Component II: Screening and Interviewing

Search Committee Responsibilities

Search committees must be intentional and deliberate in their efforts to secure diverse and qualified applicants and ensure consistency throughout the search and selection process. The search committee is responsible for the review of applications, identifying candidates and conducting interviews. Interviews can be conducted by telephone, video conference, and/or in-person. Multiple rounds of interviews may be conducted as needed, but the same interview structure must be applied to each interview and each candidate within each round of the interview process.

Once interviews are completed, the search committee is responsible for the discussion and evaluation of each candidate and utilizing a rubric of skills and position requirements. A quorum or committee consensus must be reached to move candidates forward within each round, including the finalist round of interviews. Applicants, who do not meet the minimum qualifications, cannot be considered for position vacancies.

Screening and Evaluating Applicants

Research on hiring indicates bias is common when committee members review and evaluate candidate applications, during the interviews and when making final hiring decisions. When criteria are not clearly articulated before reviewing applications, evaluators may shift or
emphasize criteria that favor candidates from well-represented demographic groups or favor candidates who are similar to themselves and/or others in the department. Search committees can reduce bias by developing consensus around the criteria by which they will evaluate candidates:

  • Use an inclusion strategy that identifies which candidates are suitable for consideration as opposed to exclusion strategies that focus on elimination of candidates.
  • Determine the evaluation criteria used to screen applicants based on advertised required and desired qualifications in the position announcement before reviewing applicant materials and apply criteria consistently to all applicants.
  • Evaluate each candidate’s entire application. Do not focus on one specific element of the application, such as letters of recommendations degree-granting institution, teaching evaluations, and work history, or time between positions.
  • Conduct screening interviews with candidates as a means of gathering more information when determining who should be invited for campus interviews. Utilize the resources provide by OHR to assist with the pre-screening process.
  • Request aggregated demographics and shortfall information from the Affirmative Action Plan before conducting interviews.
  • Homogeneous candidate pools will be challenged.
  • Ensure shortfalls have been addressed before making final hiring decision.
  • Review reference letters after the evaluation of applicant materials and interviews.
  • Complete an evaluation rubric for each candidate and submit the evaluation rubric to the committee chair. The committee chair will compile and create a committee rubric, indicating committee responses, and submit for documentation purposes.

Planning Applicant Interviews

The goals of the interviewing process include not only developing a more detailed evaluation of the candidate’s ability, but also conveying the University’s strengths and opportunities to the candidates. Advance preparation from hiring managers and/or search committees is required to make the most of the time-intensive interviewing process.

  • When scheduling interviews hiring managers and/or search committee should inquire about any accommodations needed for the interview.
    • Be prepared to inform candidates of the University’s accessibility policy.
    • Additionally inform candidates if they will be required to climb stairs and any construction that is occurring on campus that may affect navigation on campus.
  • Utilize telephone interviews as screening tools when deciding who to interview by video or in-person.
  • In cases when a search committee member is unable to attend a scheduled interview, the search committee may request the interview to be recorded with the permission of the candidate. If it is determined recordings are needed, the search committee must receive permission from all candidates to record the interview to ensure consistency.
    • Confirm that any recordings are only available for review to the search committee. The search committee is required to use Pitt credentials to access the interview. The recording is deleted and made unavailable as soon as the interview process has ended.
  • Be thorough in planning for campus visits. Confirm availability for all and provide interview questions, agendas, position description, and locations to search committee members and/or individuals who need to be a part of the interview process.
  • Facilitate full participation by relevant campus personnel, distribute a listing of all interview dates, and times, to search committee, department staff/faculty, and others including in the interview process.
  • Confirm appointments, interview schedules, and arrangements in advance of interviews and on campus visits. Request written confirmations.
  • Provide details of arrangements and schedules with candidates in advance of the interview. This includes any travel arrangements (reimbursements, ground transportation, flights, and parking) if made by the University and or if receipts are required for reimbursement to the candidate.
  • Maintain regular and open communication, providing updates and/or addressing any concerns, with OHR and OEDI throughout the search and selection process.

Interviewing Applicants

Unsuspecting violations of anti-discrimination is most prevalent during the interview process, as it contains opportunities for impromptu discussions on topics unrelated to an applicant’s qualifications. During the interview, ask only those questions that will inform you about the applicant’s qualifications and skills that are relevant to the position description. These questions will invariably be generated from the essential job functions. Proper areas of inquiry include prior experience, education, career goals, and salary history or preference. Seemingly innocent questions can become the basis for complaints, a failed search, or an unlawful hire.

Consequently, it is critical that the hiring manager and/or search committee know what not to ask. Upon request, or for clarification, OHR and OEDI can provide a list of inappropriate questions.

  • Create a core list of questions to be asked of all applicants regardless of their age, gender, disability, or race/ethnicity.
  • Avoid asking any questions that are asked of only one group of applicants or an applicant. If questions are asked, document the question and contact OEDI for further guidance. For example, if questions are directed only to members of one gender, such inquiries will most likely be considered illegal questions.

Communication with Applicants during the Search Process

As searches progress it is important to communicate with the pool of applicants. Applicants not selected should be informed of their rejection in a timely manner. Contact OEDI and/or OHR to address questions regarding automatic notifications and/or the proper timeframe to use when communicating with applicants and when such communications should take place.

  • Candidates must be notified prior to contacting references.
  • Hiring manager and/or search committee may speak with individuals other than those listed by the applicant, but the applicant must first provide permission.
  • If permission is denied or restricted, the hiring manager and/or search committee must adhere to the restriction.

Selection of Finalists

The selection of finalists is structured to focus on both the strengths and deficits for each candidate. When selecting finalist, hiring managers and/or search committees must ensure biases and assumptions have not influenced search committee decisions and ensure the inclusion of qualified underrepresented minorities in the finalist pool.

  • Committee members are tasked to challenge assumptions and to be mindful of power dynamics among committee members.
  • Review, reflect, and continuously evaluate the selection process to ensure underrepresented groups were not subjected to different expectations or standards.
  • Ensure all efforts were made to recruit diverse candidate pools from institutions other than major research universities and the accomplishments of women or minority candidates have not been undervalued.
  • Ensure non-performative comments, such as assumptions about whether women or minority candidates will “fit in” into the existing environment, has influenced the evaluation process.
  • If finalist list is not diverse with respect to race/ethnicity and gender, documentation, and approval from OEDI and OHR is required before proceeding to next stage of the hiring process.

Go to Component III: Hiring and Onboarding