University of Oregon

Interviews & Campus Visits

Interviews provide a crucial opportunity for the search committee and others to learn more about top candidates and their qualifications, and to reinforce the candidates’ interest in the position. Reciprocally, interviews also provide firsthand opportunities for candidates to learn more about the position, the university and the community. Given this two-way information gathering, it is important to design the interviews and campus visit with the following two questions in mind:

How can we design a process that will:

  • allow us to gather additional information about the candidate’s strengths, limitations and fit for the position?
  • assure that each candidate has the opportunity to gather the information they need to make an informed choice about the fit of the position with their goals?

Phone Interviews:

Phone interviews are optional, but can be an effective method of learning more about candidates before inviting them to campus.  Because phone interviews require limited resources, more individuals can be interviewed, thus allowing the search process to be more inclusive.

Recommended Practice Associated Challenges
Prior to beginning phone interviews, make a considered decision about whether you are satisfied with the pool of candidates, including whether there are underrepresented (UR) candidates in the pool. Moving ahead with a short list of candidates to interview that does not include UR candidates may mean that the outreach and recruitment was not adequate.
Use a consistent set of questions for all candidates, allowing candidates latitude to interpret and respond in a way that reflects their unique goals for the position. Inconsistent questions can contribute to an inconsistent and unfair process.
Let the candidates know how much time is allocated for the interview and how many questions they will be asked. Without this information, candidates may not use the time effectively, which can directly affect their ability to highlight their strengths.
Recognize that the challenge of interviewing with only auditory cues can be particularly difficult for some personal styles and fit better with some cultural norms than others.  See below for strategies to address these challenges. Without this recognition, the phone interview process may inadvertently advantage some candidates over others.
Build in time at the end for candidates to ask questions of the committee. Without this opportunity, candidates miss an opportunity to begin assessing the fit of the position with their goals.

Strategies to address the inherent challenges of phone interviews:

  • Consider sending the interview questions to candidates ahead of time so that they can organize their thinking;
  • Have search committee members introduce themselves by name at the beginning of the interview and identify themselves by name when speaking.  This can help mitigate the confusion that can occur for candidates if they don’t know who is speaking;
  • Make sure candidates heard the question accurately; offer to repeat or rephrase the questions if needed;
  • If there is silence on the phone during the interview while committee members are making notes, or if other things are occurring in the room that might be confusing, let the candidate know what is happening.

Campus Visits:

Campus visits are a critical step in the evaluation and selection process for the hiring department and in the decision-making process for candidates.  Thoughtful planning is critical to assure that there are adequate opportunities to gather information about and provide information to the candidates.

Recommended Practice Associated Challenges
Take time to reflect on the information, qualities and characteristics of the faculty, department, campus and community that will be important for candidates to know about Simply relying on past campus visit itineraries may mean missing opportunities to highlight new departmental/campus/community information, or to address issues that may be of particular importance to (UR) candidates
Prior to their arrival on campus, provide information to candidates about their itinerary while on campus and include information about those with whom they will be meeting Without this information, a campus visit may appear unorganized, last minute, or confusing.
Assure that those who will be meeting with candidates have all the relevant information they need in advance (CV, itinerary, their role in the process, etc.) Interviewers who are not prepared can lead to missed opportunities for learning about the candidate and can convey a sense of disorganization or lack of interest
Make sure that the number of questions asked by interview committees is realistic for the interview timeframe Too many questions may mean that candidates are rushed in their responses or that there is not adequate time to ask all questions.
Use a consistent set of interview questions for candidate interviews. Inconsistent questions can contribute to an inconsistent and unfair process
During less formal components of the campus visit (meals, transitions from one interview to the next) remember that the same guidelines for in/appropriate topics are as relevant as they are during formal interviews (see Appropriate and Inappropriate Interview Questions) Even in informal settings, asking candidates about their partnership status, whether they have children or  other topics that are inappropriate to the interview process can lead to negative impressions and can have legal ramifications
When interviewing UR candidates, make it clear that you are interested in the candidate’s scholarship, experience and skills rather than on their demographic characteristics Statements that suggest that a candidate’s demographic characteristics are more appealing than their scholarship are likely to have a negative impact on candidates
When hosting UR candidates, consider setting up opportunities for them to meet with individuals who can speak to the experience of UR faculty (see Does “Consistency” Mean “Exactly the Same?” below)  

 

These opportunities can address important issues for UR candidates that may be important factors in their decision about whether they can see themselves having a positive experience on campus and in the larger community
Provide all candidates a packet of information about the department, the UO and the Eugene/Springfield community.  Include in this packet information about Dual-Career Appointments, Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program (UMRP), resources that might be relevant to faculty candidates including family-friendly policies and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender resources, and any other resources that may be of interest to all candidates. Trying to determine which candidates may be interested in which resources is ineffective and problematic in a number of ways.  Providing all candidates with the same information minimizes inappropriate or awkward conversations.

Does “Consistency” Mean “Exactly the Same?”

Consistency in the campus visit is very important. Candidates should be asked the same interview questions, be provided the same opportunities to share their scholarly and teaching credentials, and generally receive the same high degree of welcome and attention during their visit.

At the same time, the unexamined assumption that every candidate should be treated exactly the same may unintentionally favor some candidates over others.  Some candidates will have ample opportunity to meet with potential colleagues who share salient demographic characteristics and interests (e.g., white candidates in predominately white departments; male candidates in predominately male departments).  Unless specifically built into the process, UR candidates often don’t have the same opportunity to learn about the common experience of those who share their salient demographic characteristics or interests.

Any candidate may have an interest in learning about aspects of the campus and/or larger community to help them gauge whether the University of Oregon is a good fit for them. Building in opportunities for candidates to gather this information can greatly enhance their campus visit. Inviting all candidates to express their interest in meeting with representatives from academic departments, identity groups, or community resources can help you design a campus visit that will best meet their needs. These meetings are with individuals who are not part of the search process and therefore, are not part of the evaluation process. Read a related sample letter for faculty candidates.

The Sociology Department at Texas A & M University has a diversity committee that meets with candidates to answer questions and address issues that the candidate may not be comfortable bringing up with more official members of the search and selection process.

Similarly, the STRIDE* committee at the University of Michigan is available to meet with candidates who may have questions related to the experience of UR faculty.

* STRIDE stands for Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence

 

 

Campus Reputation in an Age of Social Media

Now more than ever, the experience of faculty candidates can have a significant impact on the reputation of the University of Oregon as a welcoming, respectful, scholarly institution.  Social media makes it easy to share one’s experience as a candidate on any campus.  In fact, there are sites devoted to doing just that.

Academic Jobs Wiki is a good example of the ways in which faculty candidates are communicating with one another and sharing their experiences.  The wiki has a section on interview experiences that includes categories called Universities to Fear and Universities to Love.

So, keep in mind that positive or negative interactions with candidates can have far reaching impacts.

Resources

Dougherty, T. W., Turban, D. B., & Callender, J. C. (1994). Confirming first impressions in the employment interview: A field study of interviewer behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(5), 659-665. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.79.5.659

Education Advisory Board. (2008).  Breakthrough Advances in Faculty Diversity: lessons and innovative practices from the frontier.

NSF ADVANCE, University of Michigan. 2009. Handbook for faculty searches and hiring, 2007-2008. University of Michigan. [PDF]

Turner, C. (2002) Diversifying the Faculty: A Guidebook for Search Committees.  Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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