Stage Two: Creating the “Short list” of Candidates

Note: telephone inquiries are not required. Consider telephone inquiries as an intermediate screening step to help the search committee determine who will be invited to campus. Telephone inquiries are optional but can be a valuable, cost-effective way to narrow down the candidate pool.  If the search committee elects to conduct telephone inquiries, make sure that they are handled consistently and professionally.  The use of Skype or ZOOM is permissible, if 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.

The Search Chair should notify the Hiring Manager and Human Resources if the search committee decides to conduct telephone inquiries.  If a candidate is not selected for a telephone inquiry, please provide a job-related reason.  After making selections, identify candidates “Selected for Telephone Inquiry” and email the Hiring Manger and Human Resources.

With the search committee, confirm the week during which telephone inquiries will be conducted and the week during which campus interviews/tours will be conducted. Agree on schedule for interviews and tours and what people and groups candidates will meet with, etc. Remind members to keep their Selection Criteria Sheets (These and all search notes will need to be returned to you when a candidate is recommended for hire).

Human Resources will review the list of people selected for telephone inquiries and their application materials and may consult with the Hiring Manager. As part of this discernment, Human Resources may ask for additional information or ask the search committee to do telephone inquiries with additional candidates to increase the diversity of the pool.

Human Resources will then, if all are agreed, identify candidates “Approved for Telephone Inquiry” and send an approval email to the Search Chair with a copy to the Hiring Manager and Search Chair.

Conducting Telephone Inquiries

When Human approves the list of people selected for telephone phone inquiries, ask the support person for the search to call and schedule telephone inquiries for the candidates selected. 

The Search Chair leads all phone inquiries and have as any members as possible be part of the inquiries. Never have one person do a phone inquiry alone. Please remind search committee members to use the approved telephone inquiry questions and keep track of any notes they take for each approved candidate (Just like the Selection Criteria Sheets, these and all search notes will need to be returned to you when a candidate is recommended for hire).

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, etc.). Documentation of all telephone inquiries 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?

 Meeting after the Telephone Inquiries:

When the telephone inquiries are completed, schedule and lead another search committee meeting.  During this meeting, with the consensus of the search committee, discuss the findings of the telephone inquiries. Decide with the search committee if the pool of candidates is adequate.  If the pool is not adequate, ask Human Resources to do another round of advertising.  If the pool is adequate, tell Human Resources to take the posting off of the applicant portal. Record all job-related reasons why candidates who had telephone inquiries were, and were not selected for campus interviews. With the consensus of the search committee, decide which candidates will be invited to campus for an interview, “Selected for Campus Interview”.

Be sure to provide job-related reasons for everyone not selected and notify Human Resources and the Hiring Manager via email. Human Resources will review the application materials and consult with the Hiring Manager, Dean/Director and Human Resources. As part of this discernment, Human Resources may ask for additional information or ask the search committee to do campus interviews with additional candidates to increase the diversity of the pool.

When all are agreed, Human Resources will identify candidates, “Approved for Campus Interview” and send an approval email to the Search Chair with a copy to the Hiring Manager/Dean. Confirm schedule and events for campus interview days.

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