Best Practices for Faculty Recruitment

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Lehigh ADVANCE hosts this toolbox of resources to enhance faculty recruitment processes, practices and the diversity of the outcomes, with special attention paid to issues of interdisciplinary faculty. Additionally, each year we host workshops for search committee members to be up to date and refresh our committment to equitable and inclusive hiring.

Starting Fall 2024 participation in a "Best Practices" workshop for faculty members of faculty search committees is valid for two years.

The dates of the Fall 2024 programs are listed here and will be on the ADVANCE events as well as campus events pages. In addition to the full "Best Practices" Workshop (offered both in person or remote 'live'), we will offer several "Recruitment Conversations" on focused topics critical to faculty recruitment success. Recruitment Conversations are ideal for someone to brush up on the latest information and ask specific questions no matter the last time they completed a full Best Practices Workshop.

You don't need to be serving on a current search commitee to attend, but all members of search committees are expected to be current with Complete 'Best Practices' Workshop

While members of faculty recruitment commitees are following the University Checklist, it is important at the earliest stages in the process to plan the evaluation criteria and campus visit agenda. Please ensure all candidates receive a copy of the materials in the section 'University Resources for Faculty Diversity Inclusion, Equity, Support and Success". This helps to harmonize the information given to all candidates about how the program/department, college and university are situated and positioned to support the success of all new colleagues. Please plan a meeting on the schedule with a pair of Faculty Recruitment Ambassadors to share in a non-evaluative way with candidates.

Slides from Fall 2022 "Recruiting an Excellent and Diverse Faculty" workshops for search committees are available for Lehigh colleagues with credentials.

Recruitment Toolkit

Search Committee: Forming and Dynamics

Convene a diverse search committee whose members understand processes and best practices.

Establish a clear charge to the committee. 

Ensure search committee members and supporting staff understand their roles and expecations for participation.

Search Committee Chairs (or co-chairs) have a critical role in ensuring the process runs efficiently, equitably, and successfully.

Develop a shared understanding of diversity and excellence and a commitment to equity througout the process.  (See the sections below on Know Your Data and Understand Unconscious Bias)

Ensure colleagues and even students are informed about what the position entails and how they will give feedback.

Determine how your transparent and equitable recommendation and decision making processes will take place.

Know Your Data

  • Tables 1-4 through 1-7 feature Trends in research doctorate recipient characteristics
  • Tables 3-2 through 3-4 provide details for 2021 Field and demographic characteristics of research doctorate recipients
  • Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering  

    • Table 2-4 Doctoral degrees awarded, by field, sex, citizenship, race, and ethnicity: 2011–20
    • Table 2-5 Report Doctorate recipients, by selected field and disability status: 2021
  • Calculate the percentage of PhDs awarded to those under represented in the field

  • Identify Data about composition of the professoriate in your discipline (some of the workforce and employment status provide this).

  • Examine recent hiring history 

  • Leverage data by your professional academic society

  • You may need to combine or consider data from a range of disciplines to arrive at contextually relevant estimates. 

Unconscious Bias

Cornell ADVANCE: Reducing Stereotypic Biases in Hiring

Cognitiver Errrors- Handouts by JoAnne Moody

From UC Hastings WorkLife -

Bias Interrupters  Identifiying and Interrupting Bias in Hiring

Unhook Pedigree and Potential

  • Overreliance on pedigree as an indicator of potential as the side-effect of screening out ethnic minorities and people from non-middle class or upper-class backgrounds
  • A study from the Computer Sciences

Videos about unconscious bias and schemas (each is ~5 min.)

Prepare a Recruitment Plan

Have a plan to increase the diversity of the applicant pool. Consider what the job ad says as well as where and how you advertise and socialize the available position.

Monitor the demographics of the pool as applications are submitted.

The University paperwork asks for recruitment plans which name five women and other under represented scholars who will be contacted about the ad. It also asks for universities or departments who will be contacted. This is the minimum level of outreach to active scholars from historically excluded backgrounds. 

Remember to

  • Use a versatile job ad.  Broad position descriptions (rather than narrow disciplinary focus) and welcoming language are a national best practice for attracting candidates.
  • Consider asking applicants to provide a statement on their planned contributions to supporting an inclusive and equitable teaching and research environment.
  • Place the job ad in outlets visible to diverse scholars.  The University posts the ad on, the internal Lehigh University Human Resources pages, and to the regional HERC job board. In addition to the disciplinary journals, determine how else to reach scholars from historically under represented backgrounds. 
  • Rethink how you network.  Will you use social media? Who will do personal invitations for seeking applicants? Will contacts be made only at conferences? Ideally, the long term networking has been in place to build trustworthy relationships with a range of scholars and institution types in order to attract a diverse applicant pool. Develop a plan to do both long term and near term networking and outreach to promote the open faculty position to the personal networks of all committee members and especially beyond. Contact ADVANCE if you have questions about this (especially forward thinking networking). 
Broaden the Pool
In order to have a diverse and excellent pool, candidates must first apply for consideration.  Actively recruit broadly and use these tools and practices:
The Job Ad

Write a job ad that corresponds to the charge and has clear yet broad criteria up front. Do not seek to clone colleagues who are expected to retire. 

Use the Faculty Hiring Job Ad Template. Draft ads will be reviewed for assuring compliance with requirements for hiring a foreign naational.

Don't think narrowly, advertise in multiple places, including outlets geared towards scholars of historically underrepresented identities.  

Advertise through Lehigh's Alumni networks, including BALANCE and Lehigh Alumni Pride Association, by contacting Miguel Rivera, Associate Director, Diversity Programs - and copying Yen DeBellis

Decide when and how to ask for the applicant's experience and committment to inclusive excellence. "A Contributions to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity" Statement may be requested as a stand alone document or you may wish for this information to be integrated and evidenced in the other application components.  If you plan to ask during the screening interviews of semi-finalists, candidates should be aware this line of questioning is imortant to their role (and thus this expectation to contribute to the inclusive excellence of Lehigh should be part of the ad language.  You may like to reference this document in the ad language so it is clear what Lehigh will do when such a statement is requested: Applicant Guide: Understanding the Purpose of the Statement on Contributions to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DI&E) for a Lehigh University Faculty Position.

Here is a brief guide for faculty search committees on understanding the purpose and concepts for evaluating a statement on contributions to DI&E.  


Conflicts of Interest

Periodically, Lehigh University employees and affiliates who serve on faculty search committees or involved in the hiring decision making process, may find themselves with a conflict of interest about an applicant or candidate. It is a best practice for such conflicts to be disclosed and for the individual to remove themselves from the deliberations and decisions related to the situation if there are past or current relationships that create a conflict of interest, or could have the appearance of creating a conflict of interest. In general, a conflict of interest would exist if an individual is in (or has the appearance of being in) a position to influence either directly or indirectly a decision that could lead to personal gain for the individual, their immediate family, or any third party to the detriment of the university’s integrity and its missions of teaching, research, service.

Under no circumstances should a member of a search committee provide a reference letter for an applicant.

See the Lehigh University Policy and Definitions of Conflict, Disclosure and which relationships are described. The following list, although not exhaustive, illustrates types of relationships that may constitute a conflict of interest or an appearance of a conflict of interest:

  • a marital, life partner, family, or personal relationship with the individual(s), or their immediate family, being reviewed;
  • a past or present sexual relationship with the individual being reviewed;
  • an advising relationship (e.g., the faculty member having served as the candidate's PhD or post-doctoral advisor);
  • sharing of a common grant or being a close collaborator on a number of common projects with the person being reviewed;
  • a direct financial interest and/or relationship;
  • any other relationship that would create personal gain or the appearance of personal gain

Conflicts of interest shall be disclosed to the search committee and committee chair, department chair, and Dean. It may not be necessary to recuse an individual from the entire committee. The Dean will review the disclosure and will, with guidance from the Provost’s Office if needed, determine if the faculty member should recuse themselves during some or all of the search process and decision making.

Evaluating Candidates

Research shows bias creeps in when important decisions need to be made and when time is scarce. Evaluation stages of faculty hiring typically fit both criteria, and it is useful to build in strategies to minimize unintended negative consequences of bias in the evaluation process.   Thus, the following resources can be used as evidence for those biases and as tools to intervene along the evaluation process. 

Evaluating Contributions to Diversity and Equity
  • Brief guide on understanding the purpose and concepts for evaluating a statement on contributions to DI&E
  • Some job ads may direct applicants to: Applicant Guide: Understanding the Purpose of the Statement on Contributions to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DI&E) for a Lehigh University Faculty Position. Doing so makes it transparent to applicants what Lehigh will do with the statements they submit.
  • If you have asked the applicants or finalists about their experiences and contributions to creating an inclusive and equitable classroom and research environment, consider these as criteria earlier rather than later, as evidence indicates this diversifies the semifinalists and finalists. EAB published a summary of why reviewing diversity & inclusion statements first is recommended.
  • Some principles described by San Diego State University, including eight criteria, and suggested questions to ask semifinalists and finalists can also be found at the bottom of this document
  • Remember, the search committee won't know the identities of the candidates. Make it transparent to all candidates that they will be asked questions of this type. Be tuned in that scholars from historically excluded groups should not be made to feel as though your department is relying on them to do the work of changing culture and climate, curricular of other change related to enhancing diversity, inclusion and equity.
  • Candidates may ask their interviewers questions about individual, deparmtent, college and the university commitments to inclusive excellence, so be prepared.
  • RUBRICS on which to assess Contributions to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity can be tailored to your needs. Consider starting with:
  • Ideas for Questions : suggestions to ask the semi-finalists and/or finalists about their awareness, commitment, knowledge, experience, and future plans. 

    Interview Evaluation (including, not necessarily limited to, considerations of the following):

    • What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and how would you develop and/or apply your commitment to our university?

    • How has your story equipped you to engage in DE&I work among your students and colleagues?

    • How do you encourage those who may be under-represented in your field to become involved? Why might this diversity be important?

    • How do you address and incorporate DE&I in your research, teaching materials and methods, and service?

    • How have you worked with faculty, staff and others to foster the creation of an environment that’s receptive to diversity in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in the department? 

    • In what ways have you integrated diversity, equity and inclusion as part of your professional development? 

    • Is the candidate at ease discussing diversity-related issues and their significance to the position, or is there reluctance? 

    • Does the candidate use gender-neutral language or are “males” used for examples and answers? 

    • Does the candidate address all the members of the interview committee?

    • If there is a teaching talk or proposed syllabus, is there evidence of inclusive pedagogical practices (diverse authors, universal design, inclusive case studies, etc.) in the materials?

    • Are there concrete examples and experiences to apply to Lehigh’s context? Are they rooted in perceived deficits or can they change practices, norms, policies and systems to be more inclusive and equitable? 


Once permission to interview is granted, whether offsite, by phone, or the final on campus interview, there are guidelines on how to execute an effective interview process. Remember some questions are illegal, and the candidates are interviewing Lehigh just as much as Lehigh is interviewing them. 

  • Guidelines for Interview Questions is a useful reminder about questions that are and are not OK to ask. Remember these apply even at off-campus meals and in virtual interviews. Share these with everyone who will interact with a candidate.

  • Some or all parts of interviews may be conducted with remote technologoy. Here are tips about maintaining consistency and equity in virtual interviews from HERC and UMBC. Review best practices for inclusive online meetings and presentations and LTS tips for hosts.

  • Provide the candidate a copy of or a link to the Resources and Information for Faculty Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Support and Success and other materials important to understanding the college, departent and program.  Ideally this should be shared before the candidate arrives in town; if physical copies are used, you can have it available at the hotel upon check-in. 

  • Aim to conduct a structured type of interview so that all candidates experience similar questions, meetings, breaks, interview duration, etc.

  • Choreograph the interviews: determine the question set, question order, who will ask which questions. Do remember some common questions will be helpful across candidates and there will be candidate-speciific questions to ask as well. This shows you've read and understood each candidate's work

  • Interview, whenever possible, in pairs.

  • When developing the final interview agenda, provide the candidate the option to interact with other offices and people. For example, the list may include faculty from interdiscipinary programs, contacts across various campus affinity groups, etc. Share this list to the interviewee when building the schedule with their input. 

  • Roll out the red carpet, allow ample time to travel from one location to another and for meals and for bio-breaks. Have a plan to escort the candidate from location to location. 

  • Consider the timing of the candidate's talks: one suggestion of scheduling the research talk early in the day may reduce repetition of standard information by the candidate and builds on shared experience by attending the talk. 

  • Ensure individuals on the agenda (and who will give evaluative feedback) are aware of the position description, are knowledgable of the criteria for hiring, have read the candidate's CV, and are aware of illegal questions.

  • Be sure everyone interacting with the candidates uses the correct name pronunciation and pronouns of the interviewee. If you aren't sure, you can ask and include the information in the materials used by all those meeting with the candidate.

  • Ask if there are dietary, mobility or other accommodations necessary for their visit. It is not appropriate (and is potentially illegal) to ask WHY they need this accommodation.

  • Request to Schedule the Meeting with Faculty Recruitment Ambassadors-  This 30 min meeting is called the "Faculty Success, Diversity, Inclusion Resources Meeting". This session, which is not evaluated, provides the candidate an opportunity to ask any question to a pair of prepared Faculy Recruitment Ambassadors, and to learn about key University & Diversity-Inclusion-Equity Resources. To arrange this meeting, use this link: and await confirmation. These should be scheduled no sooner than a week before the date of the interview, and ideallly as far in advance as possible when the dean is scheduled to meet the interviewees.

Campus Visit: Resources and Information for Faculty Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Support and Success
During the final interview (i.e. the 'campus visit'), candidates should have on their schedule a 30-minute confidential, non-evaluative meeting to learn more about the University, the region, and to ask any questions they may have
The resources below should be shared prior to their visit, and will anchor the discussion.  When the pair of Faculty Recruitment Ambassadors meet the candidates, the candidate's interest in any of these topics can drive the discussion. 
Closing the Search

After the search committee makes its recommendation, usually the department chair and dean are involved in negotiating and closing the search. 

  • Documentation must be collected, including the number women and underrepresented minority candidates who were part of the process at each stage of the search (full applicant pool, semifinalists (long list/phone interview), finalists (short list/campus visit), final offer, accepted/declined). 
  • Use the form(s) described in the Checklist to properly finalize the search and submit any explanations for declined offers. 
  • Negotiation: remember that there can be stereotypes and biases associated with negotiations as well. Provide candidates full information about graduate student support, travel stipends and other components of the start up package. 
  • Attend a Lessons Learned session and share what worked and what helps us do better. 
  • Follow-up in a timely manner, even for people who are no longer being considered for the position.

Once an individual accepts a Lehigh position in writing, keep in touch with them to support their transition. 

Much has been written about onboarding; keep these principles in mind. The department chair should keep in touch periodically between the time the offer letter is signed and the through the initial period on campus.


Multi-Media Tools to Support Inclusive Recruitment
Citations about Faculty Recruitment
Some items below straddle retention or student recruitment, though they have lessons important to faculty hiring.
  • White-Lewis, D.K., O’Meara, K., Wessel, J. et al. Making the Band: Constructing Competitiveness in Faculty Hiring Decisions. Res High Educ (2024).

  • O’Meara, K., Templeton, L. L., White-Lewis, D. K., Culpepper, D., & Anderson, J. (2023). The Safest Bet: Identifying and Assessing Risk in Faculty Selection. American Educational Research Journal, First published online February 1, 2023. [PDF]

  • Culpepper, D., White-Lewis, D. K., O’Meara, K., Templeton, L. L. & Anderson, J. (2023). Do Rubrics Live up to Their Promise? Examining How Rubrics Mitigate Bias in Faculty Hiring, The Journal of Higher Education. [PDF]

  • White-Lewis, D. (2021). Before the ad: How departments generate hiring priorities that support or avert faculty diversity. Teachers College Record, 123(1). [PDF] [Video]

  • White-Lewis, D. (2020). The facade of fit in faculty search processes. The Journal of Higher Education, 91(6), 833-857. [PDF]

  • Fries-Britt, S., & White-Lewis, D. (2020). In pursuit of meaningful relationships: How Black males perceive faculty interactions in STEM. The Urban Review, 52(3), 521-540. [PDF]

  • O’Meara, K., Fink, J., White-Lewis, D. (2017). Who’s looking? Examining the role of gender and rank in faculty outside offers. NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education, 10(1), 64-79. [PDF]

  • Liera R., Ching C. (2019). Reconceptualizing “merit” and “fit”: An equity-minded approach to hiring. In Kezar A., Posselt J. (Eds.), Administration for social justice and equity in higher education: Critical perspectives for leadership and decision-making. New York, NY: Routledge. [LINK]

  • Bastedo, M., Bowman, N., Glasener, K. & Kelly, J. (2018) What are We Talking About When We Talk About Holistic Review? Selective College Admissions and its Effects on Low-SES Students, The Journal of Higher Education, 89:5, 782-805, DOI: [LINK]

Look at this list of citations, Organized by Waterman Prize winner Daniele Larremore. He describes this as "...a place to collect the reserach and data from faculty hiring network studies. There are lots of studies on faculty hiring. They use a variety of different methods and have deep roots across various fields."