Things Faculty Search Committees Should Consider During Their Search

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Faculty search committees have the duty of identifying and recruiting the right candidates for academic positions. It’s a very demanding role, considering an institution’s success lies in finding the right people to fill the different positions. As such, it makes sense that whoever sits on the hiring committee should have the highest levels of integrity, fairness, objectivity, ethical judgment, and respect—the very traits candidates should possess. 

Faculty Search Committees Must Prioritize Position Requirements

Faculty such committees must clearly define qualifications and requirements for the position. Top considerations include:

  • Specifying minimum qualifications for the job. For example, a relevant degree or any other professional credentials.
  • Specializations in the particular field. For instance, a physics professor’s specialization might be in an area like astrophysics.
  • Research experience, such as the number of years in postdoctoral research, research publications, or track records of securing research grants and funding.
  • Teaching experience in the area of interest. That includes the number of courses the candidate will be required to teach, the level of courses, and relevant methodologies.
  • Professional experience, especially in industry-oriented or practical courses

Other important factors include language proficiency and interdisciplinary and technical skills. 

When crafting job advertisements, committees must define the position and responsibilities. This is in addition to creating a standardized evaluation process to prevent bias when assessing candidates. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity promotes an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included, no matter their background or orientation. 

In their search, the faculty hiring committee should focus on the following:

  • Demographic diversity like race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, religion, and nationality.
  • Cognitive diversity embraces diverse problem-solving approaches, thinking styles, and cognitive abilities. It recognizes everyone’s unique perspective on the team or institution.
  • Experiential diversity impacts how people address challenges. It covers a variety of experiences everyone should possess, including cultural, educational, personal, and professional aspects. 
  • Intersectionality recognizes people have multiple dimensions that shape their experiences and identities. For example, someone can identify by their gender, origin, and even sexual orientation.

In addressing inclusion, committees should have qualities that provide equitable access to opportunities and resources for everyone. Psychological safety, belongingness, open communication, education training, and representation also matter.

In a diverse and inclusive environment, there is enhanced innovation and creativity. Together, this leads to improved decision-making, better learning outcomes, increased productivity, and global perspectives. 

Candidates Fit for the Position

A candidate’s fit for the position goes beyond academic qualifications. For example, hiring communities can observe the applicant’s ability to relate with people. After all, employees will be joining a team, and if they cannot fit in, productivity can prove challenging.  

Building rapport also extends to students. For instance, does the candidate show interest in taking on responsibilities outside of teaching? Can they take advisory responsibilities and participate in student-centered activities? 

Research and Scholarly Achievements

Research and scholarly achievements show a candidate’s commitment to contributing to their study field. For instance, the candidate can present peer-reviewed publications in reputable journals, monographs, and books in their area of expertise. Conference presentations also show the candidate’s networking skills and their willingness to participate in scholarly discussions. 

Grants are equally important because they show a candidate’s ability to compete for financial support, which is crucial for research purposes. That’s not to mention the impact of the candidate’s research on society. For instance, does the candidate champion pressing social issues? And do they benefit the community beyond satisfying academic requirements? 

Other critical factors include collaborations, partnerships, citations, awards, and recognitions. Additionally, patents and innovations are important, too. Candidates must have the necessary evidence to show their achievements.

Note that faculty search committees evaluate candidates based on specific disciplines. Meaning they will not apply the same criteria for humanities and natural sciences candidates. 

Tenure Potential

Any candidate applying for full academic work should demonstrate potential for tenure. Tenure offers protection against getting fired unless under extreme circumstances. However, achieving tenure requires employees to consistently demonstrate excellence in research, university service, and community teaching. They must also keep up with publishing dissertations and actively pursue their academic growth. 

Some questions the faculty hiring committee may ask candidates about tenure aspirations include:

  • Long-term career goals within the institution
  • Familiarity with the institution’s tenure policy and expectations
  • A description of the research agenda and how it aligns with the institution’s expectations for departmental tenure
  • Strategies or timelines for receiving tenure
  • How the candidate plans to balance research, teaching, and service while meeting the tenure expectations

Faculty search committees will evaluate the candidate’s honesty, clarity, and preparation when responding to the tenure questions. They’ll also check whether the candidate’s aspirations align with the institution’s values and mission. 

Work-Life Balance

The faculty hiring committee may not explicitly state work-life balance as a hiring criterion. However, it is critical to a candidate’s suitability. Faculty jobs are demanding and require a significant time commitment. Indeed, the typical 9-5 work day rarely, if ever, applies. The professional life can easily overshadow the personal life.

Burnout and mental health issues are not uncommon due to the immense workload. Combine this with teaching, university service, research, and administrative responsibilities, and it can get tough. 

Candidates must demonstrate an awareness of the demands of academic work. They should also have strategies to maintain their well-being while in service. For instance, how do they manage stress? Do they have hobbies that they actively pursue? Do they take part in sports or other extracurricular activities? Also, how flexible are they to changing work circumstances? Those who maintain a healthy balance are better able to handle the pressure of academia and life.

Even so, it’s not all on the candidate—faculty committees must communicate the institution’s commitment to their employees’ wellness. Some measures include:

  • Healthcare benefits
  • Wellness workshops
  • Access to on-campus therapists
  • Recognitions
  • Paid study leaves
  • Team-building retreats
  • Fitness classes
  • Transportation benefits
  • Bonuses and competitive salaries
  • Travel opportunities
  • Financial planning support

Need Support for Your Faculty Search Committees?

Finding the right candidates can be a challenge for faculty search committees. That’s why nextSource is here to staff your departments with exactly what you need. Contact us to land the perfect match.

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