Each search committee must set up a system for organizing applications. Application materials should be kept in a secure location where they are accessible to search committee members but not to persons unaffiliated with the search. Application materials not contained in PeopleAdmin are to be retained for five years from the hiring date or the end of the search, whichever is later.
Search committees must discuss in advance the criteria they will use to evaluate candidates. All candidates must be evaluated using the same objective criteria. Initial screening is based on the minimum qualifications set out in the job notice. Applicants are screened against bottom-line criteria such as required degrees, years in research, expertise, and other factors listed in the posting.
All criteria must be based on actual position needs and the job requirements as articulated in the job description and must not unnecessarily screen out candidates on unrelated factors, including on the basis of their age, color, disability, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Be mindful of biases that inadvertently screen out well-qualified candidates with non-traditional career paths or research interests. Recognize that diverse paths and experiences can contribute positively to a candidate’s qualifications.
Search committee members should be advised to resist the impulse to label candidates as “most promising” or similar labels, as this may make it challenging to consider other candidates fully. Avoid unfounded assumptions, (e.g., members of a particular racial group do not like living here, women who pursued degrees part-time are not serious scholars, excellent candidates are heavily recruited, or a candidate’s partner/spouse would not be willing to move). Let candidates decide these issues for themselves. Do review how a candidate’s diverse experiences or commitment to diversity can contribute to the department. (See Appendix for more information on unconscious bias, do’s and don’ts in the interview process, and other resources to assist in these efforts.)
Interviews at all stages are an integral part of the evaluation process. The committee should compose a group of core questions based on the job-related criteria to use in evaluating candidates. These core questions should be reviewed to ensure they do not unnecessarily screen out women and minority candidates. The same set of questions should be asked of all candidates to obtain crucial job-related information and promote an equitable process; however, follow-up questions based on their responses will most likely vary with each candidate. Since this is a key point in the process, beware of saying anything that could suggest unstated criteria such as “We need new, young people with ideas.” Candidates should also be provided with opportunities during the interview to ask questions. Search committees should be prepared to offer candidates information and connect them to other knowledgeable resources on campus or in the community to answer any personal or diversity-related questions. They should also be knowledgeable about current faculty and student demographics, programs, and centers.
Interviews may occur in different ways and places:
- Conference Interviews: Before interviewing candidates at a conference, an interview request email should be submitted and approved. If other candidates not included on the initial email request are interviewed at a conference, those names should be collected and submitted on an interview request email as soon as possible afterward. All applicants need to submit their application into PeopleAdmin before the interview request will be approved so that required applicant data can be collected. (Departments using external sites to review applicants should contact OIE to arrange collection of applicant information.)
- Phone/Video Interviews: The interview request email should be submitted and approved before phone and video interviews. Candidates must be given advanced notice to schedule a phone/video interview so that they are prepared and understand that it is part of the screening process.
- On-Campus Interviews: The campus visit serves a dual purpose. The candidates are evaluating the campus, and they are being evaluated by the committee. Candidates should be given the visit itinerary in advance and invited to request any special accommodations they might need. It is also appropriate to ask if there are any particular offices the candidate would like to visit or anyone they would like to meet (Office of Academic Affairs or Chief Diversity Officer, etc.). This should be done early so that appointments can be scheduled before the candidate’s arrival. While evaluating the candidates, the committee should also assist the candidates in making an informed decision about the campus by meeting administrators, other faculty members, and students with similar interests.
- Social Engagements: Candidates should have time to interact socially with faculty and students from the department and related departments. This provides an excellent opportunity for the candidate to evaluate the department as well. It is vital during these engagements that faculty members are careful not to solicit personal information unrelated to the position, such as marital or parental status, as a candidate may see that as materially affecting their candidacy. However, incidental conversations initiated by the candidate that include these topics are permissible, and candidates may voluntarily share information, but no further information should be solicited. Additionally, faculty members should be able to address candidate questions and concerns about such things as schools, spousal employment, and benefits. Faculty members should feel comfortable conversing with the candidates as they would any other colleague.
- Skills Demonstrations (Lecture/Audition/Presentation): Candidates may be asked to audition or demonstrate teaching or lecturing skills or to make a presentation. It is essential that this requirement is administered consistently with all candidates and that all candidates are given enough notification to prepare appropriately or make any special requests for equipment or accommodations.
It is recommended that search committees check candidates’ references or request letters of reference, and, at a minimum, that finalists’ references are checked. Phone calls to candidates’ references may provide added insight to letters of reference. The committee should ask permission of the candidate before contacting anyone that is not on the candidate’s provided list of references. When contacting a reference, the committee should describe the position and ensure that the same questions are asked of each reference.