Friday, January 14, 2011

Good interview but no flyout yet

Students on the economics job market are often puzzled by the fact that interviews that seemed to go well at the ASSA meetings do not yield a flyout invitation right away. There are a number of reasons why this might occur other than the student incorrectly perceiving how things went at the interview.

First, it is important to realize that while the top 20 departments tend to schedule all of their flyouts right away, the next 50 or so departments face a harder problem. Do they move right away with candidates they like and who did not have too many interviews at more highly-ranked departments or do they wait a bit to see if some of the candidates with better interviews do not get the corresponding flyouts (or offers conditional on flyouts) and so become available, or some combination of the two. Most departments do some combination of the two.

Keep in mind as well that in the background of the market is a flurry of email traffic in which information is transmitted from candidates' advisors to their friends at other departments. This traffic helps the market work by helping departments avoid wasting flyouts on people they cannot get, and it also helps the "that person is not going to place as high as it looked from their interview schedule" information percolate more quickly through the system.

Having said all that, a good interview may not result in a flyout because of field preferences, as when a department interviews in fields A and B knowing that it will do flyouts in B only if none of the candidates in A do well. Or it may be that while one interview went well, others went even better. Some schools do only a very small number of flyouts for budgetary reasons, and so will not fly out some candidates they quite liked.

The bottom lines are: do not jump to the conclusion that your perception of the interview was incorrect and do not assume that no flyout right away means no flyout ever.

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