Tenure-Track Search Process Guide

3.0 Selection criteria and the position announcement

3.1 Step 1: Develop selection criteria
3.2 Step 2: Drafting the position announcement
3.3 Step 3: Marketing the position (re-reading the ad as a candidate)
3.4 Step 4: The final step
3.5 Resources


3.1 Step 1: Develop selection criteria

The selection criteria reflect the refined understanding of the qualifications and any additional job-related criteria outlined in the position announcement. The selection criteria provide the framework to consistently evaluate candidates.

Deciding, in advance of reviewing applications, which criteria will be used, and how they will be weighted, will help evaluators avoid common cognitive errors such as:

  • Elitism: assuming that individuals from prestigious institutions are the best candidates;
  • Shifting standards: holding different candidates to different standards based on stereotypes;
  • Seizing a pretext: using a minor reason to disqualify a candidate without properly considering all other criteria;
  • Ranking prematurely: designating some candidates as more promising than others without fully considering strengths and weaknesses; and
  • Rushing to judgment: having strong group members express consensus without sufficient discussion.

The FADIE will provide training on how to avoid each of these cognitive errors.

Recommended Practice

Associated Challenges

Prior to review of applications, the search committee should refine their understanding of the criteria to assure common interpretation and application

Without a common interpretation of criteria, there are likely to be inconsistent strategies for evaluating candidates. These inconsistencies make unconscious bias in the process more likely.

Search committees should establish consistency regarding the weight or importance of each criteria.

Without such agreement, an individual committee member may be inconsistent in their screening, and search committee members may screen applicants inconsistently from one another.

Minimum Qualification/Criteria

Question to Identify Selection Criteria

An excellent research record

What are the indicators of “an excellent research record”?

PhD in X or related field

What is considered a “related field”?

Ability to work effectively with students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds

How will this ability be measured?

Sympathy with the liberal arts

How will this ability be measured?


Create a rubric based on the evaluation criteria that each search committee (selection sub-committee) member will use for each application that meets the minimum requirements. Be sure each committee member has a copy of this rubric before reading applications.

At this stage, be sure you have begun to document the entire search process, using the search summary document provided by the Provost’s Office. Creating a record of search committee discussions, advertisements, nominations, recruiting efforts, interviews with candidates, interviews with references, and rationale for selecting or refusing candidates will allow committee members to review their process for evidence of bias, and correct as needed.

3.2 Step 2: Drafting the position announcement

The position announcement serves a dual purpose:

  1. Describes the position for which the department/program is searching, making clear the educational and experiential qualifications required or desired. This fundamental information about the position both allows potential candidates to assess whether they are qualified, and provides those involved with the selection process a reference for evaluating candidates.
  2. Markets the position to prospective candidates, and is a critical tool for generating interest.

Qualifications and Job Performance Attributes: A department/program needs to carefully consider what qualifications and job performance attributes are necessary to successfully meet the needs of the position. Identifying the necessary qualifications is a critical step in the search process, but one that often does not get the attention necessary to best support a successful search.

Recommended Practice

Associated Challenges

Start with the newly defined position that addresses current and future needs, rather than making minor changes to an announcement used previously.

Making minor changes to an old announcement can result in qualifications that don’t align with the needs of today’s position.

The full search committee should be closely involved in the development of the qualifications.

When qualifications are generated without adequate input from faculty or the search committee, important perspectives can be omitted and committee members may have to work with qualifications that are inconsistent with their thinking.

Ensure that each stated qualification is directly related to identified needs and functions of the position. Consider why each stated qualification is needed.

Some unnecessary qualifications can screen out protected groups or diverse candidates at a disproportionate rate.

Limit minimum qualifications to those that a candidate absolutely must have to perform the functions of the position, listing all others as preferred. Keep in mind that a candidate who does not meet EVEN ONE of the minimum qualifications cannot be considered for the position.

In addition to the challenges listed above, the search committee may be unable to consider candidates of strong interest overall because they don’t meet a stated minimum qualification. This may inhibit the committee’s ability to consider less traditional but transferable experience (e.g. a record of outstanding professional experience outside of the academy, etc.).

Include a qualification that speaks to the candidate’s ability to work effectively with diverse groups of students, faculty, and staff. This is most meaningful when a department takes time to craft a statement reflecting how such a qualification is consistent with the department’s mission/goals.

Often departments include a statement related to diversity in the announcement only because it is required`. The statement is often tacked on to the end of the announcement, which communicates a low level of commitment. When a statement is not included as a qualification, it is often not considered during the search and selection process.

Deliberately consider other means by which a candidate might meet the needs of the position and define qualifications broadly to be able to consider that additional information – e.g. a degree in a related discipline, or related professional experience from outside of academia.

Defining qualifications in an unnecessarily rigid manner will limit the search committee’s ability to consider broader relevant information that may be of interest and bring different experience and perspectives to the department.

Identify attributes that are necessary or relevant to success in the position – the ability to teach specific courses, if required; the ability to collaborate with and complement the strengths of an interdisciplinary team; etc. Don’t assume that required credentials translate to those abilities.

Consideration of critical attributes that are not identified in the announcement can raise questions as to whether they are legitimate or a pretext for eliminating candidates for non-legitimate reasons.


Research Findings: Research indicates that there is a positive correlation between including a “salient job qualification [that] indicates diversity” and the diversity of the applicant pool. “Even in science searches, adding an explicit criterion in the job description for experience and success in working with diverse groups of students has significant potential to broaden the qualities being considered.” (Smith et al, 2004). “The rise in diversity among students on US campuses demands that job descriptions stress experience in teaching different kinds of students as well as skill in developing classroom environments that facilitate learning for all students. Looking for these qualities is especially important in the sciences, where the content of the curriculum may or may not change because of issues of race and gender, but where helping students of diverse backgrounds to succeed is a widespread goal.” (Smith, 2000)

To-Do List:

  1. Describe the specific position. This can be done in expansive terms that include a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Consider the following two questions: 1. Can we expand the position description to attract a wider range of candidates? 2. Will the position description draw candidates who are creative, imaginative, and original?
  2. Describe the department and/or program. This, too, can be done in expansive terms that include a description of the unit as a place that values diversity and diversity-related work on multiple levels (e.g., in the curriculum, in pedagogy, in outreach to students, in research).
  3. Describe the college. Here is an opportunity to introduce potential candidates to our broader commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Include information on the makeup of the ethnic student population. Examples: Goals/progress associated with the Blueprint for Progress or ACTs strategic plan or “the college has a student body of 2,300 undergraduates, including 16% domestic students of color and 4 % international students from 23 countries.”
  4. Describe potential allies across campus, including interdisciplinary programs.
  5. Describe the materials that you desire from the candidates. What material/s will help you assess each of the items listed as required or preferred qualifications in the ad? Depending on the specific field or subfield, as well as the academic rank of the position, typical materials include: a letter of interest; a full cv; a sample of scholarship or creative activity; a statement of teaching philosophy and/or evidence of teaching effectiveness (e.g., a specified number of student or peer evaluations of teaching); a specified number of names and contact information for potential references.
  6. Committees may want to request a statement addressing the applicant’s commitment to and experience with diversity and diverse populations. Alternatively, committees can request that the candidate include in the aforementioned materials or within the letter of intent, an explicit statement of the candidate’s experiences with and commitments to diversity. See examples in in section 3.c below.
  7. Finally, list a deadline—the date when you will begin to read and assess applications. (You will only look at applications AFTER this date, no matter how early the first application is submitted.) If you set the date as a firm deadline, you will not consider any late applications. If you set a “begin to review” deadline, you will consider all applications that arrive until the posting is removed from the Gustavus website.

3.3 Step 3: Marketing the position (re-reading the ad as a candidate)

The position announcement serves as a first introduction of the position to many prospective candidates. First impressions are important. An effective position announcement will generate interest in the position, the department, and the institution.

Recommended practices in using the position announcement as a marketing tool, and related challenges, include the following:

Recommended Practice

Associated Challenges

Make the announcement clear and focused.

A “cluttered” announcement may generate as much confusion as interest.

Briefly convey relevant department direction, initiatives, and other information that is likely to generate interest in the position. A position in a department with vision is more likely to attract candidate attention.

A position announcement that provides only the most basic information can come across as dry and unappealing.

Provide context as to how the position fits within the institution as a whole – including opportunities for collaborative working relationships.

Omitting the broader context may mean missing opportunities to create greater appeal and sense of relevance for some candidates.

Specifically address the importance of diversity to the position for which you are searching. For tenure-related positions, relevant job performance attributes might include the demonstrated ability to mentor and support students from diverse backgrounds, cross-cultural communication skills, experience with different teaching strategies and learning styles, and so forth.

Candidates for whom diversity is an important consideration will recognize language that suggests that diversity is not integral to a department. Particularly for candidates from diverse backgrounds, language that suggests that diversity is a “tag-along” rather than a core value may impact your ability to attract candidates who would add value for your department.

In describing the institution and surrounding community, be mindful of who may or may not see themselves as included in that description. Craft your description of the benefits of the community to be as inclusive as possible.

Well-meaning language such as “family-friendly community” might be attractive to candidates with children. That language may cause someone who is single or doesn’t have children, to wonder whether s/he would be happy here.


Suggestions for ad language

Family-Friendly/Work-Life Balance Language: “The department welcomes applications from individuals who may have had nontraditional career paths, or who may have taken time off for family reasons (e.g. children, caring for disabled or elderly family), or who have achieved excellence in careers outside of academia (e.g., in professional or industry service).”

Language Inviting Applicants to Include Diversity Statements

  • “Gustavus is an equal opportunity institution. Because the College is committed to building a broadly diverse educational environment, applicants may include in their cover letter information about how they will advance this objective.”
  • “Candidates are encouraged to describe how diversity issues have been or will be brought into courses.”
  • “Candidates are encouraged to describe previous activities mentoring women or members of underrepresented groups.”
  • “Applicants are encouraged to describe in their letter of intent how their scholarship contributes to building and supporting diverse communities.”
  • “Successful candidates will demonstrate competency and sensitivity in working in an academic community that is diverse with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.”
  • Given the college’s mission and student body composition, the successful applicant will demonstrate experience and effectiveness in teaching, mentoring, and inspiring first-generation-to=college students, in particular Hmong and Somali students.

Diversity Language

  • “The department/program seeks candidates whose research, teaching, or service has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and inclusion in higher education.”
  • “The department/program is interested in candidates who have a record of success advising and mentoring individuals from groups underrepresented in higher education.”
  • “The department/program is interested in candidates who will bring to their research the perspective that comes from a nontraditional educational background or understanding
of the experiences of those underrepresented in higher education.”
  • “Gustavus is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. The College is dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty and staff committed to teaching and working in a diverse environment, and strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.”

3.4 Step 4: The final step

Ask each member of the search committee to craft a tentative rubric based on these criteria. The rubrics will be shared in the following search committee meeting, as a starting point for crafting a rubric for evaluation. In particular, think about what you would like to see in a rubric that is NOT addressed yet in the ad.

3.5 Resources

Sample 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.

2 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

 

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



Last modified: 21 August 2017, by Shanon Nowell