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Academic Faculty Search Committee Handbook (MH 4)

OWNER: Office of Culture, Policy, and Planning
CONTACT: Dr. Edith Fernández
Phone: 702-992-2358
CATEGORY: Manuals, Handbooks & Bylaws
EFFECTIVE DATE: 09/26/2019
Web – Formatted (this page)



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

July – September

  • Develop position description and job announcement
  • Form search committee and complete search training

October – November

  • Develop rubric for candidate evaluation
  • Applicant pool is released
  • Phone interviews conducted
  • Campus visits planned
  • Notify applicants who are no longer being considered

December – February

  • On-campus visits conducted
  • Reference checks conducted
  • Hiring recommendation submitted
  • Offer made


Develop or Revise Position Description

  • The Search Chair should consult with the Dean/Associate Dean to develop or revise the job ad.
    • The hiring manager or the assigned administrative assistant will be responsible for submitting these requests in in Workday. This step may be completed before a search committee chair has been assigned.
  • Check that your job ad includes language demonstrating NSC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion (see Appendix ix for sample language).

 Advertise the Position

  • Identify appropriate discipline-specific job boards/listservs or other outlets that target racial/ethnic minority candidates.
    • HR posts all positions on Higher Ed Jobs and is responsible for posting the position on any additional external job sites.
    • If you plan on attending conferences to recruit candidates, coordinate with the Marketing Department for relevant materials and design of “one-sheets” with position information.
  • Share the link to the job ad with your committee and colleagues to post to social media accounts and relevant listservs.
  • Consider emailing details of the position to regional or national graduate programs that produce doctorally-prepared candidates in your discipline.

Search Committee Selection and Training

  • Dean/Associate Dean selects members of search committees.
  • Dean/Associate Dean submits search committee Approval Form to HR.
  • The Search Chair should ensure that all committee members have received Search Committee Training.
  • The applicant pool cannot be released until all members have completed training.

 Develop Search Timeline

  • The Search Chair should identify the search committee’s availability to meet to:
    • select candidates for phone interviews
    • select candidates for campus interviews
    • hold on-campus search committee interviews
    • attend teaching demonstrations
    • deliberate on selection of top candidate(s)
  • The Search Chair should develop a calendar of events and deadlines and communicate any changes to the committee as early in the process as possible.


Evaluating Candidates

  • Discuss the elements that your area is looking for in a candidate. This step is especially important for committee members who are outside of the discipline.
    • Clarify which types of degrees are acceptable (e.g., PhD, PsyD, JD, EdD, MSN, etc.).
    • Clarify if there are certain courses the candidate must be able to cover.
  • With input from your search committee, develop a rubric for evaluating candidates.
    • Avoid using simplistic evaluations such as Yes/No/Maybe because this can introduce unconscious bias (see the section below for more on unconscious biases).
    • Instead, rely on rubrics to evaluate the candidate on how they best meet the minimum qualifications and preferences listed in the job ad (0 = no evidence, 1 = meets expectations, 2 = exceeds expectations). In addition to the main criteria, you can include a category for “other valuable characteristics” that were not listed in the preferred qualifications.
  • Collect and organize ratings from committee members to identify overall rankings of applicants.
    • Consider computing Z-scores for each evaluator to minimize the impact of differences in rating style (e.g., harsh versus lenient raters).
  • Discuss the committee’s rankings and select top 6-10 candidates for phone interviews.
    • The typical phone interview lasts 30 minutes – consider the amount of time the committee will need to commit to phone interviews.
    • Keep a second list of promising candidates in the event that you need to conduct additional phone interviews.
  • Either the Search Chair or HR can disposition candidates in Workday. The Search Chair should submit the names of “definite no” candidates to HR within a week of each of the following steps in the search or “decline” the candidates in Workday:
    • selection of candidates for phone interviews
    • selection of candidates for campus interviews
    • selection or finalist and acceptance of position

Workday Notifications

  • As candidates are declined from the pool, Workday sends automated general communications to candidates. Auto-generated emails are acceptable for those who do not make it to the phone interview stage.
  • The Search Chair should send personalized emails or conduct phone calls to inform candidates who completed phone or campus interviews but will not progress further in their candidacy (See Appendix for sample language).
  • For secondary candidates who you would still consider interviewing, work with HR to develop emails indicating that they have not been selected for the initial round of reviews but may be considered if there are additional reviews at a later date. This allows you to keep the candidate informed without entirely removing them from the pool.


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:

  • Automatically prioritizing candidates from top-tier schools
  • Automatically de-prioritizing candidates who have degrees from online schools

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:

  • Expecting female candidates to be exceptionally warm, caring
  • Evaluating the performance of people of color more harshly

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:

  • Discounting a candidate who discusses dual-career needs, family, or medical needs
  • Discounting a candidate who doesn’t seem to “fit”

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.

  • Using a simplistic rubric without adequately evaluating all relevant criteria for the position
  • Relying on one member to select top candidates to review

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.

  • Allowing one member’s voice to have more influence
  • Not allowing members to rank candidates anonymously


Scheduling Phone Interviews

  • Identify times that all search committee members are available for phone interviews.
    • All members should be present at all phone interviews.
    • If a committee member has to miss an interview, make arrangements to have the interview recorded. This will also require notifying the candidate in advance of the interview to get their written consent to be recorded. Candidates should be allowed to opt out if they are not comfortable with that arrangement.
  • Work with your Administrative Support person to reserve a conference room and schedule phone interviews.

Finalizing Phone and On-Campus Interview Questions

  • With input from the search committee, select questions to ask during phone and on-campus interviews (see Appendix for sample questions).
    • Each committee member should select a question to read consistently for each phone interview; this reduces the possibility that different tones/inflections in the reading might lead candidates to understand the question differently.
    • Have committee members practice reading the questions out loud to identify any awkward wording that may make it difficult for applicants to understand questions. Consider breaking up long questions into two parts.
  • Provide the committee with copies of the questions and space to record notes.
    • Collect committee members’ notes after each session so they can all be kept in one place and made available at future review meetings.
    • All committee notes, as well as the overall rankings of the pool, must be submitted to HR at the conclusion of the search.

Selecting Candidate for On-Campus Visits

  • Meet with committee to discuss phone interviews and select candidates for in-person interviews.
    • Three campus interviews are typical for a search; more or fewer may be invited with HR and Dean approval.
    • If there are candidates you are sure you have no further interest in under any circumstances, you should inform them in a timely fashion (see Appendix for sample language) and notify HR.


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

  • Review Recommended Itinerary and Itinerary Checklist for required and recommended candidate meetings.
  • Identify times that all search committee members are available for search committee interviews and teaching demonstrations. All members should be present at all on-campus interviews and teaching demonstrations; do not record teaching demonstrations.
  • Recruit students to attend student-only meeting with candidate.
  • Recruit faculty to attend meals.
  • Recruit faculty to do airport pick-ups/drop-offs/Henderson Tour.
  • Schedule meeting time with HR for benefits overview for each candidate.

Scheduling On-Campus Interviews

  • Schedule a meeting with your Administrative Support person to review itinerary requests.
  • Work with your Administrative Support person to reserve the necessary conference rooms and classrooms for meetings and teaching demonstrations.
  • Provide candidates with at least two weeks to make their travel arrangements (flights, hotels) to obtain a reasonable price.

Provide Information about Campus Visit

  • Send draft of itinerary
    • Ask candidate if there are any specific campus members not included on their itinerary that they would like to meet.
  • Provide candidate with link to the school’s, department’s, and/or discipline’s webpages.
  • Provide details about candidate’s teaching demonstration and evaluation rubric (see Appendix for sample language and rubric).
  • Ask candidates if they require any special accommodations (e.g., physical access needs; dietary restrictions; sign language interpreters)
  • Exchange cell phone numbers between candidate and faculty doing pick-ups.


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

  • Search Committee Interview [1 hour]
  • Teaching Demonstration / Q&A [45 60 minutes]
  • Human Resources [20 minutes] to discuss benefits
  • Campus Tour [30 45 minutes] – be sure to show candidate possible lab or research spaces
  • Chair of the Department/Associate Dean [20 – 30 minutes] to discuss scheduling, teaching expectations, and service obligations
  • Dean of the School [30 – 60 minutes] to discuss tenure, professional development opportunities, and funding opportunities for scholarship

Recommended Meetings

  • Meetings with students [30 minutes] – Prep students with possible conversation topics to discuss including favorite coursework, most enjoyable teaching practices, research interests, participation in clubs, department activities, student demographics, student life
  • Meetings with individual faculty within discipline/department [20 – 30 minutes / faculty] – Give candidate opportunity to interact with tenured and untenured faculty to ask questions in one-on-one settings
  • Exit Interview with Search Chair [20 – 30 minutes] – Ask candidate how visit went; answer any remaining questions; address timeline for remainder of search; provide business card for follow-up questions after visit
  • Henderson Tour [45 – 60 minutes] – Drive through different types of residential areas (apartments/townhomes; gated and ungated communities). Highlight points of interest including shopping centers, neighborhoods, parks, outdoor recreation areas, health care center, and the international airport.

Meals (Dependent on Itinerary)

  • Light Breakfast [30 minutes] – Breakfast at Scorpion Café with search committee member
  • Lunch [1 hour] – Faculty outside of the candidate’s discipline/department and who are not part of the candidate’s search committee. Lunches should be limited to 2-3 faculty members.
  • Dinner [2 hours] – Faculty within the candidate’s discipline or department, including someone from the search committee. Dinners should be limited to 3 faculty members.


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

  • Inform department faculty and staff of candidate’s arrival/departure times.
  • Clarify location of breakfast.
  • Provide candidate with Welcome Folder.
  • Orient candidate to campus building(s) and location of restrooms.
  • Provide candidate with water, mints, tissues, or other items a candidate might need.
  • Respect the candidate’s time—be on time and keep to the itinerary.

Be Present

  • Be aware of nonverbal behaviors—making eye contact, arms crossed, clicking/tapping pens.
  • Give the candidate your full attention; put away cell phones, tablets, or laptops that may distract you.
  • Stay positive. It is important to provide a realistic preview of NSC but the interview is not the place to describe all your concerns with NSC.
  • Have interesting information about NSC, Henderson, and the surrounding area prepared for lulls in conversation. This is especially useful when you are responsible for picking up the candidate, taking them to lunch, dinner, or giving a tour of Henderson.
  • Don’t be rude. Eating, whispering to other search committee members, and texting are all distracting behaviors.


Communicate with the Candidates

  • Follow up with responses to candidate’s unanswered questions.
  • Provide links or contact information for other resources.
  • Provide candidates with realistic update on extended search timeline.

 Candidate Deliberation

  • Collect completed evaluations or solicit feedback from anyone who met with the candidate. This includes those who attended lunches, dinners, tours, etc.
  • Meet to discuss campus interviews.
  • Properly save and submit all interview notes, evaluations, and assessment tools used during the interview process to Human Resources. Shred any duplicate materials.

Reference Calls

  • Complete three reference calls (see Appendix for sample questions).
    • Off-list references should only be contacted with approval from the candidate (i.e., if you would like to speak with the current supervisor, seek approval from the candidate first).

Hiring Recommendation

  • Committee decides on a hiring recommendation
    • Send 1–2 page, single-spaced recommendation letter to hiring authority. The letter should be detailed and make a clear case (including evidence) for why you support the candidate.

Notify Remaining Candidates

  • Inform candidates not selected as promptly as possible once search has closed.
  • Send candidates who made on-campus visits a personal email (see Appendix p. vii for sample language).

Closing the Search

  • Collect search materials (ratings, interview question sheets, etc.) and send to HR.  This should be completed within a week of the search closing.
  • Work with HR to ensure all other candidates are notified and the pool is closed.


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 7,000 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.