Hiring Woes

I have a dilemma. Before I hire anybody, I have to fill out a paper explaining what race they are and if it’s an undesirable race, I have to explain why I’m hiring a white person.

Since it’s COVID time, many of the people I hire are not local and I don’t meet them in person. I don’t do Zoom interviews either because life is too short and I’m overzoomed already.

So how am I supposed to know the applicants’ race? Seriously, what’s the strategy? Do a Zoom meeting just to ascertain their color? Investigate them online? Ask the area supervisor who does know them in person? “By the way, what color is Josh?” All of this feels deeply bizarre.

On the positive side, I think I finally found people to cover all our courses in the Fall. I now know that our biggest problem is finding people to teach the beginner language courses. Since full-time instructors are unionized, it’s impossible to hire them without getting something like a non-tenure line approved, and that’s extremely hard. So we have to scramble to find a bunch of mostly random people for these courses every semester. Departments with graduate programs use graduate students for this but we are screwed.

There is a way out. It consists of repealing the language requirement and not offering beginner level language courses at all.

14 thoughts on “Hiring Woes”

  1. // There is a way out. It consists of repealing the language requirement and not offering beginner level language courses at all.

    Haven’t you said even students who take Spanish for 6 years at school need beginner level language courses?

    Will only native Spanish speakers be able to register without taking those basic courses?

    // Departments with graduate programs use graduate students for this but we are screwed.

    Why don’t you offer MA track too? I understand not offering PhDs, but aren’t there sufficient students even for a small MA program?

    In Israel, English school teachers often take MA in English literature. What about teachers of Spanish wanting to have MA in their field? In Israel, one’s salary raises (a bit) if a teacher has MA.

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  2. Just discovered a new definition for people like you and me:

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  3. That’s really bizarre.
    Shouldn’t data on protected characteristics be separated from the application? The interviewer shouldn’t be the one processing information on ethnicity/disability etc etc. I’m confused.
    And what about stereotype threat and discrimination? Isn’t hyperawareness of race just going to encourage discrimination and insecurity?

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    1. The times of blind interviewing are over. It’s no longer about evaluating candidates irrespective of their race and gender. Now it’s all about hiring on the basis of race.

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      1. “Now it’s all about hiring on the basis of race”

        Don’t applications have a ‘race’ box anymore? When I worked in a bureaucracy all the paperwork (my office dealt with graduate students) indicated race. On the other hand statistics were only kept for citizens so if Rakesh Srivastani (to make up a name) checked “American Indian” we didn’t care and entered that into the system.

        Oddly though the forms we dealt with didn’t indicate citizenship (or state residence which was a major deal at a land grant university and not tied to citizneship) I assume that was tracked elsewhere in the system (we were step two in a couple of three step processes regarding grad students).

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        1. We aren’t required to ask for written applications. Instead, we need a cover letter which is really an email saying “yes, I’m interested in teaching this course.” The only ones who do applications are the civil service personnel and I don’t have the money to hire them anyway.

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    1. Not only isn’t it illegal, it’s mandated by the state. It’s called EEOC compliance. Equal Opportunity Employment. It operates under the assumption that whenever you hire a white person, that can only be motivated by racism unless you can prove otherwise. In in-person interviews, you are obligated to evaluate a candidate’s appearance visually but non-obtrusively to determine their race and ethnicity. There’s a state-mandated training where you are taught how to visually appraise candidates for their ethnicity without staring.

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  4. I know you are hiring non-TT people here, but this reminds me of a fascinating situation in TT hiring. Before we invite a few finalists to campus (typically 3-5 people) we do phone or videoconference interviews with about a dozen people (give or take) who have strong application packages.

    The people in my department who most loudly profess their belief in omnipresent implicit biases also strongly favor videoconference interviews. They claim that they really want to see body language. The people who are most skeptical of implicit bias prefer phone interviews.

    If people didn’t actually have strong opinions about implicit bias I would expect their interview preferences to be uncorrelated with their stated opinions. But there is a perfect negative correlation.

    I think that the people who profess deep belief in implicit bias want to make sure we don’t hire white people, and the people who don’t think implicit bias is that important are happy to hire whoever.

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  5. They say it’s EEOC compliance. Yet it’s the opposite — the EEOC states that hiring on the basis of race is discrimination, regardless of whether the applicant is white or not.

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      1. But affirmative action is only meant as a method to make sure people hire the most qualified candidate. Making any hiring decisions based on a protected characteristic is still illegal. The goal is to reach and attract minority candidates, not to deny hiring based on nothing but race/gender/disability/etc. The person hired should still be the most qualified.

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