Phase 3: The Applicant Pool and Interviewing

Step 5: Review the Applicant Materials

Action

  • Develop rubrics to evaluate submitted applicant materials
  • 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 for applicants not moving forward in the process.

Step 7: Interviews

Action

Requirement

Obtain approval from HR for interview questions

Move applicants who are continuing in the process to “Recommend for Interview”.

Email Human Resources and Equal Opportunity Compliance (eocompliance@mtu.edu) to notify of workflow movement. 

Wait for EOC approval before scheduling interviews.

Step 5: Review the Applicant Materials

It is essential that a search process is conducted in a consistent, confidential, and audit defensible manner. All applicants must be evaluated equally based on job description requirements and there must not be any lobbying for or conversations about specific applicants outside the committee meetings. Responsibilities listed in the Essential Duties and Responsibilities section of a job description must be supported by the required or desired attributes as listed in the job description. The duties can be used to craft interview questions once you are in the interviewing phase of the hiring process. However, applicant non-selection reasons should be determined using the required and/or desirable education/experience/skills/knowledge sections of the job description.  

In PageUP the search committee can choose to screen applications based on the three "Required" sections of the job description. The committee then determines whether or not a candidate meets the remainder of the qualifications through the interview process. If certain specific skills are required, such as computer skills, for the position, a department may choose to administer a test along with the interview.

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.

Use Job Description to Develop Criteria for Evaluation

It is a best practice to develop criteria and evaluation material for determining if candidates meet the required and desired qualifications. To do this, committees develop a rubric listing the requirements of the position based on the job description. 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 short list of candidates. A properly constructed evaluation rubric should help with this but won't eliminate biases entirely. "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)". It is helpful to draft this rubric while developing the job description as it will help the committee fine tune the job description prior to any candidate evaluation. Initial screening is based on requirements and desired traits, but candidates are also evaluated in a comparative pool once interviews begin.

Evaluation of Diversity Statements

If a diversity statement is asked for as part of the applicant material, it is important to determine ahead of time how the committee will evaluate the statement because these applicants will interact with students/staff/faculty with a wide variety of backgrounds and identities, the baseline expectation should be that they are able to do this in an aware and empathetic manner that equitably situates those individuals for success.

Since a number of search committee members may not be familiar with how to evaluate a diversity statement, this evaluation information below is intended to help individuals better quantify desirable skills and actions related to diversity and inclusion. The stages (Identify, Apply, Analyze/Relate, Craft) demonstrate increasingly higher orders of thinking about diversity.

  • Identify: Statement demonstrates awareness of a wide variety of student/staff/faculty identities (e.g. race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion/spirituality, nationality, socioeconomic status, and additional visible/nonvisible attributes).
  • Apply: Statement describes candidate’s experiences analyzing situations and demonstrating awareness of reasons why an individual or group did/does not feel welcome in particular situations.
  • Analyze/Relate: Statement demonstrates prior or planned work and/or activities that increase engagement, inclusion, sense of belonging and/or culturally responsive mentorship of diverse individuals.
  • Design: Statement describes strategic efforts that the candidate has undertaken or plans to undertake to design systems, conditions, or environments within which all students, faculty, and staff can excel.

It is important to remember in your assessments of diversity statements that the candidate's identified characteristics should not be considered in these evaluations as they are irrelevant.

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

Remember to document any decisions made about applicants when examining resumes/cover letters, supporting documentation, or during interviews. All documentation must be turned in to Human Resources after the completion of the search. Use only search evaluation tools for written feedback. Never write anything directly onto a resume, application, etc. For example, if someone on a search committee circled an activity listed on a resume that is related to the applicant's identity, the circled area could be considered in a documentation review as discrimination. See Step 6  for information about documenting reasons for non-selection of an applicant.

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. You can not begin interviewing until this process is completed and reviewed by the EOC office.

Reasons of Non-Selection and Disposition Codes for Applicants NOT Advancing to the Next Step

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 will be required to document reasons of non-selection for applicants not continuing in the process. Reasons of non-selection need to be based on the required or desired qualifications 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. The Applicant Flow Log (AFL) Disposition Codes webpage has detailed information on this process and examples of 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 into the applicant not being further considered.
Not as strong as the top candidate. Please explain how this candidate is weaker when compared to the hire.
Department goals/needs - Rejected background not meeting department 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 is not a good fit. Explain why.
Poor Communication: If not interviewed and there was no contact. Explain how this was determined.
Written communication skills are not as good as candidates interviewed. Explain referencing the application package.

Step 7: Interviews

Once the search committee has identified candidates for phone or on-campus interviews, the importance of showcasing Michigan Tech's values, attributes, and workplace climate becomes extremely important. Timely and professional communication with all applicants is important for both the current search and future searches by Michigan Tech.

During a phone/virtual  interview, maintaining a welcoming environment is just as important as it is for an in person interview. You want the best from the candidate, so set them up to give you their best. 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 Setting up Interviews

In this step, the committee will develop interview questions and submit them to Human Resources for approval.

The interview is the candidate’s opportunity to expand on their qualifications, as introduced by their resume and cover letter. They should also have the chance to talk about previous work experience.  All interview questions must be related to the position description and asked consistently to all who are being interviewed. This is a place in the hiring process that could bring in bias once again, so be cognizant of this when developing the interview questions. Make sure that your questions are as open-ended as they can be. Questions that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No” won’t help you to get to know the candidate. Types of questions could be

  • Focused—ask the candidate to provide examples relating to a specific skill or scenario
  • Leading—can usually be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and can lead to follow-up questions
  • Situational—usually involve a specific example or scenario related to the requirements of the position
  • Behavioral—usually require the candidate to describe a situation where they were involved

Sample Interview Questions

If you haven't yet done so, it is time to determine the interview evaluation method for the interview process, which should be similar to evaluation methods used in earlier parts of the search process.

Once the search committee has determined which applicants to invite to interview, the search chair must move the applicants to “Recommend for Interview '' in PageUp and email HR and EOC that approval to interview has been requested. Interviews should not be scheduled or conducted before receiving approval to interview from EOC. The EOC office will review reasons of non-selection for all candidates who are not selected to interview before approving any interviews. Once you have received initial approval to interview candidates, you do not need to request approval from EOC again to move to the next round of interviews (i.e. from phone to campus interview).

All applicants must be reviewed until the day that the first interview takes place. Candidate materials are found in PageUp. 

Once Interviewing Begins, Applicant Review May End

All positions at Michigan Tech are considered open until filled. However, Human Resources will hold all applications received after interviewing begins so the committee does not need to continue to review applicants. If this option is chosen, the search chair must notify Human Resources and they will code all applications after the date of the first interview as late applications in the system. If any applications that were held by Human Resources are reviewed after interviews began, then all previously held applications must be reviewed. Once an applicant has been approved for an initial interview, approval from the Equal Opportunity Compliance(EOC) office is not required for that applicant’s follow up interviews.

Internal Candidates for Non-Union Positions

The search committee for a non-union position must define when the materials of an internal candidate will be considered so an advantage/disadvantage is not created. 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. This candidate should only have contact with the search committee chair, except during an interview.

Internal candidates must stay out of 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. Also, it is good practice to alert the internal candidate once they are no longer under consideration for the position. 

Please contact your HR Employment Services Representative for more information about union search procedures.

Interview Documentation

During the interview process, take only job related notes that support reasons for hire and non-hire documentation. No opinions about candidates should be written 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. Notes are turned in to HR and kept with the hiring packet. 

The committee will be required to provide reasons of non-selection for candidates who were not hired. These reasons should be related to the "Requirements and the Desirables" of the position description. If Equal Opportunity finds the reason to be too general, the applicant will be sent back in the workflow with an email request for more information.

NOTE:  Anytime a change is made to an applicant's Workflow State or Workflow Reason, please email the Employment Services Representative and copy eocompliance@mtu.edu

Phone or Video Conference Interviews

Face-to-face interactions allow for more fluid communication, however no need to shy away from using Zoom, Google Meet, or a similar video conferencing software for your interviews.

Recent years have shown that interviews typically conducted in-person can be successfully conducted virtually. Virtual interviews may be a great option because barriers, such as travel expenses, can be dramatically decreased. However, it may not be the best option for all position openings so the hiring department will need to determine what format works best. 

The key is consistency. 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. 

Consistency in the process is important to ensure that all candidates are treated fairly. 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. 

Departments have always had the option and ability to conduct any interview round of their searches virtually. Also, search committees are not required to have a set number of rounds of interviews. As long as each round is consistent, the search department/committee can choose which method works best for them and the department/position. 

Additionally, if a department chooses to conduct virtual interviews, it is important that applicants understand 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.

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. Also recording must be equally applied to all interviews.

Prior to starting the Phone or Video Conference Interview, make sure that all members of the search committee are familiar with what constitutes an inappropriate inquiry.

Keep conversations professional during interviews (e.g. no comments/conversations between search committee members that are not relevant to the interview, joking between committee members, etc) All questions must be consistently asked of each candidate. You may ask follow-up questions only for further clarification.

Determine Who to Invite to an Initial Interview

Refrain from asking committee members to numerically rank candidates to avoid bias effects. Move the top candidates to the short list for campus interviews as a result of discussion of each of the candidates.

When scheduling interviews, committees should attempt to contact applicants at least two times before removing them from consideration. It is also recommended that more than one method be used to contact applicants if an applicant does not respond (email and phone). Please document how many attempts were made to contact an applicant and what methods of communication were used. In a compliance audit, the OFCCP would expect to see that applicants were given ample opportunity to respond.

Preparing for Interviews

Throughout the search process, information about the candidates must remain confidential unless they explicitly grant permission to make it public. This includes posting on blogs, websites, etc.

Also be sure to offer each candidate the ability to request disability accommodations for the interview as well as providing campus information on things such as benefits, childcare, etc. This enables everyone to have the opportunity to have important information without having to ask questions that they would like to keep private.

Prior to the start of a campus visit, ensure that all members of the search committee and others who interact with the candidate (ex: graduate students, staff) are familiar with what constitutes an inappropriate inquiry.

On-Campus Interview

During this phase, candidates are evaluating your department and the campus as much as you are evaluating them. Give the candidate a chance to meet a diverse group of people (including students and anyone on campus they may wish to meet) and provide a thoughtful introduction for presentations. Make sure individuals and groups meeting with the candidate have a base level of understanding of what constitutes an inappropriate inquiry. Helping the candidate feel welcome can elicit their best performance. Again, it is important to remember that information about the candidates must remain confidential unless they explicitly grant permission to make it public. To collect feedback about the candidate during an on-campus interview, it is permissible to use Google Forms provided the responses are stored in a confidential location.

Communications

Applicants should receive timely communication from the search committee via phone, email, or written letters. When communicating internally, keep in mind that candidate confidentiality is paramount. Communications shared with your unit regarding presentations should only include information that the candidate has approved making public.

Always feel free to contact either your Human Resources Employment Services Representative or Equal Opportunity Compliance, email eocompliance@mtu.edu if you have any questions.