Email Deliveries and Their Discontents, Part I

Transparency is in short supply when you’re on the academic job market. This series is part of our effort to make the application process more transparent for candidates. In this post, based on conversations with users and recent chatter on Twitter, we’d like to clarify how our email application deliveries work, explain how these deliveries occasionally fall short, and describe what we’re doing to prevent that problem.

There’s some confusion about where email deliveries fall within Interfolio’s spectrum of services, so let’s start there.

Interfolio delivers your dossier one of four ways:

-Online Application Delivery Internally, we call these applications “webbies.” When we submit a webbie, we access a university-specific application portal on behalf of you, the academic job candidate, and your recommenders.

-Paper Delivery You submit your dossier materials to us, often online, and we mail hard copies of them to an institution.

-Email Delivery We email your dossier materials, including your confidential letters of recommendation, to an institution.

-ByCommittee Departments and institutions subscribe to ByCommittee. Candidates upload their materials to the platform, and search committees access and collaboratively review them. Nothing travels anywhere. These applications are always free for candidates.

The institution that is advertising for a new professor or postdoc or researcher determines the method—web, paper, email, or ByCommittee—by which Interfolio delivers your dossier.

 

So, how does Interfolio currently track email application deliveries?

We use a tool called Mandrill to monitor all outbound email communications. In the last 90 days, system emails had a deliverability rate of 99.6%.


What happened to the other 0.4%?

That 0.4% represents both hard bounces (the email address does not exist, the domain does not exist, the recipient’s email server is blocking delivery) and soft bounces (the recipient’s mailbox is full, the recipient’s email server is down or offline). We know that there are sometimes delivery issues with these packets, and we actively monitor and address those issues immediately.


Where do spam filters come in?

The majority of our email applications are delivered to institutions without any problems. A small number—less than 1%, according to our support requests—of email applications end up in spam folders. Spam filters, as anyone who sends and receives email knows, are silent; we don’t receive automated feedback about messages that end up marked as spam. We rely on users or institutions to notify us when an email delivery fails.

This of course is not ideal, and we are always iterating on our end to further limit the percentage of emails that get caught. In addition to our own settings, each Interfolio email delivery contains a verification link. We are reaching out to institutions to communicate the imperative of verifying receipt of email applications so that we can follow up on unverified deliveries.

If you represent an institution that has experienced spam issues with Interfolio email deliveries, please contact Max, our Customer Support Manager, directly: max.swagler@interfolio.com.


What is the quality control process for email application packets?

Interfolio’s Fulfillment Team verifies every email address before we OK it for sending. If we discover a typo or other mistake that prevents us from verifying the job search with which the address is associated, we do one of two things: correct the error ourselves if it’s obvious (i.e. a simple typo in the domain name), or notify the candidate and request a valid email address.


What does the Interfolio support team do when there’s an issue delivering email applications?

Our support team—Max, Ethan, Laurie, and Sydney—acts as a second layer of security for Interfolio members. We reach out to institutions when there’s a delivery problem. We expedite deliveries if you need them to go out before midnight for a last-minute deadline. We always re-send application materials free of charge if there is any delivery confusion. We work for you.

Interfolio support is here to help—we hope to make your application process a bit more transparent. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with feedback or additional questions.

Call our Support Team: toll-free (877) 997-8807


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