Institutions of all sizes are interested in streamlining their faculty recruitment processes in order to save time, improve their equity practices, and attract high-quality candidates. A holistic faculty recruitment tool provides a centralized platform that encourages seamless collaboration and transparency across departments and hiring committees.

Factors to consider in faculty hiring

There are plenty of nuances in recruiting and hiring practices of faculty and staff. While certain pieces of information — the CV, cover letter and letters of recommendation — offer helpful insight into candidates’ skills and experiences, these documents aren’t enough on their own. Traditional hiring tools leave out other, multi-dimensional factors that impact the big picture. Some key attributes to consider in the higher education hiring process include:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Accomplishments
  • Diversity

Addressing diversity in applicants

One significant shortcoming of traditional hiring software is the difficulty in tracking relevant pieces of information regarding faculty demographics. Traditional faculty recruitment technology gives a snapshot into different candidates’ experience levels, but does not target characteristics that might not typically appear on their CVs.

As an example, many institutions overlook applicant diversity. It’s not that they are intentionally avoiding diverse staff and faculty applicants. In fact, it’s often quite the contrary. Many universities measure recruiting data related to diversity and find that there is a disparity in the percentage of diverse applicants applying for roles and the amount of candidates being called for interviews and receiving offers. They then seek out best practices for recruiting and working with diverse candidates. Some characteristics they might look out for in candidates include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender identity
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Age

Interfolio Faculty Search addresses various disparities in faculty hiring to provide equitable opportunities for all prospects and candidates. Our solution provides transparency in applicants’ talents and diversity. In addition, our built-in equal employment opportunity (EEO) forms and reports ensure near 100% compliance regarding diversity data during every step of the recruitment process. This provides an overall more insightful process for hiring professionals and a more equitable experience for diverse candidates seeking faculty and staff positions.

Standardizing candidate criteria

The hiring process requires input from multiple parties, from department heads and administrators to human resources professionals. With so many moving parts and invested parties, it’s essential that institutions empower their staff to collaborate and communicate with consistency. One such way to develop a more holistic approach to faculty recruitment is through the standardization of processes.

A decentralized approach to candidate recruiting and hiring makes it difficult to observe and track hiring data. By switching to a system in which hiring, onboarding, and interviewing materials are readily available to all faculty members, institutions are able to standardize their approaches. In turn, the recruitment process becomes more responsive and produces better results.

Interfolio Faculty Search empowers deans and administrators to standardize criteria, job postings, and messages to candidates to develop and foster an equitable recruiting process across the institution. They can ensure job posting language is consistent, all while tracking when and where jobs are being posted. With one tried-and-true approach to hiring, human resources professionals can make sure they are attracting the best talent. In addition, standardization solidifies the notion that candidates are given equal opportunity at the university.

Streamlining recruitment processes to save time

Staff can save time during recruiting by digitizing formerly manual processes. Most broadly, this refers to the collection, organization, and distribution of applications. Rather than posting each job individually on the institution’s career site,  several openings can be shared at once, all with standardized language. This reduces time spent on tedious, administrative tasks and allows hiring faculty to focus on more strategic tasks. For example, rather than utilizing the time they have allocated for recruitment to writing and uploading job descriptions, they can take a more active role in seeking out qualified candidates.

When you’re ready to streamline your hiring processes and improve equity in recruiting for faculty positions, you may be ready to integrate your system with Interfolio’s Faculty Search solutions. This centralized platform provides hiring managers with more insight throughout the recruitment process. If you’d like to find out more about how Interfolio can provide you with a more equitable experience for faculty members and applicants, check out our selection of resources.

In 2014, Dr. Jeffery Aper became Provost at Millikin University and led the school through a transitional period regarding its partnership with Interfolio’s solution for supporting faculty hiring processes. Transitional, in part, because since 2013, Millikin adopted Interfolio’s Faculty Search platform, then decided to build a homegrown system due to internal budget constraints, and then went back to Interfolio.

Dr. Aper agreed to sit down and tell us about his leadership role and his experiences using the system. Take a look at what Provost Aper had to say!

Tell us about Millikin’s relationship with Interfolio and how it has transitioned from on, off, and on again.

Millikin University first adopted Interfolio’s Faculty Search in 2013 to support management of their faculty and staff hiring processes. In 2015, the end of my first year, Millikin decided to drop Interfolio’s platform due to budgetary reasons. A team at Millikin had been working with our IT staff and developed a homegrown faculty hiring platform used for receiving application materials and storing them on a shared drive to support an internal process. However, the in-house system did not meet our needs. People couldn’t access it. It just didn’t work. It didn’t make us more efficient.  

During the period when we we tried using our in-house system, the comments we received included: “Why did we drop Interfolio?” “Can we go back to Interfolio?” And I had department chairs and deans imploring me to do what I could to get the university into the use of the Interfolio system.

So I pressed the case that as soon as possible we needed to re-up with Interfolio because the product had worked well for us in the past. Thankfully everyone on campus agreed, so we were able to re-adopt Interfolio and use it to run our hiring searches again.  

Were you familiar with Interfolio’s faculty hiring platform before taking the provost’s position at Millikin?

I had been familiar with Interfolio’s Faculty Search, but only at the individual level, having submitted letters of reference for candidates seeking positions at other institutions. It was not until arriving at Millikin that I experienced Interfolio from the institution’s perspective.  

What were your first impressions with Interfolio’s platform from the institution’s perspective?

I was very pleased. This was such a vastly better approach to hiring than the traditional method of keeping all kinds of paper files, trying to maintain the security of those files, and trying to make sure members of the search committee had access to the documents while trying to maintain the confidentiality of those materials. The solution gave us so many better options for managing those processes.

Have you used the system in workflows other than faculty hiring?

Yes, we use Faculty Search for faculty and staff hiring processes, and for faculty honors and awards given by the University. Using the solution for these internal applications has been very valuable.

I ran a search for a new dean two years ago. We used Interfolio extensively for receiving and warehousing materials and allowing committees to access materials in a confidential way. The system was a real value to us because it made it so much easier to keep track of the appropriate records, make sure those records were maintained in a secure way, and give the committee access.

Similarly for staff positions, we use Interfolio for even administrative assistant searches because it helped us be more efficient and effective in maintaining those records and making sure we’ve got all the documents assembled.

We were able to set up an internal application process for faculty awards, honors, and professional development opportunities. For example, we’ve got eight endowed professorships that rotate among faculty members who qualify for the awards. All of those involve the submission of a significant amount of background materials. We used to be handing boxes of paper to committees and the committee was supposed to keep it secure. We were trying to make sure confidential materials did not end up left on tables in conference rooms.  

Using Interfolio has been an immense improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of those review processes—allowing us to set up an online format to submit their materials for all of these competitive processes. Using Interfolio has benefited us significantly. I am definitely a fan.

What about Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) data?

That’s information we will keep track of no matter what system we’re using, so it’s a benefit to have a system to assemble those kinds of data. Any time you’ve got an automated system collect a consistent record of your activities, instead of having an individual in the HR office compile a report, there’s a benefit.  Faculty and staff time is a precious commodity. Anything we can do to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of collecting, managing, and reporting data is beneficial for us.

What problems were you seeking to solve in deciding to select Interfolio’s Faculty Search?

I’ve overseen scores of faculty searches over the years as the commissioning officer. Having done that many, many times, the chronic challenges to make sure you have a very accurate systematic way of receiving materials, compiling and maintaining those materials, and making them available to committees—but also maintaining their confidentiality and securities—are constant headaches with paper systems. The Interfolio application, in many ways, solves the headaches in those processes, and to me that’s just golden.

Are faculty buying in to the system?  

In the last four years, we’ve used Interfolio as a basis for maintaining our records on searches. We’ve done at least 25 to 30 searches involving many committee members and have not received one complaint, and that’s quite a statement in itself.

Faculty members are not reticent about sharing their opinions about what works and what doesn’t work. I haven’t had a single faculty member say, “Well, I like using Interfolio… but we should have done this”;  “I wish we could use something different”; “I wish we could go back to the paper method.” Not once. And we’ve run a lot of searches.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?

Faculty Search has worked very well for us. This is one of those things where you could go around campus and talk with faculty, staff, and administrators who’ve used the system, and I don’t think you would get a single negative comment—and that’s saying something.

Read the Millikin University case study here.


Is there room for improvement in faculty hiring at your institution? Looking ahead to academic searches in the coming year? Let us know today.

Not looking for a demo yet? Take a look at our free guide to evaluating academic hiring technologies for some suggestions.

The University of Florida will launch Interfolio’s faculty hiring module, Faculty Search, at the beginning of this academic year to support the university’s “Faculty 500” initiative to hire 500 new faculty members over two years—200 of those by this fall. Two leaders from UF’s Human Resources office, Melissa Curry, Director of Recruitment and Staffing, and Kathy McKee, Manager of Strategic Talent Group, joined us recently for a webinar addressing UF’s distinctive faculty hiring strategies and about the role Interfolio will play. 

Challenges involved in an institution-wide hiring initiative

The commitments involved in the Faculty 500 initiative posed significant logistical challenges for all involved in faculty hiring at UF—not least the HR office. Competition for top faculty members was fierce. No new administrative resources would be allocated, and UF’s HR office had a very short time period before hiring processes would begin. In addition, hiring faculty takes place in a decentralized environment, and within a culture of shared governance and search committees—all factors that tend to lengthen the hiring process.

Responding with a strategic recruitment model

In response to the challenging landscape, UF made a commitment to transition from their traditional faculty hiring approach to a more strategic recruitment model. Fundamental to the change was the realization that faculty hiring was simply a unique process, different from hiring staff, administrators, and other personnel. As Melissa and Kathy present in thoughtful detail in the webinar, the new approach would require new commitments, processes, and technologies. It took the form of a plan with five distinct elements, or stages. (Find Melissa and Kathy’s prepared presentation on those stages in the webinar recording.)

Q&A highlights

In addition to Melissa and Kathy’s great detailed presentation about their faculty recruitment strategy as a whole, we posed a few questions about how the institution’s transition to Interfolio fits in.

Please note: These responses have been edited slightly for clarity and length. 

Question 1:  Did you have any technology you were already using for faculty hiring?

For us, the issue with most applicant tracking systems is they are designed for companies and not designed for institutions of higher education that have a shared governance model. We even find that difference between faculty and public employers because the shared governance model is so different at institutions of higher education. Even though our regular applicant tracking system faculty could post online, which was definitely was easier than the paper process, there was an administrative burden because applicant tracking systems are developed for private companies, which generally are very centralized and do not have shared governance.

One of the things that attracted us to Interfolio was the platform was developed for institutions of higher education with faculty search, search committees, and shared governance in mind. We didn’t really find that anywhere else. The ease for the search committee, from an electronic process that looks and acts like the paper process they’re used to, was very attractive.

We had an electronic system but most committees were printing the submitted 200 CVs (which totaled hundreds of thousands of pages) so even though it was an electronic system applications were not easy to read online.

Question 2:  What aspects of the faculty hiring experience specifically merited adopting a better technology for it?

We didn’t have in mind that we needed a new system or an additional system. But what we were hearing was there were specific pain points. When Interfolio came to our attention, we started asking questions.

The ads postings actually look different for faculty positions versus staff positions. Allowing them greater flexibility in how they would appear and how they would be seen online was something Interfolio offered that our current system didn’t have. The whole interactivity: allowing blind review, and allowing search committees and evaluators to make comments on applicant packets (similar to what they might do on written materials)—these were the things our current system doesn’t allow, so those were very important.

Many of our departments were having this issue, which was raised by deans, of collecting reference letters. In the traditional module, you have people submitting for faculty positions, then the department requests from the applicant to have the referee submit their letters directly to the hiring department. Our existing applicant tracking system ended up shifting that traditional burden to the hiring departments, so they were sending notices out to the referees. Then, there could be communication glitches, which created these circles with respect to recommendation letters. With [Interfolio’s], the fact that applicants and referees are familiar with the dossier service and it’s integrated with Faculty Search, that was a great assist for us that came as a part of what Interfolio is.

Interfolio also presents an opportunity to use a tool that seems very straightforward, that on its face is similar to what they were doing traditionally in the academy, and not making them adopt different types of behavior because they’re using an electronic system.

Question 3:  What impact do you predict the new academic hiring experience will have on UF’s ability to meet its goals?

For us, the immediate goal that we think Interfolio is going to help with is hiring of an additional 300 new faculty members in the next 12 months. Some of the things we’re looking for from Interfolio are things like ease of use for search committee members. These faculty members are changing the world—what they do matters. We have some of the best and brightest faculty members in the world, and we want them to do that, and not be burdened with administrative tasks just because they want to participate in the search committee to hire a colleague. And we believe Interfolio will help them quickly participate and give meaningful feedback to hiring the best and the brightest, and then to go back to their business of changing the world.

Interested in this webinar or in Interfolio’s work? Watch the recording here, download our free technology selection guide for academic hiring, or contact us with a question.

Starting today, we took the first step in an expansion of the Interfolio Faculty Search module to accommodate more complex administrative workflows around academic hiring. We’re starting with “position approval,” broadly understood: what has to happen before you accept any applications.

Today’s release

Taking our cue largely from our direct market research—including interviews with people directly involved in academic hiring at institutions located in California, Washington, New York, Louisiana, Texas, and elsewhere—we are seeking to address some known, widely reported difficulties around faculty hiring and academic recruitment in higher education.

In this first release, we added a set of functionality to support “position approval” workflows. Essentially, the development work released today makes the official approval process around future academic hires (i.e. the “paperwork”) more efficient and consistent, and better documented.

But, wait. Why is position approval oversight a big deal? Aren’t we basically talking about red tape?

Bureaucracy and equity: why effective oversight of new positions makes a difference

From talking to lots of experienced people directly involved in faculty hiring in higher education—some of them with a faculty background, some without—it’s become clear that we must consider these pre-recruitment “approval” processes from the perspective of what happens when there is not enough oversight.

Clearly, having a formal review process that runs a proposed new search or hire past multiple sets of eyes is a key way that colleges and universities ensure the integrity of their faculty hiring.

There may be business and legal compliance reasons why certain offices at the institution need to at least be notified of—if not sign off on—a new hire. But more generally, when opening new faculty searches is too much of a “Wild West” in terms of decentralization, a number of pitfalls are possible:

  • Oddly enough, only white male candidates keep getting hired!
  • Actual violation of anti-discrimination law, such as inappropriate qualifiers in written description.
  • The institution or academic unit can’t really afford this particular hire at this time.
  • At a higher level, if the right people don’t have consistent view into proposed new positions, the institution may continue to make an excessive investment in certain departments or disciplines, and neglect development of others.
  • Also, fraud.

It’s considerations like these—which we’ve heard from our product research, to conversations with clients more informally, and even in new sales conversations—that provide the context for our technical investment in a more useful feature for position approval workflows.

Future investments in academic hiring workflows

In the near future, we’re going to have a lot more to say about our plans to expand the potential for shared governance and administrative workflows in the Faculty Information System’s hiring module, Interfolio Faculty Search.

One thing we can say, now, is that we’re making sure to design these “process improvement” expansions (a priority, clearly) in a way that will also serve future data reporting well. Our academic hiring workflow investments will enrich the Faculty Information System’s capacity to provide client universities with new kinds of factual insight into their academic hiring patterns—insights they have not had available before.

This is one post in a series on contemporary strategies for increasing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education. For a fuller picture, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

At schools that have been successful in improving diverse representation of faculty members during the recruitment stage, where do diversity officers focus their attention?

Administrators with ownership for faculty diversity face a common challenge: how to actually view accurate institutional data that would reveal patterns in what  is working and what isn’t.

There are a few key data points that the most progressive colleges and universities analyze annually, comparing them to trends across recent years:

  • Applicant pool diversity
  • The diversity of interview pools and diversity of candidates receiving offers—and how those compare to applicant pool diversity
  • How the offer acceptance rate for candidates from underrepresented groups correlates with the diversity of new hires

Having access to uniform and complete data for all faculty searches in all departments allows senior academic affairs leaders who are responsible for advancing faculty diversity to surface trends spanning the institution, set the most effective strategies, and direct scarce resources to the avenues with the greatest potential to impact change.

How does your institution compare?

To see how your school’s current practices lines up with contemporary leading strategies for advancing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

This is one post in a series on contemporary strategies for increasing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education. For a fuller picture, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

How can academic leaders help faculty across the institution develop professional networks that will improve diversity and inclusion in future searches?

One of the biggest mistakes higher education institutions make, in their efforts to recruit faculty from underrepresented groups, is focusing primarily on activities of search committees filling open positions. To achieve the best results, colleges and universities need to approach inclusive excellence the way other large organizations do: sustaining institution-wide, ongoing efforts to network with talent from underrepresented groups to put the institution in a strong position to attract a strong and diverse pool of candidates when searches open up.

Most faculty members want to support diversity efforts—and will do so more effectively if the institution helps them keep the issue visible and urgent, and provides guidance on which efforts would have the highest impact for their department. One way to advance these goals is holding annual departmental debrief sessions in which all faculty hear an update on the institution’s and their department’s recruiting efforts.

Across the department’s recent searches, where is the greatest drop-off in diversity occurring—initial applicant pool composition, likelihood of accepting an offer, or some other point in the process?  Where should faculty focus their ongoing networking efforts to build connections that could lead to talented applicants from underrepresented groups in future searches? Which graduate programs have produced strong candidates from underrepresented groups that applied to recent searches? Where did those candidates first learn of the position?

Focusing on questions like these helps faculty orient their efforts around those activities most likely to positively influence diversity, representation, and inclusive excellence at their institution.

How does your institution compare?

To see how your school’s current practices lines up with contemporary leading strategies for advancing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

This is one post in a series on contemporary strategies for increasing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education. For a fuller picture, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

Are you gathering enough data about your faculty applicant pool to accurately monitor the success of your faculty diversity initiatives?

If applicant pools aren’t diverse and well-represented, faculty searches won’t produce hires that represent the diversity of that academic field. Yet most institutions still use decades-old processes that reveal applicant pool diversity long after the deadline for submitting applications.  And because only a small portion of candidates complete EEO surveys, the data that institutions do collect gives little insight into actual applicant pool diversity.

Institutions successfully tracking applicant diversity get 100% of candidates to submit EEO data by making the surveys a required step in submitting the online application. Candidates may select “prefer not to disclose” for any question, but fewer than 10% of candidates typically choose this response. The result is that institutions get an accurate picture of pool diversity as applications arrive.

Progressive colleges and universities also give search chairs the tools to monitor pool diversity during the submission window—not after it. Chairs can see the aggregate diversity of the pool in real time, which allows them to increase efforts to recruit candidates from underrepresented groups in time to impact the diversity of the final pool.

How does your institution compare?

To see how your school’s current practices lines up with contemporary leading strategies for advancing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

This is one post in a series on contemporary strategies for increasing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education. For a fuller picture, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

Do you have the best advertising strategy you could for influencing faculty applicant pool diversity?

Almost every department invests in advertising to bring faculty job postings to the attention of candidates from underrepresented groups. However, in most cases, departments use the same advertising strategy year after year without any indication whether spending actually generates applications or impacts pool diversity.

Now, growing numbers of progressive institutions are tracking the returns they are getting from different advertising channels and using this data to make more strategic decisions about where they invest their advertising dollars.

  • Institutions are first examining what share of views of job postings are being generated by each of the sources where the posting is advertised. That is, what specific website, job board, or advertisement did the user click to view the web page where the job description is located?
  • Next, institutions are looking at the immediate digital path to application—or how the candidates who actually applied for the position entered the application portal—as well as applicants’ answers to the question, “how did you first learn of this position?”
  • When EEOC surveys are embedded in the online application process, institutions can disaggregate this data by gender and racial and ethnic background while keeping candidates’ personal information protected. Then, at the beginning of the next search cycle, institutions can give each search committee a report showing which channels have been most effective in generating applications from candidates from underrepresented groups.

These practices are particularly valuable as colleges and universities begin testing the effectiveness of advertising faculty positions on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Linkedin. Those platforms allow institutions to direct their advertisements to the audiences they want to reach. More importantly, they allow schools to get their ads in front of desirable potential candidates who are not actively on the job market.

How does your institution compare?

To see how your school’s current practices lines up with contemporary leading strategies for advancing faculty diversity and inclusive excellence, take a look at our free best practices checklist.

Our series on faculty technology at liberal arts colleges, begun in April with the Consortium for Faculty Diversity, continues this month with two members of the Provost Office at Bryn Mawr College. They’ll speak about the benefits of using Interfolio for both faculty hiring and advancement processes.  Continue reading “WEBINAR | Bryn Mawr College + Interfolio | June 29”