Suppose that a top-N department at a big research university (for very small N) has the choice between two candidates for a tenure-track position:
- Candidate A: a bright young researcher just done writing her dissertation, and
- Candidate B: a more seasoned veteran with several years of successful teaching, advising, and grant writing under her belt (though not already tenured).
In other words, suppose Candidate B has already demonstrated that, in addition to doing great research, she can successfully navigate other important aspects of the job. Candidate A seems like a bigger gamble: perhaps she will succeed in these other roles... and perhaps not! Assume that the department in question can essentially hire whomever it wants, with very little competition from other institutions.
Question: What incentive would such a department have for hiring A instead of B?
I ask this question, of course, because I am a young candidate about to interview for a job at a top department, and I know that I am competing with more seasoned candidates. How do I make a compelling case, despite my relative lack of experience? What are some potential pitfalls to look out for during an interview? (E.g., questions that might expose my relative naiveté?!) Do top departments really hire freshly-minted PhDs for tenure-track positions? Or are they just panning for gold?