General Search Tips

The search for a new faculty member is both routine and unique. The mechanics of the process are the same no matter what position or department: advertise, review applications, interview, and hire. However, each position has specific qualities and departments will have their own selection criteria and candidate qualifications. The following section identifies the major components of the search process and offers suggestions for how departments can modify the process to reflect their special hiring needs. Think beyond the immediate search steps as you develop your procedures. Just as you are trying to find the best candidate, applicants are judging whether they want to come to the University. An organized, professional process will help sell UW to your final candidates. Remember as well that lasting impressions of your department are set by how you treat those to whom you do not make an offer.

The Office of the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement is a point of contact and a resource for deans, department chairs, and search committees.  Luis R. Fraga, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, works collaboratively with these decision makers to enhance efforts to recruit, promote, and retain faculty who are  members of underrepresented groups.  This office can provide consultation and assessment of  job ads, recruitment and interview procedures, decision-making strategies, or other aspects of the hiring and retentions process.   To contact this office, please contact Alicia Palacio at 206-221-3958 or amp@u.washington.edu.

Additionally, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, the University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change is available to meet with search committee members and women faculty candidates to discuss university resources and support for women faculty. To schedule an appointment with the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, please call 206-543-4605 or email advance@engr.washington.edu.

While faculty recruitment is often addressed only when a position becomes available, departments would be better served by engaging in faculty recruitment on an ongoing basis. Taking this strategy will help diversify and increase the faculty candidate pool. Faculty can and should always be recruiting as they see students and other faculty presenting at conferences and as they visit other institutions.  This strategy provides a constant, steady flow of potential future colleagues. Departments could also establish a standing departmental committee charged with thinking about the unit’s strategic plans and directions and identifying potential faculty who address these plans. Thus, when a faculty position does become available, the unit already has a sense of what areas to target and which potential candidates to contact.

The Search Committee

  • Include individuals with different perspectives, expertise and a demonstrated commitment to diversity.
  • Make sure the committee itself is diverse.
  • Identify two or three key members who will serve as advocates for women and members of underrepresented groups.
  • Search committee members must agree to participate in the recruitment effort,  including personal outreach to candidates
  • Ask that your Dean meet with the committee at the beginning of the process to reiterate the importance of inclusion, the advisory role of the committee and the need for confidentiality.
  • Determine how committee members will communicate with each other, the campus community and with candidates.

Plan the Search

  • Meet with the appropriate faculty and staff to review the needs of the department and develop specific hiring goals.  Consider whether the subject specialty of the position will include scholarly attention to diversity and whether you want to ensure that candidates   have the qualifications to work with a diverse student population.
  • Develop a clear position description that includes minimum qualifications and experience desired. Get departmental or school consensus on areas of specialty and other specific requirements.
  • Review search and hire policies and procedures outlined by Academic HR.
  • Develop a realistic timeline for recruiting and interviewing, working backwards from a target completion date.
  • Establish a system for managing records, including nominations, applications, letters to candidates, affirmative action forms and search committee notes.
  • Document how the committee will actively recruit women and members of underrepresented groups. Representatives from the Office of the Associate Vice-Provost for Faculty Advancement or the Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action are available to meet with search committees to discuss recruitment strategies
  • Develop clear screening criteria for candidates. It is critical that all members of the committee agree on the criteria for the position.
  • Review the research that indicates that unintended biases result in unfair evaluations for women and people of color; implement suggested practices that will mitigate such biases.
  • With each other: Consider discussing the following questions:
    • What myths and barriers exist in hiring a diverse faculty?
    • What other units have been successful making diverse hires and what strategies can we emulate?
    • How can we use available resources on campus to support the hiring of a diverse faculty?
  • Establish a process for managing rumors. Discuss confidentiality issues with committee members and faculty members in the department.
  • Be clear on what the role of the committee is. In some cases the committee is authorized only to recommend the final candidates to be invited for interviews. In others, the committee identifies the candidates, coordinates the on-campus interview process and makes a hiring recommendation to the appropriate Chair or Dean.
  • Review past searches. If women or members of underrepresented groups have been hired in recent searches, consider asking the search committees, the department chair, and the faculty hired how they were successfully recruited.  Also consider how the careers of the women and underrepresented candidates who were not hired in previous searches have progressed. If they have progressed in the discipline, a department may need to assess if it has an unconscious bias that affected the assessment of their potential.

Market the Position & Campus

  • Determine which professional networks, web sites and publications will be used for marketing the job announcement.
  • Set a closing date at least 30 days after the appearance of the ad in an appropriate national journal. Use professional email and websites as well.
  • Develop two information packets: one to be sent to all candidates upon receipt of their application; and the second to be sent only to candidates selected for an interview. Include brochures about the campus and local community.
  • Place the job announcement on the department or school web page.
  • Identify a process for the campus community to assist with the marketing (i.e., a nomination process). Encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to identify and nominate potential candidates.
  • Develop a process for committee members or departmental faculty to make personal contact with potential candidates at professional meetings and conferences. Viewing your committee’s task as generating a pool rather than tapping one may help to broaden your search efforts.

Develop Selection Criteria

  • Develop a list of selection criteria and a process for rating candidate applications. Consider using multiple ranking criteria and including as a criterion the ability to mentor diverse students.  For an example of a candidate evaluation rubric used in the UW Anthropology department, see sample rubric.
  • Get departmental or school consensus on areas of specialty and other specific requirements.
  • Reach committee consensus on how different qualifications will be weighted (e.g., the weight to be given to research versus teaching experience).

Communicate

  • With campus/department: Develop a way to keep departmental faculty informed without breaching confidentiality.
  • With the Dean, Director or Department Chair: The search committee chair has primary responsibility for communicating with the Dean, Department Chair or Director regarding the process and applicant pool.

Evaluate the Applicant Pool

  • Include all committee members in the evaluation process.
  • Use predetermined selection criteria to rate applications on minimum and preferred qualifications.
  • Identify the top 25% of the candidate pool, and review for how well each applicants’ experience and commitment to diversity can contribute to the institution’s diversity goal.
  • Before finalizing a short list of candidates to be invited to campus for further interviews, consider re-examining the CV’s of strong women and underrepresented candidates. Research shows that women’s applications, for example, are often more critically reviewed (Biernat and Fuegen, 2001)and women are less likely to self-promote (Valian, 1999). You can help counteract any unintended bias by taking proactive steps to ensure that women and underrepresented candidates are considered for your short list.
  • Notify those not selected for further consideration.

Interview the Finalists

Determine whether it is necessary to conduct telephone interviews for a short list of semi-finalists (10-12). If so, develop a consistent set of questions to be asked of each candidate and determine how the answers will be rated.

  • Consider interviewing more than one woman and more than one member of an underrepresented group. Research shows that interviewers more fairly evaluate women when there is more than one woman in the candidate pool (Valian, 1999).
  • Follow school or college procedures regarding the final list before contacting candidates.
  • As appropriate to the school or college, develop an interview schedule that includes: time with the search committee; meetings with students, faculty and University personnel; a seminar presentation; and hosted lunch and/or dinner. See Suggestions for Interviews. Be sure that all candidates receive equal treatment. and that you use inclusive language.  For example, do not presume all candidates are heterosexual. Be conscious of terms that assume heterosexuality (i.e. use “partner” or “significant other” instead of “spouse,” remembering that it is illegal to ask any candidate whether s/he is married).
  • Explain to the candidates the interview process and give them a timeline for results. Let them know the committee chair’s role in the process and that it is okay to call and ask questions.
  • Know the procedures for travel expenses and reimbursement for entertainment. Check with your college or school and review UW rules for travel. See UW Travel.
  • Offer all candidates information on whom to contact to discuss any special requirements or circumstances, such as the need for partner job assistance or disability accommodation. ).
  • Search committees may have difficulty determining what constitutes fair and legal pre-employment inquiries. All inquiries, whether on forms, during interviews, or when requesting information concerning applicants, must comply with federal and State law. Guidelines for Pre-Employment Inquiries reflects current State and federal requirements.

Conclude and Wrap-up

  • Solicit written remarks from those that met with or interviewed candidates. A rating form can be developed for this purpose. (For an example of a form to use, refer to page 16 of the University of Michigan ADVANCE faculty recruitment  handbook.)
  • Consider social science research which shows that women and men both negotiate and self-promote differently and be sure to offer women and/or members of underrepresented groups competitive salaries on par with majority men in your department.
  • Personally call or email all finalists not selected as soon as the candidate selected has accepted the position offer. Follow-up with a formal letter.

Impact of Initiative 200 on Recruitment

  • The passage of Initiative 200 in November of 1998 changed the way in which diversity recruitment is done in the State of Washington.  The initiative made discrimination or preferential treatment based on race or gender in the hiring process illegal.  The exact text of section 1.1 of the initiative reads, “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
  • In terms of recruitment at the UW, we can and should engage in outreach efforts to ensure that we attract diverse candidates for each of our positions.  This outreach can be achieved through networking amongst diverse communities and marketing your position to a broad and set of job boards amongst other methods.  The limitations imposed by I-200 can be confusing.  Should you have any questions about whether a recruitment procedure is legal according to I-200, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the Office of the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, or the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity before proceeding.

References

Biernat, M. and Kathleen Fuegen (2001). Shifting Standards and the Evaluation of Competence: Complexity in Gender-Based Judgment and Decision Making. Journal of Social Issues, 57 (4), 707-724.

Valian, Virginia (1999) Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.

Ibid. See especially Chapter 7.

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