Friday, August 31, 2012

The Ultimate Job Market Question

The classic question all aspiring candidates for academic jobs ponder is this: when a place interviews multiple candidates (which they are supposed to do), is it better to go early or late?  Is it better come in and set the standard, shaping how expectations?  Or is it better to be the last one through, so that you are the last to leave a mark on people's memories?

Of course, it really depends on how the competitors do.  If the first person knocks their socks off, then following that is most problematic.  If the first candidates are mediocre or worse, then coming in and doing a decent job may be all that is needed.  But just doing decent as the first candidate may mean you get forgotten. 

This, of course, is deceptive because what really matters is not so much the ordering but how well one does--that is the only thing of which one has any control. 

Still, I cannot help but think that the GOP left the door wide open for the Democrats.  As the Republicans went first, they had all kinds of problems, including racist taunts of CNN reporter, Eastwood and his chair, the Akin-rape stuff that set the wrong tone, and a Romney speech that probably changed no minds.  Obama and the Democrats can perhaps appeal to more than just the people in the room, right?

Sure, conventions do not matter too much, but this election is pretty tight so everything matters, I suppose.  Still, the electoral map seems to favor Obama, particularly as the RNC did not do that much to prove that it is not the party of just old cranky white men (thanks, Clint!).  Still, interesting times ahead.

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