All this talk about Princeton's reminded me about something I was thinking about in the days after the APA, and it's come up over at Feminist Philosophers too. Princeton doesn't do APA interviews. I don't really know why not, but I assume it's at least partly because they're aware of the social psych literature showing that interviews don't really add much to an organization's ability to pick good hires. And Princeton's not the only school that's giving up on the APA. If I'm reading the wiki right, Washington didn't do APA interviews this year, either. No doubt there are others I don't know about. Also, if we pull the lens back a little, it's worth noticing that in a lot of academic disciplines, they've just done away with conference interviews entirely.
As far as I can tell, Princeton and Washington are making the smart decision. Going to the APA is fuck-off expensive, for both departments and candidates. So what does everybody get for the money? A fifty minute dog and pony show so contrived that in most cases it's not really going to say much that's reliable about a candidate? The chance to get punked by your own subconscious cognitive biases into thinking the tall, good-looking guy is really more promising than the short guy with the speech impediment?
Now, I know APA interviews can tell you some important stuff. Like, maybe a candidate who looks awesome on paper turns out to be really terrible or a complete asshole or just not the fit you thought they'd be. I get that. But how often does that happen? And wouldn't that sort of screening happen just as well--or, really, actually a lot better--on a campus visit? So why not take all the money a department spends on the APA and sink it into bringing a couple more people out to campus for job-talks?
This really does seem like no-brainer to me. But since I've never been on the searh committee's side of all this, I'm curious to see if anyone wants to make the case for APA interviews. In particular, does anyone want to make not just the case that they can be useful, but that they're more useful than skipping the APA in favor of a couple more job-talks? Why do we do the APA?