Novel Practices for Diverse Faculty Recruitment

After you’ve implemented traditional best practices for diverse faculty recruitment, what additional measures might you adopt to expand the diversity of your pools?

Universities that hire through Interfolio have several approaches that you may not have yet considered.

Try Blind Recruitment for your Faculty Positions

One potential threat to hiring a diverse faculty is affinity bias: the practice of favoring candidates who have graduated from similar institutions as your search committee or have a similar background. 

One way to reduce the risk of affinity bias during a search is to request that applicants not reveal —at least during the initial stages—their name or the institutions they attended.

“At Columbia University, we’ve tried blind recruitment, where we ask applicants not to put their name on their resume,” explains Dr. Sheanine Allen, the Senior Associate Director for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at Columbia University. “That allows us to evaluate the person against the actual qualifications, and it has worked for some departments that have traditionally lacked diverse candidates in their pool.”

Include the Salary Range in the Faculty Job Advertisement

Another method of increasing recruitment of a diverse faculty body is publishing the proposed salary range in the job advertisement.

The reason this approach works is that being transparent about salary is a signal to underrepresented groups that your institution is trying to avoid the pay inequities that impact women and minorities. That signal makes members of underrepresented groups more inclined to apply. 

Moreover, studies show that job postings that include salary information appeal to a much wider range of people, resulting in a broader applicant pool.
At Columbia, Dr. Allen is actively preparing for the salary transparency law that New York City will implement in November 2022.

Make The Application Process Easy with Faculty-Friendly Technology

You can also broaden your applicant pool and facilitate diverse faculty recruitment by making the application process as easy as possible.

For example, Colby College has been using Interfolio Faculty Search for several years to create a simple, streamlined process for applicants.

“By making it easy for applicants to provide their application materials, Faculty Search helps us lower barriers to application so that we can get a larger and stronger and more diverse applicant pool,” says Dr. Russell Johnson, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at Colby College.

Practice Cluster Hiring When Hiring New Faculty

Another way to make your institution appealing to faculty from underrepresented groups is to practice cluster hiring—that is, hiring two or three faculty members for a particular department at a time.

“We bring in faculty in certain departments in twos and threes so you have a little community of people who started on your same level, and we also provide them with mentors,” explains Dr. Allen. “Building community for them has been really effective in our recruitment so far.”

Colby College has also found this practice attracts applicants to their small, liberal arts school in Maine.

Carefully Consider What You Request of Faculty Job Applicants

To broaden your faculty hiring pool as much as possible and maintain diverse representation, you also want to avoid making burdensome requests that add little value to the early stages of the search, such as asking for three letters of recommendation in order to apply.

“We think really carefully about what we ask people to submit when they apply,” says Dr. Russell. “It’s traditional to ask everyone to send three letters of recommendation, but that can sometimes be a challenge for people and create a barrier to getting a stronger and bigger applicant pool.”

An Academic Recruitment Playbook

Learn Best Practices for Diverse Faculty Recruitment

Over the more than twenty years of Interfolio’s collaboration with higher education on faculty recruitment, Interfolio’s customers have shared many best practices on achieving diverse faculty recruitment.
You can find this collected wisdom in the Interfolio’s Modern Faculty Recruitment Playbook. You can also listen to more insights from Dr. Allen and Dr. Russell by listening to this 2022 Interfolio Summit session.