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Candidate Review & Selection

A unit will use a well-defined and consistent plan to assess candidates and make selections during this process. Prior engagement with the hiring team in the planning and outreach stages will allow for an effective selection process, where the unit’s commitments to diversity and inclusion should be apparent. A candidate review that is thoughtful and consistent will allow for an effective and successful candidate hire.

Assessment Rubric. One of the most effective methods for maintaining balance and consistency is to use a rubric. A rubric is an assessment tool that aligns the stated position requirements and priorities in a way that can be used to evaluate an application package. Though time-intensive on the front-end, one of the advantages of using a rubric is that it minimizes subjectivity and increases opportunity for a more thoughtful and objective approach to screening. Consider doing the following:

  • Create a rubric that is based on the criteria in the job ad before the position is posted;
  • Apply the assessment rubric consistently for all applicants;
  • Scoring an applicant’s materials for ‘proof points’ during evaluation.

Click here for a sample rubric for an assistant director of communications position.

Initial Screening. Many hiring managers find candidate evaluation to be one of the most tedious phases of the process. Use the minimum qualifications listed in the ad as a guide for screening applicants. It is important to maintain consistency to stay true to the priorities identified when the job ad was created. Attempting to vastly narrow the pool at this stage is unnecessary and can disadvantage candidates who might not appear as qualified at first glance. Consider the initial screening a ‘first look’ before moving to something a bit more thoughtful.

Applicant Review. Once the initial screening is complete, carefully review each applicant in the context of what has been submitted: resume, cover letter, and diversity statement (if/when collected). During the review, be mindful of biases that may be present.  Beware of over-valuing applications that arrive early in the process, or simply giving them more attention. Wait until the priority deadline before reading any applications, and organize applications by some method other than order of arrival.

Interviews. This stage in the hiring process allows the interview team to get to know applicants and follow up on application materials. Develop an interview protocol that is within the scope of the position and use it consistently. If the applicant pool was very large with highly qualified applicants, semi-final interviews will be a good investment in time as they can be conducted by phone or WebEx/Skype if desired. This will minimize both time and budget impact but still allow for further assessment of each candidate’s potential match for the position. Semi-final interviews also allow for candidates to determine fit from their perspective – potentially reducing the possibility that a candidate drops out at the finalist stage. Finalist interviews are more formal and lengthy in nature – preferably these should take place in-person, unless budget constraints prohibit it (i.e. in the instance of an out-of-state candidate). Planning for in-person interviews may be more complex, especially if you are working with an interview panel, but it is important to ensure interview questions are aligned with the criteria in the assessment rubric. Ideally, all interviewers are familiar with the rubric at this point and can formally rate the applicants based on the written materials and interview responses.

Consider the following for every candidate’s interview:

  • Incorporate behavioral questions to gain insight into the job candidates’ past experiences;
  • Include interviewers with diverse skill sets for team interviews;
  • Be consistent and use the same set of questions for each candidate;
  • Ask candidate questions about their experiences related to diversity, equity, and inclusion;

Be sure to use the fair and unfair inquiries as a guideline.

Reference checks. Some hiring managers prefer to conduct reference checks between the semi-final and final stage, and some prefer to conduct the checks following the final interview. Again, consistency is essential to the process. Reference checks should always be conducted in a similar manner and format using an agreed upon unit template. A general guide is to conduct three reference checks for the successful candidate before extending an offer to hire. Please consult with your unit’s HR administrator for guidance and regulations.

Decision Making & Hiring.

The final hiring decision is dependent upon carefully reviewing all data and making a recommendation to the position’s hiring manager. Items to consider in the decision making process:

  • Avoid prematurely labeling any candidate as the “most promising” until all candidates are interviewed;
  • Debrief as a search committee/interview panel to compare notes and identify strengths and weaknesses for all candidates;
  • Use identified strengths and weaknesses to help inform an individualized onboarding plan – especially if the candidate is new to the UW;
  • Focus on each candidate’s track record of achievements and qualifications to meet the requirements of the position as they have been ranked in the assessment rubric.

If you work in a highly collaborative unit where each finalist had an opportunity to interact with staff, collect feedback and and create an analysis of each candidate. It is helpful to have your search committee.interview panel identify strengths and weakness for all finalists. Besides having ‘hard data’ to support which candidate would be the best match, a thoughtful assessment of strengths and weaknesses can be helpful when you create a list of recommendations for on-boarding the selected candidate. Every new hire needs and deserves an on-boarding plan – especially if they are new to the UW. Take the information and data from your committee and think about the needs of your new hire so that their start at the UW is successful. It is important to consult with your unit’s HR administrator at this stage so that each step aligns with central HR.