This question is for those of you who have been on the hiring committee.
I am wondering if the following scenario could happen.
Applicant X applies to University Y; University Y looks at applicant X's profile, and says "applicant X has very strong records. There is no way University Y is the best applicant X can do; hence we will not offer Applicant X a position (postdoctoral, or TT)"
This seems worrying, because:
- perhaps applicant X is just so mediocre, that he falls through the crack; University Y turns him down, but universities slightly better than University Y might think that applicant X is not up to their standards.
- what if applicant X actually really wanted to go to University Y for personal reasons? Of course, maybe applicant X was hoping for something slightly better than University Y, so maybe he did not contact the department (in case he decides not to go to University Y).
- even from the university's perspective, this is fairly complicated: University Y could take a chance and hope that applicant X will accept their offer, but perhaps it is more advantageous to extend the offer to the applicant next on the list instead of applicant X. There is no way of knowing which is the better choice, though.
In particular, if such scenario happens, and if I want to prevent the first point, what do I need to do? I am wary of contacting the departments, because should the department be excited about me, and should someone push for my being hired in the hiring committee meeting, then I would feel obligated (to some degree) to accept that offer (even if a better offer comes along), since that someone has advocated on my behalf, on my request.