How do search committees handle unresponsive references?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader asks:

In cases where job applications just ask for the contact details of reference writers, rather than require them to upload their letter: what happens when a reference is slow or even fails to respond when they are eventually contacted? I have a very unresponsive reference and if it’s a matter of them uploading their letter by a certain deadline I can pester them until they’ve done it, but if they will be contacted by the search committee at some unknown time there is less I can do. Would the search committee in such a case tell the candidate that they cannot get hold of one of their references, so that I could then try to contact them myself? Or does it just mean that they won’t have the reference letter and which potentially harms the application.

Two readers submitted similar follow-ups. A postdoc writes:

Interfolio is great for this situation. For each application, you can use an email generated by Interfolio and connected to your reference, so an Interfolio employee can upload this letter on behalf of your reference. See:

And a previous job candidate of many years writes:

if you are using interfolio, supply the interfolio email address for your referees instead of their personal emails. (Everyone should be doing this anyway!) Then, so long as the letter gets uploaded to interfolio, interfolio will automatically send it in response. (You should also put your references’ actual email addresses somewhere prominent, e.g. your c.v., in case anything goes wrong.) I advise my students to list references on a cv with first a line that says “to request reference: INSERT INTERFOLIO EMAIL” and then a second line with their actual email. Some HR people and departments don’t understand that interfolio has this function, so they may tell you that you can’t use it if you ask. That’s annoying since in typical cases they are wrong–interfolio can do a lot of things!–but I guess in that case you just need to hope for the best. (Though I would still make sure the interfolio addresses are listed on your cv in case they decide to try.)

This is how I handled the issue too. But, supposing the OP hasn’t done this, how would you answer their questions? That is, how do search committees handle this kind of situation?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More



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