Frequently Asked Questions for Search Committees
During the search process, search committee members must keep all information about candidates confidential. Members should not share information about candidates outside the committee or the hiring chain of command. Preserving the confidentiality of candidates’ identities and their application materials is required by state law (see GS 126 references below) and NC State regulations (see REG 01.25.12 reference below).
In addition, candidates expect confidentiality with respect to their application materials when they apply for opportunities at NC State. Breaching confidentiality not only violates applicable law and university regulations, it can negatively impact NC State’s reputation as an employer.
Search committee members should follow these confidentiality guidelines during the search process:
- Do not disclose the names, application materials, candidate statuses, evaluation of candidates or anything else related to a particular candidate to individuals outside of the search committee.
- All discussions, rankings and votes are to be kept confidential among search committee members.
- Letters of recommendation submitted by an applicant are considered application materials. Committee members must keep those letters confidential unless a candidate is a finalist for a position and application materials are available to the public.
- Letters of reference or notes from reference checks that are solicited by the search committee are to be kept confidential among search committee members, and only shared with the hiring authority.
- Any confidentiality breach must be reported immediately to the chair of the search committee.
For more information:
Applications for Employment: Comply with applicable provisions of G.S. 126 regarding confidentiality of records.
Confidentiality is expected of all who are involved in the search process, and as an employee, you agreed to follow the university’s policies, rules and regulations when you signed your offer letter. The university does not require search committee members to sign a confidentiality statement. NC State has a template available if members of a search committee want to sign a statement or a hiring official requests each member of the committee to do so. This template may be requested by emailing email@example.com. Whether a formal agreement is signed or not, the same expectations apply with respect to confidentiality in the search process.
Individuals who participate as part of the search committee (or any part of the candidate evaluation process) should not become applicants for the position that the committee is considering candidates. While it stands to reason that individuals may become interested in a position as they learn more about it, search committee members have access to information and knowledge that would present an unfair advantage over other applicants. It would not be appropriate for such a person to compete for the position.
It is not advisable to invite applicants who are eliminated from a search to be further involved in reviewing and considering other candidates. While internal applicants may also be stakeholders for the search (i.e. they may be interested in reviewing candidates for a peer or managerial position), once an individual is an applicant/candidate for a position, it is not possible to ensure objectivity of their feedback on other candidates in the search process.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that “no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”
If an applicant requests an accommodation to participate in the interview process, NC State may be required to adjust the process unless doing so would present an undue hardship. Applicants who request disability-related accommodations should be directed to contact the ADA coordinator in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-515-3148. The ADA coordinator or their designee will determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Once reasonable accommodations are determined, the ADA coordinator will work with the hiring department and/or search committee to implement the reasonable accommodations for the search and hiring process.
More information about the ADA can be found on the US Department of Labor website.
Interviews may be video recorded only with permission of the interviewees. Interviewees must grant permission in writing, and they must be notified (prior to participating in the interview) as to the extent of recording, the purpose of the recording, who will be able to view the recording and how the university intends to maintain (and eventually destroy) the recording in compliance with our records schedule. If the recording will be made accessible to other parties or distributed in any way, the recording and its content must be kept in a secure location. That location must be protected by password or NC State Unity access to ensure that the record and its content can only be accessed by persons who should have access to it. These recordings become part of the search file and must be maintained in compliance with the university records schedule (typically three years from the end of the recruitment).
Consistency is an important consideration in maintaining an equitable interview process. If any candidate does not agree to have their interview recorded, no other candidate recordings may be used/shared further.
For more information about record retention, read the University Record Retention and Disposition Regulation.
For nonfaculty positions, NC State requests at least two references be contacted prior to submitting a hiring proposal and extending an offer to an applicant. These reference checks are typically conducted via telephone. For faculty positions, letters of recommendation are commonly used in lieu of telephone references and are acceptable as reference checks.
Applicants typically provide a set of individuals who have agreed to serve as references for them. However, you may encounter a need to contact additional potential references, such as former supervisors who were not listed by the applicant. If a potential reference was not provided by the candidate, you should contact the applicant prior to contacting the reference to inform them of your interest in speaking to the potential reference.
For more information:
Search committee members should not perform external searches outside of the information provided by the candidates that might reveal non-job-related information. For example, searching for a candidate’s Facebook page would be discouraged. If a candidate self-discloses or shares information such as a link to their professional portfolio, in reviewing the content provided, the search committee must avoid obtaining information that may contribute to potential actual or perceived biases. For example, a profile picture may inadvertently disclose information such as sex, race, national origin, disability, or another protected status. This disclosure could lead to unconscious bias and even discrimination in the process.
It is not recommended to entertain or act on an unsolicited reference. An unsolicited reference cannot be used in the candidate evaluation process unless documentation of the reference is included in the recruitment file. If you receive an unsolicited reference, the information can be used to inform your decision only the reference provider is willing to have his/her name identified with the reference in the recruitment file. If the reference provider is not willing to have his/her name associated with the reference in the recruitment file, the information cannot be used.
Yes, but care must be taken to ensure that external participants abide by university rules and regulations during the search process. The university frequently partners with external boards, companies and stakeholders. At times, these external stakeholders may have a professional stake in the selection of certain NC State positions. NC State employees have all agreed to abide by university rules, regulations and policies by signing their offer letters; and external stakeholders should be advised of these rules, regulations, and policies during the search process in their actions as a member of an NC State search committee.
While not required, a confidentiality agreement may be used to notify search committee members, including external stakeholders, of their obligations regarding confidentiality.
Candidates often apply for multiple positions at NC State at the same time. However, in most cases, they should be considered for the positions separately, especially if the positions are different in nature, housed in different departments, have different hiring managers, etc.
In a rare case in which positions are highly-correlated, please consult with your HR office and/or local HR officer before trying to evaluate a single candidate for multiple positions simultaneously.
Maybe. Members of the hiring team may reuse applicant pools or interview notes from a recent search when a candidate is eligible for a similar, second vacancy provided that the candidate has applied to both vacancies and the criteria from both searches are essentially the same. In cases where the interview team is different, the criteria/questions are different, or simply a significant passage of time occurs, interviewing the candidate for each position separately is advisable.
Please consult your HR office and/or local HR officer before trying to reuse a pool or interview notes from a recent search.
No. In the course of a recruitment, search committees may recruit prospective candidates to attract a diverse and talented applicant pool. However, if the search committee would like to consider a candidate for a particular posting, the search committee should invite the applicant to apply for the position. Only once the candidate applies, can the candidate be considered for the opportunity.
Conflicts of interest (real or perceived) should be disclosed immediately to the chair of the search committee. The chair and/or search committee must then determine how to resolve the conflict of interest in order to ensure the fairest consideration of all candidates and maintain impartiality of the members of the committee. In some cases, it might be determined that a search committee member must recuse him/herself from interviewing a particular candidate with whom the conflict of interest exists, or in some cases, recuse him/herself from the search process entirely.
Your local HR office and/or HR officer may be a helpful resource to identify and resolve potential conflicts of interest.
The Interim Report is a process of evaluating the effectiveness of our diversity and equal opportunity efforts in attracting a diverse and qualified pool of candidates. The Interim Report is facilitated in PeopleAdmin and occurs prior to the first round of interviews. In the Interim Report, applicants are identified as 1st Tier, 2nd Tier or Not Interviewed, and the pool is evaluated for diversity by subsequent reviewers. See question No. 16 below for more information on who reviews the Interim Report.
The Interim Report must be submitted prior to conducting the first round interviews for all EHRA positions (faculty and non faculty).
- Initiators begin the interim report by placing each candidate in the appropriate Tier:
- 1st Tier – best qualified candidates and likely to be interviewed
- 2nd Tier – qualified candidates who may be interviewed if an insufficient number of 1st Tier candidates are available.
- Not Interviewed – candidates (qualified and not qualified) who will not be interviewed or considered further.
- The unit affirmative action / equity officer reviews the diversity of the overall candidate pool as well as the Tiered candidates (Tier 1 and Tier 2). OIED encourages the use of both 1st and 2nd Tiers.
- All Tier 1 candidates should be interviewed in the first round but only after the Interim Report is approved by the University AA.
- In some cases, Tier 2 candidates may be recommended for interview if they would enhance the diversity of the interview pool.
- The university AA reviews the interim report along with the department/unit AA plan to see about where there may be goals. The university AA may ask for justification for why individuals were tiered or not tiered. The consultation would go between the university AA and department/unit AA. The unit AA may need to go back to the chair for clarification. This happens on occasions.
- If there are not clear delineations as to why someone was or was not tiered (e.g., strong justification), the committee may be asked to rereview the candidates.
- Once the Interim report is approved, the department can interview the Tier 1 candidates. Approval for the majority of interim reports occur in under one day once it reaches the university AA officer.
There are a variety of strategies you can use to enhance your efforts in attracting a diverse and qualified pool of candidates. Each college and division has a unit AA officer, often in your local HR office. This individual may have some helpful tools and resources to help you achieve more diversity in your recruitment efforts.
There are also many resources available via OIED’s website including:
Some ideas and strategies you may want to consider:
- Include overt language in your postings/advertisements such as “Inclusiveness and diversity are critical to the success of our college and the university. The selected candidate will be expected to foster an environment that is supportive and welcoming of all groups.”
- Form diverse search committees: The search committee is often actively involved in the planning and execution of the recruitment, and including diverse perspectives in the initial stages of recruitments can improve outcomes from the latter stages of recruitments. Also, keep in mind that applicants will be interfacing extensively with the search committee, and the individuals on the committee are likely to serve as a perception of the diversity of our faculty and staff to applicants.
- Create interview questions about diversity such as “Please take a moment to tell us about your past contributions to diversity and inclusion, as well as how, if selected, you would continue your commitment to this effort.”
- Actively recruit from a variety of diverse talent pipelines. Develop a broad list of places to advertise, and make sure existing lists are available on websites/publications that target various groups to increase reach.
- Suggest requiring a diversity statement as one of the requested documents in job search materials to help signal to potential applicants that we value efforts to increase diversity in the department/unit/field, and could itself help lead to a more diverse applicant pool.
Each department and college and division likely handle this differently. In general, administrative personnel outside of the search committee should be used to assist in such arrangements in order to allow for non-job-related data to be collected without disclosing sensitive or restricted information to the search committee.
NC State must make employment-related decisions strictly on the basis of job-related information. Search committees should not ask candidates about personal information even in informal settings such as lunches or during commutes. Questions should be limited to job-related inquiries.
While applicants may occasionally volunteer information about themselves such as their personal backgrounds or family information, this information cannot be used to inform the decision as to whether to hire the individual or not.
Search committees and hiring managers should point individuals to resources outside of the search process that can address personal questions. Resources may include human resources, OIED, centers on campus, etc.
University HR has a list of sample questions that may be asked during the interview.
Clear and consistent communication should be provided to the candidate from the moment of application to the conclusion of their journey through the recruitment process to ensure a positive candidate experience. As a candidate moves into the interview stage of the recruitment process, a departmental representative could be assigned to be their point of contact and ensure that all questions are answered and expectations are set regarding what is to come (how many interviewers they’re meeting with, travel logistics, etc.). Following the interview, member(s) of the search committee should communicate a timeline for an expected hiring decision and then maintain a touch point at intervals while the candidate is waiting. Once a hiring decision has been made, all candidates considered should be notified in writing that the recruitment has concluded. Templates for sample notification letters are available on the University Human Resources forms website.
University Human Resources has a broad set of resources to help navigate PeopleAdmin, including instructional guides, 1-pager references, etc. They can be found on the UHR website. This website includes instructions on how to create a posting and a hiring proposal, workflows and helpful resources to offer insight into the system mechanics involved in the search process. In addition to this website, university HR also offers two training courses on PeopleAdmin. These trainings are conducted in a classroom-like setting.
Disclaimer: These FAQs are intended to provide guidance to hiring officials and search committees and should not be interpreted as legal advice or policy. The answers to these questions are subject to change over time, and every effort will be made to keep this site up-to-date.