Phase 3: The Applicant Pool and Interviewing

The Applicant Pool and Interviewing Overview

Step 5: Review the Applicant Materials

Action

  • Review candidate materials in PageUp

 

 

Step 6: Narrow the Applicant Pool

Action

  • Discuss candidates' materials as a search team
  • Determine which candidates the committee would like to interview
  • In PageUp complete reasons for non-selection in the applicant flow log for all applicants that have not been chosen to interview

Requirement

Enter reasons of non-selection based on the job description requirements for applicants not moving to an interview.

Step 7: Interviews

Action

  • Contact HR with the names of candidates to interview before contact is made with the candidate
  • Research Security and International Collaboration Review 
  • Develop phone/virtual interview questions and evaluation rubric
  • Host phone/virtual interviews and evaluate candidates
  • Determine on-campus interview candidates
  • Prepare for on-campus interviews including contacting HR with the names of candidates visiting to begin the Campus and Community Welcome planning
  • Develop campus interview questions and evaluation rubrics
  • Host on-campus interviews and evaluate candidates

Requirement

  • Contact HR with the names of candidates to interview before contact is made with the candidate
  • Obtain approval from HR for interview questions
  • Contact HR with the names of the applicants you plan to invite to campus in order to make arrangements for their Campus and Community Welcome

Step 5: Review the Applicant Materials

Now is the time to use the applicant screening rubric the committee developed in Step 1 to fairly evaluate all applicants.

It is essential that the screening process is conducted in a consistent, confidential, and audit defensible manner. All applicants must be evaluated equally based on job description requirements using the rubric. Once the committee determines applicants that will not move to the interview phase(s), the non-selection reasons will be determined using the required and/or desirable education/experience/knowledge/skills sections of the job description using the rubric as your guide. There must not be any lobbying for or conversations about specific applicants outside the committee meetings.

Biases Can Exist in the Evaluation Process

We're all aware that both conscious and unconscious biases can exist in evaluation processes. It is important that we take adequate steps to identify and address bias when we review applicant materials. These biases can arise from many sources and may lead to incorrect assumptions about a candidate. For example, a committee notices that a candidate has a gap in employment and speculates about what occurred during that gap in time. Gaps in employment are not relevant to an applicant meeting the education/knowledge/skills, etc. as listed in the required and/or desired sections of a job description and should not be considered in the evaluation process.

Translating Military Skills to Civilian Skills

If you have Veterans in your applicant pool, we encourage search committee members to review the Veteran Hiring page to assist in translating military skills to civilian skills.

Documentation

When examining resumes/cover letters, supporting documentation, or during interviews, remember to document decisions made about applicants. However, please refrain from writing directly onto a printed CV, resume, application, etc. Use only search evaluation tools for written feedback. Notes, documentation, and written feedback must be bias-free. All documentation that is in hard copy or digital form will be collected by Human Resources upon completion of the search. See Step 6 for information about documenting reasons for non-selection of an applicant.

Closing the Applicant Pool

All positions at Michigan Tech are considered open until filled and all applicants must be reviewed until the day that the first interview takes place. However, applications received after the full consideration date, or once interviewing begins, should not be reviewed by the committee unless a candidate to hire is not identified. At this point the committee can request to review new applications by contacting their HR Employment Representative. If the committee chooses to review applications that were submitted after the full consideration date or after interviewing has started, all new applications must be reviewed. Applications not reviewed will be coded as “NN Not Reviewed”.

Equity Advisor Role

  • Remind committee not to include biased comments in note-taking.
  • Help ensure that biases do not surface in the discussion of candidates.
  • Assist in focusing discussion on the candidate's qualifications based on the job description.
  • The EA does not review candidate materials or provide disciplinary advice.
  • The EA does not advocate for specific candidates.

Step 6: Narrow the Applicant Pool

After reviewing applications, those applicants who are not advancing further (ie: to a phone or virtual interview), must be given a reason for non-selection and disposition code in PageUp, which will remove the candidate from the applicant pool.

Reasons of Non-Selection and Disposition Codes for Applicants NOT Advancing Further

The search chair or search administrator must move applicants in the workflow by entering reasons of non-selection for all applicants not advancing further in the process. When moving applicants, you are required to document reasons of non-selection for applicants based on the required and desired qualifications as listed in the job description, not the "job description summary" or the "essential duties and responsibilities" list. A suggestion is to copy and paste wording directly from the job description required/desired section qualifications into the reasons of non-selection. This helps Equal Opportunity Compliance, and an auditor, easily see which qualification(s) the reason of non-selection is referring to.

PLEASE NOTE: Go to Applicant Flow Log (AFL) Disposition Codes webpage. This page has detailed information on this process and acceptable reasons of non-selection.

In addition, the following chart provides examples of reasons of non-selection that were not accepted by the OFCCP auditor during Michigan Tech's last compliance audit.

Unacceptable Reasons Auditors Comments
Did not interview well. Please explain.
Did not meet search criteria. Please explain what each was lacking in comparison to the hire in relation to the advertised criteria.
Lacking demonstrated expertise in required topics. Explain what was lacking.
Citizenship. Why is this a requirement? Please explain how not being a US citizen played in the applicant not being further considered.
Not as strong as top candidate. Please explain how this candidate is weaker when compared to the hire.
Department goals/needs - Rejected background not meeting departments goals. Please explain. If you have specific needs/background, the advertisement should not be generic – advertisement should ask for specific needs.
Considered Finalist/ Still being considered. You still need to give a reason for non-selection.
Research area not a good fit. Explain why.
Poor Communication: If not interviewed and there was no contact. Explain how this was determined.
Written communication skills not as good as candidates interviewed. Explain referencing the application package.

Equity Advisor Role

  • Help ensure that biases do not surface in the discussion of candidates.
  • Remind committee not to include biased comments in note-taking.
  • Assist in focusing discussion on the candidate's qualification based on the job description.

Step 7: Interviews

Once the search committee has identified candidates for phone, virtual or on-campus interviews, the importance of showcasing Michigan Tech's attributes and welcoming workplace climate becomes extremely important. The search committee should discuss ideas about how to ensure the interview process is welcoming. You want the best from the candidate, so set them up to give you their best. 

One example of welcoming is to introduce yourself using your pronouns and/or list them on your video conference credentials. By sharing your pronouns, you are highlighting inclusion without pressuring others to do so. However, you should never insist that someone share this information as there may be several reasons a person is not comfortable doing so. If someone chooses not to share, that's ok. It is important to establish a good rapport with your candidates to ensure they choose Michigan Tech just as much as you choose them.

Before the Invitation to Interview

Before you invite an applicant to interview, you must contact HR with the names of the applicants that are in your interview pool. Once an applicant has been approved for an interview, they are approved for all interview stages. HR will let the committee know when the review has been completed and can move to invites for interviews.  Searches that proceed to the final interview stage without prior approval by HR will be considered to have failed and will have to be re-posted.

Research Security and International Collaboration Review 

If a committee would like to interview an individual with international education or employment, or another significant international indication, HR must be made aware of this.  Once HR has been notified, HR will forward a copy of the CV to the Senior Research Security Specialist (SRSS) with a request for review. This is being done in support of the University's efforts to comply with the University's Research Security and International Collaboration Policy

If there are no notable concerns for proceeding with the interview, the SRSS will inform HR that the process may proceed. In the event that concerns exist, the SRSS will confer with the Vice President of Research and/or the General Counsel (both of whom currently hold clearances) and a decision will be made regarding the next steps. 

HR will communicate to the search committee chair if candidate(s) can continue to be considered for the position. Candidate(s) removed from this pool will be disqualified by HR based on the internal review.

Interview Questions 

The search committee will develop interview questions for each stage of the interview process, initial phone, virtual and on-campus interview, and submit them to HR for approval. Bias can be a concern in this step, so be cognizant of this when developing the interview questions. 

All interview questions for all stages of interviews must be related to the position description and asked consistently to all who are being interviewed. You may ask follow-up questions for further clarification.

General Interviewing Information

Interviewing is a critical part of the hiring process. Here are some guidelines that will assist the committee.  

  • Timely and professional communication via phone, email, or written letters is a must for all search processes.  Here is an on interview invite letter that can be easily adapted for use. 
  • Consistency is important to ensure that all candidates are treated fairly.  The hiring department will need to choose in advance which format they will use for each round of interviews. Once chosen, the format will remain the same for all candidates for that round of interviews. For example, interviewing some candidates virtually and other candidates in person, during the same round of interviews, may cause committee members to have biased opinions on things such as body language, technology issues, the flow of conversation, etc., potentially creating a disparate impact on candidates. 
  • Search committees are not required to have a set number of rounds of interviews. As long as each round is consistent, the search committee can choose which method works best for the position.
  • If the committee would like to record the interview, candidates must agree to be recorded, without pressure, and will need to know how the recording will be used. Recording must be equally applied to all interviews. 
  • Virtual interviews may be a great option for all/any interview stages because barriers, such as travel expenses, can be dramatically decreased. If a department chooses to conduct virtual interviews, please let the candidate know that a virtual interview does not necessarily mean that the position is a remote position. This should be clear in the job posting and reiterated in the interview.
  • Make sure that all faculty, staff, and students interviewers are familiar with what constitutes an inappropriate inquiry.  
  • Keep conversations professional during interviews. This also applies for small talk that may occur between interviews or during shared meals. This means no comments/conversations that are not relevant to the position or the interview, and no inappropriate joking or comments. 
  • If a candidate asks questions pertaining to work-life balance or reveals personal information (such as whether they have children) answer with factual information and not an opinion-based response, or refer them to HR. Do not inquire further about any personal information that has been shared.
  • Throughout the interviewing process, information about both internal and external candidates must remain confidential unless the candidate explicitly grants permission to make it public. This includes posting seminar flyers on blogs, websites, etc.
  • Be sure to offer every candidate the ability to request disability accommodations for interviews. If a candidate mentions this need for the job interview or to otherwise participate in the hiring process, please contact HR for assistance.
  • When scheduling interviews, committees should attempt to contact applicants at least two times before removing them from consideration. Please document how many attempts were made to contact an applicant and what method of communication was used. In a compliance audit, the OFCCP would expect to see that applicants were given ample opportunity to respond.
  • Provide every candidate with information about the campus information, including information such as benefits, childcare, etc. This ensures that all candidates receive important information without having to ask questions about circumstances they may want to keep private.   The Campus and Community Welcome Program will help with this.  When you know which candidates will interview on campus, let HR know.  They will survey the candidate to find out their interests which may include, partner engagement, MTU benefits, childcare, area school resources, etc.  HR will work with the department on scheduling this meeting as part of the candidate’s itinerary.

Partner Engagement and Guest Visits 

We ask that you review this booklet for all information about guest visits: 

Startup Packages

During an interview, a startup package might be discussed. Startup packages can assist a new faculty member in recruiting graduate students and getting their research program up and running. At Michigan Tech there are certain restrictions on what can and cannot be included in a startup package. Michigan Tech Startup Guidelines and Formsprovided ideas to ensure that you offer start up packages equitably.

Internal Candidates Considerations 

For internal candidates, the search committee must adhere to the procedures that apply to all candidates for the position. In other words, the internal candidate needs to be treated like any external candidate. 

  • The internal candidate should only have contact with the search committee chair, except during an interview. 
  • The internal candidate cannot be part of discussions from which external candidates are excluded . 
  • Applicant information for the impending hire must not be shared with an internal candidate.
  • Internal candidates must not attend the interview process of external candidates, even if there are public presentations. Normally an external candidate is unable to attend the public presentation of an internal candidate, therefore the internal candidate should not attend the public presentation of an external candidate. It can be perceived as an unfair advantage if an internal candidate attends the presentation of an external candidate.
  • If an internal candidate is not selected for an interview, they still must not be a part of the departmental deliberation process. 
  • It is good practice to alert the internal candidate once they are no longer under consideration for the position.

Candidate Interview Evaluation

The interview evaluation methods should be similar to evaluation methods used in earlier parts of the search process. For all departmental faculty or staff feedback, evaluations of candidates should be based on the qualifications listed in the job description. In the past, a search evaluation tool may have asked for feedback based on the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. Instead, the questions should relate specifically to the job requirements listed in the job posting. Open-ended feedback can bring in bias and may result in evaluations that are not based on the candidate's qualifications for the job posted. 

An example is an evaluator claiming that the candidate is not a good fit. What does that really mean? Or, the evaluator doesn't think the university's rural location is a match for a particular candidate. This is irrelevant to the job qualifications. If the evaluator simply states that the candidate is not qualified, there needs to be an explanation about how they came to this conclusion based on the position requirements. 

Also, ask committee members to refrain from numerically ranking candidates to avoid bias effects.

The following is a template that offers a method for faculty, staff, and students to provide an interview evaluation of job candidates. This template can be made into a Google Form to collect responses. This template should be modified as needed for interview evaluation.

Candidate Not Chosen for an Interview 

HR suggests that if someone has a phone or virtual interview but isn't chosen for a campus interview, the committee chair may want to reach out to them directly instead of a generic email. If the committee chair does not want to do so, HR will notify the candidate.

Interview Documentation

During the interview process, take only job description related notes that support reasons for hire and non-hire documentation. No opinions about candidates should be written on any applicant materials and refrain from physical descriptions (e.g. clothing, age, color, height, accent, etc.). All notes and e-mails can be viewed via a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.  In Step 10, all search notes are turned in to HR and kept with the hiring packet.

 

Equity Advisor Role

  • Advise the committee about how to ensure communications and itineraries are inclusive for candidates.
  • Help ensure that biases do not surface in the creation of interview questions and interview evaluation materials.
  • Attend all deliberations of interview results.
  • Help ensure that biases do not surface in the discussion of candidates that were interviewed.
  • Remind committee not to include biased comments in note-taking.
  • Assist in focusing discussion on the candidate's qualification based on the job description.
  • The EA does not participate in any interviews, meet with the partner or guest, and does not provide transportation or attend meals.
  • The EA does not advocate for specific candidates.

Resources