How can I interview for the open-term job, not the fixed-term job?
April 25, 2013 12:59 PM   Subscribe

So I applied for an academic position in the UK and I've been invited to interview (yay!). Only just now I realized that they were advertising for two positions, one of which is fixed-term.

The two positions were listed consecutively with the same title, so I applied for the fixed-term position instead of the open-term one. They will be interviewing all of the candidates over a few days, (3 candidates for one position and 3 for the other) and I think they are doing that so they have a bigger pool for both positions. My problem is that I am not at all interested in a fixed term position. I have a permanent US federal job that I enjoy but I would leave to take a teaching job elsewhere.

So my question is when to say that I want to be considered for the open-term position (but not for the fixed term one)? I could say so now and find out that they weren't interested in me for the open-term job and save us all some trouble. (I kind of want to do this to avoid the hassle of international travel during a busy time for me but it seems gauche.) I could just ask whether the candidates for the fixed term position might also be considered for the open term position, without explicitly saying that I would not take the fixed term position. I could say so when I'm there and hope that they'll consider me for the open-term position.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I'd follow up with an email to the recruiter and firm it up,

I did want to clarify something prior to making my travel arrangements. I understand that there are two positions, one is an Open Term position and the other is a Fixed Term position. Due to my immigration status, I'm solely applying for the Open Term position. Please respond to confirm that this is the postion for which I am being considered.



Or call someone. Either way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2013

Applications should be scored according to the criteria set out in the personal requirements (or similar) and so whichever post you actually applied for would make no difference to your final score if the personal requirements are the same. That is, if they are using the same criteria for the two posts then is likely that a qualifying score in one would be a qualifying score in the other.* You can check the personal requirements before contacting them.

The best bet is then simply to phone them and ask for "clarification". Say that you've noticed all six candidates are being interviewed at once and you simply wanted to clarify that all six are being considered for both positions. If not, would they kindly mind doing so in your case? You don't have to tell them there and then that you're not interested in one of the posts, and it will sound quite natural that a) you want two chances at getting a job, and b) you want to know if you're up against 2 or 5 other candidates. Indeed, you're under no obligation to tell them that you don't want the fixed-term post until they make you an offer for it.

*The exception is if they had lots of applicants for one and few for the other they might have a higher cut-off for the popular post which you might not make even though you're still good enough to be interviewed for the less popular post. This may well be unlikely if they're only interviewing 3 candidates for each, but I'm not familiar with academic hiring to say if that number is normal.
posted by Jehan at 1:39 PM on April 25, 2013

Call the head of department (or teaching dean/research dean) and ask. Make it clear this is to get clarificaiton and you are not trying to gain any advantage for the interviews. Don't bother with the HR people. I should say that my experience is that UK universities are getting a lot of high quality applicants at the moment due to the weak job market but I would still be surprised if there was a huge distinction between the candidates for the two categories if they were at the same level. If its a research position and you're REF-able then they will very much consider you for the permanent position.
posted by biffa at 3:38 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd be very surprised if the assessment criteria for a permanent academic position and a 3-year fixed were the same. Ring or email and explain what happened ASAP. You actually don't have anything to lose since you'll either be competitive or you won't (you might feel a bit daft but believe me, filling in the wrong job reference is background noise compared to everyday academic admin catastrophes...)
posted by cromagnon at 6:15 PM on April 25, 2013

Our academic department advertised two jobs simultaneously last year, one continuing and one fixed term. Some people applied for one or the other, some people for both. I applied only for the continuing one. At interview(!) it turned out they had just thrown all applications into the same hat and were planning on offering their first choice the continuing job and their second choice the fixed term. By the time of interview they had actually ruled me out as top candidate, so weren't even considering me for the continuing position, and I wasn't interested in the fixed term one, so it was a waste of everyone's time.

I tell you this because it is perfectly possible that your department has the same weird plan for dealing with the two positions and that they will consider you for the continuing one automatically. Or that they haven't decided how they will handle it (especially since many people will apply for both). The best option is, as others say, to ring up or email HR (or better, the head of the search committee/department if your connections make that appropriate) and try to get clarification.
posted by lollusc at 2:03 AM on April 27, 2013

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