Learn to streamline and improve your search committee process and yield better, more diverse candidates for your faculty, staff, and administrative searches in higher education.
May 01, 2016
Many of the common rookie mistakes that search committees make that lead to failed searches can be avoided with proper planning and an awareness of the issues. And it's not just rookies who make these mistakes. Seasoned search committee members who have served multiple times make these common mistakes too.
In Part 1 of 2, we are going to look at the first 5 common mistakes. As you will see, many of these common mistakes are interrelated.
1. Not starting out with a good plan.
There are a lot of important details to take care of in the search committee process that can get lost or outright ignored over the lifetime of any given search. Furthermore, search committees often cut corners and forget to take certain steps before a hiring decision is made.
Much of this can be prevented by using proven techniques and following established protocols (e.g., use screening instruments and multiple screening methods, select interview questions from a questions bank, etc.) and by properly training the search committee members (see rookie mistake #9).
2. Lack of proper preparation.
Those serving on search committees are already busy with their day-to-day responsibilities. This mistake could show up as the whole group not being prepared for a group interview, or simply not rereading a candidate's portfolio before meeting with them.
To avoid this, the search committee needs to agree on structure, guidelines, and policies that can be replicated for every candidate (that is not to say there is no room for flexibility and creative thinking) and ensure that there is agreement with the selection criteria prior to screening any applicants.
3. Not fully understanding the job they are hiring for.
You would be surprised how common this mistake is and how many failed searches and costly hires are a direct result. Fortunately, this mistake is easy to avoid if you:
4. Blindness to personal biases.
Without intending to, personal biases can creep into the search committee process. It is important to be prepared for this and not assume that your committee is "above all that."
To overcome personal biases, search committees need the following:
5. Focus on one's own best interest, not what's best for the students or institution.
Search committee members are selected to represent the best interest of the entire institution, but that doesn't mean members won't unwittingly act as representatives for their own interest group. This is not to say that the views and interests of individual groups should not be represented, but they are to be considered along with the interests of the whole.
Organizational analysis, position description, job advertisement, and charge, are four objective standards that will go far toward ensuring a fair and rigorous evaluation.
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