These interviews ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, and the after-interview thank you letters were very instructive.
One guy got three of our six names wrong, had typos in his email (which started with "Hey!"), and more or less completely contradicted what he said in his actual interview. ("I actually have never taught such a class, but I know I could.")
One woman wrote a brilliant letter - sent as a PDF to our department secretary, with a polite request for them to be printed and placed in our boxes - that summed up her and our questions, and left us all with a new idea for a fledgling program that would actually work.
I went to our search chair and said, "Can we reply to these notes?"
His face went stony. "Oh, no. We are forbidden from having any contact with candidates. You must not reply via email or even take a phone call if anyone calls. It would invalidate the whole search."
Now, I've often read in the Chronicle that job hiring practices are fraught with this kind of nuttiness, but is it true?
Regardless, our job search has felt inhumane to me at times. We didn't respond to query letters. When people asked questions about the college or the town, we were told to delete the emails and not respond. We didn't follow up on questions about the interview process. We weren't allowed to reply to voicemails, even on ordinary requests like, "Can I send you my latest book?" Anything we did was a single email from the search chair to all candidates at once. Even when people had been cut from our list we did not alert them. (There are 145 people right now, I think, who imagine they're still candidates for our job. Well, you're not!)
Q: What would you do differently in academic hiring to make the system work better, be more humane, and result in better hires?