Unit search committee members are going to solicit and screen applications and ultimately recommend the final list of candidates. This is a substantial responsibility, so Chairs and Directors should consider the composition of committees carefully, and take time to inform the members of best practices and requirements related to faculty searches.

Staffing the Committee

Search committees are usually made up of three to five members with one person appointed as chair, or two people as co-chairs. It is recommended that search committees be composed with a robust mix of people, including:

  • Faculty with diverse perspectives and expertise;
  • Faculty from inside and outside of the unit;
  • Both male and female, senior and junior faculty members;
  • Faculty who themselves are from underrepresented minority groups;
  • Faculty who are committed to diversity and will advocate for women and members of underrepresented groups.
  • A student and/or staff member make excellent ex officio members.

Help the Search Committee Do Their Job Well

  • While it’s possible for units to run faculty searches every year, hiring people is not necessarily what individual faculty members do frequently enough to be experts in it. They are also carrying this service responsibility on top of many other obligations.
  • Chairs and Directors should therefore provide search committee members with clear expectations and inform them about best practices so the committees can successfully generate an excellent candidate pool.
  • The following suggestions are intended to help in this process, and include information from the UW Office of Faculty Advancement’s Recruitment Toolkit:

Encourage Diversity

  • NEW beginning Autumn 2015: The Dean of the College of the Environment will meet with each committee at the beginning of the search to reiterate the College’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce. Coordinate directly with the Dean’s Assistant for a mutually agreeable date and time.
  • The Office of Faculty Advancement is also available to meet with search committees to discuss inclusive recruitment strategies and practices.
  • Have the committee review the UW Advance guide for search committees specifically written to help committees make their best effort towards diversifying the faculty.
  • Discuss strategies for outreach and recruitment by the search committee members themselves, including how they can actively recruit women and members of underrepresented groups.
  • Review Guidelines for Pre-Employment Inquiries to familiarize members with what they can and cannot say to or ask of applicants.
  • Review the College of the Environment’s Guidelines for Selecting and Interviewing Applicants for useful tips on how to most fairly evaluate applications and interview candidates.

Determine Administrative and Operational Details

  • Clarify the role of the search committee – do they only review applications and make interview recommendations, or do they also manage the on-campus interview process as well?
  • Determine if there is administrative support available for the search committee, and what the role and responsibility will be of that person to the search committee.
  • Develop a timeline for the recruitment, interviewing stage, and ultimate date of desired hire decision.
  • Determine the best method for application management and review – often an online repository accessible by all members works well, e.g., Google Docs or a Canvas site.
  • Discuss and determine best methods for communicating with each other, the Chair/Director, and other faculty members in ways that maintain confidentiality.

Clarify Roles and Expectations for Decision-making

  • Develop screening criteria for applications with which all committee members agree. Make sure this criteria is based upon a clear understanding of the attributes of the ideal candidate.
  • When the committee narrows the list of candidates to the top 10 or so, determine if pre-interviews will be conducted and ensure that the same questions are asked of all candidates.
  • If the finalists list does not include women and/or members of underrepresented groups, consider asking the committee to reevaluate the CVs of the strongest candidates from those groups. If necessary, inquire with the Dean’s office about financial support for bringing an additional candidate to campus.
  • Develop an in-person interview structure that is the same for all candidates, and allow for evaluation of the candidates and input by other faculty, staff, and students alike.

Next: Advertising Faculty Jobs