Phase 1: Preparation

Preparation Overview

Step 1: Position Authorization and Search Committee Approval


Following Approval of the Position

Step 2: Writing the Job Description and Developing the Applicant Screening Rubric



Complete Faculty Posting Worksheet

Job Description and Screening Rubric Approval

Step 1: Position Authorization and Search Committee Approval

In this step, the department completes the Position Authorization Form and submits form(s) to their dean. The Position Authorization Form is used to gain approval to post the position and hire the employee. If approved by the dean and provost, the form will be submitted to Human Resources (HR).

If the position is approved by the dean and provost, the unit’s chair or dean for colleges without departments completes a Search Committee Approval Form II-A. The Search Committee Approval Form II-A documents the search committee member names and acknowledges they have completed Faculty Legal Aspects and the Diversity Literacy Online Workshop (DLOW).

For information on hiring Postdoctoral Scholars, please visit the Graduate School Guidelines for Hiring Postdoctoral Scholars.

Select a Search Chair 

The Search Committee Chair plays an important role. The chair leads the committee in the recruitment and selection of quality candidates and is also responsible for maintaining a consistent, confidential, and defensively compliant search. This means making sure all committee members follow the Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Compliance procedures, moving all applicants in the employment hiring system (PageUp) system, and submitting paperwork and record keeping documents to Human Resources. The Search Chair also plays a large role in creating a meeting environment where all committee members are empowered to participate, as well as acts as a watchdog to ensure elimination of bias in all hiring steps.

All inquiries and requests from candidates must be referred to the chair of the search committee only.

Form a Diverse Committee

To facilitate a strong hiring process that aligns with institutional goals, an earnest effort should be made to ensure that underrepresented individuals have an equal opportunity to serve on search committees. Having diverse perspectives on a search committee means that various identities and thoughts will be represented. It also enables committees to move away from affinity bias and groupthink.

As a best practice, a search committee should consist of a minimum of three members. It is required that at least one member is from outside the reporting structure of the hiring department. If the search plan is to have a larger committee, then additional external department search committee members should be considered. We do not recommend that probationary employees serve on search committees since they are still learning about the University and their position/department, however, based on search needs exceptions can be made.

The Department Chair, Dean, or designated individual will determine the search committee membership, complete the top part of the Search Committee Approval Form II-A, and then send it to Human Resources. A best practice is to send it along with the Position Authorization Form (Form 1).  

Once received, Human Resources will confirm that the Diversity Literacy Online Workshop and Faculty Legal Aspects have been completed by all committee members. Equal Opportunity Compliance will review the search committee diversity balance.

Form II-A will then be sent to the Dean for review. By signing Form II-A, the Dean is verifying a diverse and trained search committee. The Provost then gives the final approval of the search committee.


As mentioned in the introduction, Michigan Tech requires that all search committee members complete the Diversity Literacy Online Workshop (DLOW) and Faculty Legal Aspects training. It is the department's responsibility to ensure that search committee members have completed this training. To check completion status, please visit the DLOW Status page (SSO login required). If a committee member does not have a current status, they will need to take either the DLOW full course or the DLOW refresher course, if the full course was taken less than 4 years ago.

Diversity Literacy Online Workshop Registration

Additionally, completion of the Legal Aspects Review for Faculty Search Committees course is required annually. HR will check if this training has been completed by all committee members and will assign the Canvas course to any committee member that has not completed this annual requirement. 

If you choose to have a student serving on your actual search committee for the entirety of the search, not students who are only participating in candidate interviews, EOC and HR require that they complete the Legal Aspects Review for Search Committees training. To request this training for student search committee members contact EOC at

Equity Advisor

An Equity Advisor will be assigned to the search committee. An Equity Advisor is:

  • A faculty member external to the hiring department who will provide helpful advice to the search committee to assist in making sure that diversity and equity remain at the forefront of every step in the search process.
  • Ensures federal/state/university employment laws/policies are followed.


To protect the integrity of the search and the privacy of all applicants, search committee members, including if applicable students, Equity Advisor, the department coordinator, and anyone else that has access to PageUp or search committee materials, are required to maintain 100% confidentiality during and after the search.

Information learned from the search must not be discussed with anyone outside of the search committee (e.g., in departmental meetings, emails, hallway conversations, and during conversations with applicants). This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Applicant names
  • How many applicants have applied 
  • Information learned about applicant(s) 
  • All discussions among committee members, including during campus interview processes
  • Any type of recommendation made for hiring or not hiring of applicants

When a committee member has participated in a previous search, applicant information cannot be shared between searches. 

Members who disclose information are at risk of involving themselves and/or the university in a federal agency complaint and/or a lawsuit. 

Any breach in confidentiality must be reported to Human Resources.

An appropriate response to questions from individual applicants or the public about any aspect of the selection process should be: Selection is a confidential process and therefore I am unable to respond to your question or the recruitment process is treated with confidentiality, so it would be inappropriate for me to answer your question.

Applicants may inquire about the status of their application packet. If this occurs, refer them to HR since HR is able to respond to the applicants questions and review the reason for non-selection based on the information that has been recorded in PageUp. 

Confidentiality Statement 

  • It is the responsibility of the Search Chair to share the Confidentiality Statementat the beginning of the process, before the committee discusses job criteria, drafts interview questions, reviews applications and/or resumes, or begins any work.
  • Failure to share this statement may result in cancellation of the search.
  • Search Committee members, including if applicable students, Equity Advisor, department coordinator, and anyone else that has access to PageUp, must sign the statement and the Search Chair must return it to Human Resources.

Conflict of Interest

All members of Michigan Tech search committees must take appropriate steps, including consultation if issues are unclear, to avoid both conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts. The intent of this requirement is to foster fair treatment of all candidates, avoid conflicts of interest and prevent the appearance of partiality in employment practices, including recruitment and selection. Even if there is no technical violation of law or University policy, the appearance of a conflict of interest can create reputational risks for the individual and the institution.

Having personal knowledge of an individual who has applied for a position at Michigan Tech is actually quite common, especially if the committee has done an excellent job of networking. Due to this, if any search committee member knows an applicant or has any Conflict of Interest, this must be disclosed to the search chair and Human Resources. If the search chair has a conflict of interest, the chair should inform Human Resources and the hiring manager.

Removal.  If a search committee member has a familial relationship with a candidate, holds animosity towards a candidate, has a close personal friendship (beyond mere acquaintances) or is or has been in an amorous relationship with a candidate, or has professionally collaborated with a candidate in the past 5 years, they must remove themselves from the search committee.  In addition, if a member’s presence on the search committee may create an appearance of bias to a neutral observer, they must remove themselves from the search committee. This fosters an institutional culture of impartiality and gives all applicants an equal opportunity to be evaluated fairly. 

Recusal.  If a search committee member has professionally collaborated with a candidate in the past 6-10 years, they should recuse themselves in all evaluations of that applicant and from any final review and/or ranking of candidates but may participate in interviewing and providing feedback on other candidates.  

Form Approval Process

After a Position Authorization Form has been approved by the provost and Form II-A has been reviewed by Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Compliance, the department is notified that they can proceed with Phase 1 Step 2.

Dean and/or Chair Involvement

The Dean and/or Chair of the department have administrative oversight for hiring so they will be involved at various points of the search process, for example in writing the job description. They should give guidance on what the committee's role will be in the search and how they plan to be involved. For example, they may ask the committee to provide 2-3 applicants that are recommended for hire in a non-ranked format. However, the Dean and/or Chair should not serve on search committees, nor should they sit in on committee meetings or have access to candidate materials until candidates are invited to campus. This ensures that a power imbalance does not influence the process. 

Equity Advisor Role

  • Assigned to the committee.
  • Completes all search committee training.
  • Review all information for each step thoroughly.  
  • Sign the Confidentiality Statement.
  • Attend all search committee meetings.

Step 2: Writing the Job Description and Developing the Applicant Screening Rubric 

The next step is to draft a job description. You will need to spend quality time on this step. A well developed and concise position description is vital to successful recruitment and hiring. The language in the position description can easily encourage or discourage candidates from applying and it is the basis of applicant evaluation.  All applicants must be evaluated equally based on required and desired qualifications as noted in the job description. 

The hiring department will develop an initial draft of the job description then share it with all search committee members for comments and input. 

Also, the committee will develop an applicant screening rubric that specifically includes the job description requirements. Developing this rubric at this stage of the process is invaluable to ensure that the committee will be able to evaluate applicants based on the required and desired qualifications. 

Here’s how you do this: 

Job description: Download a copy of the Faculty Posting Worksheet. You can use a past copy of a job description as a starting point, but it is best to use a fresh copy of this posting worksheet. The requirements for job descriptions do change so it is best to catch these changes at the start. First, the Essential Duties and Responsibilities section will be developed which will be listed at the top part of the job description.  Be as clear, accurate, and inclusive as possible. Applicants should be able to fully understand what the job entails and what will be expected of them in the position. 

Next, you will determine the minimum required Education, Experience, and Knowledge, Skills, and/or Abilities using the Essential Duties and Responsibilities. The requirements must be appropriate, realistic, and reasonable. Minimum required qualifications are located below the Essential Duties and Responsibilities section in the job description. Remember that all applicants will be evaluated according to the minimum requirements listed and in order for an applicant to move forward to the interview stage they MUST meet all requirements of the position.  It is a best practice to include at least two requirements.

Then, you will also identify desirable education, experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities which will assist with the additional items for screening of applicants. Desirable qualifications are helpful for the applicant to possess, but could also be gained while working in the job.  Four to six desirable qualifications are typically expected.

All job descriptions should have this statement in the Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and/or Abilities section:   

    • Demonstrated success in, or potential future contributions to, working with persons from diverse backgrounds, creating a sense of belonging, and fostering a fair, objective, welcoming place to work for persons with a wide variety of personal characteristics and viewpoints.  

A few tips for you:

    • The job announcement/posting/advertising does have requirements so please see Faculty Hiring Process Phase 2 Step 3. This may help you in your job description development. 

    • Keep in mind that you'll get a much better applicant pool if you define the job requirements as broadly as possible. 
    • When establishing the required and desired qualifications, steer clear of focusing on subfields, which can easily exclude potential applicants. 
    • Setting requirements too high may exclude applicants based on qualifications that are not necessary to perform the job, which may create disparate impact resulting in discrimination.
    • Setting requirements too narrow may limit your applicant pool and you may miss out on a well-qualified applicant.  
    • It is a great idea to include opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and commitment to inclusion and a sense of belonging  to attract applicants. 

Applicant Screening Rubric: Now you will create the applicant screening rubric. This is an easy process since you are essentially moving the required and desired list points from the job description into a rubric format. See the samples provided below. A properly constructed rubric should help with but won't eliminate biases entirely. Using a non-numerical rubric will help the committee avoid ranking the candidates, keep focus on the requirements of the position, and help move the committee to a list of candidates for the interview phases. 

"Be open to the possibility that you and your search-committee colleagues are evaluating a candidate's style based on what makes you comfortable rather than what is essential for the job you're seeking to fill. (Vaillancourt 2021)". 

Once you have developed the rubric, complete a mock applicant review to test if the job description and rubric are adequately and fairly enabling the committee to screen a candidate for the actual position you are seeking to fill. 

Here are two sample rubrics to assist you in this process. 

Beware of Gendered Language

When writing your job description, be aware of the use of gendered language. Using language that is inadvertently gendered may drive away candidates who feel excluded by certain words, even though they're highly competitive. We recommend reading Job Advertisements That Use Masculine Wording Are Less Appealing to Womenfrom Harvard University before drafting your position description. We also recommend copying your draft texts into a gender decoder to assess bias in position descriptions and ads.

Submit the Job Description

Once the position description has been drafted, reviewed by the committee, revised, and finalized, complete the Faculty Posting Worksheet. Along with the rubric you have created, submit both of these documents to HR.  Once approved by HR they will let you know you can move to the next step. Please note that this will be the job description for the position you hire. During the search process, you can not negotiate items such as titles, level, flex-time, or remote work options with candidates that are not included in the job description, as it fundamentally changes the position.

Equity Advisor Role

  • Encourage quality time on job description development. 
  • Help the committee understand the difference between essential duties, required, and desired job description sections. 
  • Review the job description to ensure that it does not unintentionally exclude certain groups (e.g., women, individuals with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities).
  • Support the committee in developing applicant screening rubric.
  • Emphasize points made in the “few tips” section.
  • Does not provide disciplinary-specific advice.