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Pre-Search Process

Pre-search Approval

In order to initiate a search, the Office of the Provost must approve the search committee’s search plan, the proposed position announcement, and the composition of the search committee. This information should be submitted online through the eRecruit module in Northwestern's MyHR system, and must include the elements described in the Faculty Search Guidelines, in particular, a copy of the position announcement, the composition of the search committee, and designation of the Equity Representative. Once these items are approved according to the school’s hiring plan, the Faculty Recruiting System (FRS) is available to facilitate the collection and review of applicant materials.

A comprehensive set of tutorials and guides for the eRecruit module and the Faculty Recruiting System is available at

The pre-search documentation requires the approval of the department chair (or the chair's proxy) and the office of the dean before being approved by the Office of the Provost.

The Search Committee

When forming the search committee, care should be taken to ensure that the committee includes individuals from diverse backgrounds as well as faculty members who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity. Departments should also consider inviting a faculty member from outside the department or school to serve as a voting member of the committee, especially if the small number of women or underrepresented minority faculty within a department or school precludes their inclusion on the search committee. Such arrangements also make Northwestern’s interdisciplinary strengths a more consistent factor in recruiting.

The Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (WISELI) has developed useful suggestions for running an effective and efficient search committee. Their recommendations are available in WISELI's Searching for Excellence and Diversity® Guide  (see pages 7-16). They include tips on building rapport within the committee, running efficient meetings, establishing ground rules (decision-making, maintaining confidentiality), discussing expectations of committee members, and addressing power dynamics within committees.

Search committees should also utilize the information provided on the Resources on Unconscious Bias webpage

Equity Representative

Pursuant to the Faculty Search Guidelines, each search committee should designate an Equity Representative from the committee's department or school. The Equity Representative should be a senior faculty member serving on the search committee, but not as committee chair. The role of the Equity Representative is to ensure that best practices are followed during the search and that an active and equitable search process is carried out.

This individual is expected to take an active role in identifying members of underrepresented groups, including women and racial and ethnic minorities, who qualify for the position. The Equity Representative serves as an advocate for candidates in the applicant pool who are from underrepresented groups and may be considered for elimination during the search. The person should assist the search committee chair in creating a short list of ideal candidates and help provide justification when members of underrepresented groups are not included.

The Equity Representative is also charged with helping to ensure objectivity throughout all phases of the search and addressing the role of implicit biases with other search committee members. This person should share information and resources related to unconscious bias, including suggested strategies for minimizing bias and links to relevant studies, which may be found on the Resources on Unconscious Bias webpage.

Equity Representatives are encouraged to consult with the Office of Insitutional Diversity and Inclusion ( prior to the first formal meeting of the search committee and at any time during the search process. See also the list of FAQs about the Equity Representative role.