriously, nor would being asked for reference letters make me excited. Letters from prestigious persons don't help too much unless several candidates are tied, in my opinion.

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    What is your experience that makes you not consider letters of recommendation important? In my experience and from what I have learned here, they are one of the most important things for any application. – Tobias Kildetoft Jan 3 '19 at 10:26
  • among those numerous rejection letters, obviously reference letters were actually sent and some were from prestigious professors. so they didn't really help land a job – feynman Jan 3 '19 at 15:10
  • @feynman: They initially did not ask for recoms. So, it is not a reminder to complete an application. I also asked them regarding this and they indicated that they have done some screening, but I am not sure how! Am I among the 20-30% or maybe 70-80%?! If it was a Skype interview, I would put myself among 8-12 candidates, but I am sure about my current situation – sam Jan 3 '19 at 15:16
  • then dont worry about it. just let it happen. there's nothing u can do about it – feynman Jan 4 '19 at 14:22
  • @TobiasKildetoft My anecdotal experience is that references matter more if the person assessing the candidates is in good relationship with your reference (PhD student, PhD brother, etc). – Alexey B. Jan 19 '19 at 20:30

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