I’m very happy to announce that our CMS department faculty search is live. As in previous years, we’re searching broadly — truly broadly. We’re looking across applied math and computer science both and expect to be able to make multiple offers. We’re interested in candidates in a variety of core areas, from distributed systems and machine learning to statistics and optimization (and lots of other areas). But, more generally, we look for impressive, high-impact work rather than enforcing preconceived notions of what is hot at the moment. Beyond the core areas of applied math and computer science, we are hoping to see strong applications in areas on the periphery of computing and applied math too — candidates at the interface of EE, mechanical engineering, economics, privacy, biology, physics, etc. are definitely encouraged to apply! As I said in my recent post, inventing new CS+X fields is something that Caltech excels at — it’s our brand.
Also, I want to highlight that we adopted a unique way of running our searches last year, and it worked out wonderfully so we’ll be doing it again this year — we’re organizing our interviews as hiring symposiums.
In my opinion, the traditional mode of faculty hiring does a disservice to both candidates and departments. Candidates come and give talks to audiences that are exhausted from attending dozens of job talks and often end up scheduled on days when many faculty are out of town (sometimes the most important faculty). Then, they have to wait for feedback/offers until after all the other candidates go through — all the while learning very little about how they did and what their status is. On the other had, departments often end up making decisions by comparing candidates who did not see the same set of faculty (do to people being out of town) and who came through over months. So the hazy memories and varying faculty in attendance lead to poor decision making.
Our approach, which we adopted from the Biology community, is to organize our interviews in two “symposiums”, where ~5 candidates come in for each symposium. The first day of the symposium is all research talks and candidates can choose whether to attend each others talks or visit around campus. The second day is one-on-one interviews. Because the dates of the symposiums are picked well in advance every faculty member can be present — even faculty from other related departments. As a result, we end up with audiences of around 100+ people, which is huge for a small place like Caltech. Further, the symposiums are scheduled close together so that within a couple weeks of the interviews the faculty can finish discussions and all candidates can know exactly where they stand. This additionally means that the discussions can be much more fair and balanced since they happen when the talks are all equally fresh and all the faculty were present for all the talks. An added bonus is that the candidates can get quick feedback with which to improve their later interviews!
As I said, the initial test of this model last year was a resounding success from all accounts (both from our faculty and the candidates we interviewed) and so I’m excited to announce that we’ll be doing it again this year!