Academic Faculty Search Committee Handbook (MH 4) - Nevada State College

Academic Faculty Search Committee Handbook (MH 4)

  • policy name:
    Academic Faculty Search Committee Handbook
  • owner:
    Office of College and Community Engagement
  • Contact:
    Dr. Edith Fernández
  • category:
    Manuals, Handbooks & Bylaws
  • Policy Id#:
    MH 4
  • Effective Date:
  • viewing/downloading options:
    Web - Formatted (this page)
    Download Policy


These are recommended timelines for typical searches; however, timelines may vary by discipline or due to other factors.

July – September

October – November

December – February


Develop or Revise Position Description

 Advertise the Position

Search Committee Selection and Training

 Develop Search Timeline


Evaluating Candidates

Workday Notifications


How Unconscious Bias Can Affect Candidate Evaluations

Search committee members often give (unconscious) preference to applicants who they know, whose advisors or mentors they know, those who hold a degree from their alma mater, or those who hold degrees from an elite institution. Furthermore, studies show that the achievements of women and people of color tend to be evaluated less positively than are those of white men who are equally accomplished (Kayes, 2006; Steinpreis, Anders, & Ritzke, 1999). For example, committee members may scrutinize and then dismiss the records of an underrepresented person of color or fail to recognize unexpected achievements. Sometimes letter writers can inadvertently minimize the contributions of women and people of color by unfairly attributing success to mentors or collaborators. Consider these common cognitive biases and work to correct your assumptions once you become aware of their contaminating influence. This will allow all candidates to receive proper consideration.

Types and Examples of Cognitive Bias

Elitism: Assuming that individuals from prestigious institutions are the best candidates without viewing all applications more closely and/or considering the needs of the department. Be careful of rating a candidate highly solely because of the reputation of their institution or advisor. Examples:

Shifting standards: Holding different candidates to different standards based on stereotypes. Women, people of color, and underrepresented groups may be held to higher expectations regarding their interpersonal style, behavior, or level of preparedness. Examples:

Seizing a pretext: Using a minor reason to disqualify a candidate without properly considering all other criteria. Research has shown that women are more likely than men to have partners who are also academics, and that concerns regarding the partner’s career disproportionately affect recruitment and retention of women faculty. Examples:

Ranking prematurely: Designating some candidates as more promising than others without fully considering strengths and weaknesses of all applicants. Ensure that each application has been fully considered with respect to the different criteria that were agreed upon prior to expressing preferences for particular candidates.

Rushing to judgment: Having strong group members, particularly those with seniority, reach and express consensus without sufficient discussion, which may make it difficult for others to challenge those conclusions.


Scheduling Phone Interviews

Finalizing Phone and On-Campus Interview Questions

Selecting Candidate for On-Campus Visits


When you are ready to bring candidates to campus, you should first determine your committee’s availability for the search committee interview and teaching demonstration. Next, you should determine which elements of the campus visit that you would like your candidate to experience and add any meetings that the candidate requests. You will need to provide your Administrative Assistant with enough advance notice (at least two weeks) to develop the full itinerary, since it requires scheduling multiple people and reserving rooms. You can help your Administrative Assistant by identifying faculty who can attend meals and/or conduct tours as well as students who could attend a student-only meeting. Ensure that the schedule is not too tightly packed and that there is time for restroom breaks.

 Itinerary Development

Scheduling On-Campus Interviews

Provide Information about Campus Visit


Ensure that there are different ways in which candidates may interact with faculty and students. The Dean (and Department Chair, where applicable) should communicate that the Department/School is a supportive and friendly place to work by sharing its policies on evaluation, promotion, and mentoring options for junior faculty. A Department with clear policies on these issues will appeal to candidates as a work environment that allows faculty to flourish. Consider providing candidates with opportunities to reveal their strengths through less formal events such as question and answer sessions or “chalk talks,” in addition to the traditional demonstration. Candidates also appreciate opportunities to interact with students with limited faculty involvement. Finally, social gatherings such as dinner with faculty or end-of-day receptions allow candidates to observe and learn about department culture.

  1. Candidates should know their schedule for their on-campus visit. Candidates should also have the names and titles of people they will interact with during their visit. Share links to any relevant department or discipline websites that list all the faculty.
  2. Candidates should meet with the Dean to discuss tenure, professional development opportunities, and funding opportunities for scholarship and with the Department Chair, Dean, or Associate Dean to discuss scheduling, teaching expectations, and service obligations.
  3. Candidates should meet with as many department faculty as possible, particularly faculty they may be interested in collaborating with, and persons of similar background and interests. Ensure that women and faculty of color meet with all candidates, not just the women and candidates from underrepresented backgrounds.
  4. Candidates should have the opportunity to interact with students in an informal setting without the presence of faculty or committee members. Ensure that a diverse group of students is represented (e.g., lower/upper-division; traditional/non-traditional).
  5. Ask the candidate if they require any special accommodations (e.g., physical access needs; dietary restrictions or preferences, providing sign language interpreters; modifying size or format of written materials).
  6. Although committee members should not ask candidates about their protected identities (e.g., parental status, race/ethnicity, sexuality), it is appropriate to ask the candidate if there are any faculty/staff/students that they would specifically like to meet with. For example, the candidate may want to meet with diverse faculty, faculty with children, or untenured faculty.
  7. Be sure to include sufficient information about the candidate’s teaching demonstration in an email as soon as possible after you invite them to campus (see Appendix for sample language and rubric).
  8. End the campus visit on a positive note. The Search Chair should meet with the candidate at the end of the day to ask how the visit went and to answer any remaining questions. The Search Chair should inform the candidate of a general timeline for the next steps in the hiring process.


Required Meetings / Events

Recommended Meetings

Meals (Dependent on Itinerary)


Candidates who seem ill-prepared are often rated less favorably by search committees, but this could be attributed to lack of knowledge of the search process. Because this may be the first job interview for many candidates (think first-generation student!), be transparent about what to expect during their visit. This starts with being clear about your expectations for their teaching demonstration and providing information on what candidates can expect during meetings with the search committee, Department Chair, and Dean. Creating a transparent process helps create a level playing field for all candidates and can reduce cognitive biases such as “shifting standards” or “rushing to judgment”.

 The Teaching Demonstration

Candidates report disappointment when their demonstration has poor attendance or is not representative of a real classroom experience. When possible, conduct teaching demonstrations during a search committee member’s class instead of a stand-alone demonstration.

If you must conduct a stand-alone demonstration, actively recruit and confirm adequate student attendance. Also, to be consistent you should provide each candidate the same information about the demonstration and the same amount of time to prepare.

  1. Provide candidates with clear expectations about their presentation, including:
    • the time allotted for demonstration and time allotted for questions
    • what type of course they will be teaching in (majors/non-majors; lower/upper-division)
    • who else may be in the audience (faculty, Dean, Provost)
    • the rubric with which they will be evaluated
  2. Inform candidates of the resources that will be available to them during their demonstration (e.g., A/V equipment, SmartBoards, dry-erase boards, movable desks) and offer to make copies of handouts (see Appendix for sample prompt).


Candidates remember campus visits for years to come, sharing their experiences and describing how they were treated. It is now common for candidates to post anonymous descriptions of what happened during their campus visits on blogs and websites. Reading how previous candidates experienced their visit can be sobering. Remind yourself that candidates are evaluating you and your department as much as you are evaluating them.

  1. Provide a warm welcome to all candidates. Inform the candidate of who will meet them at the airport and at their hotel in the morning and exchange cell phone numbers. Clarify if the candidate should eat breakfast at the hotel or if it will be provided on-campus.
  2. Make sure department faculty and staff know of a candidate’s arrival and are available to welcome them. Ensure these interactions are positive and friendly, and that all who meet with candidates have information about the candidate’s professional background. Faculty and staff who interact with the candidate should give the candidate a business card.
  3. Upon arrival to the department, provide candidates with an NSC-branded folder including campus marketing materials and discipline-specific materials such as:
    • Program-specific pamphlet(s)
    • School/Department Organizational Chart
    • School’s Standards of Academe and Promotion & Tenure Guidelines
  1. Orient the candidate to the building(s) they will be in. Inform the candidate where they can securely store their belongings and where the closest restrooms are. Inform them if and when someone will meet and escort them to different events and interviews during the visit.

Candidate’s Arrival

Be Present


Communicate with the Candidates

 Candidate Deliberation

Reference Calls

Hiring Recommendation

Notify Remaining Candidates

Closing the Search


At Nevada State College, we celebrate the storied backgrounds of our campus community. We operate with a shared commitment to represent and serve the diverse population of Nevada and to encourage the exchange of ideas that respects and honors the lived experiences of our students, staff, and faculty. We foster a culture of inclusive excellence so our members can live authentically, fully engage, and flourish.  In order to strengthen the college and progress its mission, the college dedicates itself to intentional and ongoing reflection to meeting the evolving needs of NSC, the surrounding communities, and the State of Nevada.

NSC serves over 5,000 students who are highly diverse and largely underserved; a majority of our students are nontraditional, first generation, or students of color. Throughout your application materials, we encourage you to highlight your background in fostering an inclusive campus culture and supporting the success of students who are historically underrepresented in higher education. For example, your efforts might include contributions in the areas of teaching, mentoring, advising, research, and/or institutional service.


Kayes, P. E. (2006). New paradigms for diversifying faculty and staff in higher education: Uncovering cultural biases in the search and hiring process. Multicultural Education14(2), 65-69.

Steinpreis, R. E., Anders, K. A., & Ritzke, D. (1999). The impact of gender on the review of the curricula vitae of job applicants and tenure candidates: A national empirical study. Sex roles41(7/8), 509-528.

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