Search committees are responsible for evaluating candidates based upon who best fits the needs, parameters, and scope of a particular position as specified in the duties and qualifications listed in the position announcement. Such committees are expected to follow a carefully structured plan for reviewing applications based on consistent criteria and to treat all applicants fairly and consistently.
Once presearch documentation is approved (i.e., all of the preceding steps under Preparing for a Search), the Faculty Recruiting System is available to facilitate the collection and review of applicant materials. FRS can be accessed at facultyrecruiting.northwestern.edu. A comprehensive set of tutorials and guides for this system is available HERE. For assistance with the faculty search process, contact your search administrator, a school or department staff member whose role is to provide administrative assistance to the search committee chair and members.
All those applying for a position through the Faculty Recruiting System will automatically receive confirmation of their completed application. Search administrators are able to edit the standard response text if they wish.
Initial Review of Candidates
- Familiarize yourself with key findings in the literature on unconscious bias in academic hiring, including links to relevant studies and suggested strategies for minimizing bias. See our Resources on Unconscious Bias pages HERE.
- Review all publicly available data on the makeup of peer institutions’ departments and on the pool of doctoral and other degrees in relevant fields—using, for example, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and university websites.
- Before the screening process begins, create unified criteria for evaluating candidates, including how to weigh them and how to measure quality in a given domain. Then screen candidates according to the criteria, using a common screening procedure for all applicants. For sample evaluation rubrics, see Appendix D.
- If possible, the same group of two or more committee members should conduct the initial review of each application using the agreed-upon criteria referenced above.
- Conduct a practice screening with a group review of one or more applications, to ensure that committee members understand and are using the agreed-upon criteria.
- If possible, at least one committee member (or department member) should read at least one writing sample for every candidate, in order to avoid excessive reliance on proxies for quality judgments (such as prestige of degree-granting institution or quantity of publications).
- Exercise care in considering recommendations and course evaluations. Research shows that letters of recommendation for men are typically longer, use more standout adjectives, and offer less faint praise than letters for women with similar qualifications. Many studies have found race, gender, and sexual-orientation bias in student course evaluations.
- Use inclusion rather than exclusion strategies in making selections—e.g., include for further consideration those applicants the search committee deems qualified, rather than excluding those it deems unqualified.
- It is helpful to date the receipt of all materials and to maintain a log recording all review steps for each candidate (see section on Follow-Up Procedures).
Create the Short List
- For initial phone, Skype, or video-conference interviews, use uniform questions and review criteria. Search committee members should agree in advance on a set of questions that will be asked of each candidate during interviews and should use structured evaluation templates for evaluating interviews. Ask each candidate the same questions in the same order. Following this carefully structured plan will ensure fairness and consistency for all candidates.For sample evaluation rubrics, see Appendix D.
- Rank the most likely candidates in order and submit the short list, along with the relevant application materials, to the department chair and dean before any on-campus interviews are arranged.
- Expand the number of candidates for on-campus interviews (e.g., four or five instead of three) if this will allow for a more diverse pool. All candidates must be deemed competitive in the overall pool.
- Care should be taken not to disqualify candidates based on assumptions about their mobility or personal life.