Sunday, September 22, 2013
Ask the Administrator: Transparency Ad Absurdum
I have been privy to a trend that at first I liked a lot, but most recently brought me alarm. (I am bringing this to you not as applicant in either process, just came across them through acquaintances.) In many VP searches the open forums and much of the interview process is very public. Public to the extent that I am seeing and hearing about more and more of the open forums being broadcast either on the radio, public television or youtube. All of which bring transparency to the search.
The most recent story I heard included a VP candidate listening to the other two previous applicants' open forums and preparing answers accordingly. Part of me notices the savviness of this, but the other part of me thinks that this lends to an increased advantage. And in fact, when I watched both applicants in review to see if I could see any of this "borrowing." It was extremely evident. The applicant had very articulated and polished answers to the questions that both previous applicants got, but struggled a lot in questions that were asked off the cuff by audience members.
My question is not so much about the process, posting forums and interview information before all applicants have had the opportunity themselves is bad HR form in the highest regard. Yet, there is another part of me that says, why not change the way that we do public searches?
Why not allow all the applicants interview as a panel? I roundtable where they can build off of the answers of others, challenge responses, bring questions to other applicants. Now that would be great viewing! But besides, it would be totally transparent, and canned answers would be diminished in favor of quick thinking and well prepared applicants who have real experience. And that is what we all want in VPs? Someone who knows their stuff without going home and preparing speeches and who can handle themselves professionally in a challenging environment without cratering, lying, or crawfishing?
What do you say? Is it time to change the way we hire administrators?
Have a question? Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.
1) Given that we're having administrative candidates hold public forums, how should those forums be conducted and how should the discussions be disseminated on campus?
2) Should administrative candidates hold public forums? Is there a useful purpose?
Here, deans are subject to a vote (advisory) before they're named by the president. I think that process makes sense. It would be hard for a president to appoint or reappoint a highly unpopular dean; however, the nominating committee and president (presumably) select who is going to go up for a vote.
I can understand recording interviews (we record some of ours for various reasons) and I can understand sharing them with the public for public comment on high level hires, but I can't understand making it public before all interviews are complete.
That is crazy talk.
Now it would be an interesting challenge to develop an interview that would test the ability to bring people together and solve a problem. A group of actors, or typical local act-up faculty, staging a mock situation during an interview could be fun to watch and perhaps more informative than the usual Q&A.