Originally I included this in a comment to my last post, but now I'm thinking about it more. Most top sociology programs now offer 4 or 5 year guaranteed funding packages to incoming students, often including some summer money. Not even counting the tuition remissions, this can bring the value of these guaranteed packages upwards of a $100,000 committment. Yet, to my knowledge, no sociology department conducts any kind of interview with applicants prior to admitting them. Am I right about this? If I am, why not? A one-year postdoc is less money, and still people conduct interviews for those. In-person interviews would be too expensive, but why not phone interviews?
One hears stories about admitted students coming on their campus visit and everyone realizing the person isn't what they looked like on paper and then the place tries to subtly get the admitted student to decline their offer. One even hears of stories where this effort fails and the person comes to a department that doesn't want them. Moreover, one never hears a story where this happens and there is a happy ending, which would suggest that interviews may be more than just in the department's interest.
It's made all the more remarkable because people on graduate admissions committees repeatedly complain about how little information they have to go on, as grades are hard to compare across institutions and letters of recommendation tend to vary little and when they do it's unclear if it says more about the applicant or the writer.