Historians Mull Killing Conference Interviews

April 16, 2019

The American Historical Association’s Professional Division will consider whether in-person interviews at the group’s annual meeting are worth continuing. John R. McNeill, AHA president and University Professor of history at Georgetown University, discussed the issue in a new column for Perspectives on History, the association’s newsmagazine. Registered searches at AHA’s conference have declined significantly already, McNeill wrote, from 270 in 2005 to just 20 this year. There are benefits to face-to-face initial interviews, he said. But the cost of attending the conference is prohibitive to some, and interviews that happen in hotel rooms or on barstools leave room for possible misconduct.

There are still many good reasons to attend the annual meeting, McNeill said, but “suffering, or inflicting, acute interview anxiety with diminishing odds of any reward for job seekers is no longer among them.” McNeill is seeking opinions on the issue through May, as the Professional Division makes it recommendation to the AHA’s governing council in June.

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