Tenure-Track Search Process Guide

6.0 Resources

1.0 Search Commencement

Example Search Timeline

  • Mid-April: Approval of tenure-track position
  • Late April/Early May: Meeting #1: Interrupting Bias and Search Process Beginnings (Dean, FADEI, entire search committee (which includes the LASR))
  • Week of May 7: Meeting for Crafting Ad (entire search committee)
  • Week of May 14: Meeting for Developing Selection Criteria (entire search committee)
  • May 14-June 15: Ad and criteria suggestions and revisions with FADEI, then approval and posting of ad by Provost’s Office
  • June 15 through application deadline: Recruiting Efforts (entire search committee)
  • Summer: Decide the class (and class section) that the candidates will teach, so the professor can amend the syllabus to include this information.
  • September 17-October 7: Meeting #2: Interrupting Bias and Assessing Candidates Applications (Dean, FADEI, entire search committee (which includes the LASR))
  • October 9: Suggested deadline for applications. Amend the following schedule based on the selected deadline, keeping the timing between events. You may want to work back from the date you wish to make a final selection. Remember that candidate on-campus visits need to be scheduled during the instructional days of the semester.
  • October 10: Minimum requirement meeting, to generate a list of candidates that meet minimum requirements (qualified applicant list).
  • October 11-27: Screening of qualified applicants against the evaluation rubric
  • October 27: Meeting to generate top-third list
  • October 27-November 2: Evaluation of top-third candidates
  • November 2: Meeting to generate phone interview short list (~6-9 candidates)
  • November 7-9: Phone Interviews of the short list
  • November 9-13: Individual evaluation of phone interviewees.
  • November 9-20: Meeting #2: Interrupting Bias and On Campus Interviews (Dean, FADEI, entire search committee (which includes the LASR))
  • November 14-20: Contact references still under consideration after phone interviews.
  • November 21: Meeting to select top 3, unranked, candidates for interview (entire search committee and Dean)
  • November 27-December 4: On campus interviews
  • December 8: Final selection

Liberal Arts Search Representative (LASR)

Who is the Liberal Arts Search Representative? The LASR is a tenured member of the Gustavus faculty from outside the department (and ideally the division) conducting the search who serves as a full voting member of the search committee.

Why do we call it the Liberal Arts Search Representative when we are all “representatives of the liberal arts?” It is considered a “best practice” in academia to have an external faculty member serve on searches for new tenure track hires. The name was chosen to reflect the emphasis this person should have in their role as a search committee member; to act as a representative for the full faculty and campus community. This person is expected to prompt the other committee members to be mindful of the contributions the various candidates may or may not bring to the broader campus community, not simply the department.

What is the LASR’s role on a search committee? Liberal Arts Search Representatives perform three essential functions in the search process:

  1. They provide a constructive voice in the search committee deliberations. It can be very helpful to have an outsider’s perspective unencumbered by disciplinary or departmental disagreements in such an important discussion. This open perspective will help to encourage open dialogue within the search committee deliberations.
  2. The LASR is charged with reminding the search committee that the finalists recommended to the dean should be good faculty colleagues for the college as a whole as well as the department. Having such a person on the search committee will also emphasize for candidates our commitment to the liberal arts.
  3. Finally, the LASR, as an experienced senior faculty member, helps ensure that college guidelines in hiring practices are followed.

How does the LASR participate in the search process? The Liberal Arts Search Representative is a voting member of the search committee and like the rest of the committee and must participate in all committee deliberations and all aspects of the on-campus candidate visits.

When does the LASR join the search committee? The LASR is part of the committee from the beginning and helps craft the position description and advertisement just like members of the searching department.

I’m a department chair and our tenure track search was approved. What do I do now? Before you do anything else, you identify a list of 3 to 5 senior faculty members from outside your department and preferably outside your division who you think would be good to work with as a LASR. You then send the list of names to your dean who will assign the best LASR for your search based on your recommendations. You are then free to invite this person to serve as the LASR for your search.

Why does the chair come up with the names of possible candidates if the dean is picking the LASR? The Provost’s Office highly values your sense of who would work well with your department. The deans are more likely to know of hidden service responsibilities and other less public dynamics that LASR candidates face in their daily work here.

I have been invited to be a LASR. Why should I say yes? You should feel honored to have been asked. Tenure track searches are some of the most important work we do outside of the classroom. The invitation to serve as a LASR means your colleagues across campus respect and trust you to help them pick a member of their department. Searches at many institutions are considered the first decision regarding tenure as a member of the faculty. As a senior member of the Gustavus faculty as a whole, you should have an important voice in determining who will join the Gustavus faculty.

I am a LASR on a search and I noticed that we are not following appropriate search procedures. What should I do? If possible, you should first talk to the search chair. If that is unsuccessful or inappropriate for some reason, you should talk to your dean.

I know a bunch of people who might be good at this, but I’m not sure who would be best. What qualities should I look for and which are less important in identifying our LASR? LASR selections should not be made on the basis of that person’s knowledge of a discipline. Nor do they have to be humanists or well-known for their interest in the traditional liberal arts. They should be knowledgeable about the college and what it is like to work here. It would be helpful if they have recently participated in a search. They should be able to be a constructive member of the search committee.

I like the LASR idea but I feel like we will waste a lot of time getting the LASR up to speed on our field. What if I cannot find anyone who understands our field? It is the responsibility of the search committee to answer questions a Liberal Arts Search Representative may have about research and teaching in the discipline. Just as tenure and promotion processes require us to be able to communicate clearly without jargon about our field to well-educated, non-experts, the search process is also a time to share our discipline with our colleagues.

Search Committee Ground Rules

Ground Rules governing the search committee’s work
Note to Reader: The sample Ground Rules below are meant to spur thought and discussion by members of search and other evaluation committees and their chairs. After discussing and amending, adding, subtracting, and refining items below, each committee may wish to officially adopt its own version of Ground Rules, to benefit its committee’s deliberations and decision-making.

1. We will concentrate on rising above cognitive biases and errors in our discussions. Each of us, including the Diversity Advocate and the search chair, will stay alert to the errors, biases, and shortcuts we learned about in our two coaching workshops. To help remind and prompt us, we will verbally review all of the cognitive shortcuts and errors from time to time; place abbreviations of them on a banner for taping to the wall of our meeting room(s); and employ other visual aids as reminders, as we go along. Each of us bears responsibility for asking for a “Time Out” if she/he detects a possible error in-the-making. At this point, we will quickly pause to discuss and try to self-correct.

2. We will adhere to the weighting of each job category, as we agreed when doing our planning with the dean’s or provost’s office. There will be no switching or trade-off of points from one category to the other. After deliberating, we will rate all applicants according to the categories and their designated values. A matrix, corresponding to the job categories and their agreed-on value, will be taped to the wall, to assist all of us in staying with the official job criteria and gathering evidence regarding each of those.

3. Attendance at each search committee meeting will be the norm. It will undermine the committee’s deliberations if one or more members are habitually absent or late. Moreover, no one during a meeting should be multi-tasking (such as texting, phoning, checking email, or whatever) while other colleagues are working and trying to stay on task. Full and courteous concentration is needed. Electronic devices should be put away.

4. We will present and consider concrete evidence not personal opinion or hearsay about job candidates.

5. We will guarantee strict confidentiality regarding job candidates, the committee’s procedures, discussions, and deliberations. First, confidentiality to job applicants is owed, most especially when a candidate does not wish his/her interest in the job opening to be shared with those at his/her current position at their home campus or office. Second, confidentiality is necessary in order to protect the committee proceedings themselves. When members make jokes to non-members about the how the search is progressing, hint at how the applicant pool is measuring up, or confide snippets of the committee’s deliberations and internal conflicts, they are in fact compromising the integrity of the process. It is no excuse to explain that the non-member who received the information (or more likely, misinformation) is not a member of the hiring department or resides outside the United States. In order to highlight the importance of confidentiality, some search chairs ask that each committee member plus any secretary or other staff member assisting with the search sign a pledge of confidentiality. Others remind colleagues and staff at the end of each meeting of their confidentiality obligation. All of us together will decide which option we prefer.

6. We will decide, before the committee commences its work, how we will come to decisions during various stages of our work. Will we be governed by voting (with a simple majority prevailing), by reaching consensus, or by some other method?

7. We will undertake outreach to build up the pool of candidates—the searching part of the search process. Every committee member will undertake pro­ active outreach to identify promising job candidates, especially under-represented minorities and under-represented women—by means of making personal phone calls to colleagues far and wide; placing info about the job opening on various listserves; contacting appropriate staff at professional societies; asking for nominations of strong candidates from former students, post-docs, outside speakers (who have been on campus and know the hiring department fairly well), and so on. The point is to widen and deepen the pool of possible candidates. The committee chair should at times invite prospects to send in their applications. All this is legal because the committee is trying to enlarge the pool. No prospect will be hired surreptitiously on the spot. On the contrary, everyone invited to apply will be evaluated the same way as those responding on their own to job ads.

8. All members will have more or less equal “air time” during committee deliberations. To facilitate this, we will observe the protocol that no one speaks twice until everyone in the room has spoken once. The chair will make sure that no one becomes a monopolizer and undermines the committee’s team work.

9. All members agree to treat every job applicant with cordial respect. The committee will share essential planning and logistical information with each applicant being interviewed by phone or in person. Even though it may be a buyer’s market and applicants seem plentiful, each committee member will be expected to be on their best behavior in interactions with applicants. As a courtesy to all candidates chosen for phone interviews, we agree to provide beforehand to them three sample questions (the same three for all) with one of the three being “How do you see yourself in our geographical area and at our campus?”

Further, as a courtesy, we will provide to every applicant coming for a campus interview essential information so that there are no surprises. The types of information should include:

  • the job talk expected of each candidate on campus (length of talk; who will be in the audience; audio-visual equipment that can be provided, etc.)
  • interviews of the candidates (length of interview sessions; names and job titles of attendees; format—only questions or also role-playing and simulations; forms used to gather feedback about various interviews, etc.) teaching a class or talking with a group of students (length and structure of the interaction, academic level of the students, and so on).

Further, we will ask each on-campus applicant, before their arrival, if there are other groups or individuals on campus whom they would like to privately meet with. Sometimes applicants will request private conversations with other women or other minority faculty on campus or wish to talk with leaders of specific groups on or off campus.

Finally, we will courteously remember to provide a few breaks during the day so that applicants on our campus can have a few moments of silence and a few sips of coffee or water with no one watching. Besides giving the applicants’ brain and psyche a short respite, they may also decide during this quiet time that there is something additional that they should add to one of their responses to a question and so on. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for candidates to have the chance to refine an answer and demonstrate mindfulness? This is unlikely to happen if candidates are forced to run a marathon and cover new ground every moment of the day.

10. We will use several behavior-based questions, standard questions, and perhaps simulations during our phone, video, and face-to-face interviews; the same list of questions and simulations will be posed to every applicant. Throw­ away questions such as “tell us about your research and teaching” should be avoided, if possible. The applicants’ materials will have given all of us at least a superficial glimpse of those categories. So let’s try to dig deeper and ask questions such as the following.

  • Tell us specifically how and why your teaching approaches have evolved over the past few years.
  • Tell us specifically why you would be an asset for our department.
  • Looking at the courses you’ve taught, as listed on your C.V., I wonder which two courses were the most problematic for you and how exactly you dealt with the issues in those courses.
  • We are interested in how you have mentored and inspired undergraduates to aspire to graduate studies. This is a requirement we listed in the job announcement. In particular, how have you mentored and inspired women and non-immigrant minorities (such as African American, Mexican American, and American Indian students)? What worked for you and them and what didn’t? Why?
  • If you encountered this classroom problem (describe a specific situation that a new hire might be expected to deal with), how would you handle it?
  • Recall for us a successful collaborative research project that you undertook with others over the past two years. What was your role? What problems came up? How did you resolve them?
  • All of us, from time to time, have to deal with colleagues who severely disagree with us. Recall a time when this happened, and explain in detail how you managed the situation. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Given our geographical location, how do you see yourself thriving here?
  • Given our institutional mission and the needs of our students (or our new cross-disciplinary center or whatever else the committee wishes to focus on), what contributions do you see yourself making?

[Note to reader: more details about behavior-based questions can be found in search guides by Fernandez-Araoz et al, 2009; Vicker and Royer, 2006.]

11. We will bring up promptly and in a general way that our campus is eager to provide assistance to spouses/significant others in finding jobs in our geographical area. The sooner we bring up this topic, the better. Many (but of course not all) job candidates will appreciate the surfacing of this concern. We can adapt this legal and deft phrasing from the University of Wisconsin: “If information about dual-career assistance interests you, it’s right there in the packet of materials we have sent [or will send] to you. Please let the contact person in the provost’s office (who is named in those materials) know of questions you may have.” Or another example: “Our campus has just joined the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium for our region. Campuses of all types throughout the region now list their current job openings on the HERC data base, which is regularly updated. This is a valuable way to give assistance to spouses and significant others with their own job searches. We are informing all our candidates of this service.”

These eleven ground rules for the search process will certainly help keep the committee on track. Before the committee leaps to its tasks, it should spend time discussing, adopting, and reaching consensus on ground rules. These rules are essential preparation. But do the chairs of search committees require any additional coaching and preparation, especially if they have had limited leadership experience? My answer is yes.

Extra Coaching for the Search Chair, to Reduce or Prevent Troublesome Dynamics and Shortcuts

The chair deserves and indeed requires special attention, prior to the commencement of the committee’s work. The dean’s or provost’s office (or perhaps a management or communications studies expert on campus) should give the chair real- time practice in dealing with bad behavior and psycho-dramas that can develop (e.g., Charlie, you and everyone else on this committee needs to know that I will fight to the death for my candidate; the rest of you can go jump). Practice is also called for so the chair can deal with these familiar situations: one member resorts to bullying or to refusing to yield the floor to others; another seems to withdraw into timidity or indifference; another spends insufficient thought on the homework required for the next committee meeting.

To bolster the chair’s preparation, the dean’s office could ask senior and retired colleagues who are veteran search chairs to share how they have or would respond to those and other typical problems. The search chair should also be provided by the dean’s office with a list of game plans on “dealing with difficult people”; there are several how- to books on this subject. Tips for chairs can also be found in Faculty Recruitment “Toolkits” and guidelines posted at the websites of the Universities of Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, and others. For instance, the Wisconsin Guidelines for Chairs advises the chair to assign tasks to members at end of each meeting and then ask for a report from each person at the beginning of the next. The dean’s office should compile a list of pointers for the chair from these and other sources.

Search chairs might consider taping the job-criteria matrix on the wall of the meeting room together with a bulleted list of cognitive errors to avoid. These two visual aids, as I previously mentioned, will help both the chair and the Diversity Advocate/Monitor keep members on course and avert common mistakes.

Above all, the chair and the Diversity Advocate/Good Practices Monitor together should be given practice “drills” so they are ready to disarm typical lines of resistance and confusion regarding faculty diversity efforts. By assuming the part of devil’s advocate and hard-nosed obstructionist in these practice sessions, the associate dean (or chief diversity officer, vice provost for faculty affairs, or some other appropriate person) could act out questions, retorts, bullying, passive aggression, and other actions which both the chair and the advocate/monitor, in real time, might confront. The chair and the advocate should “rehearse the new behavior [and interventions] at every opportunity until it becomes automatic (that is, until mastery has occurred at the level of implicit learning)” (Coleman et al, 2004).

Excerpt From Joann Moody’s New Book Faculty Diversity: Removing The Barriers (2012). 
Copyright 2012 by JoAnn Moody, Faculty Development & Diversity Specialist.

Evaluation Rubric

  0 1 2 3
Demonstrated excellence in teaching No evidence found. One course taught independently. Articulates pedagogy. Multiple courses taught independently. Evidence shows pedagogical development. New course/s developed successfully. Clear pedagogy and development.
Commitment to undergraduate teaching No evidence found. One undergraduate course taught independently. In addition, to undergraduate teaching experience, candidate provides evidence of commitment. Provides clear knowledge of and interest in undergraduate teaching in teaching statement. Has taught multiple undergraduate courses.
Commitment to undergraduate advising No evidence found. Articulates interest in and commitment to undergraduate advising. Articulates commitment to advising and has advised/ mentored undergraduates. Clearly articulates commitment to mentoring undergraduates, with examples of how s/he has done so and how s/he has improved advising.
Commitment to diversity No evidence found. Stated commitment to diversity. Provided at least one example of commitment to diversity. Provided several good examples of commitment to diversity.

Sample Candidate Grid

  Altuve Baker Cabrera Dickerson
Teaching ranking: 0 1 2 3
Evidence used: No courses taught independently. One course taught independently. Multiple courses taught. Clear teaching statement. Multiple courses taught. Well-developed teaching statement. Highly praised by reference with evidence.
Undergraduate teaching ranking: 0 1 3 2
Evidence used: Candidate indicates desire to teach undergrads. However, no evidence of experience. One undergraduate course taught. Multiple undergraduate courses. Clearly articulates development in this area in teaching statement. Two undergrad courses taught. Teaching statement refers to both grads and undergrads.
Advising ranking: 0 2 1 1
Evidence used: No mention of advising Mentored multiple undergrads in the one course; articulates desire to advise undergrads in letter. No undergrads advised but articulates a desire to do so in letter of intent. No undergrads advised but articulates a desire to do so in teaching statement.
Diversity ranking: 3 2 1 0
Evidence used: Shows clear commitment to diversity issues throughout the graduate career: serving on various committees. Stated aim to increase numbers of STEM researchers. Mentions need to develop pedagogy to be more inclusive: teaching statement. States commitment to diversity in letter of intent. Does not mention diversity.
Total required qualifications: 0 4 6 6
Total preferred qualifications: 3 2 1 0
Overall total: 3 6 7 6

2.0 Recruitment and Initial Screening

Recruiting and Networking Resources

National Higher Education Recruitment Consortium: The National Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) has developed a customized higher education CV/resume database, available online at: www.hercjobs.org. The database currently contains the vitae/resumes of over 4,000 prospective faculty and staff.

Accessing the database is free for all Upper Midwest HERC member institutions and there is no limit to the number of accounts per institution. We encourage departments that are seeking to fill open positions to utilize this valuable resource. The database can be searched by criteria such as academic discipline, key words (e.g., post doc), education, and relocation preferences.

To gain access to the database, contact the UMW HERC Director at umwherc@umn.edu or 612-626-0775.

The Consortium for Faculty Diversity: The Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD) is committed to increasing the diversity of students, faculty members, and curricular offerings at liberal arts colleges with a particular focus on enhancing the diversity of faculty members and of applicants for faculty positions. Their database of prospective faculty members can be accessed online. Please email Shanon Nowell (snowell@gustavus.edu) for additional information about accessing this resource.

University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity and the Graduate School: The Office of the Provost will share Gustavus faculty advertisements for distribution to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from historically-underrepresented groups whose education and background match the needs of our positions.

Committee on Institutional Cooperation: The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Doctoral Directory is a listing of doctoral degree recipients who are members of groups underrepresented in higher education and who are alumni of the participating universities. The Directory is designed to increase the visibility of doctoral alumni who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to higher education. The Directory is promoted among hiring committees at CIC member universities and the searchable, online database is freely available to the public.
Website: http://www.cic.net/students/doctoral-directory/introduction

Ford Foundation: This directory contains information on Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship recipients awarded since 1980 and for Foundation Pre-doctoral and Dissertation fellowship recipients awarded since 1986. The database can be sorted by award year, field of study, current institution, current state, or last name. Access to this database is free.
Website: http://nrc58.nas.edu/FordFellowDirect/Main/Main.aspx

Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program: The fundamental objective of MMUF is to address, over time, the problem of underrepresentation in the academy at the level of college and university faculties. This goal can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups (URM) who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students who may not come from traditional minority groups but have otherwise demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF. They provide an online list of minority PhDs and their dissertation, book, and article titles in all fields.

University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: The University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was established in 1984 to encourage outstanding women and minority PhD recipients to pursue academic careers at the University of California. They offer a list of fellowship recipients and continuing fellows.
Website: http://ppfp.ucop.edu/info/fellowship-recipients/

University of Michigan President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: Beginning in 2011, the University of Michigan joined in a collaborative partnership with the University of California to offer postdoctoral fellowship opportunities. They offer a list of fellowship recipients.
Website: http://presidentspostdoc.umich.edu

Additional Advertising Venues

American Indian Science & Engineering Society: The mission of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science, and other related technology disciplines. AISES works to promote, initiate, and provide educational services for American Indian and Alaska Native pre- college, college and graduate students in STEM. AISES also supports early, mid, and executive level professionals in STEM through professional development, mentoring, networking, community service, and awards programs and initiatives.
Website: http://www.aises.org 

Association for Women in Science: The Association for Women in Science is a leadership organization that has advocated for the interests of women in science and technology, for nearly 40 years. The Association has fought for equity and career advancement for women – from the bench to the boardroom. They are organized through a nationwide network of chapters and partnerships with aligned professional organizations.
Website: https://www.awis.org/ 

The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education: This magazine has been a top information news source and the sole Hispanic educational magazine for the higher education community.
Website: http://www.hispanicoutlook.com/employment-opportunities/ 

JustGarciaHill Jobs: JustGarciaHill is dedicated to three outstanding minority scientists: Ernest Everett Just, 1883-1941; Fabian Garcia, 1871-1948; and Rosa Minoka Hill, 1875-1952. Their goal is to provide a supportive environment that will stimulate underrepresented minorities to pursue and strengthen scientific output in the United States and improve the health and well-being of minority and underserved communities.
Website: http://justgarciahill.newscientist.com/ 

INSIGHT Into Diversity: Formerly the Affirmative Action Register, INSIGHT Into Diversity is a national magazine and a premier source of information for one million monthly readers seeking in-depth news, reports and commentary on issues surrounding all aspects of diversity and inclusion. Highly regarded for its extensive career opportunity listings, INSIGHT Into Diversity continues to successfully connect employers to the most highly qualified individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.
Website: http://www.insightintodiversity.com/ 

Minority PostDoc: MinorityPostdoc is the premier web portal on the minority postdoctoral experience especially in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. They feature articles, resources, and events about career advice, professional development, jobs, funding, fellowships, mentoring, and diversity issues. The job page publishes postdoctoral and professional job/opportunity advertisements for all employment sectors: academia, industry, government, non-profit, etc.
Website: http://www.MinorityPostdoc.org/view/jobs.html 

Nemnet: A national minority recruitment firm committed to helping schools and organizations in the identification and recruitment of minority candidates. Since 1994 it has worked with over 200 schools, colleges and universities and organizations. It posts academic jobs on its web site and gathers vitas from students and professionals of color.
Website: http://www.nemnet.com 

Other Online Resources: https://www.norc.org/Research/Projects/Pages/survey-of-doctorate-recipients.aspx 

Templates for Soliciting Applications and Nominations

Template for Email requesting applicant suggestions

Dear _____,

We are advertising for a tenure-track position in _____. As part of the recruitment process, we are contacting scholars in the field to request names of potential applicants. If you have ideas for anyone who might be interested in the position, please send them to me. We are interested in diversifying our faculty, particularly in the areas of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.

Attached you will find the position announcement. Please share widely. Thank you in advance for any recommendations you might make.

Yours sincerely,

Template for Email inviting suggested applicants to apply

Dear _____,

We are advertising for a tenure-track position in ____. As part of the recruitment process, we contacted scholars in the field to request names of recommended potential applicants. You were suggested by ______.

We invite you to apply for this position. Attached you will find the position announcement. We also invite you to share this announcement with others who may be interested. Please be in touch if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

3.0 Semi-Finalist Screening

Interview Questions

Tell us a little bit about your current research project.
What classes have you enjoyed teaching the most?
How would you describe your teaching goals and strategies?
What kinds of methods do you prefer to use in teaching intro level courses?
What are some examples of the sorts of things that happen in a typical week in your beginning level courses?
You’ve seen our catalog. What parts of the Department’s curriculum would you be most interested in teaching?
What are your other academic and intellectual interests? Do you have ways of connecting with other disciplines or one or more of our interdisciplinary programs?
What ideas do you have about what you might want to teach during our January term?
In your current teaching situation, what kinds of interactions have you had with students, other than in class and office hours?
What interests you about teaching at a liberal arts college?
After seeing our catalog and browsing on our web site, what kinds of questions do you have for us about teaching at Gustavus or living in Minnesota?
Tell us about some of the toughest groups that you have had to get cooperation from. What did you do? What happened?
What are some of the most difficult one-to-one meetings you’ve had? What resulted from the meeting(s)?
What is an idea you have recently implemented which was considerably different from the standard procedure?
What would your colleagues say about your style?
What goals have you set recently? What were the results?
How do you prioritize multiple tasks that need to be accomplished in a short amount of time?
Tell us about particular opportunities and challenges that come with the increased use of technology.
Tell us about decisions you have made that have benefit to the students you have taught.
How have you resolved conflict in the work place?
What do you consider your finest accomplishment?
Describe ways in which you have helped students prepare to move as human beings and citizens across multiple cultural boundaries and communities.
How do you maintain your energy level? Describe your most tiring duties or circumstances.
Describe a situation where you wish you had interacted differently with someone at work. What happened?
How do you motivate students to do excellent work?
Describe a teaching situation you have been in recently that describes you at your best. Your worst?

Telephone Interview Script

Thanks so much for making time for this interview. I’d like to first introduce the folks we have on the call today. [Introductions here.] We have 30 minutes together today, and we will have half or dozen or so general questions for you pertaining to the key points in the job. For reasons of equity, we ask all applicants the same questions, so we plan on staying with our scripted questions. Thanks for your understanding in this regard. Then we will be sure to allow 5 minutes at the end for any questions that you may have. Does that sound alright? Okay, let’s begin.

  • Tell us about your background and experiences. Why are you applying for this position?
  • What interests you about teaching at a liberal arts college?
  • What classes have you enjoyed teaching the most and why?
  • Tell us a little bit about your current research project and where you see your research going in the next five years.
  • Please tell us anything else you’d like us to know about you that we haven’t covered.
  • What questions do you have for us?

Reference Call Script

Please take notes. Begin with introductions of each participant (name, title, and department/office). Each person should state their name before asking their question.

Thanks so much for making time for this call. I’d like to first introduce the folks we have on the call today. [Introductions here.] As you know, I’m calling to ask questions about __ who is a candidate for the tenure-track position in our department. The search committee has conducted a telephone interview with her/him. She/he is now a finalist for the position.

I have a few questions I’d like to ask you about __ but first let me tell you a little bit about the position. [At this point, you might describe the area of focus for teaching and research, provide a brief description of tenure criteria (balanced among teaching, scholarship, and service), and one or two other items that you consider key to this hire such as supervising undergraduate research or the connection between this position and of areas of teaching/research in your department or an interdisciplinary program.]

We have 30 minutes together today, and we will ask all references the same questions, so we plan on staying with our scripted questions. Thanks for your understanding in this regard. Does that sound alright? Okay, let’s begin.

  • What are the special talents or abilities you think __ will bring to this position?
  • Can you provide an example of his/her excellence in teaching?
  • In what ways does __ need to grow or improve in his/her professional life?
  • Gustavus has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Can you give us examples of how __ will be able to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about _?

4.0 Finalist Evaluation: Campus Interviews

Tenure-Track Candidate Visit Schedule

Wednesday, November 12
5:20 p.m. Arrive at Minneapolis airport. Steve Smith, Associate Professor of Linguistics, will meet you. Dinner with Dr. Smith on the way to Saint Peter (non-evaluative).
9:00 p.m. (approximately) arrive at the Gustavus campus Guest House.

Thursday, November 13
7:30-8:00 a.m. Breakfast with Professor Susan Anderson, Linguistics department chair. She will meet you at the Guest House (non-evaluative).
8:15-9:15 a.m. Search Committee Interview (Department members: Angela Jones, Assistant Professor, Allison Simons, Associate Professor, Professor Alex Vining, Steve Smith, Susan Anderson, and Andy Burk, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Liberal Arts Search Representative (evaluative).
9:20-10:00 a.m. Visit the campus library to see linguistics holdings, computer classrooms, meet with department’s library liaison Associate Professor Jon Bren (non-evaluative).
10:00-10:20 a.m. Daily Sabbath at Christ Chapel (optional and non-evaluative).
10:30-11 a.m. Interview with Provost Brenda Kelly, Carlson Building 220 (evaluative).
11-11:30 a.m. Meet with Sarah Bridges, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs, Carlson Building 224 (non-evaluative).
11:30-12: 30 p.m. Lunch with students who are linguistics majors (evaluative).
12:30-1:00 p.m. Meet with Diversity Center Director Tom Flunker in the Diversity Center (non-evaluative).
1:00-1:30 p.m. Prep for teaching demonstration.
1:30-2:30 p.m. Teach LIN 101 Basic Linguistics, Confer 101 (evaluative).
2:45-3:30 Interview with Dean Alisa Rosenthal, Carlson Building 219 (evaluative).
3:30-4:00 p.m. Tour Campus with Jennifer Lindstrom, linguistics major (non-evaluative).
4:00-4:30 p.m. Prep for research presentation.
4:30-5:30 p.m. Research presentation: Contemporary Issues in Linguistics (evaluative).
5:30-7:00 p.m. Dinner with Alex Vining and Allison Simons (non-evaluative).
7:00-8:00 p.m. Reception at the home of Alex Vining (non-evaluative).

Friday, November 14
8:00-8:45 a.m. Breakfast with Susan Anderson (non-evaluative).
9:00-10:30 a.m. Tour of Saint Peter and Mankato with Angela Jones (non-evaluative).
10:30 a.m. Return to Minneapolis airport, lunch on the way 2:00 p.m. flight.

Travel and Expense Guidelines

Candidates are guests of Gustavus when visiting campus. Their expenses are paid by the Office of the Provost. The College appreciates the time faculty devote to hosting candidates and extending hospitality. The Provost’s Office also appreciates efforts made by departments to control costs, while ensuring that every candidate is treated well and has a comfortable visit.

After the Provost’s Office authorizes specific candidates for a campus visit, the search chair should contact each candidate to issue the invitation and begin making travel arrangements and arranging for the on-campus visit.

Air Travel: Please note that plane tickets are less expensive when booked in advance. When possible the Provost’s Office asks that interviews be scheduled at least two weeks in advance to moderate travel expenses.

Tickets are paid for by the Office of the Provost. Candidates may book their own flights. However, the search chair or administrative assistant can also book flights for the candidate on a college credit card. Offer both options to the candidate, as the initial expense can be an issue for candidates even when the funds will be reimbursed. If tickets are more than $600, please contact Shanon Nowell (snowell@gustavus.edu or x7541) for approval.

Candidates should be picked up from the airport or take Land to Air Express (www.landtoairexpress.com or 507-625-3977) to Saint Peter rather than renting a car.

Car Travel: Candidates who drive to campus will be reimbursed for mileage at the standard IRS rate. Please remember that even a candidate who drives from the Twin Cities will be reimbursed for mileage. While this cost is less than an airline ticket, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a “free” candidate.

Candidates who wish to rent a car for personal purposes (e.g., to visit local family) must do so at their own expense.

Lodging: Campus visits should include an overnight stay. Contact guesthouse@gustavus.edu to make Guest House reservations or, if necessary, make reservations at a local motel using a department member’s Wells Fargo card for payment. An internal or local candidate may opt not to stay at the Guest House or hotel (if the Guest House is not available).

Meals: Meals can be useful opportunities to introduce the candidate to a wider range of people on campus and to show our hospitality. Ideally, candidates will share all meals with a search committee member, department faculty or students, or other faculty with related interests.

In order to have a comfortable, informal conversation with the candidate, only modestly sized groups should join candidates for meals at the College’s expense. Although we want to be hospitable, this is a time to model good stewardship to potential future colleagues. Please adhere to the following meal guidelines (the number of listed guests below is the maximum; you may opt to invite fewer):

  • Breakfast: candidate + 2 guests (maximum $10 per person) *normally on-campus
  • Lunch: candidate + 4 students or 3 guests (maximum $15 per person) *normally on-campus
  • Dinner: candidate + 2 guests (maximum $35 per person)
  • Receptions: Limited to one per candidate ($75 per reception)
  • Alcoholic beverages are permitted and will be reimbursed, but are limited to one per individual
  • A department member’s Wells Fargo card should be used for payment. An itemized receipt (not just the credit card receipt) needs to be obtained and the names of those in attendance at the meal should be written on the receipt before it is turned in to the Provost’s Office.

In accordance with the College Travel Policy, tips should not exceed 15% of the cost of service, unless automatically charged.

On-campus meal tickets (for the Marketplace and Campus Buffet) are obtained from Jennifer Harbo (jharbo@gustavus.edu or x6223) in the Provost’s Office.

Candidate Reimbursement: When candidates come to the Provost’s Office they will be asked to sign a form that provides the information we need in order to reimburse them for expenses. They will be directed to submit original receipts for the reimbursement of parking, mileage, tolls, etc. to the Provost’s Office upon completion of the trip. Reimbursement will normally be made within two weeks of receiving receipts.

Other Expenses: Should there be costs other than transportation, lodging (if off-campus), and meals, it is important to clear these in advance with the Office of the Provost.

Departmental budgets are expected to cover the costs of:

  • Search Committee meeting refreshments
  • Stationery
  • Postage
  • Telephone calls
  • Photocopying and printing

Interview Component List

The interview schedule may include the following components depending on position and candidate interest:

  • A meeting with the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs (30 minutes). Please send a copy of each candidate’s CV and cover letter prior to the campus interview (non-evaluative);
  • A tour of the library, ideally with the librarian who is the liaison for the department (non-evaluative);
  • Attendance at a campus event—concert, play, athletic event; be mindful that candidates may feel pressure to accept invitations to such events (non-evaluative);
  • A meeting over a meal or coffee with faculty from other departments and/or interdisciplinary programs with related interests (non-evaluative);
  • An informal meeting with first and second year tenure-track faculty from other departments (non-evaluative);
  • A research presentation—for some departments this is considered essential; for others, the candidate’s research agenda and the question of the candidate’s ability to explain her/his research is handled during the search committee interview (evaluative);
  • A reception that includes several faculty members from other departments on campus or in the home of a department faculty member (non-evaluative).

Interview Question Guide

Interview questions must be job-related. Questions designed to elicit information that can later be used in a discriminatory manner when making a hiring decision should be avoided. The following subjects include factors that when used or considered during an interview, might be interpreted to violate non-discrimination laws. These subjects should be avoided.

  • Address: Specific inquiry into foreign addresses, which would indicate national origin.
  • Age: Age, date of birth or any other inquiries that would require applicants to disclose their age.
    Ancestry: Applicant’s nationality, lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent or parentage; length of residency in the United States; ancestry of immediate family or spouse's family; and questions regarding how the applicant acquired the ability to read, write or speak a foreign language.
  • Birth Place: Birth-place of applicant, applicant’s parents, spouse, or other relatives, or any other inquiry into national origin.
  • Children or Dependents: Any inquiries regarding the number, age, and child care arrangement for the applicant's children or other dependents, or intentions regarding becoming a parent in the future. Such questions could be regarded as discriminatory against single parents.
  • Citizenship or Work Authorization: Inquiries regarding country or citizenship other than the United States; inquiries to naturalized citizens regarding citizenship status of parents or spouse; or date of acquisition of U.S. citizenship. Inquiries regarding work authorization may not be addressed until after acceptance of a written offer.
  • Convictions, Arrests and Court Records: Any inquiries regarding arrests; questions regarding conviction and court records that are not substantially related to the function and responsibilities of the position.
  • Disabilities: Inquiries regarding an applicant's disability. If an applicant volunteers this information during the course of the interview, it can be considered in relation to the applicant’s ability to perform the essential functions of the position. If an applicant has an obvious disability or voluntarily discloses a disability that causes the committee concern about whether that person could perform the essential functions of the job, the committee can ask the applicant to describe or demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation the applicant will perform essential job functions. However, if this question is asked of one applicant, it must be asked of all applicants, not just those with obvious or disclosed disabilities.
  • Education: Any inquiry asking specifically the nationality, racial or religious affiliation of a school.
  • Financial Status, Credit Record, or Car Ownership: These questions are unrelated to the applicant’s ability to perform the requirements of the position and tend to discriminate against certain groups. Financial status inquiries regarding past ownership, bankruptcy or garnishment of wages.
  • Graduation dates: Any inquiries concerning the dates that an applicant graduated from high school or college, which might indicate an applicant’s age.
  • Health Issues: Any inquiries related to an applicant’s health, especially in regard to whether an applicant has AIDS or is HIV positive.
  • Marital Status: Any inquiry regarding whether the applicant is married, single, widowed, separated or engaged to be married may imply discrimination against women because of common societal assumptions that women often leave jobs when they get married or have children. In addition, societal assumptions regarding married and single, divorced, widowed or separated people may contribute to an atmosphere of perceived discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of marital status is illegal under Oregon Law and Board Rule.
  • Military Discharge: Any inquiry regarding the nature of a person’s discharge.
  • Military Service: Inquiries into the dates that an applicant either joined or left military service, whichcould be used to determine an applicant’s age. Questions should not be asked about the nature of the person’s military discharge or whether they ever served in another country’s armed services.
  • Name: Inquiries about name that would indicate an applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent or marital status.
  • Opposite Sex: Any inquiries regarding how an applicant would feel about working or traveling with members of the opposite sex are potentially discriminatory because answers are not always considered equally from men and women.
  • Organization: Inquiries regarding organizations which would indicate by their character or name the race, religion, color or ancestry of the applicant.
  • Photographs: No photographs may be requested or required prior to selection.
  • Political Issues: Any questions regarding political party affiliation or opinions on political issues.
  • Pregnancy: Any inquiries regarding pregnancy or potential pregnancy of an applicant.
  • Race or Color: Any inquiries regarding an applicant’s race, the racial group with which the applicant may identify, or regarding other physical features which may be directly or indirectly indicative of race or color.
  • Relatives: Inquiry regarding spouse’s name, because it may indicate marital status. Names or addresses of any relatives certainly should not be requested.
  • Religion: An applicant’s religious denomination or affiliation, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed should not be discussed during an interview. The relationship of a person’s religious beliefs to their professional employment is an improper area of inquiry until after the selection is completed. At that time, any potential need for accommodation to a person’s religious beliefs or practices may be discussed. Though applicants may not be told that employees are required to work on religious holidays, they may be asked if they are available to work on specific days (for example, Saturdays or Sundays), but it must be asked of every applicant and should not be phrased in the context of religious observances. However, an applicant’s religious beliefs must be accommodated unless such accommodation creates undue hardship to the university or department.
  • Union Membership: Any questions regarding current or past union membership or activities should be avoided.
  • Workers Compensation: Inquiries into an applicant’s workers compensation history are inappropriate. An employer may not discriminate against an applicant because that applicant has utilized the workers’ compensation system, nor may an employer base a hiring decision on the likelihood that an applicant may cause increased workers’ compensation costs in the future.

From Oregon State University: https://hr.oregonstate.edu/jobs/searchexcellence/interviewing 

Candidate Informational Packet

The Office of the Provost sends an email to every candidate invited to interview on campus. That email contains the following information:

Once on campus, the candidate receives an additional hard-copy folder with additional information, including an optional affirmative action reporting form. Candidates are also asked to complete a W-9 form for travel expense reimbursement.

5.0 Search Conclusion

Feedback Form

Candidate Name: _______

Student Name: _______

What did you learn about the candidate that made you interested in learning more about them and their work?
Did the candidate seem to have a sincere interest in working with undergraduate students? What did you learn that supports that conclusion?
What did you learn about the candidate that raised concerns for you?
Describe your overall impressions of the candidate and their potential for working in the __ Department at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Candidate Notification Emails

There are three points at which such notification takes place. Please do not neglect this important task. It is important to extend this courtesy to all applicants; timely notifications reflect well on Gustavus and your department.

1. After the initial screening. Departments that receive a large number of applications (+50) and/or conduct formal conference interviews, notify the candidates who are no longer being considered for the position after the initial screening. This correspondence may be sent in hard-copy or via email. Below is a sample letter:

Dear __:

Thank you for your interest in the position of ___ at Gustavus Adolphus College.

After much thought, deliberation, and dialog, the search committee has decided not to pursue you as a candidate for the position. Your experience is significant, but we had other candidates whose experience we felt were a better match with our needs.

Again, we sincerely appreciate your interest and the time you invested in the process. Best wishes as you pursue other career opportunities.

Search Chair

2. After the conference or telephone interview. Typically, candidates who are invited to participate in a formal conference interview or telephone interview do not receive notification that they will not be offered the position until after the position has been accepted by another candidate. This correspondence may be sent in hard-copy or via email. Below is a sample letter:

Dear __:

It was a pleasure to speak with you recently regarding the position of __ here at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Several fine applicants for the position were interviewed and the background and qualifications of each applicant were carefully reviewed. The committee determined that other candidates’ experience and educational preparation more closely matched the duties of this position.

On behalf of Gustavus Adolphus College, and speaking for myself personally, thank you for your candidacy for the position of __. The opportunity to speak with you has been much appreciated. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Search Chair

3. After the campus interview. The search chair should contact by telephone or email the candidate(s) who was/were invited to campus but not offered the position to express thanks for their interest in Gustavus, explain that another candidate has accepted the position, and offer best wishes in the job search process. Please note that the search chair should not offer additional information to the applicant. The dean and search chair will decide together whether phone or email is appropriate.

Last modified: 18 February 2021, by Shanon Nowell