Best Practices for Faculty Recruitment

You are here

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. In addition to following the steps outlined in 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 University "tri-folder" to harmonize the information given to 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 to share these resources in a non-evaluative way with candidates.

Recruitment Toolkit

Form Search Committee

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

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

Ensure search committee members and supporting staff understand their roles and how transparent, equitable decision making will take place.

Establish a clear charge to the committee. 

Develop a shared understanding of diversity and excellence (See the sections below on Know Your Data and Understand Unconsiouc Bias)

Ensure colleagues and even students are informed about what the position entails and how you are going to make decisions. 

Determine your decision making processes

Know Your Data
Unconscious Bias

Cornell ADVANCE: Reducing Stereotypic Biases 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 current 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.

  • Use a versatile job ad. Consider asking applicants to provide a statement on their planned contributions to supporting an inclusive and equitable teaching and research environment. Broad position descriptions (rather than narrow disciplinary focus) and welcoming language are a national best practice for attracting candidates. 
  • 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. 
  • Where will 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). 
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.

The Job Ad

Write a job ad that corresponds to the charge and has clear criteria up front.

Sample Language for Job Advertisement-Welcoming Broad Application from Qualified Candidates

Another lens on tips for describing a strong job advertisement

Proactive language examples from University of Denver 

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

Resources for Reaching a broader pool: Appendix 10

Decide when and how to ask for the applicant's experience and committment to inclusive excellence. "A Diversity & Inclusion" Statement may be requested as part of the cover letter, a stand alone document. If you opt to wait, please seek this information during the phone interview and follow-up during the oncampus interview. Here are some questions which help explore contributions and experiences related to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable community from the University of Denver (they are also posted in the "interview" section). 

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:
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. 


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.

  • Questions that help explore contributions and experiences related to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable community

  • Provide the candidate a copy of the Tri-Folder containing information from the University, College, and Department/Program, featuring Resources for Faculty Success and Inclusion (some departments make the folder available at the hotel upon check-in, others have it presented to the candidate upon arrival on campus).

  • Interview, whenever possible, in pairs.

  • When developing the on-campus agenda, provide the candidate the option to interact with other offices and people by sharing this list

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

  • Ensure individuals on the agenda are aware of the position description, have the candidate's CV, and are aware of illegal questions

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

  • 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 ~30 min. Faculty Success, Diversity, Inclusion Resources Meeting. This session, which is not evaluated, provides the candidate an opportunity to ask any question, to go over the Tri-Folder, and to learn about key University & Diversity-Inclusion-Equity Resources. To arrange this meeting,  use this link: and await confirmation.

Multi-Media Tools to Support Inclusive Recruitment
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, long list/phone interview, short list/campus visit, final offer, accepted/declined. Applicant Tracking- see this template to monitor demographics (coming soon)
  • 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