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.

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 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 to share these resources in a non-evaluative way with candidates.


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
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 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

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 part of the cover letter or as 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 is a brief guide on understanding the purpose and concepts for evaluating a statement on contributions to DI&E.  


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. 

Evaluating Contributions to Diversity and Equity
  • 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.
  • Brief guide on understanding the purpose and concepts for evaluating a statement on contributions to DI&E
  • 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.
  • Ideas for Questions : suggestions to ask the semi-finalists and/or finalists about their awareness, commitment, knowledge, experience, and future plans. 

    • 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? 

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

    • 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? 


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. 

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, 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


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.