Red Flags in Faculty Positions

I think it’s actually quite hard to find out if a job/faculty position will be a poor fit for you until you work there for a while.  I have seen numerous people (including myself) take positions they thought would be good for them, only to discover those positions weren’t good.  Finding red flags before taking a job is quite challenging.  Here are some I can think of.

  1. Frequent turnover.  If the faculty turn over regularly, if they have a large exodus, or if they have a large number of positions open, that may suggest a systemic problem. You can ask about this phenomenon, and sometimes reading between the lines of the answer will give you an idea of whether it’s just bad luck or if there’s an actual issue.
  2. Too good to be true.  I think this applies to almost everything in life.  “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”  Some examples: A $100k signing bonus without a multi-year contract; a high salary with low clinic time and minimal research expectations; any excessive verbal promises.
  3. Poor leadership.  If the leader is a narcissistic sociopath, it’s probably not a great long-term position.  Hard to discover without a psych evaluation, though.
  4. Unhappy faculty.  Even if they aren’t leaving and creating high turnover, if the existing faculty are all miserable, that’s a bad sign. Again, this can be hard to establish, but a lot of times faculty will try to convey such issues even if they feel they can’t be brutally honest. 

Again, it’s hard to identify permanent positions which are bad fits.  Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing to do is try it out and see if it works for you.  If it doesn’t work out, specialists are always in demand, and you can probably find a better fit somewhere else. Unless YOU’RE the problem.

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