Reviewing and Selecting
Approval of the Finalists List
Once the search committee has screened the official applicant pool to establish a short list of candidates, and prior to contacting the individuals on the short list, the search committee must submit the proposed list of finalists to the relevant department chair or administrator for review and approval. Department chairs or library directors are responsible for reviewing the list to verify that all proposed candidates are basically qualified for the relevant position (i.e., their degrees and experience match the advertised, basic qualifications and they conform to the definition of GW applicant) prior to inviting them to campus for interviews. In the case of faculty positions, and based on the process defined by each school, the dean must also approve the proposed list of finalists prior to inviting them for campus interviews.
Planning the Final Visit
Following the approval of the list of finalists, the search committee will arrange campus interviews.
When scheduling the interview, the search committee should:
- Ask each candidate if they will need anything for his or her interview, demonstration class, colloquia, etc. This will give the candidate an opportunity to request an accommodation for a disability, but does not ask them to disclose a disability. (Contact the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity or Faculty Recruitment for assistance)
- Provide the candidate with a clear idea of what to expect during the campus visit. Describe the activities they will be involved in during the visit. Remember that people who are new to academia may need a primer on academic norms.
- Consider allowing candidates the opportunity to meet with people with similar interests outside the department or program to introduce them to possible networking opportunities.
- Provide all candidates (including internal candidates) with the same interview schedule, venues, opportunities, etc.
- The duration of the campus visit should be the same for each candidate. Avoid scheduling two candidates on the same day.
Preparing for the Interview
- Carefully plan and structure the interview.
- Develop a core list of questions, based on job-related criteria that will be asked of all candidates (including internal ones).
- Develop a list of questions, based on job-related criteria that are specific to a candidate and based on the need for clarification of statements on the CV or to fill in information gaps.
- Use behaviorally anchored, open-ended questions.
- Create a simple evaluation instrument to collect feedback from all interviews, colloquia, lunch and dinner meetings, etc.
- Schedule interviews and presentations so that all voting search committee members can be present. Decide on how members who miss meetings or presentations will be kept informed, i.e., notes, minutes, etc.
- Provide all candidates with information about the position, the University, school, department and program.
- Educate committee members and others who participate in interviews about appropriate conduct and questions (See Communicating with Applicants).
All interviewers (including search committee members) need constant reminders about unconscious bias and the dangers of stereotyping. Group interviews followed by an opportunity to discuss the candidate can be a plus here; groups tend to self-correct the biases of individual members.
The search committee should review the following documents prior to the actual interview. This review will help each member to formulate their approach to the actual interview.
- Application Materials
- Job Description
- Selection Criteria
- Interview Guidelines
- Interview Questions
- Evaluation Instrument
These tools and materials will help search committee members focus on job-related questions and issues.
The Campus Visit
Handle each aspect of the campus visit as a public relations process.
Remember that candidates are also evaluating GW, making observations that will help them decide if GW is the right place for them. Allow time in the schedule for them to learn about the campus and surrounding area.
Treat the campus visit as one, continuous interview, including individual interview sessions, colloquia, meals, trips to and from airports, other informal conversations, etc. Use every opportunity to gather job-related feedback that will assist the search committee in recommending the best candidate for the position. Even in casual conversation, be mindful that your questions must be job-related.
Compliance with ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified persons with physical or mental impairments that substantially affect major life activities, those with records of such impairments, and those who are regarded as so impaired. Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are prohibited from rejecting an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, on the basis of the disability, if that individual can perform the essential functions of a position with or without a reasonable accommodation. Departments and search committee chairs should contact Faculty Recruitment at 202-994-6783 or the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity at 202-994-9656 for further information and assistance regarding persons with disabilities and the application and interviewing process.
References play a pivotal role in the hiring decision in that they can provide testimony concerning a candidate’s previous responsibilities, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and achievements. A good, thorough reference check can mean the difference between hiring a suitable or unsuitable candidate. Carelessly done and overzealous reference checking can be an open door to lawsuits aimed at references and the University. To reduce the risk, search committees should carefully plan the reference checking process and practice caution.
- Select a couple of search committee members to perform the reference checks.
- Obtain each candidate’s authorization to conduct reference checks; this includes primary references requested in the position announcement and secondary, professional references (names that may surface because of an interview, the reference checking process, etc.).
- Determine if the candidate has any concerns about confidentiality and work with them to address any concerns identified.
- Conduct reference calls as you would a formal, structured interview, i.e., develop a core list of questions you will ask all references and a list of questions specific to an individual candidate’s references.
- Prepare the reference for the call by sending them the position announcement/description and relevant information about the department/school to help them frame their responses.
- Do not rush the interview process. Make sure to have ample time to thoroughly explore and carefully probe references’ responses. (Use behaviorally anchored, open-ended questions)
- Ask each reference to agree that your conversation will be held in strict confidence. Ask them to stick to the relevant facts and discuss only job-related information.