Best Practices for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce


West Chester University has had a long-standing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion within its workforce and this is reflected within the University's mission and values statement, as well as in its strategic plan, Reimagining Student Success. There is an increasingly expansive body of research that documents that faculty and staff diversity directly contributes to educational quality and outcomes for all students. While WCU has witnessed steady growth in racial, ethnic, and gender diversity (among many other dimensions of diversity) within the student body, there remains significant room for improvement to diversify the administrative and faculty job groups. As an institution, we also understand that the arguments for administrative and faculty diversity are just as compelling as the arguments for a diverse student body - which extend beyond the obvious reasons of equity.

For these reasons and many more, this document was created to serve as a resource for departments, hiring managers, and faculty and administrative search committees. It is designed to integrate and summarize the recruitment and hiring best practices that have been identified nationally to support WCU's commitment to meeting its goals of promoting equal opportunity and enhancing academic excellence through workforce diversity. Search chairs and committee members are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the hiring manager/search committee resources page via the "Employment and Recruitment" link found on the Office of Human Resource's (OHR) homepage navigation toolbar. Additionally, OHR and ODEI staff are available to answer any questions and provide consultation at every stage of the search process.

Recruitment Efforts

The search committee's work is central for hiring a more diverse administration and faculty and must go beyond simply posting position advertisements and waiting for prospects to apply. Reimagine recruitment as a constant activity and not only thought about when a request to hire form has been approved. The department and search committee should actively reach out to hidden pools to identify and build relationships with colleagues in the field, using available online employment boards and/or listservs to reach out to potential candidates and taking other proactive steps to build the pool.

In keeping with our commitment to uphold equal employment opportunity, expanded recruitment efforts continue to be required for all positions in which women and underrepresented groups are underutilized. When the job group is underutilized or the department is underrepresented, search committees should demonstrate with evidence the measures taken to identify, recruit, and hire women and/or racial/ethnic minorities.

Search Committee Ethics & Integrity

Searches are an opportunity for WCU to demonstrate high ethical standards and integrity. An effective search is an opportunity for WCU to show itself favorably to many groups and individuals (e.g., national references, professional colleagues). To attract the highest quality candidates, to retain for the duration of the process the candidates who are most competitive, and to fulfill the responsibility to treat candidates confidentially and ethically, the search committee should commit itself to:

  • Create a search environment that respects the rights and dignity of all persons.
  • All information concerning the applicants and candidate pool is extremely confidential. Maintain in strict confidence permanently:
    • All information about candidates secured during the search process (e.g., names, written materials, references).
    • The identity of individuals who have expressed interest in exploring this opportunity, including individual qualifications, merits and application materials.
    • All committee discussions, both during the process and after its completion.
  • Promptly disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest to the search chair or the entire search committee. Ensure that no member of the search committee intends to become an applicant for the position. Search committee members should refrain from any discussions and evaluations of any prospects or candidates with whom you may have a real or potential conflict of interest.
  • Receive candidate permission prior to reference checking. Any breach in confidentiality could damage the reputations and livelihoods of the candidates, applicants, and WCU.
  • Represent WCU as a whole, not as individuals or group stakeholders. Departments will want to include on the search committee individuals who have broad perspectives and a commitment to equity and diversity.
  • Understand that decisions must be made without regard to any biases of individuals based on protected class and non‐job related selection criteria.
  • Understand that this search/selection committee's role is to recommend candidates to the hiring manager who has final authority to select a candidate of choice.
  • Understand that search committee members may be removed from the search/selection committee if these confidentiality obligations are breached or failure to act in a professional manner. Understand that should a search committee member be removed, all the terms above are still applicable and binding upon termination of the committee.

Getting Started with Preparation: Hiring Manager Responsibilities

The Hiring Manager or Department Head in setting the stage for the search committee's work (depending on your respective division/department/College), the hiring manager/department head should define expectations of the search process by defining the position description, identifying minimum and preferred qualifications, researching and following through with advertising and outreach sources, and developing selection criteria prior to the beginning of any search. At the discretion of the hiring manager, the task of developing the position announcement can be delegated to the search committee. This is also a good time to review the department's goals and consideration of under-representation of women and racial/ethnic minorities. Building on WCU's commitment to diversity and inclusion, a clear, consistent charge should include focus on equitable search practices, the nature of permitted pool-building activities, and how committee members may help increase the diversity of an applicant pool by networking with colleagues and other relevant groups/organizations.

Create the Position Description

  • An up-to-date position description is a great tool to help identify the essential knowledge and skills to include in the position announcement. The specific format for the position format will be determined by the job classification for the position (e.g., managers, AFSCME, APSCUF, SCUPA, etc.).
  • Consider defining the position in the widest possible terms consistent with the department's needs. Aim for consensus on specific specialties or requirements, while planning to cast the hiring net as broadly as possible. Work to ensure that the position description does not needlessly limit the pool of applicants.
  • Consider as important selection criteria for all candidates (regardless of their own demographic characteristics), the ability of the candidate to add intellectual diversity to the department, to work successfully with diverse students and colleagues, and to mentor diverse students and junior colleagues.
  • Establish selection criteria and procedures for evaluating, interviewing candidates, and keeping records before advertising the position. Make sure that selection criteria are directly related to the requirements of the position, clearly understood, and accepted by all members of the committee.

Think about the Chair and Committee Composition

The search chair serves as the spokesperson for the search committee throughout the process and should, therefore, be familiar with search policies and procedures and be an encouraging ambassador of the University. Consider the following questions when appointing a search chair:

  • Has the person worked at WCU for at least a year? (Strongly recommended)
  • Has the person participated in at least two searches? (Strongly recommended)
  • Are they already serving on another committee?
  • Would serving as the search chair be a conflict of interest?
  • Does the person have the time to commit to the search committee? Are there any projects they can put on hold to make this search a priority?
  • Do they have a vested interest in the position?
  • Are they familiar with the position or is there at least one person that can be included on the committee who is familiar with the position?
  • Does the person have campus connections to help fill the search committee roles?
  • Is the person organized, efficient, and do they take initiative?
  • Is there a benefit to using an individual outside of the department, college, or division?

The composition of the search committee and its charge are factors likely to have consequences for the outcome of the search. Once the hiring manager/department head identifies a search chair, they should work together to assemble a diverse committee with different perspectives and expertise and with an expressed commitment to equity and diversity. Committees should include women and individuals from underrepresented groups whenever possible. Strongly consider the appointment of search committee members from outside the department.

Search Support Staff - to help facilitate a smooth process, ensure that the search chair has support staff available to help with scheduling and planning interviews. In direct consultation with the search chair, the staff support person for each search committee shall use, NeoGov, the online employment system to keep documentation of:

  • Position descriptions, position announcements, interview questions (phone and on-campus), search timelines and calendars, and diversity recruitment plans.
  • Major criteria used to select applicants beyond initial screening.
  • Major criteria used to select candidates for interviews (phone and campus).
  • Major criteria used to select finalists.
  • Specific reasons for rejection of candidates interviewed but not selected.

Develop a Search Timeline and Recruitment Plan

The hiring manager/department head, in consultation with the search chair, should develop an agreed upon search timeline and work ahead with relevant individuals and/or groups to reserve important dates on their calendars in advance.

Search committees should use the recruitment plan for advertising and outreach to produce its desired results. This includes advertising widely and going beyond the traditional methods of identifying applicants. Departments and search committees are encouraged to use electronic job-posting services targeted at diverse groups such as minority caucuses or female and minority professional association job boards of specific disciplines or fields. Many professional organizations and associations maintain directories of underrepresented professionals. There are numerous other strategies to assist departments and search committees in "casting a wide net" when we recruit for vacant positions:

  • Make personal contacts with minorities and women at professional conferences and invite them to apply.
  • Contact colleagues at other institutions to seek nominations of students nearing graduation, recipients of fellowships and awards or others interested in moving laterally, making sure to request inclusion of qualified women and minorities.
  • Identify suitable junior or mid-level faculty at other institutions and send position announcements. Telephone calls, emails, and letters to nominees and applicants can send a strong message of openness and welcome.
  • Place announcements in newsletters (electronic and print), journals, and publications aimed specifically at under-represented groups.
  • If applicable, all tenure-track positions must be advertised in a national publication with broad circulation, you can also send announcements and request nominations from departments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic, American Indian and Asian serving institutions.
  • Consult with faculty/staff of color, veterans, women, and persons with disabilities already on campus on outreach strategies.

Once the recruitment plan is completed, it should be sent to at the Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI) for review and approval and then uploaded to NeoGov. Upon receiving approval from ODEI, contact the OHR to determine the job boards that they will post to and the ones that you will be responsible for posting on your own. Note that position announcements have to be approved by the hiring manager/ and some places charge money for postings. Please be prepared to provide the OHR with a designated cost center to pay for the charges.

Recruitment Plan Resources

Position Announcement

The hiring manager (hopefully with input from search chair and committee) should develop the position announcement, keeping in mind that it can be a tool to widen the pool of candidates by eliminating unnecessary qualifications. The position announcement is the search committee's – and WCU's – first opportunity to clearly communicate about the position to the wide range of candidates we hope to attract. First impressions are really important. Make sure the announcement is clear, accurate, welcoming, and free of grammatical errors.

Language for Writing Position Announcements

Proactive language can be included to indicate a department's commitment to diversity. This may make the position more attractive to women and underrepresented candidates. While the race and/or gender of candidates may not be factors considered in hiring decisions, search committees may indicate an interest in service, research or other factors that contribute to intellectual diversity or the ability of the department to meet the needs of diverse students. National advertisement for all vacant administrative and faculty positions at West Chester University is highly recommended. All position announcements must include the following statements:

  • West Chester University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as an individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.
  • Individuals with disabilities requiring disability-related accommodations in the application and interview process, please call 610-436-2433.

Other suggested statements which may be included in addition to the required statements in the recruitment advertisement are:

  • "WCU is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their research, teaching, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community"
  • "Women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply."
  • "West Chester University is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their experience, research, teaching and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community."

Posting Search Materials to NeoGov

NeoGov is the online employment system that the OHR uses to manage all faculty and administrative search materials (e.g. position announcements, position descriptions, recruitment/marking plan, selection criteria, interview questions, applicant cover letters/resumes, evaluation scores, etc.). Human Resources does not receive a notification when new search materials are uploaded in NeoGov, therefore, an email attaching the search materials is recommended in addition to uploading to NeoGov.

Topics to Cover 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.

The Search Committee Chair meets with the Hiring Manager to learn about the position and about the qualifications and skills, abilities and knowledge that are important for a person to be successful in the position. Review with the hiring manager, the position description, position announcement and the uploaded documents in NeoGov. Be sure that you understand as best you can what each of the qualifications mean and what type of candidate the hiring manager/department is looking for.

  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.
  4. Unconscious or Implicit Bias - Research demonstrates that every one of us has a lifetime of experiences and a cultural history that influences our judgments during the review process. A first step toward ensuring fairness in the search and screen process is to recognize that unconscious biases and attitudes not related to the qualifications, contributions, behaviors, and personalities of candidates can influence our evaluations.
    It is important to recognize that diverse paths and experiences can make positive contributions to a candidate's qualifications. Acknowledge the value of candidates who are "less like us" and consider their contribution to our students who are increasingly more diverse. As a search committee you are encouraged to think carefully about your definition of "merit", taking care to evaluate the achievements and promise of each applicant, rather than relying on stereotypical judgments.
    The search committee is cautioned to be mindful of biases in the screening process that could inadvertently screen out well-qualified applicants with non-traditional career paths, with non-traditional research interest or publications, and from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or other minority-serving institutions. It is important to be aware of our biases and create a safe environment within the search committee meetings where demonstrated biases can be challenged and discussed openly in order to be eliminated from the evaluation process.

Committee Activity before the Search Begins

Generating a large pool of talented and qualified candidates is the single most vital step in conducting a successful search. Participants must take an active role to identify and recruit candidates and not leave a stone unturned in seeking out applicants.

Reviewing the National Pool – take steps to identify the national pools of qualified candidates for the field as a whole and for subfields in which you are considering hiring. Subfield pools are sometimes quite different from overall pools. If applicable, identify any institutions or individuals that are especially successful at producing doctorates and/or post-doctorates from groups that are underrepresented in the department. Recruit actively from those sources as well.

Reviewing Past Searches – find out how members of underrepresented groups have applied for past positions in the department, as a percentage of the total applicant pool. Find out how many members of underrepresented groups have been brought to campus for interviews in previous searches. If members of underrepresented groups have been hired in recent searches, ask the search committees, the department chair, and the recently hired faculty or staff member how they were successfully recruited. If members of underrepresented groups have been offered positions, but have turned them down, attempt to find out why they turned them down. Find out what happened to members of underrepresented groups were not offered positions in previous searches. Where are they now?

Recruitment Activities During the Search: Chair/Committee Responsibilities

Broadening the Pool

View your committee's task as including a process of generating a pool rather than merely tapping it. This may be accomplished by having committee members attend presentations at national meetings and develop a more diverse list of potential future candidates based on those meetings. Candidates identified in this way may be in any field, not necessarily the one targeted for a particular search.

  • Keep in mind that some highly ranked universities have only recently begun actively to produce women and underrepresented PhDs. Therefore, consider candidates from a wide range of institutions.
  • Consider reopening or intensifying the search if the pool of applicants does not include any female or minority candidates who will be seriously considered by the search committee.

Using Active Recruitment Practices

  • Place announcements using electronic job-posting services, websites, listservs, journals, and publications, particularly those targeted at diverse groups such as minority and women's caucuses or professional networks in your discipline or field.
  • Make personal contacts, including women and underrepresented individuals, at professional conferences and invite them to apply.
  • Contact colleagues at other institutions to seek nominations of students nearing graduation or others interested in moving laterally, making sure to request inclusion of underrepresented groups and women.
  • Identify suitable faculty at other institutions, particularly women and underrepresented faculty who may currently be under-placed, and send position announcements directly to them.
  • Contact relevant professional organizations for rosters listing women and underrepresented people receiving Ph.D.'s (or other relevant degrees) in the academic field. Be aware that most academic fields have resources— listservs, email groups, etc.—that can help you identify or reach qualified women and underrepresented candidates.

Conducting a Fair Selection Process

  • Documenting the search process through systematic tracking of the search committee's interaction with applicants is not only helpful to the committee, but the resulting records may be useful in the future.
  • Develop a standard form that summarizes each candidate's progress during the search process (e.g., nominated, applied, reviewed, failed to meet minimum qualifications, shortlisted, interviewed, eliminated, etc.)
  • Maintain official minutes of search committee meetings. These can be brief, but they should document general criteria established by the search committee and their decision-making process.
  • Keep copies of letters and advertisements, especially those efforts made to recruit women and underrepresented candidates
  • Ensure evaluations, interviews, and reference checks are consistent by developing standard forms and standard questions for these activities.
  • Ensure that documentation provides rationales for search committee decisions and recommendations. This can be as extensive as notes to the candidate files, or as brief as a line in the search committee minutes (e.g., "The search committee decided to limit interviews to those candidates having more than ten years of teaching experience").
  • Notes should indicate specific job-related reasons for selection or non-selection.

Communicating promptly and courteously with Applicants

Be courteous and responsive to applicants who seek information about the position, WCU in general, University divisions, colleges, department, and/or the local community. Keep applicants informed on the progress of the search (especially if it is taking longer than expected). We make friends for the University by treating applicants with thoughtfulness - no matter how ill-suited an applicant may be for a particular position. However, it is extremely important to be consistent in the information you share with applicants. Be careful to give the same level of detail to applicants especially concerning the application process. Remember, sometimes less is more. Standardize the information that is communicated to applicants by only having the search committee chair make any necessary contacts with applicants. Treat internal candidates just like the external candidates.

Once the search committee begins evaluating candidates, members should end their contact with individual applicants and direct applicants to the search chair. A notification letter can be sent to each applicant, once the individual is no longer under consideration for the position. For example, applicants who are no longer being considered after an initial screening can be notified at that point. You don't have to wait until an offer is actually made. However, be careful not to eliminate a person from consideration too early. If you wait until a final candidate is selected, try to notify candidates as soon as possible before any formal public announcements about the selected candidate are made. All interviewed candidates must be notified in writing that they were not selected. Consider regular phone and/or e-mail contact with applicants in whom you are especially interested. You don't have to have any particular news; just keeping in touch is an effective recruitment strategy if the process seems to be taking unusually long.

Evaluating the Applicant Pool

Reviewing with Objective Selection Criteria

As you review applicant materials, be aware of conscious and unconscious biases that may exist, including those below:

  • We frequently make judgements about people based exclusively on our own personal experiences.
  • We have a tendency to favor people who look like us or have other experiences like our own.
  • Underrepresented candidates and women are often penalized disproportionately, if reviewers do not allocate adequate time (15–20 minutes) to reviewing their materials.
  • Be sure to consider whether you are using evidence to arrive at your evaluations/ratings.

By incorporating the qualifications in the position description into a standard evaluation matrix, selection criteria can be applied consistently to all candidates.

  • Determine, prioritize, and document search criteria based on position duties. Discuss the range of evidence that will be considered as relevant to each criterion.
  • Notice that different selection criteria may produce different top candidates. Be sure to consider all selection criteria that are pertinent to the department's goals. In addition, discuss the relative weight of the different selection criteria and the likelihood that no or few candidates will rate high on all of them.
  • Identify required qualifications without which a candidate will not be selected, no matter how impressive they may demonstrate themselves to be in other areas. Rank other skills or competencies in order of importance.
  • Consider including selection criteria not directly related to the specific discipline or field, if they are nonetheless important to the ability to succeed in the position.
  • Ensure the selection criteria for evaluation of candidates do not preclude people with non-traditional career patterns (e.g., individuals who have taken family leave, a first- generation individual who began their career at an institution that was not teaching-intensive, or individuals with disabilities whose careers have been interrupted).
  • Consider highly successful people with transferable skill sets.
  • Develop a mechanism for screening applications that includes recording why or why not the applicant was selected. You will need to justify your final recommendations based upon the selection criteria.
  • Using a standard form will keep committee members focused on the agreed-upon selection criteria and provide documentation for the process.

One of the hallmarks of an equitable search is that all candidates are treated in the same manner. This may include asking the same questions under the same conditions, and being evaluated using consistent criteria. It is difficult to maintain a level playing field if the search committee uses internet searches to gather additional information about the candidates.

  • Some candidates might gain an unfair advantage because of their positive presence online; others might be disadvantaged by incorrect information.
  • Internet searches might also reveal personal details, such as race/color/ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, and/or age, which should not be considered by the search committee. Since it is difficult to disregard this kind of information once it enters the process, it is best to avoid it all together.

Creating the Short List

Conducting Telephone Interviews

Consider telephone interviews as an intermediate screening step to help the committee determine who will be invited to campus. Phone interviews are optional but can be a valuable, cost-effective way to narrow down the candidate pool. If the search committee elects to conduct telephone interviews, make sure that they are handled consistently and professionally. The use of Skype or ZOOM is permissible, as long as you utilize the same approach for all candidates. Even though you are communicating on the phone or via the web, your questions should be uniform across your list of candidates. Thus, it is helpful to follow a structured plan by establishing a core set of questions ahead of time. This will help achieve fairness, equity, and consistency during the interview process. In preparation for the telephone interviews, committee members should review the position description and the position announcement for specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position. Review the applicant's resume, cover letter, and any other pertinent material. Note areas that may need clarification or further inquiry.

Perception is as important as reality to the applicant, especially women and persons of color. We encourage adding at least 1-2 questions regarding the candidate's experience with diversity and inclusion strategies within the scope of their work or responsibilities. The questions should be job related and it is important not to assume that everyone is interested or able to work with a diverse community such as West Chester University. To avoid unlawful inquiries, everyone participating in the interview process should be acquainted with the pre-employment inquiries chart in the appendices section.

Though search committees are required to use a standard set of questions, members are still free to ask some questions that are specific to each candidate or triggered by the candidate's response. There may be something in an applicant's background that will be unique and may warrant other questions, e.g., different kinds of research or other kinds of experiences. These different questions are appropriate as long they are job related.

The search chair begins by introducing her/himself to the applicant. Other search committee members present should also be introduced. Explain to the applicant the purpose, format, and agenda of the interview. Briefly review the position and, in general, what will be expected of the successful applicant. Give the applicant a moment to become comfortable and have an idea of what will be happening. Note taking by search committee members is encouraged as an aid to recall and to ensure accuracy. As the interview proceeds, listen carefully and allow the candidate sufficient time to respond. The key is to combine good listening with good use of questions. Don't rush through the process and be sure to take time to answer the applicant's questions. Conclude the interview by thanking the applicant for taking the time to speak with the search committee and explain what will happen next, i.e., the rest of the selection process. However, do not make commitments you can't keep (i.e., scheduling an on-campus interview at this time). Documentation of all telephone interviews should be maintained in the search records.

Develop a group of core questions based on the position-related criteria by which the candidates are to be evaluated. Use core questions with all candidates to allow comparative judgment and insure that crucial position-related information is obtained. Aim questions at discovering what the candidate can bring to the position and limit them to issues that directly relate to the job to be performed. If a candidate reveals information that you are not allowed to ask, do not pursue the topic further. The ‘he/she brought it up' excuse will not work in court, so change the subject right away. Some questions could result in a charge against the University. Do not ask questions that require a candidate to reveal information related to membership in a protected group including, but not limited to:

  • Are you married? Divorced?
  • If you're single, are you living with anyone?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have children? If so, how many and how old are they?
  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • What church do you attend?
  • Do you have any debts?
  • Do you belong to any social or political groups?
  • How much and what kinds of insurance do you have?
  • Do you suffer from an illness or disability?
  • Have you ever had or been treated for any of these conditions or diseases? (followed by a checklist)
  • Have you been hospitalized? What for?
  • Have your ever been treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist?
  • Have you had a major illness recently?
  • How many days of work did you miss last year because of illness?
  • Do you have any disabilities or impairments that might affect your performance in this job?
  • Are you taking any prescribed drugs?
  • Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?
  • Do you plan to get married?
  • Do you intend to start a family?
  • What are your day care plans?
  • Are you comfortable supervising men?
  • What would you do if your husband was transferred?
  • Do you think you could perform the job as well as a man?
  • Are you likely to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act?
  • Are you a United States citizen?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

Selecting the Finalists

Search Committee

Identify the candidates who will be considered further for the position based on the position requirements, candidates' qualifications, and diversity objectives. The search committee should check references and review letters of recommendation. Remember that all questions asked and issues raised from references must be job related and similar for all candidates. Some inquiries are not permitted because they request or allow use of information that may lead to an unfair (and illegal) biased decision. See interview/selection inquiry guide at the end of this publication. Efforts to include qualified women and underrepresented groups in the final pool are especially important for job categories, titles, or for departments/units with historical under-representation of certain groups. The search committee should consider re-opening or intensifying the search if the pool does not reflect the availability estimate for the job category. The search committee forwards the list of finalists recommended for interviews for review by the department head.

Department Head Review

The department head reviews the recommended candidates for interview making sure that diversity objectives could be met by interviewing those candidates. The department head may ask for explanation or review of others in the pool if diversity objectives could not be met from the list of applicants suggested for further consideration.

Interviewing Finalists

Schedule interviews and events to ensure consistent treatment of all candidates, including internal candidates. Focus on the candidate's ability to perform the essential functions of the job and avoid making assumptions based on perceived race, ethnic background, religion, marital or familial status, age, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status. Federal laws and University policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of protected classes, such as an applicant's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, genetic information, sexual orientation, veterans' status, gender identity, age or disability.

Veterans' Preference

West Chester University is subject to Veteran's Preference compliance requirements as a public university of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Applicants may voluntarily disclose veteran's status on their application, resume/CV/cover letter or by mention during the interview process. Veteran's preference only applies if the candidate has had a successful interview and is considered a finalist. If a veteran is in the finalist pool, the OHR will request a copy of the candidates DD-214 to confirm eligibility.

Evaluating the "Best Qualified" Candidate

To assist you in identifying the "best qualified" candidate, ask the following questions: Does the candidate:

  • Satisfy advertised required qualifications for the position?
  • Have the skills needed to perform the essential functions of the position?
  • Have teaching/work experience with diverse populations?
  • Have scholarly expertise related to diversity in the discipline?
  • Add intellectual diversity to the campus community?
  • Bring interesting life experiences that will benefit diverse students?
  • Enlarge the cultural richness available within the campus community?
  • Alleviate under-representation in a discipline (if applicable) or within the department?
  • Demonstrate special talents and knowledge needed to serve as a mentor and role model for students in under-represented groups?
  • Enhance other factors valued on campus?

Assessing a Candidate's Qualifications for Teaching/ Working in a Diverse Environment

Incorporate inquiries throughout the interview process and raise them in varied context along with exploring other qualifications regarding effective teaching, scholarship, and teamwork. Ensure that various members of the search committee ask questions so that diversity issues will be raised regardless of the gender and racial make-up of the group. Solicit information about the candidate's work in the areas of diversity. For example – experience or opportunity to recruit, retain and promote women and underrepresented groups in previous positions and, if so, success at these efforts; information about programs, committee memberships and diversity initiatives in previous position. The following are examples of an opening statement and appropriate open-ended interview questions and assessment tools to assist you.

Suggested opening remarks: "Our (University, division or department) values diversity among its students, faculty and staff, and we have made a commitment to promoting and increasing diversity. We believe that issues about teaching and leadership within a diverse environment are important, and we'd like to discuss your experience with and views about diversity and inclusion."

  • What do you see as the most challenging aspects of an increasingly diverse academic community?
  • What have you done, formally or informally, to meet such challenges?
  • How do you view diversity course requirements for students?
  • How have you worked with students and others to foster the creation of climates receptive to diversity in the classroom, in the curriculum, in the department?
  • How have you mentored, supported or encouraged students on your campus? What about minority students, women, or international students?
  • In what ways have you integrated multicultural issues as part of your professional development?

How to assess what you heard. What to look for:

  • Is the candidate at ease discussing diversity related issues and their significance to the position? Or is the candidate reluctant to discuss diversity issues?
  • Does the candidate use gender-neutral language or are "males" used for examples and answers?
  • Does the candidate address all the members of the search committee?
  • How does the candidate show experience, concern, commitment or willingness to advance the University's diversity and inclusion efforts?

Selecting the Candidate(s)

Search Committee

The search committee should select the best-qualified candidate(s) for referral to the hiring manager based on advertised position requirements and candidates' qualifications. The committee should select and refer the candidate(s) who will contribute to the diversity of the department or unit, when two or more candidates possess equivalent qualifications.

Conducting Reference Checks

Reference checks are a critical part of the selection process. There are two primary reasons to conduct reference checks: 1) Employers need to be able to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to find out about a future employee's previous work performance, and 2) Employers who don't do their best to check references can be held liable if the candidate hired has known violent tendencies or other tendencies that could have been discovered through reasonable efforts, especially if those tendencies result in threats or injuries to others in the new workplace.

Employers can minimize the risk of hiring an employee who won't be able to succeed in the new job if they take the time to try to find out about previous job performance. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. Even if it proves difficult to obtain information from previous employers, the prospective employer can still demonstrate that a good faith effort to check references was made. Reference checks may be conducted relatively early in the hiring process to assist in identifying a smaller group of finalists, or at a later stage, to help select one candidate from among finalists, or after a final selection has been made, but before an offer of employment, as a means of verifying job-related information.

Don't just rely on letters of reference or personal references provided by the job applicant. A telephone reference check takes less time than a written reference check and usually more information is gained. Forms rarely uncover negative information. Employers hesitate to put into writing what they may say in a conversation.

Try to contact the same number of references for all candidates. Ask the candidate if there is anyone you should not contact and why you should not contact this person. Ensure that all references are individuals who have worked with the candidate in a professional capacity or who have knowledge of the candidate's skills, abilities and performance record. When calling a candidate's reference:

  • Identify yourself immediately; tell the reference about the position for which the applicant is being considered.
  • Verify dates of employment, titles, and educational credentials.
  • Ask only job-related questions and document all answers. Avoid questions that can be answered with only a "yes" or "no." Instead, ask open-ended questions such as "Describe the applicant's ability to…"

Develop a standard set of questions to be asked of all references, based on the requirements for the job. Job related questions are the key to a good reference check. Follow-up questions may be asked, but must be job related. Remember that the illegal questions used for interviewing also pertain to reference checks. The most important question to ask is whether the previous employer would rehire the applicant you are considering. If you get no other response, try to get this question answered. Search Committees and/or hiring officials should check the references of an internal candidate in the same manner as any other applicant, including contacting current and former supervisors. Needless to say, always check more than one reference. It is permissible to contact references other than those provided by the applicant, but again, applicants should be so informed.

Making the Offer

At the conclusion of the entire interview process, the search committee should meet to reach agreement on a recommended list of finalists for the position. Rather than using strict numerical rankings, the ODEI suggests utilizing qualitative statements based on job-related criteria in conveying selection recommendations. Minutes from the search committee meetings should reflect the rationale for all recommendations made. The search committee's decisions, with supporting documentation, should then be transmitted to the hiring manager.

In turn, the appropriate administrator or authorized hiring official should advise the search committee of the final selection decision. The search committee chair or designee should notify, in writing, all applicants who were interviewed that another candidate was selected.

A hiring proposal must be submitted and approved prior to extending the offer to the selected candidate. The hiring manager or department head will make the offer to the candidate. Be sure that the proposed pay level, rank, and academic and/or administrative support for a woman or underrepresented person is no less than they would be for a comparable majority appointment. In addition, the hiring manager should make sure unsuccessful candidates have been notified prior to public announcements of an appointment. Official, timely notification to internal candidates is especially important.

After the Search

Rejection Letters

Timely notification of one's status in the application process is important to candidates. You are required to notify candidates that were interviewed in writing that they were not selected. Keep these letters brief. Here is one example: "Thank you for your interest in (insert position name and number). Unfortunately, you were not selected and this position has been filled. Please check the WCU website for future opportunities".

Retention of Search Committee Records

Remember that information received including all correspondence, itineraries, notes and advertised position announcements remain a part of the search record for a period of no less than three years.

Retention Strategies

The hiring department should be deliberate in welcoming new hires by providing assistance to secure a smooth transition and enhance the probability of success in the new position. The hiring manager or department head should identify someone who will be willing to serve as a mentor and participate in other professional development activities. Networking along gender and ethnic lines is an effective way to deal with problems of isolation and should be valued and supported. Placing additional "diversity" demands or expectations on minorities or women should be avoided (e.g., extra advising or committee work).