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Best Practices to Shape a Qualified Applicant Pool

Committee Formation

  • Department chair/director works with Search Committee chair to define tasks, set calendar, and provide leadership that will ensure a fair and excellent process.
  • Search chairs are themselves leaders, facilitating and ensuring professionalism, best outreach, and practices that deliberately counter-act habits of bias and reproduction of the status quo. Search committee chairs will find the University of Washington ADVANCE Center video below especially useful.
  • Committees need to be diverse, with many individuals able to speak to diversity and inclusion goals and strategies (avoid tokenism — running an inclusive search is a collective responsibility).
    • Consider inviting external faculty or staff to contribute to search committee to support diversity if the department is not diverse.
    • Engage entire department faculty — not in search committee deliberations, but in recruiting a broad and diverse candidate pool, and then in wooing on-campus candidates.
      • Create an engaging experience for on-site applicants so that every applicant will not only meet with department and search committee, but also meet with others similar in research area or methodologies, gender, race, or origin.
      • Allow others in department not involved in the committee process to review plan to identify missing elements.
    • Share burden of service; faculty from underrepresented populations frequently are overburdened by service, as are women (See “Stressing Out” and “The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work”).

Bias and Anti-Bias Training

Biases will creep into a selection process in many ways. Biases can be controlled and minimized by using standardized approaches to hiring and selection. Standardization, rubrics, clear guidelines, and in-person meetings to resolve differences will strengthen searches. Some biases are more difficult to see, and more difficult to correct, but asking committee members to discuss bias enables committees to work collaboratively to address hidden and implicit biases.

Most experts in equity and diversity advocate the committees set about a course of anti-bias training. Faculty can complete the online training on their own, and then meet to discuss the experience, thus raising awareness of potential pitfalls to avoid. (Ideally, departments engage in anti-bias activities and conversations about bias as part of their professional development and renewal, not just as part of the search exercise.)

Potential sources for such training include:

  • University of Washington ADVANCE Center video, “Interrupting Bias in the Faculty Search Process.” Video displays conflict in a search committee, with suggestions for how the search committee chair can best respond. This video demonstrates how easily faculty can slip into practices that unintentionally move committees to reproduce existing structures. Vimeo Link is: https://vimeo.com/76718065 . Password is: bias355! Additional information.
  • UCLA Implicit Bias Video Series. About 30 minutes, this video series is required of all UCLA faculty in advance of participating in a briefing and launching a new search. It’s worth watching.
  • The Implicit Bias Module Series out of the Kirwain Institute at The Ohio State U. — a series of professional videos in four modules that include concluding quizzes.
  • Implicit.harvard.edu. Ask committee members to complete three of the Implicit Bias tests (IAT). Completing an implicit bias test only takes 5-10 minutes and can be an eye opening experience. Meet as a committee to discuss.