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I'm applying for tenure track jobs this year, and unfortunately the silence from universities I've applied to has been almost deafening so far. While I'm sure there are several factors contributing to this, one concern that has been nagging me comes from the fact that I am currently finishing up a postdoc in England, and I've been applying to North American institutions exclusively. My questions are:

Would the potentially high cost of flying me to an interview lead to some institutions passing me over?

If so, would it help if I offer in the cover letter to (at least partially) pay my way?

I am concerned because I feel that by far my best chances are for positions at smaller liberal arts schools or state colleges. My guess is that these types of institutions may have smaller search budgets than so-called R1 universities, and really for the cost of interviewing me they could interview two or three equally qualified people who live nearby.

At the risk of making this question too localized, I should mention that I am working under a very generous grant with a substantial research expense budget, and so the cost wouldn't necessarily be out of my own pocket, assuming I can give a research talk at the interview.

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    I don't know what field you are in, but isn't it still too early to be hearing back about faculty job interviews? – Sasho Nikolov Dec 18 '14 at 17:04
  • @SashoNikolov I'm in math. It's closer to the midway point of jobs season. I think most TT job deadlines have passed, and a substantial portion of jobs with deadlines not more than 6 or 7 weeks ago (some just 2 weeks ago) have already scheduled interviews, a few even having already made offers. Moreover, many smaller teaching focused schools hold preliminary interviews at a big national meeting only a few weeks away and so I'm sure most have made their invitations for those already. Anyways, when it comes to my question, the earlier that I figure out what to do about it, the better. – Casteels Dec 18 '14 at 19:01
  • Wouldn't they just say "you're invited, but we can only pay your fares inside the US." or "we cannot reimburse travel expenses extending 200$" ? – Karl Apr 28 '16 at 17:10
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Would the potentially high cost of flying me to an interview lead to some institutions passing me over?

I believe many universities, especially smaller universities, will balk at flying overseas candidates in for interviews. Often they will move down their short lists and only if they are unable to find a suitable candidate that is higher than you on the list, will they be willing to fly you in. This isn't a huge disadvantage, but it is a disadvantage. In my experience candidates often hurt themselves during interviews and rarely perform so well they substantially move up in the rankings.

If so, would it help if I offer in the cover letter to (at least partially) pay my way?

I would not offer to pay for an interview directly. This would in essence be calling out the search committee for being cheap. A better strategy would be to mention in your cover letter that you will happen to be in the States, possibly even states/cities near by, on a couple of dates and you would be happy to extend your trip and come to them for a visit. It would be nice if you have an academic pretence for those visits (conference, seminar, or visiting colleagues), but even saying you will be in the States for personal reasons is fine. If you do not get an interview, you do not have to go to the States.

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    Thanks for at least confirming that my fear wasn't irrational and also giving me an option that I hadn't thought of. – Casteels Dec 18 '14 at 11:57
  • This is a great analysis and a very creative and useful suggestion! – BrianH Dec 18 '14 at 22:37
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    In practice it's great - ethically I'm not sure your first contact with a potential new employer should be you lying to them. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 19 '14 at 14:47
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit One could say something like "I will be in the US from [date 1] through [date 2], in case you would like to invite me for an interview during that time" which could be considered as a conditional statement, although it is not conspicuously so. (Or one could replace "in case" with "if".) Then one can make sure the statement is true without having to make a pointless trip in the case that there is no invitation. – Trevor Wilson Dec 19 '14 at 18:52
  • @Trevor: Heh, sneaky. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 19 '14 at 19:59
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I have done lots of international interviews before with skype - it is quite common for university staff. I don't believe cost is a factor or that offering to contribute would help at all. They will set up a skype interview if they are interested in you.

A better suggestion might be to use your research budget to go to some US based conferences and present your work and meet some people. Perhaps stay an extra couple of days at each end. You might also arrange a research visit, where you go to a few relevant institutions to talk about collaborating on some project. That way you have the opportunity to make a good impression with some US based research groups, which is much more likely to land you an interview when they recognise your name among the applicants.

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    Skype interviews may be common for staff but I think they are very uncommon for tenure track faculty jobs. Faculty interviews take two full days with back to back meetings and an hour long colloquium. The candidate meets with a dozen or more people. Hardly the thing you can do over skype. – Sasho Nikolov Dec 18 '14 at 17:48
  • @SashoNikolov preliminary skype interviews are common in many fields. I agree though and have never heard of a field that makes TT hires without a campus visit. – StrongBad Dec 18 '14 at 18:33
  • We've done Skype interviews for our junior faculty on rare occasions (on one, the candidate was pregnant and couldn't fly). This is at a major R1. – RoboKaren Dec 18 '14 at 20:21
  • A skype interview can be a prelude to a full on site interview. It's like phone screening on steroids and makes a lot of sense - but it would rarely be sufficient to land a TT job. – Floris Dec 18 '14 at 22:43

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