Affirmative Action

7.2 The Interview - Affirmative Action Searches

The interview is one of the most critical stages of the evaluation process. It is generally the first opportunity for the candidate and the search committee to interact with one another. The interview usually takes place during the campus visit. The unit administrator should be involved in planning the interview. Whether the unit administrator interviews the candidate with the search committee and/or separately is best decided at the local level. While the interview allows the search committee to evaluate the candidate, it also permits the candidate to judge both the search committee and the University. An interview that is carefully planned, that begins on time, that allows the candidate to present herself or himself in the best possible light and that elicits the necessary job-related information, is a major element in recruitment.

Before the interview begins, it is advisable to review the candidate's dossier and the job description. You may also wish to reflect on how to create an atmosphere of openness in the interview, for it is essential that the expectations which the committee has of a candidate and which a candidate has of the position should be candidly expressed.

Before the interview, the search committee should prepare a group of core questions based on the job-related criteria by which candidates are to be evaluated. One should also examine the questions to determine if any of them will have the effect of screening out women and minorities. These questions should be asked of all candidates, thereby allowing comparative judgments to be made, while insuring that crucial job-related information is obtained. A patterned interview of this type has the beneficial effect of minimizing unconscious biases.

A timeline should be set up for the interview to ensure that each candidate has the same amount of time for each core question. One candidate may use all of the allotted time to answer a core question, while another candidate may answer the core question plus several follow-up questions during the same amount of allotted time. Many search committees have found that beginning with open-ended questions relaxes the candidate and encourages her or him to speak freely. Follow-up questions based on the responses to predetermined core questions will most likely vary with each candidate. Time should also be allotted during the interview for the candidates to ask questions of the committee. The search committee can anticipate some of the candidate's questions ahead of time to help them be better prepared during the interview. The committee may agree to have the chairperson serve as the committee's spokesperson and answer most of the candidate's questions. In other cases, the committee may wish to assign specific categories of questions to individuals with the most expertise in a given area. If the search committee does not have the answer to a question during the interview, the chairperson can find the answer and pass it on to the candidate later.

Back to the Handbook for Faculty Searches with Special Reference to Affirmative Action