As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, many college and university administrators have recognized that they can no longer delay the digital transformation of their institutions. Not only did these administrators have to move instruction online, but they must now also make administrative processes mobile and digital — including faculty recruitment and hiring.
The advantages of using a modern, digital faculty recruitment platform were the focus of a recent webinar Interfolio hosted with guests from two partner institutions, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Long before the pandemic began, these two institutions had fortuitously made the switch to Interfolio Faculty Search, a digital platform that covers the entire academic recruitment process — from creating a job board to facilitating committee review and decision-making.
During the webinar, the representatives from UT and KAUST highlighted three principal advantages of the platform. Their remarks also made clear that, even when in-person interviews and committee meetings again become possible, these advantages of Faculty Search will persist.
1. Faculty Search’s ease of use promotes adoption and consistency while reducing administrative burdens
Webinar guest Ebtisam Bakhsh, the Faculty Affairs Administrator at KAUST, said that KAUST faculty members quickly embraced Faculty Search because it was so easy to use:
“Getting faculty to use a new system is not the easiest task. But when we initially rolled out Interfolio as a faculty recruitment tool, I had a faculty member come up to me and ask, ‘Oh, can I use this to post my postdoc positions?’ And that was really great to see that they were so comfortable and wanted to roll it out to wider objectives,” Bakhsh said.
Interfolio’s other webinar guest, Henry Tijerina III, a Digital Project Manager at UT, sees consistency as one of the main advantages of modernizing the hiring process. “Because UT uses Faculty Search for posting positions, we get a consistent title, description, and qualifications, and the position is tagged with the correct department, college, and school. UT is a giant institution, so it’s good to be able to have those required fields to standardize the data.” Of course, standardized data also supports data analysis and reporting.
Institutions are also able to save time, Bakhsh said, because of the platform’s Application Program Interfaces (APIs), which enable connectivity with other programs and sites. Bakhsh elaborated, “We use APIs to push open faculty positions to recruitment tools and websites. What really works well for us is that we only have to update in one place, and the changes are reflected on all sites instantly.”
Tijerina also described how the platform makes administrative work easier and more efficient. With their earlier paper system, he said, correlating all the diversity data was a labor-intensive process. Now, it only takes the push of a button to see Equal Employment Opportunity and diversity data.
Bakhsh made a similar remark: “In our previous system, it would take us days to pull a report to answer questions like — did we have any applicants from China this year? — but now our super admins can do that easily, just within a few clicks.”
Get an overview of how peers are improving their faculty recruitment in our recent white paper, The Modern Faculty Recruitment Playbook.
2. Faculty Search supports diversity efforts
As the above remarks suggest, Faculty Search has reporting tools that enable quick analysis of diversity data. Faculty diversity, of course, is an important goal at many institutions, but a recent study shows very little progress on this front in higher education. One practice that will help address this gap between faculty diversity aspirations and outcomes is collecting and analyzing faculty recruitment diversity data to assess progress.
Faculty Search helps institutions do just that. For example, Tijerina noted that the platform enables UT to compare its current faculty diversity to the diversity of the search group to assess whether UT is successfully attracting a more diverse pool. With this information, UT then adjusts its national recruitment spending to better support its diversity goals.
At KAUST, departments create forms within Faculty Search that capture diversity data to help the institution measure its progress in increasing diversity.
Efforts like these — and other best practices — are a critical step in improving faculty diversity.
3. Faculty Search enables data-driven decision-making and insights
Of course, collecting and analyzing data helps with more than just diversity efforts. Collecting data also enables administrators to assess their overall faculty hiring process.
For example, the data that Faculty Search collects helps KAUST officials, including Bakhsh, determine whether their marketing efforts are succeeding in attracting the best candidates.
Similarly, data collection and reporting capabilities within Faculty Search help UT evaluate their faculty recruitment efforts:
“Having everything in one system allows us to gain insights and see trends year over year. For example: How many positions are reposting? Are applications remaining steady or growing, or did they fall? What does our successful candidate look like? Where did they come from? How did they get to the job? These are all things we can pull out of the system really easily,” Tijerina said. This data analysis also helps UT focus their advertising expenditures and make effective marketing investments.
How did two research universities increase efficiency, diversity, and accountability with streamlined faculty hiring?
Tijerina added that Faculty Search’s APIs enable data from other programs to be mixed into the analysis, creating a fuller overall picture of their faculty recruitment efforts. For example, UT can look at search data from the Algolia program that UT added to Faculty Search. With this Algolia data combined with the Faculty Search data, UT can see whether candidates are searching for positions that don’t yet exist. This information can suggest potential new opportunities that UT might want to create.
Bonus advantage: Faculty Search makes a strong impression with prospective faculty
Although the webinar guests focused on the above three advantages of adopting Interfolio’s digital platform for faculty hiring, one additional advantage Tijerina emphasized is worth mentioning:
Faculty Search enables a customizable, branded job board and recruitment experience that puts your institution’s best foot forward to potential recruits.
As Tijerina explained, UT’s old jobs page wasn’t very welcoming. In response, UT switched to Interfolio because they wanted a new web presence that “highlighted our faculty, our research stories, why should you work at UT, and really elevated the brand of UT.”
If you’re interested in elevating your own institution’s brand and modernizing your faculty recruitment process with a COVID-proof digital platform, you can read more about Faculty Search here and request a demo.
You can also listen to our webinar on How Two Institutions Modernized Faculty Hiring by going to this page.