We hire people for the wrong reasons.

By watching the hiring process for a new faculty member the other day I realized something that I think matters.

Typically when departments, organizations, or agencies hire a new faculty member or a new executive director, etc., the question they ask is, “do we like this person?” And the question the applicant asks is, “How can I get them to like me?”. This makes sense, because if there’s chemistry between the hiring committee and the applicant, the applicant gets a job and the organization gets a new colleague.

I remember going through this same process when I was on a board that hired our first executive director.

There’s a downside to this, however. The downside is, when you’re in a marginal field – interpreting, geography, etc. – it’s just as important to hire people who can sell the field and keep it alive, not just people who we like and who likes us.

We need to think strategically.

Which means instead of hiring people based only on disciplinary expertise, we need people who can lead. We need people who know how to organize people and coordinate projects and conduct efficient meetings and sell our specialization to the world.

If we don’t change how we hire interpreting faculty, recruit RID board members, and build broad professional expertise, we will have a hard time sustaining the profession through ongoing economic and cultural pressures. 


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