In a discussion with some of my close friends in other academic institutes, we noticed the common experience* in which it seems that well over 80% of the advertised job postings for permanent or tenure track positions at the departments close to our working environment where we are working are rigged or fixed. It seems that in Europe there are many people facing similar problems [1,2].
In this context "rigged" is meant to describe that many people at the involved institution already know who will get the position when or even before the position is publicly advertised. And with "knowing" it's meant that if it would be possible to place bets on the outcome, the people familiar with the situation (but not in the selection commission) would place all-in bets for the same person without any regard of the other candidates who applied.
In some cases the job description was even tuned to match the CV of particular candidates. And sometimes, it's already known years ahead that a particular person will get that position. In some cases those persons are also well qualified for the job, but in many cases external candidates with better credentials were not objectively evaluated. The other candidates were invited for interviews, and talks, giving sample lectures, spending time energy and financial resources for their applications and traveling.
This practice seems unethical, but it seems so common that it seems to be an accepted norm. When I spoke with a professor about this, he thought it was perfectly normal to give the job to people who you know well, instead of someone who might seem to be qualified better but who you do not know well. From a risk management point of view he might be right. But to me the situation seems similar to people in the mafia, those people who are part of it do not consider it as a mafia, and they do not consider the activities to be unethical, they even consider it beneficial for the society.
*EDIT: Based on the answers in a similar question on a particular instance , it seems that many people are OK, with that this is how the things go, it has become part of academic culture.
But some aspects of the question stay open:
- How to deal with it in the search for a permanent faculty position?
- How to find those job adverts which are really open?
- How to deal with this if you are an insider and are observing this behavior on a regular basis?
I gave department and campus tours to applicants, of who i knew they had no chance, even if their credentials were better than that of some of the professors in the selection commission.
- Should i have told them, that the whole vacancy and invitation for the interview was a charade?
- If one notices such rigged position job advertisements in its environment, should one report it somewhere? Where could such conduct be reported?
Proof is not so much of an issue: We could easily set up a list of names and positions posting them on the web before the job was advertised get a time stamp. And confront some institute who cares with the statistics of hiring behavior.
But the most important central question is:
What could be changed in the hiring procedures or rules to mitigate rigged job postings?
*These experiences are based on 7 people from various institutions in Europe (Germany, Italy, Spain, France) during the last 10 years.
EDIT: The associated question is definitely similar, but i think there are some fundamental differences.
- That question was about a single particular case this question is about systematic ongoing behavior with which I and my friends and many others [1,2] are dealing on a daily basis.
- That question asks about a solution for a particular insider and potential whistleblower only. This question asks for solutions for insiders and outsiders (applicants).
Further more considering some of the answers on the other question which were relevant to the other case i changed the question a bit. How to solve this problem in the big picture.