My prediction for hiring success has improved significantly over the past few days, for reasons both rational and irrational.
Rationally, I’ve started to receive more good applications, if not fewer spamly ones. I suspect that this is because the people who are preparing position-specific applications are taking their time to do it, as our deadline is not until April 30th. Also, it being spring, many graduate students are just finishing their thesis defenses and looking for positions.
Irrationally, I have been speaking to people’s references, and the references are of course enthusiastic about the applicants. I knew this was going to be so. I am well aware that the applicants wouldn’t have listed these references if they were going to say terrible things about them, and that the references feel a sense of obligation to say good things, but hearing great things about an applicant from a basically rational and honest colleague inevitably improves my view somewhat. It makes the applicant seem more like a person, and less like a CV. I don’t have any basic predilection to like CVs, but I like most people.