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I recently interviewed on campus for a position and am in waiting period limbo. Two members of the search committee, including the chair, follow me on Twitter and have been liking/retweeting me since my campus visit. Obviously I’m trying to read tea leaves, as any nervous candidate would, but also - what are broader thoughts about this? Seems like a no-no; could it sink a search? Does it count as contact outside of process?

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  • Seems like a no-no - Why? It's a bit strange, but from your post, it sounds like they followed you on Twitter before your interview. Are there some institutional rules about not interacting with candidates during the search?
    – Kimball
    Apr 26 at 10:28
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    You are completely overinterpreting this. They follow you on social media because they know you (now). They retweet or like your stuff because they found the material you posted interesting. Neither of this has any significance for whether they will make an offer to you or not, nor will it threaten the integrity of the search procedure.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 26 at 12:03
  • @xLeitix Seems like that belongs as an answer.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 26 at 20:01
  • I'd encourage OP and answerers to mention a country or at least a region; I suspect this is something that varies quite a bit from place to place.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 26 at 20:01

4 Answers 4

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If they are liking and retweeting, presumably they like what you wrote and this by itself will not sink your candidacy.

As a former member of many search committees, I find it very unprofessional of them. You don't mess with people's hopes, especially something as important as a faculty job. They could at least have waited until they offered you the job, or the search was over.

This is not a popular view, but in social media I only see downsides and no upside. Having a public archive of every stupid opinion I've had has no appeal to me. If I were looking for a job, I'd take down all social media.

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    That's indeed not a popular opinion. My recommendation to students on the job market is the opposite - you need to be present where scientific debate happens, and nowadays that is to a degree social media.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 26 at 12:02
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    @xLeitix I'm pretty sure you don't also advise students to post moronic flavor-of-the-day or political opinions there as well, right? Those will bury whatever interesting scientific or academic posts you have. So, either refrain from those things entirely, or operate two social media accounts - one for professional development and another for your stupid opinions. If you look/sound like a crusader, even those who agree with you are likely to avoid you. Opinions are like butt holes, everyone's got one and they all stink.
    – SnakeDoc
    Apr 26 at 16:44
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    Y'all act like social media puts a gun to your head and forces you to post your worst takes and participate in the witch hunt of the day. It does not. One can, in fact, have a Twitter account and use it to follow other people in the community, comment (nicely) on their papers, advertise your own new research, and in between have light-hearted quips with other research acquaintances from around the world.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 27 at 6:56
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    @xLeitix Take a look at some of your student's social media accounts, and you'll quickly learn why mixing professional development with personal opinions can become an issue. One immature flame war can doom your candidate chances - why risk it? Keep your nonsense private, and your knowledge public. It's not hard...
    – SnakeDoc
    Apr 27 at 22:21
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No, I wouldn't consider these interactions as meaning anything or in some way invalidating the process. Sometimes people do not even care who the person who writes the tweet is, but only retweet for the content.

But I understand your position, and that you are trying to read between the lines and predict the outcome.

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Two members of the search committee, including the chair, follow me on Twitter and have been liking/retweeting me since my campus visit

If they followed you before the interview, they need not stop following you. As someone that has been in Recruitment & Selection committees (search committee as referred to here), I'll pause activities on your SM posts till after the process. At best, I'll be hesitant to 'engage'

If not following (you) before (before the interview), definitely I'll only start following and engaging after the process wraps up. Even at that, I'll keep engagement on your posts professionally on academic contents only.

This is from a ethics, integrity, morality standpoint. Sadly, this is not universal.

They should give thought to

  • how you'll feel and also position they would put you in
  • what other candidates might feel should they know or find out about your candidacy
    In some countries, all shortlisted candidates are made known to all shortlisted candidates or are made known on request
  • possibility of opening themselves up to 'complaint' or 'dispute' or even 'litigation' from unsuccessful candidates (which might even be yourself)
  • (risk of) jeopardising the hiring (recruitment) process

With those said,

Does it count as contact outside of process?

Mere liking and retweeting wouldn't in the true sense.
However, they should tread on the path of caution.

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I don't know anything about filling academic positions, but if this happened when you were applying for a regular job then it would be highly inappropriate behaviour by the search committee members. This would be an employment tribunal claim just waiting to happen!

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  • Can you expand on this? A retweet is by no means a direct personal interaction. Is that still considered as violating the rules of the hiring process? Apr 26 at 20:17
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    Any kind of interaction outside of the hiring process, particularly one conducted over social media has the potential to be viewed as discriminatory by some interested party after the event. If I had overall responsibility for running the hiring process I would become liable to defend that. So either I say - "don't do it" to the search committee, or I say - "go ahead I trust your judgement". Now given that I am the one liable and have to deal with the hassle and pay for the downside if there is a problem what would you do? Apr 27 at 9:22

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