Tenure-Track Search Process Guide

3.0 Semi-Finalist Screening

3.1 Conducting Phone/Video Interviews 
3.2 Reviewing Phone/Video Interviews 
3.3 Committee Meeting Following the Phone Interviews 
3.4 Conducting Reference Calls 
3.5 Evaluation to Select Finalists


3.1 Conducting Phone/Video Interviews 

Phone/video interviews provide an important opportunity for the search committee to learn more about top candidates and their qualifications. Reciprocally, interviews also provide firsthand interactions for candidates to learn more about the position, the department, and the College. 

All interviews should ordinarily be conducted via the same mechanism–all via telephone or all video. Search committees may decide which approach to employ. Phone interviews require less extensive resources and less familiarity with technology than video interviews, and mitigate against the bias that may occur upon seeing a candidate. However, for candidates for whom English is not a first language and/or for whom visual contextual cues are helpful for understanding, video interviews may be preferable. Please check with the Dean to find out if any of your phone/video interview candidates have requested accommodations on their application. If so, those accommodations may need to be offered for the phone or video search.

You must use the same set of questions for all candidates during phone interviews. Please send the questions to the candidates 48 hours in advance of their interview along with the time allotted for the interview. This inclusive practice levels the playing field for those who may have a harder time processing auditory clues and allows candidates to think through their answers and budget their time. In addition, research shows that structured interviews, kept consistent across candidates, lessen the likelihood of bias. At least one of the questions during the phone interview should address the candidates’ experiences with and commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. During the phone interview, you may ask a direct follow-up or clarification question that is tied to the planned questions, but these follow ups should be the exception and not the rule. It is a good idea for the committee to discuss how to handle follow-up questions prior to entering the phone interview stage of the process (i.e. who has the opportunity to ask the follow-up question? When is a follow-up question warranted?) Please make sure that you allow time (at the end) for candidates to ask questions. The Resources section includes a set of sample phone interview questions from which you may choose to draw. 

Contact the Telecommunications Office to arrange to have a speaker phone for these interviews. Not all rooms can be used for long-distance calls so be sure to check with them about the room in which the interviews will take place. 
 
Record the interview if not all committee members can be present. The committee should let the candidate know if they are recording. If an interviewee does not want to be recorded, then only the interviewers present can evaluate the candidate’s phone interview. 

3.2 Reviewing Phone/Video Interviews 

As soon as possible after the interview (ideally, immediately following), each member of the search committee scores each candidate’s phone interview, making reference to the rubric. Avoid evaluating candidates comparatively. Interview recordings should be made available to committee members who were not present for the interview. 

3.3 Committee Meeting Following the Phone Interviews 

After the completion of candidate phone interviews, at a meeting of the search committee, the committee should discuss which candidates remain under consideration for the position. If a committee member was unable to participate in phone interviews or listen to recordings, they should not evaluate the candidates at this stage, but can be present at the meeting. Ideally, approximately six candidates remain under consideration at this point, but depending on the number of phone interviews conducted, there may be fewer. If the list of candidates still under consideration does not reflect the diversity of the applicant pool (along multiple dimensions), committee members may wish to reconsider their evaluations of the phone interviews. 

3.4 Conducting Reference Calls

The committee should conduct reference calls for all candidates still under consideration. Substantial research indicates the prevalence and significant impact of bias related to letters of recommendation (for both letter writers and readers). As a result, we no longer request letters of recommendations as a regular part of the search process; instead we ask that contact information for referees be submitted. While reference phone calls do not eliminate all problems with bias, the ability to provide recommenders with specific prompts related to the position requirements and the structured format of the calls mitigates against some of the known forms of bias. 
 
References should be called for candidates still under consideration at the conclusion of phone/video interviews. Search chairs should inform candidates that their references will be contacted and the approximate timeframe for that contact. Search chairs should make sure to email references to schedule calls rather than ‘cold calling’ them. References do not need to be sent the questions in advance but a standard list of questions should form the basis for the Reference calls. Successful reference checks depend on thoughtful preparation.

See the Resources section for additional information and a sample questions for reference calls. 

3.5 Evaluation to Select Finalists

After all search committee members have reviewed application materials, phone/video interviews, and reference check notes for all candidates, the full search committee meets to identify candidates to recommend for on-campus interviews. As you review applications, remain aware of the research on implicit bias that identifies the tendency to look for and favor people like ourselves or those we are accustomed to seeing in similar positions. As with previous meetings, the discussion should be based on the fit to the position rubric.
 
After the search committee has identified the top two to three candidates in the pool, the search chair–in consultation with the search committee–fills out the Candidate Recommendation Form (see Resources section) for all six candidates who were interviewed by phone or video and sends it to their Dean along with the files for the top two to three candidates. If the candidates recommended for on-campus interviews do not reflect the diversity of the applicant pool, committee members may be asked to reconsider their selections. 

The Dean will not move forward on application review until the completed candidate recommendation form and the candidate files are received. In other words, an emailed list of names will not suffice. Search chairs should plan for turnaround time of approximately 48 hours from the time that the Candidate Recommendation Form is received by the Provost’s Office to the Dean’s phone conversation or email exchange with the search chair. Search chairs should not contact candidates whose files have been sent to the Provost’s Office until after the conversation with the Dean. While the Dean is reviewing the files, the search chair can work with the department, the LASR, and the Provost’s Office to identify dates for the visit and begin constructing the interview schedule. 


Last modified: 5 May 2020, by Shanon Nowell