Effective Search Committee Meetings

Topics Covered at the First Search Committee Meeting

The Hiring Manager delivers the search committee charge and discusses roles and expectations of search committee members.  Make sure committee members know what is expected in terms of attending meetings, building the candidate pool, evaluating candidates, etc.  Make sure your search committee members know that participation in this process will require considerable time and effort.  Some of the roles/expectations for search committee members include to help publicize the search, recruit candidates, develop evaluation criteria, evaluate candidates, develop interview questions, interview candidates, and host candidates who interview on campus.  Assure that the search process is fair and equitable and that everyone maintains confidentiality.

  • Set a clear expectation that the committee will cast a broad net for prospective candidates.  Focus on equitable search practices and the goal of identifying outstanding candidates. 
  • Articulate the fact that diversity and excellence are fully compatible goals and can and should be pursued simultaneously. 
  • As is consistent with federal equal employment opportunity regulations, at the beginning of the search establish plans to actively recruit women and underrepresented groups into the applicant pool. 
  • Be sure that all members of the search committee understand the potential role that evaluation bias could produce an unfair and inequitable search process. 
  • Develop long-term strategies for recruiting diverse faculty and staff that go beyond any single search.
  • Detail the required outcome, e.g., “We have been asked to provide strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for each candidate for the hiring manager or department to discuss” OR “We have been asked to recommend an unranked list of 3–4 candidates.  Because the committee is advisory, the candidates recommended to the Dean must be unranked.”
  • Establish a target deadline date of when the hiring manager/department head would like recommendations by.
  1. Hold the first search committee meeting well before the full consideration deadline - Holding your first meeting well before your application deadline will allow your search committee to develop and implement an effective recruitment plan and will provide the time needed to discuss and establish selection criteria for evaluating applicants. The first meeting shapes the attitudes of the search committee members about the process and their role in it. The goal is to demonstrate how important the work of a search committee really is and what they are doing is important so that they will make time for the meetings and for work outside the meetings. It is essential that the committee members feel that attending committee meetings is a good use of their time and that their presence will make a difference.

  2. Introductions of Search Committee Members - Make sure to build rapport among committee members. Active involvement of all committee members can help you reach a broad base of applicants. Begin with brief introductions to get committee members talking and comfortable with each other. The assumption is that committee members already know one another may not be accurate - particularly if the committee includes a student or members from outside the department. Remind committee members that in this age of tight budgets each position is precious and that it is up to them to ensure that the best candidate is in the pool. 

  3. Process - Outline the search timeline and frequency of meetings as well as expectations concerning attendance, decision-making, and confidentiality.  Discuss the process that the search committee will use to generate a short list of candidates to interview via phone and invite to campus.  Discuss any approvals, such as approval to interview, that the committee must seek before proceeding.  Remind committee members that internal candidates, if there are any, should be treated the same as external candidates.  Make sure the process allows each search committee member of the group to contribute to the evaluation of all applicants.  Discuss how the search will be concluded.
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