Conducting Effective Searches:
Orientation for Search Committees
What Are The University's
• To establish diverse pools of quality candidates, using proactive efforts
to include members of underrepresented groups throughout the search
• To fairly screen, evaluate, and select the best candidates for positions.
• To fully document the search process.
• To provide new employees with the tools to succeed.
Selecting Diversity-Sensitive Search Committees
Select individuals -- especially as chairpersons -- who:
• Are highly regarded in department/university/community.
• Have respect of diverse constituencies.
• Have experience in searches that have been successful in recruiting
minorities and women.
• Are skilled at conducting respectful, effective meetings.
• Are knowledgeable about equal opportunity/affirmative action.
• Include women and minorities if possible.
Increasing the Odds: General Recruiting
• Begin searches early before the busiest competitive period.
• Review position description to ensure that it addresses genuinely needed
qualifications without including factors that might unnecessarily limit the applicant
• If there is a choice of specialty areas, consider searching for either, rather than
• Use an open-ended application deadline -- e.g., “review of applicants will
begin ____ and continue until the position is filled.”
• Use a personal approach in recruiting applicants -- Get on the phone!
• Re-advertise or undertake additional recruiting efforts during the search, if necessary.
• Consult your Unit Affirmative Action Coordinator for assistance in formulating and
executing the search plan.
Unit Affirmative Action Coordinator
Examples of Recruiting Resources
Available from AA Coordinator
• Mailing lists
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Other minority institutions
Women and minority-focused professional organizations
Women and minority-focused electronic listservs
UA Black Faculty and Staff Association members
• Calendar of women and minority-focused professional conferences
• Practical aids and technical advice
(model letters and forms, checklists, guidelines)
Required EO Statement
• All advertisements and announcements minimally must include the phrase
“An Equal Opportunity Employer” or “An EO/AA Employer.”
Additional positive language inviting applications from women,
minorities, persons with disabilities, and Vietnam-era and special disabled
veterans can be added.
• After the EO statement is a good place to add a statement about reasonable
accommodations for persons with disabilities.
For example: “Reasonable accommodation in the application and interview process may be
requested by contacting the search chair” or [name and phone # of appropriate department
Building A Diverse Applicant Pool
• Publicize the position in a manner that specifically targets
women and minorities.
• Seek actively to identify qualified applicants from these groups.
For Expanding Recruitment Efforts for Minorities,
Women, and Other Underrepresented Groups
• Minority and women scholar organizations
• Women and minority program offices
• Professional caucuses or organizations that are organized around
women or minority concerns
• Internet discussion groups
• Minority and women scholars/ professionals on- and off-campus
• Community agencies related to underrepresented groups
• Meetings of professional organizations
• Journals targeted at women and minority readerships
• Ethnic Studies departments (for relevant disciplines)
• Minority and women doctoral directories
• Departments in HBCUs and other predominantly minority institutions
Priority Areas for Active
Efforts to build a diverse applicant pool should be particularly vigorous:
if the unit has a goal under the University’s Affirmative Action Plan and
for higher-level administrative positions -- “particularly positions with
important policy making responsibilities.”
The above-quoted language is from the Title VI state desegregation remedial
decree, which imposes a legal obligation on the University to demonstrate
“material improvement” in the employment of African-Americans in positions
of important administrative responsibilities. The Court is closely monitoring the
University’s compliance with the decree. Thus, it is critical that hiring officials
and search committees for faculty and administrative positions, particularly
positions with important policy making responsibilities, exert extra efforts to
recruit and hire African-Americans and thoroughly document all such efforts,
whether successful or not.
Active Recruiting Continuum
Good Better Best
Advertisement Direct Mailings Individual Contacts
Professional newsletters To women’s colleges, Telephone calls to colleagues
and journals directed at HBCUs and other pre- at other universities to identify
women and minorities dominantly minority potential candidates
To women- and minority- Contacts with department
focused professional advisors and placement staffs
organizations at HBCUs, other minority
institutions and women’s
To women and minority Face-to-face contacts at
caucus membes of pro- conferences
Evaluating Applicant Pools
with Diversity in Mind
Remember to keep an open mind about:
• Interruptions in degree programs or work careers
(e.g, to care for a parent or children or because of a disability)
• Reputation of degree or employing-institution
(Stars have come out of lesser known institutions. Institutional reputation alone, however
well deserved, should not preclude consideration of applicants from other solid schools.)
• Careers begun in or including government, business, voluntary service, or other
(frequently sources of 1st-time employment for women, minorities, veterans, and persons
with disabilities as well as necessary employment options for ‘trailing spouses’ in dual
career couple relocations)
• The value and transferability of skills and experience acquired in those settings.
Actively work to minimize the effects of stereotypes in screening candidates.
For example, do not assume that young and energetic are synonymous, or that stability and good
judgment are functions of age.
Fair Screening and Selection
• Consistent treatment of applicants at each stage of the
• Consistent evaluation of all applicants.
• Stated qualifications provide the basis for the selection
criteria used in the final decision.
Methods To Assure Objective Applicant Screening
• Applicant Screening Checklist
• Candidate Rating Form
• Predetermined Set of Core Interview Questions
• Panel Interviews
Tend to be more focused and job-related because panel members are
accountable to each other. They are aware that they are being observed; therefore,
questions tend to be more to the point and personal biases are reduced. Also, by
participating simultaneously, all interviewers are able to base their evaluations
on the same sample of behavior.
Avoid Statements Which COULD be
Construed as Discriminatory
• Candidates should not be questioned about child care arrangements,
plans for family, etc.
• Marital status should not be discussed unless the candidate indicates that
employment options for his/her spouse is a factor to be considered.
• Comments about a candidate’s physical appearance are inappropriate,
even when intended as compliments.
• Avoid introducing race, religion, national origin, sex, and other such
factors as subjects of discussion. For example, do not say, “You would be
the only African-American in the department. Would that make you
• Avoid expressing value judgments about University social life which could
be expected to discourage women, unmarried, or minority candidates.
Provide factual information, if asked, but leave the appraisal to the
Job Interview Guidelines
Relating to Disabilities
• The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits inquiries that elicit
information about an applicant’s disability or history of disability during
the pre-offer stage of the hiring process.
• If an applicant has a known disability or has volunteered information about
a disability, the interviewer may not ask questions about:
-the nature or severity of the disability
-the condition causing the disability
-any prognosis or expectation regarding the condition or disability
-whether the disability will require treatment or special leave.
• May provide information about functions of the job, work hours, leave
policies, and any special attendance needs of the job and ask if the applicant
can meet these requirements.
• If an applicant has a known disability that might interfere with or prevent
performance of job functions, s/he may be asked to describe or demonstrate
how these functions will be performed.
Documenting the Search
• Support the hiring decision should a department be called
upon to document its choice or the fairness of the search.
• Comply with federal requirements to retain a complete record
of the recruitment and selection process.
Record Keeping During a Search
All “good faith efforts” of the search should be documented in detail
(dates, names, locations, and results of personal contacts).
At minimum, the search files should contain:
• copies of announcements, advertising and other solicitations for
applications and nominations
• applications and supporting materials
• reference checks
• record of communications with applicants, including all applicant and
• nominee correspondence
• record of screening and selection criteria
• candidate assessments
Search file should be transferred to Human Resources at the
conclusion of searches.
Notifying Unsuccessful Applicants
• Bring closure to the process with a letter to unsuccessful applicants.
• Use “best” or “best-suited” language if pressed about a reason for non-
selection. (For example: "Another individual was determined to be the
candidate best-suited for the position." )
• Never say the word “overqualified” - or otherwise indicate that an
applicant did not receive full consideration.
• Be courteous but brief. You are under no obligation to discuss the
New Employee Orientation and Support
• Help new employee to be successful and to feel
comfortable in his/her new environment
Being Proactive in the New
After an offer of employment has been extended and accepted
provide the new employee with the necessary tools to succeed.
• Provide a thorough new employee orientation.
• Provide assistance with college and campus resources, housing, shopping,
and community services.
• Promote collegiality, take steps to promote interaction with other faculty
and/or staff members.
• Supervisory training is available through Human Resources for new
• Identify or facilitate mentoring opportunities for informal guidance and
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs
Unit Affirmative Action Coordinators
Graphics: Debbie Kornegay, C&BA student