The usual sources of information that constitute a job candidate's teaching credentials are:
- The candidate's own statements about teaching, either in a cover letter or in a separate statement of teaching philosophy
- Statements about the candidate's teaching in letters of recommendation
- Information provided by students, such as numeric course evaluations or letters by students
- Course materials, such as syllabi or assignments, etc.
- Discussions of teaching during job interviews
- (in some cases) A teaching demonstration or presentation during a campus interview
I'd be very interested in hearing about experiences both from those who've been on the job market recently and those who've been on the other side of the desk, the faculty members conducting the searches. But just to get the ball rolling, I'll share a few thoughts of my own: I'm not likely to place a lot of weight on 2 (statements about the candidate's teaching in letters of recommendation) for two reasons. First, I don't think many of those who write letters for junior job candidates (e.g., candidates' dissertation advisors) have enough exposure to the candidates' teaching to evaluate it thoroughly or adequately. A handful of classroom observations aren't enough to have a grasp of candidates' strengths and weaknesses as teachers. Second, exaggeration is the norm in letters of recommendation, so unless a letter actually said something negative about a candidates' teaching abilities, I'm likely to see even positive statements as suspect. On the other hand, 5 (discussions of teaching during interviews) could be very illuminating. But even here, I'd want to avoid canned questions ("Could you describe your teaching philosophy?") that will likely elicit canned answers. I'd find questions that probe how critical and self-reflective the candidate is about her teaching to tell me more about the candidate as a teacher, things like "Could you describe a teaching challenge you've recently faced as a teacher and how you've tried to address it?" or "What are some of your long-term goals as a teacher?"
In any event, it seems to me that as hard as it is to evaluate someone's potential as a researcher, it may be just as difficult to evaluate their potential as a teacher, so I'd be appreciative for any insights.