Toolkit for Inclusive Searches
In This Toolkit
Fair and equitable searches require deliberateness from the outset. Applicants will form opinions of Western based upon their assessments of each search process’s fairness, professionalism, and timeliness. How we conduct searches evidences our departmental and institutional values. And in the end, the individuals hired will shape Western’s culture far into the future. This page should be read in conjunction with the information provided on the Human Resources Hire an Employee web page.
Forming the Search Committee
Consider factors including potential committee members’ relevant expertise, ability to offer a diverse perspective, ability and willingness to interrupt assumptions and biases and support the candidacy of highly qualified non-traditional or other applicants, and experience serving on search committees. Every committee member’s participation at all stages of the search will help the University obtain the strongest and most diverse applicant pool possible.
It is critical for committees to have open discussions about the legalities of what can and cannot be asked of candidates, or considered during the evaluation process. See the EO Office and Human Resources Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide for more information on this topic. Do not ask candidates’ about their citizenship or immigration status. All position announcements on Western’s website state that new employees must verify their eligibility to work in the United States prior to beginning work at Western, and Human Resources obtains this verification. Offers of employment should be contingent on obtaining this verification. Hiring departments interested in assisting the candidate of choice in working to obtain work authorization should contact Human Resources as early as possible in the hiring process. It is against the law to ask questions regarding protected characteristics such as an applicant’s national origin, race, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, age or disability.
All search committee members should be aware of the possible impact of unconscious biases on the evaluation of candidates, and work vigilantly to assess candidates only on the required and preferred qualifications articulated in the position announcement and listed on the evaluation matrix. It is important to acknowledge that “even people who are strongly committed to egalitarian values and believe they are not biased can hold implicit or unconscious assumptions that influence their judgments.” To learn more about the ways each of us hold unconscious biases, search committee members are encouraged to independently take one or more of the Implicit Association Tests provided by Project Implicit. Note, that biases can both advantage candidates and disadvantage candidates.
To help ensure that all candidates are reviewed fairly, the search committee should discuss the precise meaning of the position qualifications and how they will be assessed before beginning to screen applications. Committees should be mindful that the best qualified candidates may not be those with the most years of experience, the greatest number of publications, or the largest number of other accomplishments. For example, an applicant who took time away from work or schooling to have a family may not generate as thick a CV, but the substance and quality of that applicant’s work may render the applicant better qualified for the position. Placing too much value on the amount of external grant funding secured, the number of publications, and other such markers of success might also unintentionally result in adopting implicit biases that may have prevented people in underrepresented groups from obtaining that grant funding or publishing in prestigious journals.
Creating the Job Posting
The position announcement drives the entire applicant review process. It must accurately describe the position responsibilities, required and preferred qualifications, application instructions, and the date when review of applications will commence or acceptance of applications will close. The qualifications should be as clear to potential applicants as possible. Avoid language that may be understood only at Western, or within your department. Make sure everyone on the search committee ascribes to the same meaning to the qualifications. It is important to evaluate and eliminate any unnecessary barriers to meeting the job qualifications. Consider how well the draft qualifications measure candidates' likelihood of future success in the position. Ask yourself whether broader qualifications could still help you assess applicants’ ability to excel in the job.
Diversity Requirements and Qualifications
Write a position description that encourages diversity and inclusion. Search committees are also encouraged to include information highlighting department-specific initiatives which relate diversity, equity and inclusion, and additionally provide links to Western's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.
As the diversity of Western’s student population grows – for example, students of color now represent over 25% of Western’s student body – experience or demonstrated ability to effectively serve a diverse student population becomes increasingly important. You are strongly encouraged to assess candidates on their multicultural competencies and to include one or more qualifications such as the following:
- Demonstrated record of supporting the success of students traditionally underrepresented in the field.
- Experience developing [courses/programs] that inclusively serve a diverse student population.
- Demonstrated ability and commitment to cultivate learning environments that are equitable and inclusive of students with diverse social identities and backgrounds.
- Demonstrated leadership in promoting equity and diversity.
These qualifications can be revised for professional or classified staff positions that work less directly with students.
The search committee should create a robust Recruitment Plan, calling on the hiring authority for assistance as necessary. The Recruitment Plan must be provided as part of the Recruitment Request form in PageUp. Detailed instructions on how to initiate the Recruitment Request form in PageUp and route for approval are provided in the Recruitment Request Reference Guide provided on the Western PageUp Resources webpage. You can distribute the approved position announcement and short advertisements after the request has received all necessary approvals and has been posted externally by Human Resources. The search committee is responsible for advertising the position in accordance with the Recruitment Plan.
Federal law mandates that the University conduct proactive, targeted outreach whenever the position being filled falls into a job group in which women or racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented according to Western’s Affirmative Action Plan. Federal law also requires proactive outreach to veterans and people with disabilities in every search.
Leveraging Personal and Professional Networks
Networking and advertising are critical to attracting a diverse applicant pool. Not only is such outreach legally mandated when racial/ethnic minorities or women are underrepresented in the relevant job group, and for veterans and people with disabilities in every search, but broader and targeted outreach may get the attention of excellent potential candidates who are not actively looking for job openings.
If you are well networked within diverse communities, consider sending postings to listservs, social media platforms and hashtag communities. Track your results to see how effective your efforts are and to gauge which of these channels yields the best results. Tracking tools like bitlinks allow search committees to assess outreach efforts.
Some search committees might consider contracting a private search firm to assist in the search process. Hiring managers for these searches who use private search firms are encouraged to contact the Equal Opportunity Office as soon as possible to ensure that university hiring procedures are observed.
Candidate Review and Selection
Evaluation rubrics are an effective tool for assessing individual candidates while maintaining consistency.
The committee may decide to prioritize some of the qualifications more heavily than others. Such a decision should be made at the outset of the search, before review of applications begins. Making the decision early in the process helps ensure that it is based on departmental need rather than influenced by the qualifications of particular individuals in the applicant pool.
Depending on the size and strength of your applicant pool, you may decide to conduct initial screening interviews by telephone or Skype with those applicants the committee designates as semi-finalists. These initial screening interviews may also be a good opportunity to explore whether applicants are still interested in the position and whether the salary range is acceptable to them. Conducting initial screening interviews via telephone or Skype does not require Request to Interview approval from the EO Office.
If you conduct initial screening interviews, remember that the questions asked should help you assess how the candidates satisfy the job qualifications. If you screen someone by phone or Skype, you should screen all semi-finalists by phone or Skype, even if one or more of them are internal or local candidates who could easily talk with the search committee in person.
Allocate the same amount of time for each call. When possible, at least two search committee members should participate in the calls, and ideally these should be the same individuals for each call. The committee members who make the calls should then report information learned to the entire committee.
Prior to inviting finalists for interviews, the search committee must route through PageUp a Request to Interview, and receive approval from the EO Office or Human Resources as appropriate. The EO Office provides this approval for professional staff or tenure-track faculty recruitments, and Human Resources provides this approval for classified staff searches.
In submitting the Request to Interview in PageUp, dispositions, or reasons for non-selection, must be provided for all applicants not being requested as Finalists or Alternate Finalists. Detailed instructions on how to enter dispositions in PageUp, and how to route a Request to Interview for approval are provided in the Applicant Management and Request to Interview Reference Guide provided on the Western PageUp Resources webpage. For additional information, see the below section on “Entering Applicant Applicant Dispositions into PageUp."
Create thorough agendas for candidates coming to campus, providing both the finalists and individuals from Western involved in the interview with a clear outline of the visit. Identify a primary contact person responsible for welcoming the finalists and ensuring that their visits run smoothly. In advance of the candidate’s visit, provide a copy of their CV or resume to everyone with whom the candidate will meet. When relevant, ask whether the candidates have any dietary restrictions. Candidates should be informed of Western's commitment to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request, and that requests for accommodations should be directed to Human Resources Disability Services.
Develop an interview protocol to ensure consistency in the questions asked, length of time allocated for, venue of, and people participating in each interview. To the greatest extent possible, if a search committee member is present for and evaluates some finalists’ interviews, they should be present for and rate all finalists’ interviews. Give the same opportunities to all finalists.
All interview questions should help assess how finalists satisfy the required and preferred qualifications.
Think about when in the search you will conduct reference checks. Some search committees prefer to check references only after finalists are interviewed. However, in some searches, calling one reference for each of your semi-finalists may aid the committee in determining who the finalists should be. Other references can then be checked after finalists are interviewed. Consistency is what matters. The EO Office recommends speaking with at least two professional references for each finalist. It is recommended that the same individual(s) conduct all reference checks.
Entering Applicant Dispositions into PageUp
Human Resources provides detailed instructions about how to enter applicant dispositions into PageUp. Please refer to the Western PageUp Resources webpage. For questions about using PageUp, contact Human Resources at x3774.
Search committees should keep the status of applicants (e.g. considered not selected, phone screen, alternate finalist, and finalist) up to date in PageUp. For all applicants other than finalists and alternate finalists, specific reasons for non-selection must be entered into PageUp before permission may be sought to interview finalists. Ultimately, you will need to enter a reason for non-selection for every applicant except the person you hire. If an applicant inquires as to why they were not selected for the position, Human Resources will inform the applicant of the reason(s) for non-selection entered in PageUp.
The reasons for non-selection in PageUp must be specific and directly related to the qualifications in the job announcement. In PageUp you will select from a drop-down list that an applicant “Lacks Required Qualifications” or is Less Qualified” than the finalists (as well as alternate finalists if alternates are requested). After selecting one of these options, you must specify in the “comments” field which required qualification(s) the applicant lacks or the required and/or preferred qualification(s) in which the applicant has less experience or skill.
Making an Offer
After the search committee completes interviews and the hiring authority determines who will be offered the position, reasons for non-selection should be entered in PageUp for the remaining finalists and any alternate finalists, and the top candidate should be tagged as “Request to Offer.” Dispositions for alternate finalists should reflect the specific reason(s) they were initially determined to be less qualified than all applicants who advanced as finalists. Where a search is advertised as “open until filled,” the committee must provide dispositions for all complete applications received before someone is hired. Dispositions should be entered in PageUp for any applicants who applied between the date the Request to Interview was generated and the date of the Request to Make Offer.
In order to request approval to make an offer to the selected candidate, the Offer Details form should be completed in PageUp and routed for necessary approvals. A draft offer letter should be attached to the form as instructed. Coordinate with the hiring authority regarding who will complete this form – in some departments the hiring authority does this, while in others, the task remains with the search committee. Detailed instructions on how to initiate the Offer Details form in PageUp and route for approval are provided in the Offer Reference Guide provided on the Western PageUp Resources webpage.
After the Offer Details form has received all necessary approvals, the candidate may be contacted to extend the offer and the offer letter can be issued. Additional information pertaining to faculty hiring is available on the Provost's Office webpage.
Notifying Applicants That the Position is Filled
As a courtesy, once the candidate of choice accepts the offer, the EO Office recommends sending a brief communication to applicants informing them that the position is filled and thanking them for applying. These communications can be facilitated through PageUp using the "Bulk Communicate" feature. Phone calls or more personalized communications are recommended for finalists and for individuals who may have received an initial screening interview, but not advanced further. It is appropriate to notify any unsuccessful internal candidates in person, and to do so prior to release of any announcement that someone has been hired.