I am currently interviewing for tenure-track faculty positions at a number of top departments in my field. Despite getting some very positive feedback about my interviews, I have not yet received any offers. So far I have tried to avoid any "game playing," being very explicit with each department about where and when I am interviewing. Likewise, in follow-up discussions with hosts, I have been careful not to state any strong preferences for one school or another, mentioning that I still have additional places to visit (seems only fair!). I am starting to wonder, however, whether this approach was a mistake, especially given that others in my field are already receiving offers.
The question is, how should I proceed from here? Part of the issue is that I do not fully understand how and when offers are made, which leads to several questions:
Question 1: How often are offers made before the end of the interview period (i.e., before all candidates have been interviewed)?
I know it happens, of course, but how frequently? (E.g., as a percentage of all offers made by the department over a 10-year period.) A related question is
Question 2: If a candidate expresses that a school is her top choice, does it make any difference to the hiring committee?
In fact, can expressing this kind of preference actually hurt a candidate's chances? E.g., perhaps it makes this candidate look like a "sure thing," which frees the department to first make an offer to another, "higher-risk" candidate. In general, when is a good time to express such a preference? Finally,
Question 3: To what extent do different departments talk to each-other?
For instance, is there any mechanism in place to prevent candidates from "falling through the cracks?" E.g., one can easily imagine a situation in which lower-ranked schools don't make a candidate an offer because they expect she will get an offer from a higher-ranked school; subsequently, the higher-ranked schools make her no offer and she is left without a job. Likewise, if I express a preference for school X before visiting school Y, do I risk pissing off my hosts at Y?
Question 4: Do I just need to relax?
I am almost tempted to write an email CC'ing all the department chairs, providing a complete ordering of my preferences... they can duke it out from there. (Or simply tell me that none of them want to hire me!) In general, the whole game-theoretic aspect of this thing makes me a bit queasy. Wish some brilliant economist would design a mechanism that is fair for both departments and candidates alike. Right now, it definitely feels like a buyer's market.