The guidelines presented here apply to searches for full-time faculty positions. They are intended to assist members of search committees in complying with university regulations as well as federal and state equal employment opportunity laws as they undertake to identify the best qualified applicants for available positions.
Search committees are considered a legal body of the university and as such must comply with the Freedom of Information Act. When discussing potential candidates for positions, if the committee desires to protect the confidentiality of its deliberations, a member of the committee may request of the chair that the committee meet in executive session. Remember no notes [which can be subpoenaed] should be taken in executive session; however, in executive session the committee can protect the confidentiality of its deliberations.
Each member of a search committee assumes a responsibility not to mention any candidate’s name or status or the content of any committee conversation to any non-committee member within or outside the university.
Summary of Process
- Department chair/dean submits draft ad (see guidelines below) and completed personnel forms (Form 12: Request for Position and Form A-1: Request to Fill an Unclassified Position Vacancy) to EVCAA.
- Department chair/dean appoints search committee. All members of the department/school with Faculty Assembly voting rights are entitled to serve on the search committee. The search committee must include at least three full-time faculty members from the department/school with Faculty Assembly voting rights. A student from the department/school and a full-time faculty member from another department/school who has Faculty Assembly voting rights should be invited to serve.
- Department chair/dean appoints search committee chair from the department/school members of the committee.
- Department chair/dean notifies EVCAA of search committee membership and chair.
- Committee develops a projected budget, including anticipated costs of job announcements and campus interviews.
- Committee develops a schedule for the search to include when review of applications will begin, when semi-finalists will be identified, when telephone interviews will be conducted, when campus interviews will be conducted, and when recommendations will be submitted to the EVCAA.
- Committee reviews carefully "Strengthening Academic Excellence Through Affirmative Recruiting."
- Search Committee meets with the Director of Human Resources prior to the beginning of the search process.
- Search Committee determines which applicants have submitted complete applications. This includes filing an online application and forwarding all required supporting documentation (letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc.).
- Search Committee identifies those applicants who meet the published criteria for the position.
- Search Committee conducts telephone interviews with semi-finalists (see guidelines below).
- Search Committee checks references of semi-finalists (see guidelines below).
- Search Committee chair submits to EVCAA and Director of Human Resources a brief report that includes the total number of online applicants (candidates must complete online application to be considered), the number of applicants who meet the minimum qualifications, a brief professional biography of the top 3-5 candidates, a confirmation that references have been checked on the top three, and a request to bring up to three to campus.
- Department chair/dean contacts top three candidates to inform them of salary and invite them to campus if they are still interested. Only in exceptional circumstances will a department be allowed more than three campus interviews for a position and, even then, only after it has been determined that the three originally invited to campus have been eliminated from further consideration.
- Search Committee conducts campus interviews (see guidelines below).
- Search Committee solicits comments from all faculty, staff, and students who participate in the campus interview process.
- Search Committee obtains permission from the candidate(s) and checks at least one reference not listed for finalist(s) prior to providing the list to the dean.
- Search Committee chair provides the dean a summary of qualifications for at least three finalists, including campus interviews, reference checks (including unlisted reference) and strengths and weaknesses. The dean will discuss the committee's summary with the EVCAA.
- EVCAA notifies department chair/school head of approval to make offer.
- Department chair/dean notifies EVCAA’s office of verbal acceptance of offer; letter of appointment will be issued at that point.
- Search Committee chair submits the Final Search Report to the Office of Human Resources; hiring packets will not be sent until this report is received.
Placing the Job Announcement
- Obtain approval from EVCAA of content of announcement.
- Secure from Office of EVCAA a web address with a direct link to the specific job posting (typically takes 1-2 days)
- Identify the publications in which the announcement should be posted.
- Send announcement to faculty, department chairs, and deans at other institutions and to discipline-based distribution lists.
Content of Job Announcement
The announcement should be detailed but concise. Eliminate all unnecessary words (e.g.., “submit” instead of “please send the following”). Complete sentences are not necessary. The announcement should include the following information:
- Name of university and school or department
- Title of the position
When the rank is not known in advance or when the rank will depend upon the credentials of the selected candidate, the opening should be posted with a statement to that effect or with multiple ranks, i.e., instructor, assistant, associate or full professor.
- Responsibilities of the position
- Minimum and preferred skills, experiences, and education
The minimum qualifications [both quantitative and qualitative] are those that are absolutely essential to the performance of the position in question and without which candidates will not be considered [i.e., essential functions of the position].
- Area(s) of specialization
- Contingencies associated with the position
If applicable, contingencies associated with the position such as degree earned by a specific date in order to attain a particular rank, should be included.
- Description of materials to be submitted (e.g. resume, references)
- Name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the search committee chair
- Web address with direct link to specific job posting
- Application deadline or date when review of applications will begin.
To avoid the need for re-opening a search, every effort should be made from the outset to acquire a representative pool before ending the search for candidates. If a department intends to accept applications until a selection is made, language to that effect should be included in the initial advertisement.
- Salary is not usually included in ads for faculty positions
- Affirmative action/equal opportunity byline
All advertisements must include the byline “The University of South Carolina Aiken is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.” Inclusion of the phrase “Minorities and women are encouraged to apply” is viewed as a good faith effort that may solicit more applications from these normally under-represented groups.
Recruitment of Minority Candidates
The Search Committee is encouraged to take aggressive steps to reach minority candidates. For example, send ad to predominantly black colleges and universities (see Affirmative Action Recruiting Sources), and contact directly Ph. D. candidates and minority faculty at other institutions to inform them of vacancies and to invite their application.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [from Strengthening Academic Excellence through Affirmative Recruiting: Academic Recruitment and Selection Guidelines, published by the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Programs, USC Columbia, Spring 2005]
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in employment against a qualified individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.
Disability is defined under the ADA as a substantial impairment of a major life activity. The ADA provides the qualified disabled applicant or employee with the right of reasonable accommodation and protection against discrimination in the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Other than the determination of disability there is no eligibility required for ADA protection. Thus, applicants as well as employees are protected.
The EEOC has outlined the procedures and factors to consider in the reasonable accommodation process; however, there is no precise definition of reasonable accommodation. The employer is entitled to documentation of the disability and need not provide the employee with the exact accommodation requested by the employee if there is a less expensive but effective accommodation. In all cases, reasonable accommodation must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The committee will determine how the candidates’ files will be reviewed, depending on the number of candidates, the time available, and the number of committee members. Whatever procedure is chosen, it is essential that all committee members agree upon and adhere to the same screening criteria for all candidates. Any procedures [i.e., discussions with references or evaluations of written materials] used to select or screen candidates must be applied uniformly to all candidates.
The first screening is for minimum qualifications; any candidate not meeting the minimum qualifications is excluded. Letters should be sent to the individuals who did not survive the first cut, thanking them for applying and letting them know that they are not among the finalists. At subsequent steps in the screening process, the committee should notify other candidates of their status. This is a matter of courtesy and good public relations.
After the first screening, every committee member should read and rate the files of those candidates meeting the minimum requirements of the position.
Conducting Telephone Interviews with Applicants
- Contact Computer Services to make arrangements to use a conference telephone.
- The Search Committee should develop a list of common questions to be asked of all applicants to ensure consistency in the interview process and to form a basis for comparison of candidates’ qualifications. The Committee should also determine any specific questions that should be asked of individual applicants.
- To ensure fairness and to comply with the law, Search Committee members must avoid asking inappropriate questions. See Appendix D for permissible and impermissible inquiries.
- Search Committee members should review each file prior to the telephone conversation with the applicant so the interview time can be used to expand on the information about the candidate, not merely repeat the information already available.
- Establish a relaxed tone for the interview from the beginning. Open with a question the applicant can easily answer.
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage the applicant to give full, detailed responses. Avoid leading questions or statements that suggest the reply the applicant should give.
- Ask for elaboration if the applicant’s response is unclear or vague. (“Please give an example”; “Tell us more about ___”).
- Allow time at the end of the interview for the applicant to ask questions.
- Keep detailed notes on each interview conducted.
Conducting Interviews with References
- The Search Committee should call several listed references for each finalist prior to inviting candidates to campus.
- Ask the reference to verify dates of employment, job responsibilities, and job performance. All questions must be job-related.
- Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the candidate rather than to have the reference merely summarize what he or she wrote in a letter of recommendation.
- Ask specific, pointed questions but also give the person being interviewed an opportunity to furnish further information (“Is there anything else you believe the search committee needs to know?” “Is there anyone else I should call?”)
- In talking with a supervisor, ask if the person would rehire the applicant.
- Keep detailed notes on each reference interview conducted.
Campus Visits - Allowable Expenses
- For candidates flying to the area, buy tickets as far ahead as possible to reduce airfare
- Lodging—use Carriage House Inn, if possible. Visits should usually be limited to one overnight stay. Requests for longer visits must be approved in advance by the EVCAA.
- Meals—one faculty member may accompany the candidate at breakfast and two faculty members may accompany the candidate at lunch and dinner (exceptions may be made for candidates who do not stay overnight)—meal expenses within reason that exceed the state allowance may be charged to the EVCAA. Bar bills will not be covered.
- No dependents’ expenses will be covered.
- After the visit, a Travel Reimbursement Voucher must be submitted with receipts of allowable expenses.
Features of Campus Visit
The following meetings and activites should be scheduled for each campus visit. Copies of the candidate's vitae should be provided to all those who are involved in interviews.
- Meetings with as many department members as possible
- Meeting with Search Committee
- Separate meeting with Department Chair/Dean
- Oral Presentation (required). Search committees are responsible for determining that candidates are proficient in spoken and written English.
- Meeting with EVCAA
- Meeting with Chancellor
- Meeting with Human Resources Staff
- Campus Tour (perhaps conducted by a student)
- Tour of Aiken (EVCAA has Chamber of Commerce video that may be shared with candidates)
Documentation of the Search
Maintain the following records of the search for three years:
- A copy of the position announcement
- A copy of all advertisements announcing the position
- A list of where the position was posted
- a summary of efforts made to develop a large, diverse pool of applicants
- Copies of sample letters sent to applicants
- Core questions used in the interview