General Search Recommendations

These recommendations are suggested best practices. The search process must be in alignment with university policy, unit needs, and the position advertisement. Faculty recruitment and retention is very competitive for excellent faculty; therefore, providing a supportive institutional environment is critical from the beginning of the search process and throughout the candidate's career.

Forming the Search Committee

  • Identify internal and external representatives to serve as members.
  • Create a committee that is diverse (i.e., race, gender, discipline, years of experience, perspectives, different ranks, social identity).
  • Review the roles of the department chair, the search committee chair, and the search committee members in this document.
  • Receive direction from the department chair as to the committee role, i.e., search process and form of any recommendations to the committee chair and members.
  • Use this manual and other available resources to learn about best practices in conducting a search.

Planning the Search

  • Follow institutional guidelines developed by University Human Resources and the Recruitment and Hiring Guidelines for Faculty Vacancies.
  • Know policies for hiring, including international hiring.
  • Develop a position description that addresses the needs of the department and accurately describes the expectations of the position.
  • Develop a position description that addresses the minimum, as well as preferred, qualifications of the position. Use "preferred" as much as possible for flexibility.
  • Identify objective selection criteria by which candidates will be evaluated.
  • Develop a position description that will attract a diverse pool of candidates in alignment with institutional goals for diversity. This will be facilitated by considering the needs for the position and incorporating flexibility into qualifications (see Suggested Language for Advertisements in the section below).
  • Be aware of how language in the advertisement may adversely impact a diverse pool of candidates if the requirements are too restrictive.
  • Determine and communicate the search timeline, budget, administrative tasks (i.e., collecting application packets, conducting phone interviews, scheduling meetings, contacting references, etc.) at the first meeting.
  • Determine a plan for record keeping of all materials, including but not restricted to applicants, candidate contacts made for the search, number of underrepresented and women applicants, references, etc. Discuss confidentiality requirements.

Recruiting Candidates

  • Discuss ways to obtain an excellent and diverse pool of applicants, including criteria to attract top tier diverse candidates. These discussions should include networking, especially at conferences and meetings to identify future and current leaders in the discipline area. Also, have the Equity Advisor of the college, department, or unit discuss relevant materials/policies with the committee.
  • Expand networks to identify the best candidates, especially using the networking of women and faculty of color.
  • Plan for marketing and advertising the position, placement of ads, and distribution of the position announcement (see Suggested Language for Advertisements in the section below).
  • Send "Build Your Career at ISU" (PDF, 302KB) to all prospective candidates.
  • Refer to Resources and Best Practices for Faculty Searches

Evaluating and Responding to the Applicant Pool

  • Evaluate and rate the applicant pool based on the established criteria for the position (see suggested template in Appendix 2).
  • Acknowledge all applications in writing; promptly communicate with candidates during the process and keep them informed.
  • Inform the faculty (within the limits of confidentiality) and inform the Dean and other administrators about progress of the search process.
  • Give all applicants who meet minimum requirements for the position a full and fair review by the full committee.
  • Be aware of cognitive errors and implicit bias that can occur in the evaluation process, especially if rushed or under pressure.
  • Interview (by phone) or request supporting letters from references for the top group of candidates (see Appendix 1 for suggested questions).
  • Document the screening process.
  • Refer to the checklist provided by University Human Resources, Recruitment and Hiring Guidelines for Faculty Vacancies.
  • Note that University Human Resources (Recruitment) review of the matrix is required prior to contacting applicants for scheduling interviews.

Preparing to Interview the Final Candidates

  • Provide advance notice to the department and campus community about upcoming campus visits.
  • For high-profile or administrator searches, release the identity of each candidate one to three business days before the finalist’s arrival. Be consistent in your approach and timing. If the finalist arrives on Sunday or Monday, then their candidacy should be announced on Friday. On the day of release, make the following finalist information available: CV, photo, itinerary. Send an email to faculty and staff in the unit. If appropriate, distribute the announcement to the campus community, President’s Cabinet, Board of Regents Office, Iowa State Daily, Ames Tribune, Des Moines Register, Gazette, and Des Moines Business Record. Send an article to Inside Iowa State to announce the number and names of finalists as well as the dates of their visits (including the times, locations, or virtual meeting registration for open forums).
  • Provide copies of the candidates' curriculum vitae to departmental members and anyone meeting with the candidates.
  • Provide the candidates with an itinerary prior to their visit with information including whom they will meet, travel arrangements, and the expectations for the visit (seminars, etc.).
  • Provide flexibility and consideration for the unique aspects of each candidate to ensure a positive experience by providing varied options for the visit. Options may include: providing a rental car or picking up at the airport; inquiring about touring the surrounding communities with a realtor; arranging informal receptions; setting up meetings with specific faculty and community members they may wish to meet.
  • Make sure that the candidates receive any additional information they require about the community, resources, etc. Send "Build Your Career at ISU" (PDF, 302KB) to all prospective candidates.

Interviewing the Final Candidates

  • The interview should be systematic, consistent, and job-related. Ask the same questions of each candidate. The answers to the interview questions should provide specific work experiences and demonstrate the skills needed to succeed in the position (see Appendix 4 for suggested questions).
  • Be aware of questions that should not be asked of candidates (see Appendix 3 for a list of allowed and not allowed questions) and make sure that all individuals who will interact with candidates are also aware of these questions.
  • Provide evaluation forms for each candidate's visit (see Appendix 2 for suggested forms).
  • Follow up to make sure that the candidates receive any additional information they require about the community, resources, etc.
  • Keep accurate records.
  • Follow up after the visit and keep in contact with the candidates. Tell them the timeline for the decision and the method of notification about the hiring decision.

Finishing the Search Process

  • The search committee submits the list of finalists to the department chair.
  • The search committee chair or the department chair contacts University Human Resources to complete the final faculty hiring required paperwork (the matrix).
  • The department chair follows up with University Human Resources regarding the offer process. When the final offer letter is signed, the chair or a designated representative notifies the selected candidate and sends a departmental letter to nonselected candidates in a timely fashion.
  • The search committee meets to evaluate the search process and provide advice for future searches (see Appendix 5 for a form to use).
  • To provide additional insight into the reasons for a successful or unsuccessful search, the department chair may ask candidates why they did or did not accept the offered position (see Appendix 5 for a form to use).

Other Factors

  • Many faculty members who receive job offers will have partners moving to Ames or the surrounding communities with them. Iowa State has a well developed policy and practices for accommodating partners. See Dual Career Resources for additional information.

Suggested Language for Advertisements/Career Goal Statements

Proactive phrases in job qualifications, summary statements in job positions, or requests to address these issues in career goal statements may be used to encourage the application of candidates who are diverse and understand diversity. Examples follow:

  • Iowa State University especially seeks candidates who are interested in contributing to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their research, teaching, and outreach.
  • The University is responsive to dual career couples.
  • The University is committed to building a culturally diverse environment and applicants are requested to include how they will further this goal in their cover letter.
  • Candidates should describe how multicultural issues have influenced and/or been a part of their teaching, research, and/or outreach.
  • Candidates should describe previous mentoring of women or underrepresented faculty.
  • Successful candidates must be committed to working with diverse student, staff, and community members.