In a comments thread over at Brian Leiter’s blog, John Doris mentions the following experiment.
If you’ve been around awhile, think of the 2 or 3 rookie “stars” from your year(s) on the job market (the ones who got most and best interviews and offers), and then ask if these people are the most influential members of their cohort. I suspect that for many of us, this exercise does not engender strong confidence in the profession’s predictive acumen. (Perhaps this is why some major programs avoid hiring junior.)
I don’t want to get into the pros and cons of hiring junior, especially while Rutgers is searching, but I thought this was an interesting experiment.
Here’s one data point. When I was first on the market, 10 years ago, the person who seemed to have the most interviews was Jonathan Schaffer. And the person who has been (deservedly) the most influential from my cohort has been … Jonathan Schaffer. Now Jonathan didn’t do too well through the interview/fly-out process that year, and certainly didn’t get the most offers. So I think we end up with a mixed verdict here. The evidence from the 1998/99 hiring season is that philosophers look relatively prescient when reading files, but less so when interviewing people and/or hearing job talks.
But what about other years?