Tag Archives: laws

Reader survey: what are the unwritten laws of hiring in math?

My post about a recent hiring controversy has generated the longest-ever comment thread on this blog, beating out the “Do you wear a watch?” survey.  One thing I learned from the comment thread is that people have quite divergent ideas about what the implicit ethical rules of hiring actually are!  There’s a lot to be said for tacit, organic systems of moral agreements as against formal laws.  But for such a thing to work requires some kind of general consensus.  Do we have it?

I thought it would be interesting to address this question directly.  I’ll start with a few things I think of as rules, both for candidates and for departments.


  • If you accept a job, you need to show up there the following fall unless you are explicitly released from your commitment.  This commitment lasts one academic year
  • Don’t apply for a job that you wouldn’t accept if it were the only job you got.


  • You can’t ask a candidate how likely they would be to accept an offer before you make the offer.  I think it’s OK, though slightly awkward, to ask after the offer is made.
  • You can’t ask a candidate if they’re married.  (This is actually a written law, at least in the US — but it is widely violated.)
  • If you give a candidate a deadline, you are not allowed to subsequently move the deadline earlier.  (I know of at least one such case this year!)

Are these actually rules?  What are the other rules?  Go to.

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: