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I have a question for anyone who might be a department chair or on a search committee. What does it mean if you get invited for a second on-campus interview? I have already been there once for a standard on campus interview. For context, this is for a tenure track assistant professor position in the sciences.

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  • Was the first interview on campus? Mar 12, 2020 at 23:27
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    An interview invitation doesn't have a hidden meaning. Mar 12, 2020 at 23:28
  • no. it is the second on campus interview. Mar 12, 2020 at 23:34
  • Oh, the edit makes sense. Mar 12, 2020 at 23:46
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    I don't think anyone will be able to answer this question, so please go to the interview and tell us what the answer turns out to be. Mar 12, 2020 at 23:47

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I have been a department chair (math department, large US university) and nonetheless find your situation completely baffling. I have literally never heard of a TT job candidate being invited to a second on-campus interview. This is so unusual that I can’t really come up with a plausible guess for why the department that invited you thinks they need you to visit again; moreover, I think this may potentially bring the competence of the people who came up with this plan into question.

Please don’t rely on idle speculation by strangers online. My advice is to email the people who invited you and ask them to clarify what their plan is for the second visit and why they think it is needed. In my opinion, if you already had one on-campus interview, at least in a normal situation they should have all the information about you that they need in order to make a hiring decision. So I’m guessing their explanation may not be the most logical one. But at least you will have a sense of where they’re coming from.

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    I agree that this seems unusual. I have heard of situations where a candidate who has been made a verbal offer is given a chance for a second visit (often with a spouse) to investigate housing, schools, etc., but these visits are after the offer, not before the offer. If they weren't willing to make an offer after the first interview but are still interested in you then it seems likely that either some important decision maker didn't get to talk to you during the first interview or they have some reservation about hiring you that can only be addressed in interview. Mar 13, 2020 at 2:55
  • An example of how this situation could arise: My college requires candidates for tenured (not tenure-track) positions to meet with an associate dean. This policy could be altered at very short notice (actually zero notice) to require the same for tenure-track candidates. In that event, we'd have to re-invite any tenure-track candidate whom we wanted to hire, and that re-visit would have to come before we could make an offer. (I don't say that this is a likely situation, just that it's not entirely absurd.) Mar 13, 2020 at 3:22
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    I can imagine that the search committee forwarded two candidates, the dean rejected both (or they both declined the offer) and the search failed; the department then took the remaining candidates to build another short list and for OEO reasons, that requires inviting everyone who is now on the short list to be invited to an interview, regardless of whether they had interviewed before. Regardless, it's a rather unusual situation. Mar 13, 2020 at 3:33
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    @AndreasBlass in this day and age, the scenario you are describing is completely ridiculous. Such meetings can be done over video. In any case, I don’t find this sort of speculation helpful. We don’t and can’t know what’s going on and OP should simply ask.
    – Dan Romik
    Mar 13, 2020 at 3:48
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    @AndreasBlass I didn’t say it couldn’t happen in this day and age, only that it is ridiculous. Ridiculous things do happen unfortunately.
    – Dan Romik
    Mar 13, 2020 at 3:59
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Generally it would mean that they are very interested, but not absolutely sold. It may be that some senior professor wants to see more of you or meet you for the first time. They may want some student opinion in some places. It isn't frivolous, since they are spending some money, but you still have to close the deal.

In the long term it is probably a good sign that if you get the job they are treating you as a serious contender for eventual tenure. They are doing more than just filling a temporary slot.

But, close the deal.

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  • Thank you. That is a very helpful answer. Kind of what I thought Mar 13, 2020 at 0:03
  • Of course, there may be another candidate in the same situation.
    – Buffy
    Mar 13, 2020 at 0:05

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