faculty search committee

A faculty search committee is a committee appointed within a higher education institution or organization to oversee recruitment and hiring for a specific faculty opening or multiple vacancies (in the case of cluster hiring). The search committee handles everything from creating the job posting, to reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and selecting the final candidate(s).

Below we detail search committees’ responsibilities, how to select a search committee and its chair, and how search committees can most effectively carry out their duties.

The Role of a Faculty Search Committee

Create the Job Posting and Place Advertisements

In some cases, before a search committee is appointed, the department may create the job description, requirements, and other language that will be used in the job posting listed on the institution’s website. However, in other cases, the search committee creates this language, which will also be used for external advertisements of the position on third-party sites or in third-party publications.

Once the language advertising the opening is created, the search committee selects sites and publications to advertise in, often with the goal of attracting a diversity of candidates, including candidates from underrepresented groups.

Establish Evaluation Criteria

The search committee agrees upon the criteria it will use to rank candidates and may rank its selection criteria in terms of departmental priorities.

Review Applications and Select Candidates from Whom to Request More Materials

As candidates begin applying to the position, the search committee reviews all applications and begins selecting candidates from whom to request additional information, such as teaching evaluations and sample syllabi.

Discuss Applicants and Select Finalists 

The search committee discusses applicants, rating them based on their evaluation criteria. The committee may also conduct remote interviews as it narrows down the list of candidates to select finalists.

Interview Finalists on Campus

The search committee arranges for on-campus interviews, which often includes a campus tour and a teaching demonstration to students. The search committee coordinates with other administrators and department members to schedule the various meetings each candidate will have over the course of the typically two-day campus visit. The series of meetings includes the job talk, in which the candidates present about their research.

Select Candidate to Hire

After the on-campus visit, the search committee reconvenes, collecting information from all those who meet with the candidate. Weighing all of the information before them and their evaluation criteria, the search committee votes for a final selection and documents the basis for their decision.

How to Select a Faculty Search Committee and Chair

Given the central role of a search committee in the faculty recruitment process and the considerable responsibility and time commitment of serving on a search committee, it’s important that departments appoint well-composed search committees. 

Below are a few tips to guide you in creating effective search committees:

  • A smaller group ensures that everyone will be able to participate and contribute in a meaningful way
  • Having an odd number of members prevents the risk of a deadlocked vote.
  • Enthusiasm for serving on the committee is required, given the importance—and demands—of the work.
  • It’s critical your committee is made up of a diversity of members, including members of underrepresented groups in faculty.
  • Because the search committee chair often chooses the other search committee members and has the greatest responsibilities of all committee members, choose wisely in appointing a chair and make sure your chair knows the significant time commitment they will be making. 

Empower Your Faculty Search Committees With Interfolio

As this article shows, serving on a faculty search committee is a significant undertaking. Anything your institution can do to make committee members’ work easier will be welcomed.

Interfolio Faculty Search saves your search committee time and makes the search process easier and more efficient for everyone involved in university faculty recruitment.

  • Interfolio makes it easy to create a job posting and to collect demographic information from 100% of applicants.
  • Interfolio enables your search committee to create specific evaluation criteria and to assign star rankings to each candidate.
  • Documenting the entire search process and having a standardized search workflow is easy when you’re using an online platform devoted to faculty hiring, as Interfolio is.
  • Reviewing application materials is also much simpler when your search committee uses a tool purpose-built for faculty searches.

These are just some of the ways Interfolio Faculty Search can empower your academic hiring committees. To learn about these advantages and others of the module, please schedule a demo today.