Affirmative Action

6.5 References - Affirmative Action Searches

Some candidates will ask their units to submit letters of reference on their behalf to the search committee; some will simply list the names and addresses of references for the search committee to contact. The search committee should inform the candidates about the minimum and maximum number of references required for the screening process. When writing to a reference, it is advisable to send a copy of the position description with whatever questions concerning the candidate's experience, qualifications and accomplishments the search committee wishes the individual to address.

If the search committee wants additional information or if the timeline is brief, telephone recommendations may be obtained. This is a valuable means of obtaining information about the candidate, for members of the search committee are able to cover issues and explore areas that are of interest to them and not necessarily to the referee. Specific, job-related questions should be developed for the telephone interview. Committee members doing telephone interviewing should use a consistent set of questions for each candidate. If more than one committee member is doing the calling, one person should call all references for a given candidate. You may not ask questions of a referee which you are not permitted to ask of the candidate at an interview (see "Questions You May and May Not Ask of a Candidate"). Multiple copies of the interview questions can be printed with a format which has space for each question's answer to be written. Notes should be taken during the conversation so that a written record of the conversation may be placed in the candidate's folder.

If there are selected individuals whom the committee would like to contact about the candidate's qualifications, it may inform the candidate of its wishes. It is not necessary, however, to have the candidate's permission in order to make such calls. All questions asked and issues raised must, as with all references, be job-related and should be similar for all candidates.

The search committee may request general personal and work references not relating to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, physical condition or age. It may not request references specifically from clergymen (unless they have an academic relationship with the candidate) or from anyone who might reflect the race, color, religion, gender, national origin, physical condition or age of the candidate.

Occasionally members of a search committee will receive unsolicited calls about a candidate. When this happens, it is advisable to ask the caller to restrict her or his remarks to job-related issues. The names of individuals who have provided information about a candidate to a search committee should be retained. If a dispute arises, the University may be requested to provide these names.

When the pool of applicants has been narrowed to the number of final (on-campus interview) candidates specified in the charge, the search committee completes part D of the Affirmative Action Report and waits for approval from the unit administrator, the Dean and the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives before proceeding further.

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