Can We the See the Beginning of the End of the APA-East?

For those not in philosophy, the APA-East is held each year right after Christmas. It’s also where a vast majority of departments hiring that year schedule 12-15 people to interview as the second stage in the hiring process. (The first being making an application, then the APA, then getting an invite to campus, and then the actual offer.) Last year, a number of departments, because of a major snowstorm in the northeast, had to abandon going and use Skype instead. Leiter has a post up today about whether this might lead to a permanent changeover from the APA-East-style interviews.

I cannot call for their end soon enough. Most interviews are conducted around tables in a big ballroom, where you’re fighting to be heard over all the other departments being interviewed. And where is this ballroom? Usually in a hotel that costs anywhere from $179 to $229 a night. (Those APA poo-bahs really must have terrible negotiating skills.) This was bad enough in years where landing interviews at the APA would foreseeably land you a job. But in today’s climate, you have profs in a certain class position (yes, I’m one of them), who receive reimbursement from their university to go interview fresh Ph.D.s (alas, many are not so fresh these days) who have to pay for airfare and two-night’s stay in New York or Boston or Washington D.C. There has been no year where I’ve attended the APA-East (even in years just to present) where it has cost me less than $700 all told, and I happen to spend Christmas in New York already, where it’s cheaper for me to get to the APA sites.

Now, you’re a graduate student who is winding down your lucrative grad career and you’re walloped with this bill, during the holidays, and in many cases, people have just one or two interviews, with long odds for landing those jobs. While I realize why people would prefer face-to-face interviewing–and skype interviewing often comes with various glitches–surely it’s a better way to get down to your final candidates using technology available for the last ten years.

Ah yes, you’ll say, we’ll lose the Smoker–the late night meet-and-greet where (on one night) there’s free drinks and you can have awkward conversations with other interviewees, or even worse, attend the funeral-like conversations of grad students about how just God-awful the market is this year. And invariably these last couple of years, it is.