Guidelines for Developing Selection Criteria

In preparing to fill a vacancy, the search committee should carefully identify and agree on a set of written criteria to use to evaluate applicants for a particular position. Essentially, selection criteria are the required qualifications for effective job performance. In defining selection criteria, the committee should focus on the department/library’s mission, programmatic needs, functional requirements for the position, and critical competencies.

The primary requirements for developing selection criteria are clarity and specificity. That is, fully and clearly stating a criterion and leaving no required criterion implied. Selection criteria inform potential applicants about the yardstick by which they will be measured and are usually summarized in the following categories: education, experience, and personal attributes, such as strong communication skills, the ability to work collegially with others, the ability to be innovative and creative, and a demonstrated appreciation for diversity. All selection criteria should be established prior to the recruitment and selection process.

I. Basic Selection Criteria

Basic selection criteria are those qualifications and experiences that job seekers must minimally possess in order to be considered an “applicant.”  Basic selection criteria are:

  • Non-comparative -- e.g. three years' experience in a particular position, rather than a comparative requirement such as being one of the top five candidates in terms of years of experience;
  • Objective -- A basic selection criteria is objective if someone, without more information, would be able to evaluate whether the job seeker possesses the qualification; for instance, a Bachelor's degree in accounting versus a technical degree from a good school; and
  • Relevant to performance of the particular position.

Carefully crafted criteria will result in a better quality and more targeted applicant pool.  Consider the following two examples of basic qualifications that might appear in a position announcement:

Basic Criteria - A

Applicants must possess a Ph.D in Art History or a closely related field, commitment to scholarly research and demonstrated teaching ability.

This list of basic qualifications is overbroad and would likely result in a pool of applicants where many would ultimately not have the necessary qualifications for the position.

Basic Criteria - B

Applicants must possess a Ph.D in Art History or a closely related field, commitment to scholarly research as evidenced by publications in scholarly journals or scholarly works in progress, a minimum of three (3) years teaching experience at the university level and demonstrated teaching excellence as indicated by research presentations and teaching assessments. 

This list of basic selection criteria will likely result in a pool of applicants more targeted to the legitimate needs of the department.

Once established and published, a department/library cannot change the basic selection criteria. If questions or problems arise regarding the selection criteria during the recruitment process, please contact the Recruitment Specialist.

II. Preferred, Desired, and/or Additional Selection Criteria

Basic Selection Criteria are intended to identify those job seekers who meet the minimum required qualifications in order to be considered an “applicant.” Preferred, desired and/or additional criteria may only be used for librarian postings. Libraries must be able to demonstrate the legitimacy of additional criteria (i.e., that they are relevant, and are supportable by nondiscriminatory business reasons).

Additional criteria should be established prior to the position announcement or use of an external database to build an applicant pool.

III. Inclusiveness

Thoroughly review all qualifications, with an eye for inclusiveness to prevent jobseekers, including those from underrepresented groups, from being unintentionally excluded from the applicant pool for a particular position.

IV. Recordkeeping

Departments/libraries must create and retain a record of all selection criteria: basic, preferred and other criteria used to develop an applicant pool.

V. The Recruitment Plan

A comprehensive list of selection criteria (basic, preferred, etc) must be submitted with the Recruitment Plan.