University rules on Faculty Search Procedures can be found at the following website: http://www.virginia.edu/eop/facultymanual.html. Note that this entire faculty manual is highly recommended reading, especially for those chairing a search committee for the first time.
A sequential description of the hiring process follows:
I. Authorizing the Search
A search must be authorized by the Dean before members of the department initiate any recruitment activities.
II. Constituting the Search Committee
Once the Dean has approved a search, the department chair, in consultation with members of the faculty, selects at least three people to serve on the search committee, appointing one to serve as chair of the committee. The department chair also serves on the search committee as an ex-officio member. Committees should be as diverse as possible in their membership and may include an “outside” member, selected from among the Arts and Sciences faculty (tenured, tenure-track, or general) who have expertise in the field.
All members of a search committee must have their Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP) certifications up-to-date before any committee activities can begin. Please see the EOP website for further information, or the EOP Online Search Committee Training site to complete the certification process.
In consultation with committee members, the committee chair suggests a timeline for the entire search process, including at least the following dates and deadlines:
- the date by which the department will submit a job description to the Dean’s Office for approval;
- the date by which the department will advertise the position;
- the date by which applications must be received to be assured full consideration;
- the date by which the committee will begin to review the files;
- dates for initial screenings (if any); The Dean’s Office generally provides travel funds to enable a committee member to attend a conference to conduct screening interviews;
- the dates for on-campus (or telephone) interviews; The Dean’s office generally funds travel for two candidates to interview on grounds;
- the date by which the committee will have made its decision and its recommendation to the department chair.
When the full committee has approved the proposed timeline, the committee chair shares it with the department chair.
IV. Writing a Job Description
The search committee writes the job description. This should be as clear and detailed as possible without being overly restrictive. It should at least include the following items:
- Name or title of the position;
- Specific duties for which the person will be responsible;
- Required and/or desired domains of educational training and academic specialization and required and/or desired professional experience;
- Required academic credentials (i.e., minimal academic degree achieved)
- Area(s) of specialization
- Application deadline for guarantee of full consideration (setting some deadline is recommended to clarify the beginning of the review stage, but it should not be so short as to restrict the number of applications)
- Request for letter of interest
- Request for curriculum vitae
- Request for three letters of reference
- Name, address, email address, and telephone number of the contact person at the University
- The (mandatory) phrase “The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.”
V. Appendix A
Before placing the ad or initiating search activities, the department must complete Appendix A and send it electronically to the Dean’s Office for approval.
The search committee chair, in collaboration with the members of the search committee, prepares Appendix A, which includes a specific recruitment plan (i.e., with names of journals, newspapers, professional organizations, etc) and a narrative strategy for diversifying the applicant pool. The completed Appendix A is submitted to the department chair, and then to the department administrator, who submits the document to the Dean’s Office for EOP approval. The Office of EOP returns the signed form to the search committee with any suggestions for change.
The Appendix A form is available at http://www.virginia.edu/eop/facultymanual.html.
VI. Creating the Applicant Pool
As applications come in, the Administrator makes files of the applications, keeping track of those applications that are not complete. Applicants whose files are not complete at least a week before the date for initial review of files should be notified, by email if possible, of the incomplete state of their application, and they should be told that incomplete applications might not be given full consideration.
VII. Appendix B
All applicants must be sent an acknowledgment letter upon receipt of their materials. This letter may contain information about the search committee’s time frame and may be used to request additional information such as papers or publications, statement of educational philosophy, etc. Appendix B must accompany the letter, along with a postage-paid business reply envelope addressed to the Office of EOP. Twenty-five envelopes for this purpose will be sent to the department when Appendix A is approved, and more are available from EOP upon request. To encourage applicants to complete and return Appendix B, the letter should include a paragraph as follows:
The enclosed Applicant Information Form is used to gather pertinent data regarding applicant background (i.e. race, sex, and ethnic identity) for affirmative action purposes. Although completion of the form is voluntary, the information you provide is important in maintaining equal opportunity/affirmative action efforts at the University of Virginia. All information you provide will be kept confidential.
Appendix B can now be sent by the applicant to the Office of EOP electronically, and if the applicant has supplied an email address, the correspondence with the applicant may be conducted through email.
VIII. Review of Applications
Initial Screening. The initial screening of applications must be based on the advertised qualifications. (Applicants who do not meet the basic requirements should be notified by letter as soon as possible.) In order to evaluate candidates consistently, the search committee should rate the applications based on previously outlined selection criteria and screening procedures. Members of the search committee are responsible for carefully reviewing all submitted materials. Written comments reflecting the judgment of each committee member should be made for every candidate. This will allow the search committee to determine which candidates are to be interviewed and will also save time if it becomes necessary to return to the applicant pool at a later date. Furthermore, recording the judgments of the committee will facilitate completion of Appendix C.
Preliminary Interviews. Search committees may seek to conduct preliminary interviews with a larger sample of applicants by sending a delegation to a professional conference to conduct preliminary interviews. The search committee should announce this interview process to the department as a whole and invite participation in the preliminary interviews by interested faculty. The College will usually pay for committee members to attend the conference for the purpose of such preliminary interviews, but it is not necessary for all committee members to attend (nor for all faculty involved in the preliminary interviews to be members of the search committee).
The search committee should devise a group of core interview questions based solely on job-related criteria. The same questions should be asked of all candidates, which will allow comparative judgments while ensuring that crucial job-related information is obtained. Written comments reflecting the judgment of each committee member should be made for every candidate. Recording the judgments of the committee will facilitate subsequent completion of Appendix C.
Conference interviews cannot be mandatory; full consideration must be possible for people not interviewed at a conference.
IX. Appendix C
The chair of the search committee completes and signs Appendix C and sends it to the department chair for approval. The approved document is then submitted electronically by the department administrator to the Dean’s Office for review.
Explanations in Question 2 must be detailed with respect to qualifications. It is unacceptable to say “met screening criteria” or “best candidate.” The Dean or EOP Officer may intervene at this stage of the search process and suggest that the committee make a further effort to identify candidates. When this stage has been approved, the Office of EOP informs the department administrator, who informs the department chair and search committee chair by email.
The interview is the next stage, one of the most critical ones in the recruitment process. The search committee should devise a group of core interview questions based solely on job-related criteria and a set of tasks representative of the demands of the advertised position. The same questions should be asked of all candidates, and each candidate should be required to perform the same interview tasks in maximally similar conditions, so as to allow comparative judgments while ensuring that crucial job-related information is obtained. A patterned interview of this sort has the beneficial effect of minimizing unconscious biases.
The interview tasks should include:
- a public lecture on research (for tenure-track hires);
- a demonstration of teaching (for general faculty hires); and
- one-on-one meetings with as many MESALC and area studies faculty as possible.
The search committee must make every reasonable effort to assure widespread and diverse participation among MESALC faculty in the searches. Public lectures should be scheduled for departmental colloquium times so that everyone can participate.
It may be useful to print the questions on a form with space below to record the candidate’s responses and the interviewer’s reactions. (These written remarks will aid in evaluating the candidates and will facilitate subsequent completion of the interview summations that accompany Appendix D.)
Search committee members and other individuals involved in interviewing candidates need to concentrate on job-related questions and must avoid inquiries with a discriminatory implication. Occasionally during an interview, applicants may volunteer non-job-related information with regard to religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age, etc., that could potentially be used to discriminate against the candidate. (An example is an applicant who mentions being divorced or talks about children and child care arrangements.) Even though you did not ask for the information, you may still be charged with discrimination if a question arises subsequently about how this information was used. Should an applicant volunteer information that does not relate to the job, you should handle the situation in the following manner:
- Do not, under any circumstances, write down the information.
- Do not ask follow-up questions or make statements to continue in the area of discussion.
- Refer the applicant to sources that may answer the questions. For example, if there are concerns about spousal employment, you may say that you will pass on those concerns to the Dean’s Office, where they will be addressed appropriately, by the Associate Dean.
- Return the discussion to job issues.
- Do not consider the revealed information in evaluating the applicant’s candidacy.
XI. Department Discussion and Vote
Upon completion of the interviews, the search committee should solicit the input of department faculty. The committee then meets to review the merits of each individual, taking faculty input into consideration, prepares interview summations, and decides on its recommendation. The department chair will call a meeting of the department faculty (including graduate student representative) and ask the committee to present its recommendations to the faculty. The faculty discusses the committee’s recommendations, and the department votes by secret ballot. All eligible faculty (as well as the graduate student representative) present at the meeting get a single vote; absent faculty may send comments to be read out by the search committee chair or the department chair and included in the discussion, but they may not vote.
XII. Appendix D
The chair of the search committee completes Appendix D online and sends it to the department chair along with written interview summations. The interview summaries should outline the strengths and weaknesses of each person and provide some clear indication of why the applicant selected is the most qualified. Do not send a travel itinerary or interview schedule in lieu of (or in addition to) a narrative describing the candidates’ qualifications and the reason for the committee’s decision. The department chair completes the form by filling in the name of the selected candidate and forwards the documents to the departmental administrator, who forwards them to the Dean’s Office for review. If the Dean approves the selection, the form is sent on to the Office of EOP. To complete the recruitment process, the Office of EOP notifies the department administrator, department chair, and search committee chair in writing, with copies to the vice president and provost, that the appointment may be processed. An offer may not be made until EOP has approved Appendix D.
XIII. Negotiation of Contract
Record Keeping. The faculty hiring process should demonstrate a “good faith” effort to recruit under-represented groups. The department originating the search must retain for three years all files developed during the recruitment process. Among the records that should be retained are:
- A copy of the position description
- A copy of all advertisements used to announce the position
- A listing of where the position was posted
- A record of the efforts made to enlarge the pool of candidates
- Copies of sample letters used in the process
- The core questions asked in the interview
- A summary evaluation for each candidate, whether they were rejected in the first screening or were interviewed by the committee
Negotiation of Terms with Dean. Once the search has been conducted according to EOP guidelines (most of the prose above has come directly from the EOP website) and a candidate has been chosen, the departmental chair negotiates the exact terms of the offer with the Dean via email.
Preliminary Offer Letter. When the terms of the offer have been set, the department chair sends a preliminary offer letter to the candidate stating all the terms, including rank, start date, end date if the position is not a permanent one, salary, and any special items in addition to these that have been part of the negotiations with the Dean.
This letter must contain as its closing statement:
“This is my understanding of what the Dean has authorized to date, and it is subject to review by the Dean. Please tell me by [usually give a week or two] whether you wish to accept these terms. If you do, you will receive a formal letter of appointment from the Dean of Arts and Sciences, which you will need to sign and return in order to make final your acceptance of the offer.”
Also state by when the Dean’s letter must be signed and returned. Two weeks is the usual time frame.
Negotiation of Terms with Candidate. If the candidate wishes to negotiate further, then the department chair renegotiates the terms of the offer with the Dean via email. The department chair continues to send letters with terms authorized by the Dean until the candidate either accepts or rejects the offer.
Final Offer Letter. When an agreement has been reached, the department chair sends the Associate Dean a copy of his or her final letter to the candidate, and the Dean’s office produces the formal offer letter. The department chair may do this through email.
The Dean’s office receives the letter signed by the candidate and faxes a copy of it to the department chair. The Administrator enters the new faculty member’s information into the electronic system.