From the 127th Annual Meeting column in the February 2013 issue of Perspectives on History
Job Searches at the AHA Annual Meeting
Liz Townsend, February 2013
Search committees conducted interviews for over 154 positions at the 2013 AHA annual meeting, almost matching last year's total of 160. The number of searches slipped a bit, which is typical in smaller meeting cities.
For the first time in recent memory, jobs with a European specialization outnumbered those for United States history—25 and 24 percent, respectively, of the total number of searches. The next highest was Asia, followed by Latin America, and then thematic listings, which did not require a specific geographical area. Most of these were for public and digital historians. The smallest percentages of searches asked for African, Middle East, or world history specializations.
Most search committees chose to reserve their own private hotel suite, which provided sleeping quarters for a committee member and a separate room for interviewing. Free Job Center tables were used by only 41 searches, while 30 committees rented parlor rooms from the AHA for a limited amount of time. It seems that the committees appreciated the flexibility offered by privately arranged suites, and were willing to pay for it.
In addition, using suites gave committees the ability to use Skype or in-room Internet connections. While committees primarily conducted in-person interviews, a few reported using Skype when travel difficulties or other concerns arose for candidates or interviewers. The Job Center ballroom had free Wi-Fi this year (a very rare occurrence), so even those doing table interviews could use the Internet or, in one case, stay late to do a quickly arranged Skype session.
The cost difference between face-to-face interviews at the annual meeting and Skype or telephone interviews is already creating tension between many search committees and administrations. We asked candidates for their thoughts about both methods of communication in our annual survey, and early results show that even if the meeting costs more, in-person interviews are still valued by a large majority of candidates. Visit the AHA Today blog at blog.historians.org for further survey responses about the experiences of candidates and interviewers.
Liz Townsend is the AHA's coordinator, Job Center and professional data.