TLDR: I dislike having to explain/justify my interest in OpenPhil every time I apply.

For those who don't know, applying to work with Open Philanthropy involves all the normal stuff that a job application involves (submitting your name, email, how you heard about the opening), but applications also include a textbox in which you are supposed to explain why you are interested in working for Open Philanthropy. Here are some samples:

  • From what you know about our mission, culture and values, what makes you most interested in working at Open Philanthropy?
  • From what you know about Open Philanthropy’s mission, values, or approach to doing good, what most resonates with you? 
  • Why are you interested in working at Open Philanthropy?

These don't need to be long, and instructions state give guidance of "just a short paragraph or two " or "no more than 250 words."

But it is annoying to have to re-explain and re-justify myself every single time. Over the past few years I've applied to several openings with OpenPhil, and each time I'm not really clear what they want to see there. It is annoying to type out slight variations of the same thing again and again.

My perspective is that (from the information I've been given about the job) I would be capable of doing the job, I am an EA, and I care about doing good better. It is also a job that is respected, pays well, and would allow me to learn and grow a lot. I care about using evidence to make good decisions, and I want to help others. What more does OpenPhil need that that? Am I expected to type out some pretense about how my entire academic and professional career has been building to this and how this is my one true dream? I know that hiring processes generally aren't transparent and generally aren't purely meritocratic, but it sure would be nice to not have to re-type a story about my motivation every single time I apply.

Could someone explain how I should be viewing or thinking about these mini-essays?

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Hey! Writing from the OP recruiting team.The vast majority of our candidates for roles are first-time applicants we don’t have much context about, and the purpose of the open paragraphs is a) a quick test of writing ability/attention to detail (i.e. can they write something clear, coherent and free of typos), and b) getting an initial sense of the applicant’s existing level of interest in and context about OP. The majority of applicants are also not highly engaged in EA (or necessarily aware of it at all) and these responses are a helpful temp check for understanding where they’re coming from and what their level of understanding and excitement about our work is (e.g. did they find us via a Google search and basically see us as similar to most foundations or have they done enough research to genuinely understand and be excited about what we do?).

It’s definitely not the intention to frustrate repeat applicants, and we can add a line to the form clarifying that if you’ve answered these questions recently you don’t have to fill them out again. You're always welcome to say something like, "I've applied before recently, and my answers haven't changed."

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