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I applied for a faculty position and did a video interview. It was supposed that they let me know if I have been selected for campus or not. In the middle of the interview with other candidates, this COVID-19 happened and I am not sure what strategy they will take as the target university has canceled all in-person classes and shifted to an online model.

Would it be appropriate to ask the committee about the status of the search?

What factors would affect the university's response in such a case?

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    Its possible the university has suspended all big expenditures or long term commitments to blunt the shock of Covid-19. In this case, the position you applied for will be in limbo because the financial position and strategic direction of the university will have changed significantly. Good luck to us all. Mar 18 '20 at 4:39
  • I think most universities are in fire-fighting mode at the moment, scrambling to respond to the changing circumstances. In all likelihood, the faculty search is low on peoples' immediate priority list. Unless there is a pressing need for information now (e.g. a competing offer), I suggest waiting a couple of weeks until (hopefully!) things have calmed down a bit before asking for an update.
    – avid
    Mar 18 '20 at 5:55
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    @avid: Before this unfortunate virus, they were supposed to finish all video interviews last week and move to the next phase. So, I think they should be done with all the interviews last week or two weeks ago.
    – Adam
    Mar 18 '20 at 5:58
  • @sam Still, people are preoccupied with the immediate challenges of responding to the virus. You aren't likely to win yourself any friends by appearing not to recognise this. I think it is self-evident that there are going to be no campus visits in the near future.
    – avid
    Mar 18 '20 at 6:03
  • @avid: Yes, that is true. I just noticed that the SC has decided to do a video interview instead of on-campus type. Do you think if they consider more candidates in this case since the video interviews should be faster?!
    – Adam
    Mar 22 '20 at 18:22
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It’s certainly appropriate to ask. Virus or not, the world will move on from this crisis, hopefully in a timeframe of a few months, you will still need a job, and the university will still need faculty to teach classes and do research. Students will still need to be educated. Higher education can be affected by economic recession, put probably less so than many other sectors of the economy. So don’t panic.

So yes, it’s fine to send them an email and politely inquire about the status of the search. Keep in mind that it’s possible they are scrambling to figure out how to keep instruction going and dealing with other urgent matters around the current crisis unrelated to faculty hiring. So the most likely response you’ll get is they are still figuring things out and don’t have any news.

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  • "Higher education can be affected by economic recession, put probably less so than many other sectors of the economy." I fear press coverage of universities closing and disruptions to high school completion will reduce traditional-age enrollment more than it will increase enrollment by older people who are laid off. Mar 18 '20 at 9:20
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In this situation you should send a carefully worded and kind email to the chair of the department asking how the pandemic is going to affect the timing of the search. Make it clear that you understand that this may not be their main priority now. There’s no way for anyone outside their search committee to know what’s happening, it’ll be different at different schools.

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  • I was thinking of those so, but I am not sure how that email should be! Because I don't want to make the wrong impression that I send them such an email in the middle of this chaos.
    – Adam
    Mar 18 '20 at 5:46
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    Which is why I would probably wait. Moreover, what other answer would you expect than "we don't know yet, and have no way of predicting when we do know". Mar 18 '20 at 8:12
  • @MaartenBuis: the point is that I am not sure if I am among the final candidates for a campus interview. They, at least, can say "Yes, you have been selected, but we are finding a way to deal with this new situation"
    – Adam
    Mar 18 '20 at 15:07
  • At my university the stopped all search committees. So it is very well possible they don't even know that. Mar 18 '20 at 18:10
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    What is the alternative? The only one I see is to completely stop the hiring process. Departments don't want to do that because positions that are not filled are the easiest way for management to save money. Mar 22 '20 at 20:26
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Would it be appropriate to ask the committee about the status of the search?

It's pointless, but not inappropriate.

What factors would affect the university's response in such a case?

Either they invited someone else to campus, or they don't know what is happening next.

I am not sure what strategy they will take as the target university has canceled all in-person classes and shifted to an online model.

Some universities are doing online campus visits. Some searches will be canceled entirely (this happens even when there is no disaster).

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  • Some people believe that asking pointless questions is in fact inappropriate...! Mar 18 '20 at 13:19
  • How is online campus visiting conducted? Because the whole idea of such interviews is seeing the interactions, which is hard to judge through online interviews. Can they select the finalists and ask HR to extend the deadline so that they can invite the candidate in summer or fall?
    – Adam
    Mar 18 '20 at 15:09
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    @sam "How is online campus visiting conducted?" Most universities will be making it up as they go along. Mar 18 '20 at 21:16

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