Carnegie Mellon University

Interviewing, Selecting and Recruiting

  1. The search committee is advised to develop a set of standard interview questions that will be asked of all interviewees to provide for direct comparison. These should include appropriate questions related to each of the criteria in job ad, including contributions to diversity, if mentioned in job ad.

  2. Distributing information to faculty about illegal questions to be avoided during interviews is recommended to avoid awkward, uncomfortable situations for candidates. Particularly over meals that may be part of the visit, conversation may sometimes move from the intellectual to the personal, but those meals are formally part of the interview and the same guidelines about questions apply there. While the intention may be friendly, small talk over a meal or a desire to begin recruiting during the interview, candidates may not appreciate questions that can appear as indirect or inappropriate ways of finding out information prior to an offer. A good alternative is to steer the conversation back to job-related topics. If difficult questions come up, please refer those questions to Courtney Bryant (bryantcourt@cmu.edu) in the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty

    Guide to Legal and Illegal Pre-employment Inquiries [.pdf] (Skidmore College)

  3. It helps to show the welcoming nature of the University community and to provide all candidates with information about campus support and resources across a wide range of personal and work-life issues, including dual career concerns, before or during their campus visit. Information can be obtained through Jeff Houser (jhouser@andrew.cmu.edu) in Equal Opportunity Services, including about the Higher Education Recruiting Consortium.  For help with faculty dual careers, contact Kathryn Roeder (roeder@andrew.cmu.edu) the Vice Provost for Faculty.  Both resources can be helpful for dual career searches.     

  4. A diverse interview schedule helps to ensure that the evaluation criteria for research, teaching, and service will be viewed from a variety of perspectives within the department. Candidates generally appreciate meeting with a diverse set of individuals (e.g. by rank, area of interest, gender, etc.) and having the opportunity to explore whether the position could be one where they could be successful. Faculty interviewers are advised to allow enough time for the candidate’s questions.

  5. It is helpful to remind faculty before the interviews that rapport between interviewer and candidate as an indicator of “fit” can be complicated. When the interviewer and candidate have different backgrounds (gender or culture, for example), interviewers may need to be especially self-aware to establish good rapport with those less similar to themselves.

  6. For consistency, a warm welcome should be extended equally to all candidates during the campus visit. Strong attendance and enthusiastic participation of current faculty members (e.g. at seminars, “chalk talks”) ensures that all candidates feel treated respectfully.

  7. Similar to using a standard evaluation for screening applicants, using or creating a systematic evaluation form for all interviewers meeting with the candidate helps to keep the process focused on the individual candidate’s merits and reduce effects of gender-based expectations. The committee is also encouraged to formally request feedback from those who have attended the candidate’s talk(s) and provide the standard evaluation form to them.

  8. In order to make a strong impression on the candidates, the search committee should consider the interview from the candidate’s perspective and be well prepared to answer his/her questions. Consistent messages are important for strong positive impressions on the candidates.

Recommended Resources

Interviews and Campus Visits (U. Oregon Best Practices in Faculty Hiring)

Final Candidate Evaluation (U. Oregon Best Practices in Faculty Hiring)

Evaluating the Finalists [.pdf] (U. Wisconsin Madison, Searching for Excellence and Diversity: A Guide for Search Committees, 2012, p. 64)

Academic Job Interviews: Questions and Advice [.pdf] (Virginia Tech) — Provides both questions candidates may ask and also research on gender issues in interviewing.