Equity and Inclusion in Hiring: Best Practices for Faculty and Professional Staff Searches
You can download the full PDF version of this document here.
Composing the Search Committee
The Charge to the Search Committee
Dual Career Assistance Appointments of Opportunity
The Equal Opportunity Search Briefing
Saving Documents Related to the Search
Conflicts of Interest
Writing the Position Announcement
Writing the Short Advertisement
Creating an Evaluation Matrix
Why is Strategic Outreach Important?
Ways to Reach Out: Networking, Advertising and Relationship Building
Unconscious Biases in Evaluation of Candidates
Conducting Screening Interviews of Semi-Finalists
Entering Applicant Dispositions into EASE
Seeking Approval to Interview Finalists
Providing Diversity-Related Information to Candidates
Notifying Applicants that the Position is Filled
Standard Recruitment and Hiring Procedures
Sample Position Announcement
Sample Short Advertisement
Sample Evaluation Matrix
Recruitment Template for Distribution at Conferences
Sample Recruitment Plan
Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide
Selected Resources for Western Washington University Employees
This Guide elaborates on the “Standard Recruitment and Hiring Procedures” (See Appendix A) and provides assistance with the process of hiring tenure track faculty and professional staff. It offers suggested best practices to ensure that all of our searches are fair and equitable and create the best possible opportunity to attract diverse applicants. Much of this Guide is also relevant to conducting searches for classified staff. It should be read in conjunction with the Information for Hiring Departments provided by Human Resources.
Why the focus on equity and diversity in the hiring process? At a minimum, federal and state laws, and University policies, prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, and genetic information. Federal affirmative action regulations likewise require proactive efforts to diversify our faculty and staff. The University’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) conducts annual workforce demographic analyses and sets hiring goals for women and employees of color who are underrepresented in specific job groups. Increasing Western Washington University’s (Western’s) employment diversity also supports the University’s mission to “serve the people of the State of Washington, the nation, and the world by bringing together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities.”
As Western’s mission statement recognizes, it is crucial that we prepare all of our students to exist in professional and social worlds that are increasingly heterogeneous and international. A foundational element of this preparation is students’ engagement with diverse professors and staff, including people of color, people of different genders, people with disabilities and veterans. The diverse identities, experiences and perspectives of our faculty and staff likewise create a more vibrant educational environment. In addition to their scholarly, pedagogical and professional contributions to Western, diverse faculty and staff may serve as important mentors and service providers for minority students who may lack an abundance of visible role models within higher education.
Fair and equitable searches require deliberateness from the outset. Applicants will form opinions of Western based upon their assessments of each search process’s fairness, professionalism, and timeliness. How we conduct searches evidences our departmental and institutional values. And in the end, the individuals hired will shape Western’s culture far into the future.
- Hiring authority selects individuals for search committee and provides charge.
- Search committee members review this Guide and HR’s Resources for Conducting a Professional Staff Search or Resources for Conducting a Faculty Search.
- Search committee chair contacts the Equal Opportunity (EO) Office to schedule an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Search Briefing for the committee. EO/AA briefings occur before the position announcement is finalized and the job is advertised.
- Search chair completes and routes the Request to Recruit for Faculty Appointment or Executive Officers and Professional Staff e-form, attaching:
- Position announcement that will be posted on Western’s website
- Short ads to be used in advertising the job opening
- Recruitment plan identifying the search committee members and all outreach that will be conducted for the position
- Evaluation matrix to be used in reviewing applications
- Security Sensitive Position Assessment
- You may not advertise the position until you receive an email from HR informing you that the position is posted on Western’s website.
When building a search committing, the hiring authority should consider factors including potential committee members’ relevant expertise, diversity, ability and willingness to interrupt assumptions and biases and support the candidacy of highly qualified non-traditional applicants, and experience serving on search committees. Every committee member’s participation at all stages of the search will help the University obtain the strongest and most diverse applicant pool possible.1
Why focus on diversity in search committee composition?
The greater the diversity of your search committee, the more potential networks you will be able to leverage to publicize the job opening. Different people may provide diverse insights when evaluating candidates, bolstering the robustness of the committee’s assessment of applicants. The presence of people of color, people with disabilities, LGBT people, people of different genders, and other diverse individuals on search committees can also signal to candidates that Western values diversity and is an inclusive community where they will be welcomed.
At the same time, working to obtain a diverse applicant pool and addressing assumptions and biases that may surface during the search are jobs for the entire committee, not just women and minorities.2 Make sure the full committee understands this, and be ready to address power imbalances that may make junior faculty or staff, women, and minorities less likely to speak up.3
Determine how search committee service will be incentivized and recognized within your college or department and share this with your faculty or staff. If you cannot call on people of color, women, LGBT people, or other diverse individuals in the hiring department to serve on the search committee, consider reaching out to one or more people from a related department or one with which the hiring department collaborates. Western’s Minority Employees Council (MEC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advocacy Council (LGBTAC) may also be able to connect you with members of their organizations who are willing to serve on search committees. Be clear to all committee members that they are being asked to serve because of the important expertise and perspectives they can contribute.
1 For a helpful list of suggestions for chairing an “effective and efficient search committee,” see Eve Fine and Jo Handelsman, Searching for Excellence and Diversity, 2nd ed. (Madison: Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012), 10-11, http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/docs/SearchBook_Wisc.pdf.
2 Fine and Handelsman, Searching for Excellence and Diversity, 8.
3 Fine and Handelsman, Searching for Excellence and Diversity, 15.
At the search committee’s first meeting, the hiring authority should provide a charge to the committee clearly conveying the hiring authority’s expectations for the particular search. Items the hiring authority may choose to address in the charge include:
- The general timeline for the search, importance of attending all committee meetings, and level of interface the hiring authority would like to have with the search committee chair throughout the process. The need to fill some positions quickly should be balanced with the imperative to conduct a thorough and deliberate search to ensure a broad pool of applicants can apply and the best candidate is selected.
- The hiring authority’s expectation that the committee will conduct robust proactive outreach for the position to increase the likelihood of diversity in the pool of top applicants.
- The need to fairly, thoroughly and consistently review all applications, and to conduct multiple reference checks for finalists.
- The number of finalists who should be brought to campus for interviews.
- The desired end result of the committee’s work. Should the search committee present viable finalists to the hiring authority in a ranked list that clearly identifies the committee’s recommendation of whom to hire? Or should the committee give the hiring authority an unranked list of finalists that includes the committee’s comparative evaluation of the finalists in narrative form?
- The committee chairperson’s role as the spokesperson and contact point for all inquiries regarding the search. This helps ensure that questions about the search are answered consistently in both scope and substance.
Before or during a search, it may come to your attention that an incumbent employee or applicant for employment would like their spouse or partner to be considered for a dual career assistance appointment. Review of an individual for a possible dual career appointment must occur separately from the comparative review of candidates for a competitive search, and requires close coordination of the Equal Opportunity Office, hiring department, relevant deans or vice presidents, the Provost or President’s Office, and Human Resources. Please contact the Equal Opportunity Office to discuss this process as soon as practicable after the possibility of a dual career appointment is raised.
The EO Office provides a Search Briefing for all search committee members and the committee’s administrative coordinator before the search documents are finalized and the hiring department begins advertising the position. An exception to this can be made if the hiring authority does not include the search committee in the development of the announcement. In that case, the job announcement may be posted before the search committee meets. Calling the EO Office to schedule this briefing as soon as possible after the search committee is constituted expedites the approvals necessary to advertise the position.
At the EO Search Briefing, an EO Office staff member discusses equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements relative to the particular position being filled, reviews best practices, offers suggestions regarding the position announcement, evaluation matrix and recruitment plan as appropriate, and answers questions. Because the Search Briefing is tailored to the particular position being searched for, and because each search must comply with equal opportunity and affirmative action principles, is important that all members of the search committee attend this meeting even if some recently attended a Search Briefing for a different search.
Hiring departments are responsible for the retention and storage of all evaluative materials related to the search. This includes hard copy and electronic documents such as search committee meeting notes, evaluation matrixes, notes from interviews and reference checks, copies of application materials on which you have made notes, any application materials not submitted via EASE, and emails regarding assessment of the candidates.
Search documents must be kept for three years after the conclusion of the search. In searches for the positions of president, vice president, dean and director, documents should be transferred to University Archives at the conclusion of the retention period. Contact University Archives and Records Management for assistance. Search documents relating to individual applicants are exempt from public disclosure under the Washington Public Records Act, but they are discoverable in legal proceedings and may be retrieved and reviewed in the event a search is challenged.
The search committee should treat its records and deliberations as confidential both during and after the search. At the first committee meeting, discuss what confidentiality means to the committee members, and come to an agreement about confidentiality. Committee members should also be mindful that the University may be required to disclose records in the course of an investigation.
If a search committee member knows a candidate, this should be disclosed to the full committee. A committee member should recuse him or herself from considering any candidate who he or she cannot evaluate impartially. Whether a committee member should recuse him or herself from considering a candidate he or she knows well but feels he or she can assess impartially should be addressed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the search committee chair and the EO Office.
When there are internal candidates for a position, the search committee must be especially vigilant about maintaining confidentiality. Avoid storing interview questions or search committee notes on shared computer drives or putting detailed information in Outlook calendars to which an internal candidate may have access. At the same time, some additional communication with internal candidates may be an appropriate professional courtesy, such as informing an unsuccessful internal candidate that finalists are being invited to campus for interviews. Internal candidates should not be involved in processing other applicants’ materials or evaluating their candidacy, even if the internal candidate is no longer being considered by the search committee for the position.
The position announcement, along with shorter advertisements and other communications with potential applicants or candidates, are important public communications. Academic and professional communities, candidates included, form perceptions of Western based in part on these documents and interactions.
The full position announcement, any short advertisements for the position, and the evaluation matrix used to review applications, must be attached to the Request to Recruit e-form.
A sample position announcement is at Appendix B.
The position announcement drives the entire applicant review process. It must accurately describe the position responsibilities, required and preferred qualifications, application instructions, and the date when review of applications will commence or acceptance of applications will close. You will use the required and preferred qualifications in the position announcement as the basis for evaluating candidates and articulating reasons you are not moving forward with candidates other than those to whom the position is ultimately offered. The position announcement is also a marketing tool, explaining to qualified applicants why they should apply.
Describing the Department and Western
Consider including an affirmative articulation of the hiring department’s commitment to having a diverse applicant pool, such as one of the following:
- “The _____Department strives to further Western’s identity as an institution that welcomes and embraces diversity, and encourages applications from diverse candidates.”
- “The _____ Department supports Western’s mission to bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities, and encourages applications from diverse candidates.”
All criteria on which you will evaluate candidates should be listed as required or preferred qualifications. If candidates must have a particular qualification to be eligible for the position, it is a required qualification. Don’t forget about things like strong organizational and communication skills. The more required qualifications you include, the fewer qualified applicants you will have. But too few required qualifications could result in an unduly large applicant pool. Find the balance.
The qualifications should be as clear to potential applicants as possible. Avoid vernacular that may be understood only at Western or within your department. Make sure everyone on the search committee ascribes the same meaning to the qualifications.
As the diversity of Western’s student population grows – students of color are now 20% of Western’s student body – experience or demonstrated ability to serve diverse students becomes increasingly important. If you will assess candidates on their multicultural competencies, and/or their interpersonal skills and collaborative abilities, include a required or preferred qualification such as the following:
- Ability to collaborate effectively with diverse students and colleagues.
- Ability to work effectively with diverse populations, including multicultural experience and cross-cultural communication skills.
- Demonstrated leadership in promoting equity and diversity.
- Experience working effectively with diverse students and colleagues.
- Experience developing [courses/programs] that serve a diverse student population.
- Excellent interpersonal communication skills.
Eliminate any unnecessary barriers to meeting the job qualifications. Consider how well the draft qualifications measure candidates’ likelihood of future success in the position. Ask yourself whether broader qualifications could still help you assess applicants’ ability to excel in the job.
Applicants must apply online via the Electronic Application System for Employment (EASE). In the position announcement, include instructions about what application materials are required. Most materials can be uploaded to EASE.
When the search committee has narrowed the applicant pool to a shorter list of semi-finalists, you can request additional materials such as a writing sample or teaching evaluations from all candidates in that narrowed pool.
Absent unusual circumstances, positions must be open for at least 30 days. This gives the search committee time to publicize the position widely, including through committee members’ networks and by soliciting the assistance of individuals leading professional and academic caucuses for diverse people in the relevant field. It also gives a broad pool of potential applicants enough time to view the ad and compose a thoughtful application.
Unless there is a particular reason to use a hard deadline for applications, the EO Office advises providing a date when review of applications will begin and stating that the position will remain open until it is filled. This allows the committee to consider excellent candidates who might apply later in the process. It also means the committee must review all applications that come in until you have filled the position. Remember to log into EASE to retrieve applicants submitted since the date when review began.
A hard deadline for applications means the committee cannot consider applications received after that deadline, no matter how strong.
A sample short advertisement is at Appendix C.
Any shortened version of the position announcement used to advertise the job should provide the link to the full position announcement on Western’s website. Do not include any information in a shortened ad that is not included in the full position announcement.
Hiring departments attending conferences while a search is open may wish to publicize the job opening using the recruitment template for distribution at conferences at Appendix E.
See page 4 of Guidelines for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statements in University Publications for legally required text that must come at the end of a short advertisement. A longer version of Western’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement is automatically included in the full position announcement posted on Western’s website.
A sample evaluation matrix is at Appendix D.
Create an evaluation matrix listing the required and preferred qualifications. The search committee will use this for its initial review of all complete applications. The qualifications listed on the evaluation matrix must match those listed on the position announcement. Make sure the evaluation matrix provides room for evaluators to write narrative comments about the applicants, rather than limiting the evaluation to only numeric scoring.
The committee may decide to weigh some of the qualifications more heavily than others. Such a decision should be made near the outset of the search, before review of applications begins. Making the decision early in the process helps ensure that it is based on departmental need rather than influenced by particular individuals in the applicant pool.
The search committee should create a robust Recruitment Plan, calling on the hiring authority for assistance as necessary. The Recruitment Plan must be attached to the Request to Recruit e-form. You can distribute the approved position announcement and short ad after Human Resources approves and locks the Request to Recruit. The search committee is responsible for advertising the position in accordance with the Recruitment Plan.
A sample Recruitment Plan is at Appendix F.
Federal law mandates that the University conduct proactive, targeted outreach whenever the position being filled falls into a job group in which women or people of color are underrepresented according to Western’s Affirmative Action Plan. Whether underrepresentation for affirmative action purposes exists is discussed at the Search Briefing. Federal law also requires proactive outreach to veterans and people with disabilities in every search.
Regardless of whether women and people of color are underrepresented for the relevant position, you are encouraged to conduct proactive outreach to diverse potential applicants. Western is committed to recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff, and every search committee should aim to have highly qualified people of color and women amongst its finalists. Targeted outreach by the search committee to diverse potential candidates helps build diverse applicant pools from which candidates are hired. Recruiting only through the same channels that have not yielded substantial diversity in the past is not likely to yield substantial diversity in the future either.
Networking and advertising are critical to attracting a diverse applicant pool. Even if you think all potential applicants look in The Chronicle or a particular discipline or profession-specific publication, share information beyond those channels. Not only is such outreach legally mandated when people of color or women are underrepresented in the relevant job group, and for veterans and people with disabilities in every search, but broader and targeted outreach may get the attention of excellent potential candidates who are not actively looking for job openings. Affirmative efforts to specifically reach people of color, women, and other diverse potential applicants also provide important signals of Western’s desire to hire diverse talent and create a culture that is inclusive to all.
Methods of outreach to diverse potential applicants include the following. The most appropriate types of outreach will vary depending on the position. Beyond these ideas, building lasting relationships with individuals and organizations that can help you identify and share information with diverse potential applicants for particular positions can serve your department and Western well in ways that extend beyond recruitment.
- Direct outreach by your dean, vice president, department chair or director to individual contacts who may be interested in the position themselves, and others who can help spread the word about the position opening, can be particularly effective in engaging potential applicants with the possibility of coming to Western. Ask your colleagues for the names of individuals they know, including women and people of color, who may be qualified for the position or who may know others with whom it would be appropriate to share the position announcement. Be sure not to suggest that anyone who learns about the position via such outreach will receive preferential treatment during the hiring process.
- For faculty and senior administrative positions, reach out directly to the relevant leaders (deans, department chairs, etc.) at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions that grant terminal degrees in your discipline and ask that they share the position announcement. Also reach out to other schools with significant numbers of graduate students who are people of color or women. Building relationships with these individuals and schools can provide ongoing benefits to your department and Western, allowing for future collaboration that extends beyond recruiting.
- Contact associations specifically serving diverse people in your field (e.g. Association for Women in Computing, Minority Nurse, National Society of Black Engineers, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science, Washington Women in Trades), or committees serving diverse communities within a broader organization (e.g., Disability History Association, Diversity Section of the American Accounting Association, Association of Fundraising Professionals African American Community, Diversity Committee of the Association for Student Conduct Administration). Although some of these groups do not have job boards, a search committee member or someone else in the hiring department may be able to publicize the job announcement via the group’s email list. If this is not possible, contact the group’s leadership and inquire as to how the job opening might be shared with their members.
- Reach out to initiatives focused on the professional development of junior faculty and administrators who are women and people of color, such as AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Initiative. Build ongoing relationships with these associations and attend their conferences.
- Advertise in publications and websites that specifically serve people of color, women, veterans, people with disabilities and LGBT people across disciplines within higher education, such as the Affirmative Action e-list on HigherEdJobs.com, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Hispanic Outlook, Insight into Diversity, LatinosinHigherEd.com, LGBTinHigherEd.com, and Women in Higher Education. These publications and websites advertise both faculty and staff jobs.
- Advertise via websites and list-serves that serve diverse people across professions and are not limited to higher education, such as the Ethnic Student Center alumni list, disABLEDperson.com, North Sound Veterans Facebook page, Northwest Indian College alumni list, Professional Women of Color Network, WA Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Tribal Employment Newsletter.
The Employment Inclusion Manager in the Human Resources Office can assist you with and facilitate additional outreach opportunities.
Applications may not be reviewed until the EO Office has briefed the search committee. No comparisons of candidates may be made until the closing date or date for review to begin published in the position announcement.
All search committee members should be aware of the possible impact of unconscious biases on the evaluation of candidates, and work vigilantly to assess candidates only on the required and preferred qualifications articulated in the position announcement and listed on the evaluation matrix. It is important to acknowledge that “even people who are strongly committed to egalitarian values and believe they are not biased can hold implicit or unconscious assumptions that influence their judgments.” 4
To help ensure that all candidates are reviewed fairly, the search committee should discuss the precise meaning of the position qualifications and how they will be assessed before beginning to screen applications. Committees should also be sure they are comparing apples to apples. An applicant who took time away from work or schooling to have a family may not generate as thick a CV, but the substance and quality of that applicant’s work may render him or her better qualified for the position.
4 Fine and Handleman, Searching for Excellence and Diversity, 44. For an excellent summary of relevant research about implicit biases and ways to limit the influence implicit biases in your search, see Eve Fine and Jo Handelman, Reviewing Applicants: Research on Bias and Assumptions (Madison: Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006), http://wiseli.engr.wisc.edu/docs/BiasBrochure_2ndEd.pdf.
The search committee should review all complete and timely applications. Consistency goes a long way toward ensuring that a search is fair and equitable. From the outset and at every subsequent stage of a search, the committee should apply the rule that what you do for one candidate, you do for all. A consistent approach to evaluating and interacting with candidates increases the committee’s ability to identify the best qualified individual for the position. It also helps prevent complaints that impermissible preference was given to one candidate over another.
Use the evaluation matrix to conduct the initial review of applications. The “comments” section of the evaluation matrix provides a place to note qualitative differences in the candidates’ skills and experiences. A candidate cannot move forward in the selection process if she or he does not meet all of the required qualifications. Do not eliminate a candidate for lacking a preferred qualification that a candidate you are moving forward with also does not have.
If you included job qualifications related to diversity competencies, remember to assess these qualifications as well. For example, it may be relevant to consider the value candidates can add by competently mentoring students of color and women students, particularly in fields where these students are underrepresented.
Thorough reference checks are crucial to obtaining as informed an assessment of the candidate as possible. In professional staff and faculty searches, the EO Office recommends speaking with at least two professional references for each finalist.
Timing of Reference Checks
Think about when in the search you will conduct reference checks. Some search committees prefer to check references only after finalists are interviewed. However, in some searches, calling one reference for each of your semi-finalists may aid the committee in determining who the finalists should be. Other references can then be checked after finalists are interviewed.
Preparing for Reference Checks
Screening conversations with semi-finalists provide an opportunity to inform candidates that you will begin checking references, and to learn more about the references they identified. For example, you might ask candidates how long they have known their references and whether the references are current or former supervisors.
It is recommended that the same individual(s) conduct all reference checks. This allows for the utmost consistency, and for the most useful firsthand comparison of information obtained. If more than one committee member calls references, each person calling references should speak with a reference for each candidate. The committee member(s) who makes the calls should then share the information obtained with the entire committee.
To the extent possible, be consistent in the number and types (e.g., supervisor, colleague, student) of references checked for each candidate, and in the questions asked. Do not ask any questions of references that cannot be asked of candidates themselves. Calls to references should be structured to help the search committee assess how candidates fulfill the required and preferred qualifications.
Making the Calls
So that references can be most helpful to you, at the beginning of each call it can be useful to tell the reference about Western and the department conducting the search, and explain the position responsibilities and qualifications. Document all reference checks conducted.
Going Off List
You may contact individuals not identified as references by the candidates. However, inform candidates before doing so, and be respectful if candidates request, for example, that you not contact a current supervisor unless they are a finalist or the top candidate for the position.
Depending on the size and strength of your applicant pool, you may decide to conduct initial screening interviews by telephone with those applicants the committee designates as semi-finalists. These calls may also be a good opportunity to explore whether applicants are still interested in the position and whether the salary range is acceptable to them. Conducting screening interviews does not require the routing of an e-form or approval from the EO Office.
If you conduct screening interviews, remember that the questions asked should help you assess how the candidates satisfy the job qualifications. If you screen someone by phone, screen all semi-finalists by phone, even if one or more of them are internal or local candidates who could easily talk with the search committee in person.
Allocate the same amount of time for each call. When possible, at least two search committee members should participate in the calls, and ideally these should be the same individuals for each call. The committee members who make the calls should then report information learned to the entire committee.
Human Resources provides detailed instructions about how to enter applicant dispositions into EASE. For questions about using EASE, contact Human Resources at x3774.
Keep the status of applicants (e.g. considered, semi-finalist, alternate finalist, finalist) up to date in EASE. For all applicants other than finalists and alternate finalists, specific reasons for non-selection must be entered into EASE before permission may be sought to interview finalists. Ultimately, you will need to enter a reason for non-selection for every applicant except the person you hire. If an applicant inquires as to why she or he was not selected for the position, Human Resources will inform the applicant of the reason(s) for non-selection entered in EASE.
The reasons for non-selection in EASE must be specific and directly related to the qualifications in the job announcement. In EASE you will select from a dropdown list that an applicant “Lacks Minimum Qualifications” or has “Less Experience/Skill” than the finalists. After selecting one of these options, you must specify in the “comments” field which required qualification(s) the applicant lacks or the required and/or preferred qualification(s) in which the applicant has less experience or skill.
Among other things, the information entered in EASE is used to conduct statistical analyses, reviewing applicant selection for any disparities by race or gender.
After conducting any phone screening interviews, identify finalists for in-person interviews, as well as alternate finalists. Typically, at least three finalists should be interviewed. Make sure reasons for non-selection have been entered in EASE for all applicants other than finalists and alternate finalists. Then complete and route the Request to Interview e-form. When Human Resources receives this form, they will attach the finalists’ and alternate finalists’ application materials and the applicant record report, which lists all of the applicant dispositions (including reasons for non-selection).
When the EO Office receives the Request to Interview e-form, they will:
- Review the attached application materials to make sure the finalists and alternates meet the required qualifications listed in the position announcement;
- Review the applicant record report to make sure reasons for non-selection are entered for all other applicants and that these reasons correspond with the required and preferred qualifications for the position; and
- Make sure that the reasons for non-selection would not also disqualify the designated finalists and alternates. For example, an applicant cannot be eliminated from consideration because she or he lacks a preferred qualification that a finalist also lacks.
Once the Request to Interview e-form is approved by all necessary parties and locked by Human Resources, the search committee may contact the finalists to arrange in-person interviews.
Create thorough agendas for candidates coming to campus, providing both the finalists and individuals from Western involved in the interview with a clear outline of the visit. Designate a host responsible for welcoming the finalists and ensuring that their visits run smoothly. In advance of the candidate’s, provide a copy of his or her CV or resume to everyone with whom the candidate will meet. Ask in advance whether the candidates require any reasonable accommodations for the interview and, when relevant, if they have any dietary restrictions.
Develop an interview protocol to ensure consistency in the questions asked, length of time allocated for, venue of, and people participating in each interview. To the greatest extent possible, if a search committee member is present for and evaluates some finalists’ interviews, she or he should be present for and rate all finalists’ interviews.
Give the same opportunities to all finalists. If the committee takes one finalist to lunch, it should take all finalists to lunch; if one finalist meets with the dean or vice president, all candidates should have this or a substantially similar opportunity; if one finalist receives a tour of campus or Bellingham, invite all finalists to do so.
All interview questions should help assess how finalists satisfy the required and preferred qualifications.
It is against the law to ask questions regarding protected characteristics such as an applicant’s national origin, race, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, age or disability.
Do not ask candidates’ about their citizenship or immigration status. All position announcements on Western’s website state that new employees must verify their eligibility to work in the United States prior to beginning work at Western, and Human Resources obtains this verification. Offers of employment should be contingent on obtaining this verification. Hiring departments interested in assisting the candidate of choice in working to obtain work authorization should contact Human Resources as early as possible in the hiring process.
Illegal interview questions may be most likely to arise in the less formal portions of an interview, such as during a campus tour, open forum with faculty and students in the department, or in informal individual meetings with faculty and staff. It is advisable to apprise all participants in the interview, including those involved only in the informal portions, about the importance of avoiding questions about protected aspects of candidates’ identities. The EO Office and Human Resources maintain a Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide, which is attached at Appendix G.
What if our department cannot pay to bring candidates to campus?
Talk with your director or Vice President about finding funding to bring finalists to campus for in-person interviews. Finding the best candidates for positions at Western often requires conducting regional or national searches. The racial diversity of highly qualified applicants is also more limited in the Bellingham area than in some other areas of the country, and funding national searches is important to increase the diversity of staff as well as faculty at Western.
All candidates should be interviewed in as consistent a manner as possible. If you have questions about this, please contact the EO Office.
Many people who apply for tenure track faculty and professional staff positions at Western are relatively unfamiliar with Western and Bellingham. Providing candidates with information about the area is a valuable recruitment tool, and can be particularly important to engaging members of minority groups with the possibility of relocating here.
The EO Office suggests informing all semi-finalists or finalists about various resources for employees on campus, including the Minority Employee Council, LGBT Advocacy Council, Child Development Center, and the Diversity Handbook published by the EO Office. Consider providing all semi-finalists or finalists with the list of Selected Resources for Western Washington University Employees attached at Appendix H. If the committee proactively shares this information with candidates, it should do so for all candidates being considered at that stage of the search rather than sharing the information based on assumptions about a particular candidate’s interests.
Encourage candidates to ask any questions they may have about Western and Bellingham, and be responsive to such questions. If a candidate raises an issue related to a protected characteristic, answer the question but do not consider the question when evaluating the candidate. If you do not know the answer to the question, consult with the EO Office, Employment Inclusion Manager in Human Resources, Minority Employee Council or LGBT Advocacy Council so that Western can be responsive to the candidate. A candidate’s raising of a question regarding a protected characteristic should not be considered an invitation to ask him or her other questions about that or other protected characteristics.
After the search committee completes interviews and the hiring authority determines who will be offered the position, reasons for non-selection should be entered in EASE for the remaining finalists and any alternate finalists, and the top candidate should be tagged as “offered position.” Where a search is advertised as “open until filled,” the committee must review all complete applications received before someone is hired. Dispositions should be entered in EASE for any applicants who applied between the date the Request to Interview was generated and the date of the Request to Make Offer.
The Request to Make Offer e-form should be completed and a draft offer letter attached. Coordinate with the hiring authority regarding who will complete this form – in some departments the hiring authority does this while in others the task remains with the search committee.
The letter of offer may be sent after the Request to Make Offer is approved by all necessary parties and locked by Human Resources. For tenure track faculty hires, before the Request to Make Offer is locked the hiring authority may indicate verbally to the top candidate that a formal written offer will be extended assuming all approvals are received.
As a courtesy, once the candidate of choice accepts the offer, the EO Office recommends sending a brief email or letter to applicants informing them that the position is filled and thanking them for applying. Phone calls or more personalized letters are recommended for finalists. It is appropriate to notify any unsuccessful internal candidates in person, and to do so prior to release of any announcement that someone has been hired.