To support the work of faculty search committees, the Office of Faculty Affairs offers consultation services on a wide range of essential topics in faculty recruitment and selection. Through informal discussions of examples and reflective planning documents, we share and help departments implement best practices that are now commonly used in faculty searches in the United States. These practices are designed to attract large, diverse applicant pools and ensure the use of lawful selection processes to identify candidates who can best help a department or college achieve its mission.
Consultations are available year-round. However, most topics are best addressed during the summer months through early fall, based on the timing of full-time faculty hiring processes already in place at Georgia State. The Office of Faculty Affairs suggests a minimum lead time of approximately 1-2 weeks when making your request.
A request for a consultation should be made by the department chair or Dean’s representative by completing the form below . Responding to the particular needs of the department or college, the Office of Faculty Affairs will share information about contemporary best practices through discussion of examples, reflective planning documents, helpful templates, and other useful online resources.
Consultations may be helpful for a varied audience. These include faculty members playing key roles in faculty recruitment and/or strategic planning, department chairs, members of Dean’s offices who provide leadership and support for faculty recruitment and selection, and department staff supporting recruitment and selection. The most appropriate audience may vary based on the topic and the department’s and college’s needs.
Faculty excellence is central to the pursuit of Georgia State University’s strategic plan, including its update in 2016. To assist departments and colleges in achieving excellence in faculty recruitment and selection through the use of equitable, inclusive, lawful, and rigorous processes, this guidance synthesizes best practices drawn from both academic and human resources contexts. This guidance is intended help inform departments and colleges about contemporary practices in recruitment and selection; accordingly, it is kept distinct from required hiring procedures and forms, which are housed separately on our website. The guidance offered here can be adapted to the unique needs of individual positions, departments, and colleges as they carry out their missions in support of the university’s strategic plan. This guidance supplements resources already available to departments and colleges and is applicable to both tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty positions.
At Georgia State, faculty recruitment and selection are carried out by individuals with varied backgrounds, including faculty members, department chairs, staff, and academic administrators. To assist this collaborative effort, this guidance provides a common vocabulary rooted in contemporary practices, and it outlines ways in which these practices can effectively be applied to a faculty context. An important starting point is a shared understanding of three key phases in this process:
|Think of it like marshaling evidence for a scholarly argument – the more evidence you obtain, from a wider array of sources, the stronger your argument can be||Think of it like a rubric – to ensure that you grade student work consistently and fairly, outline the criteria for strong work and develop a clear evaluation system|
|Key topics include:||Key topics include:||Key topics include:
Our efforts to recruit and select faculty take place in a larger context of federal laws, state laws, and university policies. The resources gathered here will further compliance with both the letter and spirit of these laws and policies.
The Georgia State Faculty Hiring Policy specifies that “interviews should be conducted with every assurance that the University is complying with State, Federal and its own policies on AA/EEO.” Search committee members can assist in this process by reviewing Georgia State’s statement on equal opportunity and affirmative action:
“It continues to be the policy of Georgia State University to implement affirmative action and equal opportunity for all employees, students and applicants for employment or admission without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability.
The university’s affirmative action program and related policies are developed in compliance with Executive Orders 11246 and 11375, as amended; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 503 & 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title 11) and their implementing regulations; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as it amends 38 U.S.C. 4212.
In conformance with the federal regulations listed above, Georgia State University does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment or against any student or applicant for admission with regard to any opportunity for which the employee or student is qualified. Persons wishing to file complaints under the provisions of this policy should contact the AVP of Opportunity Development/Diversity Education Planning, 1 Park Place SE Suite 527, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3085, 404-413-2569.
Every member of this university community is expected to uphold this policy as a matter of mutual respect and fundamental fairness in human relations. The policy has my unequivocal support. I expect all members of the staff, faculty and student body to join me in order to ensure that nondiscriminatory practices are followed at Georgia State University.
Mark P. Becker, President”
Affirmative action in employment is sometimes misconceived as a quota system or preferential hiring. At Georgia State, affirmative action referenced in the statement above “requires that special efforts be made to employ and advance in employment qualified women and minorities in areas where they are employed in fewer number than is consistent with their availability in the relevant labor market. Affirmative action also extends to persons with disabilities and disabled or Vietnam era veterans. The University seeks to employ and promote qualified candidates. Consistent with this practice, affirmative action requires that where the best candidates for a position are otherwise equally well qualified, the individual(s) selected should be the one(s) who will contribute to the achievement of affirmative action goals” (http://odaa.gsu.edu/resources/aaeeo-definitions/). The legal basis of affirmative action in employment is summarized at ODDEP Federal and State Laws.
The areas where women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and disabled or Vietnam era veterans are employed in fewer numbers than is consistent with their availability in the relevant labor market are highlighted in Georgia State University’s Affirmative Action Plan. Efforts to remove barriers to the employment of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and disabled or Vietnam era veterans commonly include expanded efforts in outreach and recruitment to increase the pool of qualified individuals from these groups. Relevant guidance is available through Spreading the Word about Your Faculty Position and Recruitment as an Ongoing Process.
Equal Employment Opportunity
This refers to the right of persons to apply and be evaluated for employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, disability, or status of a disabled or Vietnam Era Veteran. It guarantees everyone the right to be considered solely on the basis of his or her ability to perform the duties of the job in question, with or without reasonable accommodations as appropriate. Equal Employment Opportunity does not involve preferences (http://odaa.gsu.edu/resources/aaeeo-definitions/). The legal basis of equal employment opportunity is summarized at ODDEP Federal and State Laws.
A well-written faculty job announcement provides a solid foundation for the consideration of applicants solely on the basis of their abilities to perform the duties of the job in question. Please see the Concise Guide to Faculty Job Announcements, with particular attention to section 4, Qualifications.
In compliance with federal law and the University System of Georgia’s records retention policy, recruitment records must be retained for three years after the search is completed. Relevant materials include:
- Approvals of recruitment proposals
- Copies of Affirmative Action compliance data forms
- Requests to fill academic position forms
- Approval to hire forms
- Curricula vitae
- Samples of writing or publications
- Candidate lists
- Position announcements
- Position advertisements
- Position descriptions
- Certificates of Eligibility
- Interview materials: schedules, rating sheets, tallies, screening and interview notes, review committee notes and memoranda
- Telephone conversation notes
- Related correspondence, such as cover letters and reference letters
Retention of these records is important not only to document Georgia State’s compliance with relevant employment laws, but also to support an ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of past recruitment efforts.
Departments can expand and diversify the pool of qualified applicants they generate for a search if they are proactive in their efforts and engage in recruitment on a continuous basis. This means using recruitment strategies well before beginning a search. Effective ongoing recruitment strategies focus on developing strong personal and institutional relationships over time rather than waiting until a search is approved to begin identifying and engaging applicants.
Departments that employ these recruitment strategies in advance of a particular search understand that the applicant pool is what they make it. For example, departments seeking to diversify their faculty identify institutions or individuals that have fostered women and underrepresented scholars and build relationships with them well in advance of a search.
5 Ongoing Recruitment Strategies
Here are five ongoing recruitment strategies to consider using before initiating any particular search:
- Hold symposia that bring 3-5 young promising scholars to your department to give a presentation and enjoy a dinner or reception with your faculty and graduate students as an informal networking opportunity. Graduate students can play a key role in organizing the symposia, and they can mentor their younger colleagues in taking on this responsibility.
- At conferences, identify and talk with graduate students and faculty at other institutions, including women and underrepresented scholars. Maintain a list of these scholars and invite some to speak at Georgia State. Even if they’re not currently seeking a faculty position, these scholars, their students, or their colleagues may become applicants, or they may nominate their students for a faculty position after learning about our research profile, diverse students, and advantageous location. Therefore, it’s crucial to address scholars working in any subfield, including those for which you have no immediate hiring need.
- Identify an academic department at a possible feeder institution and have your faculty visit the department, talk to their undergraduate majors about graduate study at Georgia State, and talk to graduate students and faculty informally. Explore the possibility of organizing a co-sponsored symposium, collaborative research experiences, or similar partner activities, which will deepen and sustain these relationships with students and faculty over time. Departments seeking to diversify their faculty should identify and partner with institutions that attract and support women and historically underrepresented students.
- Partner with related departments at Georgia State to host a short conference to expose nearby doctoral students and faculty to our campus and community. Consider a conference theme with cross-disciplinary appeal, appeal for underrepresented students, and/or appeal for those committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education. Include ample time in the schedule for networking and informal exchanges of ideas and experiences. Develop strategies for fostering over time the relationships initiated at the conference. Funding opportunities are listed below.
- Hold Professional Development Workshops open and advertised to graduate students from nearby institutions who will be on the job market in 1-2 years. Departments seeking to diversify their faculty should attract, engage, and support graduate students who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in higher education. Include meals and modest support for their travel expenses.
Specific examples of several of these strategies can be found in Breakthrough Advances in Faculty Diversity, Education Advisory Board, 2008.
A Shared Responsibility
Ongoing recruitment requires time. It becomes feasible when it is a responsibility shared by department members. These steps can build a department culture of shared responsibility for active recruitment:
- Develop an expectation that faculty use every professional trip as an opportunity for recruitment. Ask faculty to report or share their efforts and contacts with the department.
- Encourage all faculty members to contact colleagues or use social media for recruitment purposes.
- Follow Georgia State’s Psychology Department and establish a department diversity committee. It can be charged with ongoing recruitment, among other related faculty and student diversity initiatives, and it can help ensure that the interests of faculty and students are successfully integrated in faculty recruitment efforts.
- Pool resources with other Georgia State departments. Consider hosting interdisciplinary events with related departments in your college or another college.
- Share this 7-minute video overview of recruitment practices with your colleagues to broaden departmental knowledge of contemporary faculty recruitment and selection practices.
Registries and Key Institutions
There are numerous registries or databases of doctoral and postdoctoral scholars that may help in ongoing recruitment efforts. Examples include:
A database of Ph.D. and postdoctoral scholars pursuing academic careers. No cost.
Links women and under-represented minority candidates from engineering, science, and business with positions at universities nationwide. The résumé database can be searched by position type and keyword. No cost.
A subscription is required to access this database.
Access résumés for a modest per-month fee.
A longer list of databases, affinity groups, and institutions, including discipline-specific resources, is maintained by the Office of Faculty Affairs. Contact us at AssocProvFA@gsu.edu for help identifying additional sources appropriate to your department’s goals.
Internal funding for research-focused conferences at Georgia State is available through URSA’s Internal Grants Program. External funding opportunities for conferences, seminars, and workshops include:
For additional funding options, see the Pivot grants database.
Consider partnering with corporate or community organizations to sponsor seminars, professional development workshops, or similar programs with a recruitment component.
Need more help?
Contact the Office of Faculty Affairs for additional help developing an effective ongoing recruitment strategy.
This concise guidance synthesizes required language and recommendations based on best practices used at GSU and other universities. Additional guidance can be obtained at any time by contacting us at AssocProvFA@gsu.edu.
This guidance is general and is designed to be adaptable to a broad range of full-time faculty positions at GSU to help you attract large, diverse pools of applicants who are well-qualified for the job responsibilities. The exact wording and realization of any one announcement will vary based on the proportion of teaching, research, and service responsibilities for a particular faculty position.
Organizing your job announcement in the following 6 sections will help you attract a large, diverse, and high-quality applicant pool and give your search committee a clear structure for its work.
1. Compelling Opening Paragraph
Your opening paragraph should generate enthusiasm about the position by:
- describing in a compelling and distinctive way the new hire’s contributions to the department/college/university’s strategic initiative(s) and vision and
- conveying a supportive environment for the new hire.
To do this:
- Highlight how the new hire will contribute to something – often a specific, forward-looking strategic initiative
- Convey how the new hire will be part of a team, cohort, or other supportive community
- Say what resources will be available to support the new hire’s success (e.g., facilities, a center, groups of people, time/financial support)
- Smoothly incorporate the position title in this section
2. Describing GSU
This second paragraph will ideally reinforce themes in the opening paragraph. Here is an example:
Georgia State University, an enterprising R-1 university located in Atlanta, is a national leader in using innovation to drive student success and research growth. Enrolling and graduating one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, Georgia State provides its world-class faculty and more than 50,000 students unsurpassed research, teaching, and learning opportunities in one of the 21st century’s great global cities.
Include a clear and concise paragraph stating the job responsibilities or duties. Consider how the language you use here sustains or breaks the welcoming and supportive tone established in the first paragraph.
An example for a teaching-focused position is “The selected candidate can anticipate teaching X, Y, and Z courses and participating in service at the program, department. . . . level.”
An example for a position with significant research responsibilities is “The selected candidate will be responsible for maintaining an active, funded research agenda, teaching X and Y courses, and . . .”
For immigration compliance purposes, “The duties will include teaching, research, and service responsibilities in the areas of . . .” is an acceptable statement.
The qualifications instantly shape the size and make-up of the applicant pool. They are essential to equitable and lawful selection processes.
The search committee’s work will be clarified and implicit bias can be interrupted more effectively if the announcement includes 2 bulleted lists of qualifications: essential and preferred.
- Applicants must have all essential qualifications to be considered for screening interviews. This list should address education and key skills and experiences that are truly essential to perform this specific job at GSU. Because this list of essential qualifications will be used for the first screening stage, it should not be excessively long or restrictive.
- The preferred qualifications outline key skills and experiences that predict an ability to perform this job at GSU better. Well-written preferred qualifications provide multiple ways for applicants from diverse backgrounds to demonstrate their ability to perform the job at this higher level. The preferred qualifications may be used to develop multiple short lists enabling the search committee to consider applicants with varied strengths. It is not necessarily expected that the finalists invited to campus interviews will possess all the preferred qualifications.
Qualifications should support the themes in the opening paragraph and the paragraph about GSU.
In an open rank announcement, indicate what qualifications are needed for each rank.
Criteria used in all stages of the selection process will be developed from these lists of qualifications.
5. Application Materials
Consider these questions when choosing what application materials to request:
- What kind of barrier or burden does producing a particular piece of evidence place, on whom? How might that exclude or disadvantage certain applicants?
- How may a particular piece of evidence reveal more about an individual applicant’s interest in, and suitability for, your position at GSU?
- How much time will it take someone to assemble all these materials up front? Will that turn qualified individuals away from applying?
Here is a simple way of obtaining evidence specifically related to the qualifications at the outset of the selection process without excessively burdening or turning away applicants:
Submit: 1) a letter of application addressing the essential and preferred qualifications; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) [see table below] and 4) names, email addresses, telephone numbers, and titles of at least three professional references.
Sources of Evidence Supporting Selection Criteria
|For Research-Related Criteria||For Teaching/Student-Related Criteria||For Other Criteria|
|Letter addressing qualifications||Letter addressing qualifications||Letter addressing qualifications|
|Research statement||Teaching statement||Leadership philosophy|
|Letter of recommendation||Letter of recommendation||Letter of recommendation|
|Research sample(s)||Video of teaching, sample teaching materials||Licenses or certifications|
|Student evaluations||Leadership statement|
|Diversity/equity statement||Diversity/equity statement||Diversity/equity statement|
|Unofficial transcripts||Unofficial transcripts||Unofficial transcripts|
|Skype/WebEx interviews||Skype/WebEx interviews||Skype/WebEx interviews|
|Reference calls||Reference calls||Reference calls|
|Research presentation||Teaching demonstration|
|Meetings with faculty, followed by feedback forms||Meetings with students, followed by feedback forms||Open forum, followed by feedback forms|
6. Closing Language
Closing language will vary according to the details of the particular search. In the following example, the required language is in bold.
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To ensure consideration, submit all materials by DATE. Should you be recommended for a position, an offer of employment will be conditional on background verification. Wording here may also address other matters as required by your college or department.
Georgia State University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against applicants due to race, ethnicity, gender, veteran status, or on the basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class. As a university with a diverse student body, we encourage applications from women, minorities, and individuals with a history of mentoring under-represented minorities in DISCIPLINE.
Please note that specifying a salary may create problems in relation to immigration compliance.
Contact OFA for additional assistance, example s of language, or feedback on a draft announcement by contacting us at AssocProvFA@gsu.edu.
The search committee plays several important roles:
- It has a powerful role in determining which applicants are given further consideration.
- It represents the department, the college, and Georgia State as a whole, both directly through its interactions and communications with applicants, and indirectly as applicants share their experiences with their immediate colleagues, their discipline, and the broader community of academic job-seekers.
- Each committee member can be an important resource for the selected candidate when acclimating to Georgia State.
For all these reasons, departments should form their committees by considering factors in addition to disciplinary expertise. The Faculty Hiring Policy stresses that “departments are encouraged to establish committees with diverse membership.” Effective search committees include:
- A diversity of perspectives
- A diversity of expertise
- Demographic diversity
- Members who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion through their teaching, research, and/or service
In particular, the Faculty Hiring Policy encourages departments to include women and underrepresented minorities on faculty search committees. Diverse search committee membership helps ensure that a balance of perspectives is used when evaluating applicants and when determining whether to extend a search at a particular point. It also sends an important message to applicants about the department’s—and Georgia State’s—commitment to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive community.
Who Can Be on a Faculty Search Committee?
|Possible Members beyond Department Faculty||Benefits of Inclusion|
|Faculty from other department(s) or college(s)||
|Member of the larger community||
All search committee members, regardless of faculty, student, staff, or community member status, must be fully involved in the search, including the evaluation of candidates and the development and use of interview questions. Committee members from non-faculty backgrounds should not be given secondary or secretarial roles.
Minimum Size of the Committee
The minimum size of the faculty search committee is governed by the Faculty Hiring Policy, which states “A department with 15 or more faculty shall have a search committee consisting of at least 5 members; a smaller department shall have a committee consisting of at least 3 members.”
The Office of Faculty Affairs is happy to help you in your efforts to develop and prepare an effective search committee. For assistance with this topic, please contact us at AssocProvFA@gsu.edu.
Spreading the word about a faculty position now encompasses many strategies beyond traditional advertising. Print advertisements cannot be relied on as primary means of generating a large, diverse, and robust applicant pool. Job announcements and links should be shared through:
- Social media
- Emails to relevant groups, including
- Special interest groups of your discipline’s national organization(s)
- Affinity groups of professionals in your field
- Online posting on national, general academic job boards (e.g., HigherEdJobs)
- Online communications targeting women and/or minority scholars
- Print and/or electronic advertisements in academic journals
- Personal outreach by email and/or phone
- Invite scholars to apply
- Ask colleagues for nominations; specifically ask for the inclusion of women and underrepresented nominees
To make using a broad range of these strategies feasible, involve rest of your department, including both faculty members and graduate students. See Recruitment as an Ongoing Process for ways they can assist.
Keep this broad range of strategies in mind and indicate how you will use them in Appendix B of the Faculty Vacancy Packet when prompted to list “the types and names of media and other methods of advertising, affirmative action, strategies, organizations, committees, associations and individuals contacted to generate a diverse and qualified pool, etc.) List all ad sources, including print ad and target recruitment ad sources.”
Generating a Large, Diverse Pool of Applicants
This broad range of strategies is needed to effectively engage:
- members of a multi-generational workforce who communicate in varied ways,
- scholars engaged in interdisciplinary work and active beyond the “major” disciplinary organization(s) of an individual department,
- applicants who have pursued varied academic and professional trajectories relevant to the discipline,
- demographically diverse applicants, including women and underrepresented minorities, and
- both active- and passive-jobseekers.
Reaching across these varied groups creates a large and diverse pool of applicants.
Online and personal communications that target women and minority scholars are important for all searches. These techniques will both enlarge and diversify the pool. More diverse applicant pools positively impact biases that are often at play in the consideration of individual women and underrepresented minority applicants who progress through the short-list stage to the finalist stage (Heilman 1980, Van Ommeren 2005; Johnson, Hekman, and Chan 2016).
Departments seeking to diversify their applicant pools should make a shared effort to target:
- Institutions serving diverse populations of graduate students
- Individual faculty known for effectively mentoring underrepresented doctoral students
- Affinity groups and online job-boards dedicated to reaching underrepresented scholars
Finally, the deadline established for the applications has a significant impact on the applicant pool. An “open until filled” search with a priority deadline for consideration can greatly assist in developing larger pools, and it can allow the search committee to continue its work without interruption should the pool be found insufficient at a particular stage in the selection process.
Minimum Advertising Requirements for Hiring Non-U.S. Citizens
Departments who may be interested in hiring a faculty member using an H-1B visa must follow the Department of Labor hiring requirements for permanent residency sponsorship. These requirements are detailed at U.S. Permanent Residency Faculty Advertisements.
A non-U.S. citizen will only be able to be hired if the job announcement and advertising plan meet U.S. Department of Labor requirements. The job announcement must:
- Include the job title, job requirements (i.e., education, experience), and job duties.
- Appear in an electronic or print version of a national professional journal that contains articles that pertain to the academic discipline or profession of the journal (an example is The Chronicle of Higher Education)
- If advertised electronically, the ad must be posted for a minimum of 30 consecutive days.
Retain documentation that the duration requirement was met, such as the tear sheet from a print ad or printouts of an online ad made on the first and last date it appeared, showing the date of printing. Documentation may also be a letter or statement from the journal confirming that the ad ran for 30 calendar days, the exact date it ran, and a copy of the text of the advertisement.
The Office of Faculty Affairs is happy to help you develop an effective plan for raising awareness of your opening to meet your department’s needs. For assistance with this topic, please contact us at AssocProvFA@gsu.edu.
For any one qualification included in the job announcement, what is the bar that candidates must meet to remain under consideration at the next stage in the process? Selection criteria answer this question.
Why Are Criteria Important?
Clearly articulated and documented selection criteria are the foundation of a consistent and equitable selection process (see Legal and Policy Context).
A systematic, criteria-based approach to evaluating applicants in the faculty selection process has several benefits over an approach that involves a rapid and possibly intuitive identification and separation of a top group of candidates. The latter approach may lead committees to overlook strong candidates who come from backgrounds different from those reflected in the department or have strengths that may not be immediately recognized. It can leave the committee without clear direction if some candidates can no longer be considered for any reason immediately before or after on-campus interviews, or if the committee decides to expand the pool at a late point by reviewing applications received after the priority deadline.
The type of methodical, consistent, and rigorous evaluation approach outlined here has additional strengths. Articulating criteria helps ensure that all committee members have a shared understanding of the qualifications and are prepared to evaluate applicants consistently. Criteria help ensure that applicants are measured against a consistent standard, rather than a shifting standard, or in relation to a “top” candidate. This, in turn, ensures that all members of the search committee have an equal voice and guards against forceful and opinionated committee members from disproportionately influencing the outcome. Clear criteria also help establish continuity in the evaluation process as other faculty and students join the process during on-campus interviews.
When to Develop Criteria
Committee members need to reach consensus on and establish clear criteria before reviewing applicants’ materials. These criteria are the foundation of the consistent and equitable selection process that follows.
Criteria can also be developed earlier in the process when the job announcement is drafted. This will ensure that the application materials requested in the announcement will give the committee sufficient information to evaluate all applicants using the criteria. It can also help create an announcement that communicates committee and department expectations more clearly to applicants, improving the quality of the applicant pool.
How to Develop Selection Criteria
Committees develop selection criteria from the qualifications listed in the job announcement. Committees can reach consensus on selection criteria by posing questions for discussion.
Examples of questions to help produce criteria used in the initial screening stages:
- If a PhD in “a related field” was included as an option in the essential qualifications, what are examples of those related fields?
- If an “ability” to do something was specified in one of the essential or preferred qualifications, what would demonstrating this ability look like in the initial application materials? To develop inclusive criteria, include multiple answers to this question based on committee members’ previous experiences with faculty searches.
- If “experience” doing something was specified in one of the essential or preferred qualifications, what would this experience look like in the initial application materials? To develop inclusive criteria, include multiple answers to this question based on committee members’ previous experiences with faculty searches.
Criteria also support later stages in the evaluation process. For example, criteria developed from teaching qualifications for use during on-campus interviews might focus on finalists’ ability to engage GSU students in learning.
It is recommended that search committees get broader departmental input when developing the criteria used in the selection process.
The Importance of Developing Inclusive Criteria
Criteria used in evaluating applicants must be job-related. The race or gender of candidates may not be factors considered in employment decisions (see Legal and Policy Context). However, it is important to consider in advance how the criteria developed for use in the selection process can have significant impacts on the diversity and range of skills represented by the short-listed candidates and finalists. Think carefully about what inclusive excellence means for your department and how certain criteria may include or exclude applicants from further consideration.
- In the absence of clear criteria, some committees may be inclined to exclude from further consideration candidates without a degree from a Tier 1 doctoral program, even those who have impressive publication and grants records. How would a closer and graduated evaluation of the quality of the applicants’ research have a different impact? And could these candidates who would have been otherwise excluded be able to bring additional strengths in teaching and mentoring students from diverse backgrounds?
- Consider the possible impact of criteria on those who have not followed traditional career patterns but may nevertheless be able to help your department reach its goals (e.g., someone whose academic career was interrupted but along the way gained significant practical experience or community experience to bring to your faculty position? These strengths could be instrumental in pursuing particular lines of research, in applying for certain types of grants and for supporting students from diverse backgrounds.
Questions when reviewing possible criteria:
- Is the criterion that you plan to use really essential for someone to succeed in this particular position?
- What strong performers might get excluded by this criterion? How could the criterion be reworded more inclusively?
Criteria restricted to or heavily privileging previous experience may significantly reduce the diversity of candidates who are interviewed. Instead, consider how criteria could be developed to enable a full consideration of the varied strengths of all candidates.
Relative Weight of the Criteria
The search committee should discuss and determine the relative importance of the criteria drawn from the essential or preferred qualifications before beginning to review applications. This will help ensure that a consistent process is used to evaluate applicants. Determining this weighting in advance will help mitigate the impact of bias in the attention given to various types of evidence and the individual strengths, weaknesses, or qualifications of applicants (see Recognizing and Interrupting Bias). In addition, it is unlikely that individual applicants will be rated highly on all criteria. Therefore, having a prioritization of criteria in place at the outset will help the committee determine how to evaluate applicants who have different strengths and combinations of strengths.
Search committees may wish to get departmental input on the relative importance of the selection criteria.
Using and Documenting Your Use of Criteria
The criteria developed above are key to the various stages of the review and selection process and we recommend that their use be documented in some form. Two recommended, complementary forms of documentation are:
1. Evaluation Forms
Criteria-based evaluation forms used at each stage of the selection process assist in recording the committee’s and others’ detailed evaluation of individual applicants. Use such forms when initially evaluating applicants, when creating one or more short lists of applicants to be invited to screening interviews, and then again when determining which of those short-listed applicants to invite for on-campus interviews. Similarly, criteria-based evaluation forms will assist in gathering clear evaluations from other department members invited to participate in finalists’ on-campus interviews. Committees may adapt the samples provided below or develop their own.
2. Cumulative Matrix
A summary of the decision-making process on a cumulative selection matrix serves several purposes. A cumulative matrix gives the committee quick access to the number and names of individuals who met criteria at previous stages of the process in the event that the committee later wants to consider additional individuals for screening or on-campus interviews. A cumulative matrix also helps document how the search has been conducted equitably using consistent job-related criteria to evaluate all applicants: A cumulative matrix commonly includes the committee’s evaluation of each applicant according to the agreed-upon selection criteria and the committee’s rationale for no longer considering each applicant, citing one or more specific job-related reasons that are rooted in the qualifications published in the job announcement. Committees may adapt the samples provided below or use department documents.
Options for Documentation
|Option A||Option B|
|Function and Format||
Requires lesser documentation
Forms refer to qualifications stated in the job announcement
Helps a committee recognize and interrupt bias more effectively (see Recognizing and Interrupting Bias)
Forms refer to more clear criteria elaborating the qualifications in the job announcement
Criteria document the search committee’s shared understanding of the qualifications as applied at each stage in the selection process
|Cumulative Matrix||Cumulative Matrix Using Qualifications||Cumulative Matrix Using Criteria Developed from Qualifications|
Specification of job-related criteria rooted in the published qualifications is important as committee members’ notes and documentation of the selection process may be scrutinized following the completion of the selection process in the event of litigation, an audit, or a public records request. In accordance with federal law and USG policy, documents from all stages of the recruitment and selection processes must be retained (see Legal and Policy Context). More detailed guidance regarding documentation is available at https://hr.umich.edu/sites/default/files/documenting-interview-guidelines.pdf. While the examples in this resource were developed primarily with staff positions in mind, the same principles apply to faculty selection processes.
Developing these clear records of the evaluation process will also assist a reflective assessment of a unit’s past recruitment and selection efforts to inform and strengthen their future search processes.
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“Interrupting Bias in the Faculty Search Process: A Film and Facilitation Guide.” University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, 2010.
Irvin, Sherri. “Evaluating Candidates and Identifying the Short List.” Best Practices for Faculty Recruitment. Office of the Senior Vice President & Provost. University of Oklahoma, August 26, 2016.
Johnson, Stefanie K., David R. Hekman, and Elsa T. Chan. “If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired.” Harvard Business Review, April 26, 2016.
Madera, Juan M., Michelle R. Hebl, and Randi C. Martin, “Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences.” Journal of Applied Psychology 94, no. 6 (2009): 1591-9.
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Moss-Racusin, Corinne A., John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J. Graham, and Jo Handelsman. “Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 41 (2012): 16474-9.
Oregon State University. “Search Advocate Workshop Series Handout.” June 8, 2017.
Roehling, Mark V. and Paulette Granberry Russell, eds. Faculty Search Toolkit: A Resource for Search Committees and Administrators at Michigan State University (NSF ADVANCE Grant #0811205). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 2012.
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Trix, Frances and Carolyn Psenka. “Exploring the Color of Glass: Letters of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty.” Discourse & Society 14, no. 2 (2003): 191-220.
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University of Texas at Austin. Inclusive Search and Recruitment Toolkit for Faculty, Graduate Students, and Postdoctoral Fellows. Office for Inclusion and Equity, 2016.
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Van Ommeren, Jos, Giovanni Russo, Reinout E. De Vries, and Mark Van Ommeren. “Context in Selection of Men and Women in Hiring Decisions: Gender Composition of the Applicant Pool.” Psychological Reports 96, no. 2 (April 2005): 349–60.
We will regularly be adding more guidance and resources in this area in the coming weeks – check back soon!