Guidelines for Successful Recruiting


Aerial view of campus

Guidelines

These guidelines have been compiled to assist university personnel in conducting searches for unclassified professional staff and university support staff. While staff recruitment is the primary focus of this training, student hourly recruitment will also be touched upon. The recommendations contained in these guidelines are intended to further the university’s efforts to eliminate discrimination, take affirmative action, and to fully engage in equal opportunity principles.

The University of Kansas is proud of its commitment to helping secure employment for all interested individuals.  All university policies and programs allow equal opportunity for employment, conditions of employment, services and participation in university activities regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, retaliation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities.

Each search conducted for a University position should include proactive initiatives for increasing diversity, and provide equal opportunity for all potential applicants. As a premier international research university, the University of Kansas is committed to an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment that nurtures growth and development of all. KU holds steadfast in the belief that an array of values, interests, experiences, and intellectual and cultural viewpoints enrich learning and our workplace. The promotion of and support for a diverse and inclusive community of mutual respect requires the engagement of the entire University.  Everyone at KU must play a role in creating an inclusive environment.

The University generally expects units to conduct external searches for all unclassified professional and university support staff appointments, including appointments for visiting and part-time positions.  Internal searches may be conducted in those instances where institutional experience is necessary at the onset of the appointment in order to successfully meet the objectives of the position.  However, all appointments must conform to equal opportunity and affirmative action guidelines for inclusion.  Any waiver from the suggested recruitment guidelines must be approved by the Department of Human Resources Management (HRM) before an offer of employment is extended.

Persons with inquiries related to discrimination should contact the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, civilrights@ku.edu, Room 1082, Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS, 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY.

 

Step 1 - Begin the Search

  • Verify through administrative channels permission to begin a search
  • Select a search committee (optional)
  • Determine job related criteria and documents to be collected from applicants
  • Develop and/or update the position description and complete the SSC’s check sheet
  • A SSC staff member submits the requisition to Central HRM for review and final approval for staff positions
  • Student hourly jobs are posted by the assigned SSC (3-day posting minimum)
  • The SSC can assist in writing and placing ads
  • All jobs are posted to the University’s employment website

Step 2 - Screen & Recommend for Interview

  • Accept applications through the online applicant system
  • Prepare a screening instrument to evaluate each applicant. The SSC can provide hiring departments with a standardized screening tool
  • Once the application review date or deadline has passed, rank applications based upon the required and preferred qualifications listed in the position description (position descriptions are optional for student jobs)
  • If additional information needs to be collected to help evaluate applicants a phone interview may be scheduled
  • Departments are expected to provide a summary of applicant statuses to the SSC prior to making a final offer
  • Collect and place in departmental search file copies of ads, correspondence with applicants, and completed screening instruments or submit the entire file to your SSC representative for document scanning and retention at the conclusion of the search

Step 3 - Interview & Selection

  • Schedule interviews - the SSC can assist departments with this step
  • Prepare interview questions
  • Conduct interviews in a consistent manner using permissible inquiries
  • Check references before making an offer
  • Provide a final statement on the screening tool for each applicant interviewed, as well as a final status for any applications received after the initial review date
  • Make a verbal offer to the desired candidate and contact the SSC to enter the online offer (Verify with administrative hierarchy final approval to make an offer)

NOTE: Appointments cannot be backdated and no one should start working before Onboarding documents have been completed.

Step 4 - Hire

  • Applicant accepts online offer
  • All hired candidates should go to the SSC to finalize Onboarding documents on or before the date of hire. Those working outside the Lawrence area can decide to be onboarded on-site or remotely.
  • If hiring someone new, those with a break in service of more than 12 months, or those whose position is designated as “serve at the pleasure of”, a background check must be completed via HireRight
  • Ask the SSC to notify unsuccessful candidates
  • Close out the search by sending the search materials to the SSC for scanning and record retention

Generally, the Area Administrator, or Hiring Authority, is the person(s) who ultimately makes the final hiring decision, and is therefore responsible for the following: 

  • Ensures that the search process is conducted in accordance with University guidelines and procedures, including policies related to equal opportunity and affirmative action.
  • Refers to the University’s Affirmative Action Plan and reviews the statistical analysis for the position to be filled.   This analysis should assist in determining the scope of the search, outreach efforts, newspapers and journals for advertisements, and give a benchmark for the number of underrepresented persons which might be expected in the applicant pool.
  • Ensures that there is a position description for each Unclassified Professional Staff (UPS) and University Support Staff (USS) position in the unit.  An updated position description is required and will provide basic information needed to begin the recruitment process.
  • Ensures that the search committee understands:
    • What is expected of them and their role in the search process
    • The position responsibilities
    • What they are looking for in an ideal candidate
    • What specific skills, abilities, experiences are necessary to perform the job
    • That all information related to the search process remains confidential
    • How to respond to and manage candidate associations
  • Ensures that the search committee membership is diverse.
  • Ensures the equitable treatment of all applicants throughout the entire recruitment process, which includes screening, interviews, and reference checking.

Search committees are not required; however, as the recruitment process can be subjective, utilizing a search committee can add objectivity to the process.  See Appendix A for a Search Committee Chairperson Responsibilities Checklist.

  • Throughout the entire hiring process, the search committee needs to maintain confidentiality and not discuss any aspect of the search outside of the search committee meetings.  Overheard conversations can lead to misunderstandings and misinformation.
  • If a member cannot participate in all stages of the process consult HRM.  If the committee membership changes, notify HRM or the SSC so the search record can be updated.
  • The size of the search committee membership can affect the progress of the search.  Calendaring for multiple members is complicated and may draw the search out too long.  In some cases, the top candidate(s) may be forced to accept other positions.
  • Search committees should include members of underrepresented groups or other individuals who can bring a diverse point of view to the proceedings.  It is helpful to include persons who have different perspectives due to their various roles in the University community. Undergraduate students, graduate students and other University community personnel may serve on search committees.
  • Search committee members should gain a full understanding of their charge and the limits of their authority and responsibility at the beginning of the process.  To be most effective it is recommended that search committees be charged by the Area Administrator for a clear understanding of their role in determining applicants’ qualifications, interview guidelines, reference contacts, and expectations for making final candidate recommendations (ranked versus unranked). 
  • Search committees are encouraged to consult with a representative from HRM or their SSC representative at any time to discuss screening, appropriate interview questions, diversity issues, confidentiality, reference checks, or any other information related to the recruitment process.
  • Questions from applicants regarding perceived inequities in the recruitment process should be referred to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.  Questions from applicants regarding their status within the search that are procedural should be referred to the search committee chair or to HRM.

It is not that unusual for search committee members to know one or more of the applicants applying for their opening and such associations might cause other applicants to feel the selection process was not equitable. The perception of fairness and transparency is essential to the success of each search.  The following guidelines are a starting point from which to have a discussion with those involved, including the Area Administrator, search committee membership, Office of Civil Rights and Title IX and/or HRM.

  • Casual Association: might include having served on a committee with the applicant or knowing the applicant through a non-work-related association.  In this instance, simply disclose to the search committee the nature of the association.
  • Professional Association: might involve working together as colleagues or co-workers.  In this instance, it is recommended that the committee member not actively participate in the discussion of this applicant.  If it is critical that the committee member participate in discussions, then any information (negative or positive) should be substantiated by outside references that can lend additional objectivity. 
  • Close Professional/Personal Association: might involve an applicant that is a family member, someone with whom there is or has been a past consensual relationship, or a committee member who supervises, or has supervised the applicant previously.  In such instances, it is recommended that the search committee member resign from the committee or at least not participate in any discussion about that applicant.  However, in the case of a family member, or a consensual relationship, the search committee member must resign from the committee to eliminate any possibility of a conflict of interest. 

Should an applicant name a search committee member as a reference, it is recommended that the committee member consider in which capacity he/she will serve since one cannot objectively be both.  In the event the search committee member declines to serve as a reference, ask the applicant to name a replacement.  If a search committee member is familiar with an applicant from a previous search, the committee member should avoid discussing the previous search details.  The previous information may have changed and should not be used, especially in a decision-making manner.  If the previous search revealed items of concern, they must be relevant and substantiated.

Position descriptions are critical for providing consistency and equal opportunity in the recruitment process.  They are therefore required of all unclassified professional staff and university support staff positions.  During the recruitment process, a current position description provides the framework for advertisements, screening criteria, interview questions, salary determinations and job expectations.  A well-thought-out position description defines the position, outlines the detailed and essential functions, as well as the required and preferred qualifications.

Position descriptions are also used to determine the status of the position under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  An FLSA determination will indicate how the wages for the position are paid.  Positions are exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly).  Following the recruitment process, position descriptions provide the basis for evaluating the work of the employee and establishing goals.  Position requirements such as travel, overtime and/or required meetings outside the normal work schedule alone are not sufficient reasons for determining a position to be exempt.

Outlining Job Duties:                                          

When developing a position description, describe in detail the main responsibilities and duties which are expected to be performed.  These duties should be described in such a way that an employee can be evaluated from this list.  Primary responsibilities should be listed first, with percentages assigned to each duty statement.  Group duties in meaningful categories using separate paragraphs to describe the main duties.  The average number of duty statements is between 5 and 8.  Do not make a long list of unrelated tasks; instead focus on the major duties and essential functions of the job.  Use duty statements, beginning with action verbs (e.g., responds, develops, repairs, manages, interprets, etc.).  A well written duty statement will answer the following questions:

  • WHAT IS HAPPENING?  The first word in the statement should be an action verb describing the action taking place.  Avoid using action verbs which are unclear and ambiguous.
  • TO WHOM/WHAT IS THE ACTION BEING DIRECTED?  Next part of the statement describes the person or object that receives the action.
  • WHY IS THE ACTION BEING DONE?  The third part of the statement describes the purpose of the action.  Often this part begins with the phrase “in order to “.
  • HOW IS THE ACTION COMPLETED? (optional) The final part of the statement lists the necessary methods used to do the work.  Often this part of the statement begins with phrases such as “through the use of” or “by using”. 

Qualifications:                        

University guidelines stipulate required qualifications be limited to those fundamental to perform the position responsibilities.  Well written required qualifications should make it apparent to any potential applicant whether they are minimally qualified to perform the duties of the vacancy.  Vague qualifications tend to lend themselves to various interpretations, not only by applicants, but also by search committees.

Federal guidelines stipulate that required qualifications be objective and therefore should be clearly measurable and quantifiable (See Appendix B for Sample Required Qualifications).  The more specific a qualification the easier it can be measured.  For example, “two or more years of student advising experience” is objective while “ability to meet deadlines” is subjective.  Since it is essential to be able to clearly identify which applicants meet the minimally required qualifications from their applications, subjective qualifications are better served as preferred qualifications.  For instance, even though “ability to work collaboratively” may be considered important, it should be a preferred qualification since it is not measurable.  Another example might be “Familiarity with the PeopleSoft payroll system”.  Since the level of familiarity can vary a great deal, and therefore cannot be easily measured, it is not a good candidate as a required qualification.

Preferred qualifications are usually those that are assessed through references and/or an interview and cannot be used to initially disqualify applicants.

In July 2015, the University completed its Classification and Market Study.  The project’s goal was to review the entire staff workforce in order to establish updated job titles and summaries that better reflect work performed, and in some cases, create a logical career path within a particular type of work based on competencies.  This project also established minimum required qualifications for new titles and salary ranges.  Given the scope of the project reviews were conducted in phases with the final phase ending in July 2015.  When launching searches for positions, it is necessary to utilize the established minimum required qualifications and hire within the salary range.  Additional requirements, beyond the stated minimums, may be added if necessary for successful job performance.

  • Minimum posting duration is 7 calendar days for internal searches, 10 calendar days for external postings, and 30 calendar days for nationally advertised searches from the date the position is posted.  Student hourly positions must be posted for a minimum of 3 calendar days.
  • In accordance with new rules published under the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRRA) and amended regulations to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, all positions (except student and temporaries) must be advertised through KANSASWORKS. This service is free and SSC representatives will see that jobs are posted to this site.
  • As an institution we strive for diverse-sensitive advertisements, the following statement may be included in the advertisement: Applications are welcome from underrepresented groups.
  • A Sunday advertisement is generally preferred over a weekday advertisement in daily publications.  Print ads are not required if there are other resources that better attract qualified applicants.
  • Some print ads may be required if the search may be related to or tied to a future labor certification need
  • All vacancies are automatically posted on the University’s employment site.
  • At minimum ad copy should include the following details:
    • Title; Department Name; KU
    • Deadline or review date
    • Direct link to job opening
    • Shortened EO statement:

KU is an EO/AAE.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin, disability, genetic information or protected Veteran status.

               OR

  • Modified shortened EO statement: KU is an EO/AAE, full policy 
  • Job announcements should carry the full EO/AAE statement: The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the university’s programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.  The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX Coordinators for their respective campuses:  Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, civilrights@ku.eedu, Room 1082, Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS  66025. 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina and Kansas City, Kansas, medical center campuses).
  • Job advertisements/announcements posted over e-mail or other electronic media are subject to the same rules as other types of advertisements and must include all the required language.
  • If using a recruiter service to identify prospective applicants, consult with HRM in advance.
  • In determining the reasonable recruitment area for the search, the ultimate goal is to assure that the position is publicized widely enough to attract a pool of applicants that mirrors the available workforce for a particular position.  If recruitment efforts do not attract a diverse and reasonably sized pool, other outreach efforts may be required.   If the need arises to increase the size of the pool, contact HRM regarding further outreach efforts.
  • A broad distribution of the position announcement is encouraged to ensure that potential applicants have a reasonable opportunity to learn of the vacancy.
  • Advertising & Diversity Resources
Recruitment TypeReasonable Recruitment Area/Notes
External (Local) is a search to fill a position opening that draws a sufficient pool of applicants from the immediate commuting area

Lawrence and/or Topeka and/or Kansas City Metropolitan area. 

*Note - for positions located at other campuses, use relevant local sources (Parsons Sun, Wichita Eagle Beacon, etc.)

External (Local Plus) is a search to fill a position opening that draws a pool of applicants from the local commuting area plus a broader area that includes other cities in Kansas and/or surrounding states.

Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City, plus other cities in Kansas or surrounding states

*Note - Relevant sources may be CareerBuilder, Monster.com, LinkedIn, specific job boards, etc. 

External (National/International) is a search to fill a position opening that draws its applicants from the widest possible pool, reaching a national and international audience.Examples may include Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Hispanic Outlook, national conferences, and other resources/listserves reaching national audiences.

 

Increasing diversity in the University community might include some of the following initiatives.  Most of these initiatives cost very little and may do a great deal to enhance the overall composition of the applicant pool.  The responsibility for achieving diversity lies with the administrator for the area, although certain tasks and responsibilities may be delegated to the search chair.  HRM and SSC staff can assist departments with search strategies and contacts. 

Recruitment & Screening Stage:

  • Send position announcements to professional organizations and their subgroups/interest groups with a minority focus.  Many professional organizations for women and people of color in your discipline can be found on-line.  Advertise in the organizations’ newsletter, magazine, or web site.
  • Advertise in publications with a broad readership of underrepresented persons.  Locally this may include the Kansas City Kansan and Dos Mundos.
  • Send position announcement to local non-profits and organizations.
  • Personal networking that is ongoing can be a valuable tool in broadening the pool of applicants.  It is important to note that inviting someone to apply does not imply that they will be given preference in the recruitment process.
  • If your pool of qualified applicants is not as diverse as availability data suggests contact HRM for the overall composition of the pool.  If necessary, HRM and SSC’s staff can assist in further outreach efforts. 
  • Current and previous workplaces may provide insight regarding candidates.  Persons associated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or similar institutions may be a candidate of color.
  • Determine whether the candidate has obtained any degrees from HBCU’s, Hispanic serving, or Indian Nations institutions.
  • Review the applicant’s public service and community activities.  Look for membership or leadership in organizations like National Council of La Raza, NAACP, historically Black and Hispanic fraternities and sororities, and tribal councils or tribal membership.
  • Try to interview multiple candidates to ensure a qualified pool and to increase the potential for diversity.  Often the top candidate on paper is no longer the top candidate after the interview takes place.

Interview Stage: 

Whenever possible, send all candidates the itinerary for their campus visit in advance.  Within this context ask if candidates would like to meet with any groups or organizations while on campus.  Possible organizations include the Black Faculty & Staff Council, Latino Faculty & Staff Council, Native Faculty & Staff Council and the KU Disability Network. 

The screening of applicants is considered one of the most important stages of the recruitment process.  To ensure consistency, it is imperative that all individuals who are screening applications base their evaluation the same criteria.  The search committee should also discuss what will be considered evidence of meeting all the qualifications prior to the screening process.  Documentation for meeting qualifications can be found through the:

  • Cover letter (content & quality)
  • Resume/CV
  • Application/screening questions
  • Phone interviews (optional)
  • Interview
  • References

Utilizing a screening instrument serves as documentation to support the Search Committee’s rationale for interview decisions.  When drafting the screening instrument, or using the summary provided by the SSC, identify the method of evaluation which will assist the search committee in demonstrating how the applicant met each qualification.

Since required qualifications are generally measurable, the search committee should be able to quickly eliminate those who are not minimally qualified.  When attempting to narrow the pool of applicants to a group of interviewees, the cover letter, resume and application will serve as the primary source of information.  For example, if the required qualification is “experience performing multi-task assignments,” carefully examine the applicant’s current and past positions and their responsibilities in those jobs.  However, an applicant may not provide sufficient details for each of their past positions, so requiring applicants to answer questions at the application stage may be worth considering.  In this example, the application question might read “Give an example from your past positions that required you to multi-task.”  This will not only save the search committee time, but it also provides valuable evidence of whether applicants meet qualifications.  Limit the application screening questions to 3 or 4 and they should not substitute for an interview.  Finally, keep in mind that this initial screening should be based on the application materials.  At this point in the process, personal knowledge of an applicant should not influence the objective assessment of qualifications.

When evaluating the interviewees, it is best to use all the tools available.  With the “multi-tasking” example, in addition to using the resume/cover letter, ask references to give examples of the applicant’s multi-tasking abilities and how well they performed those duties.  In the interview ask the applicant to provide examples of multi-tasking.  Another example might be “effective communication skills”.  Gathering evidence from multiple sources will be valuable in gaining an accurate picture of the applicants’ potential to succeed in the position. 

Other issues to consider when screening applications:

  • Remember that preferred qualifications are not necessary to perform the job.  Excellent applicants may not meet any or all of the preferred qualifications, but meet the required qualifications at an exceptional level. 
  • An incomplete application is defined as an applicant not attaching all required documents.  Incomplete applications should be treated consistently.  If one incomplete applicant is considered, then all incomplete applicants must be accepted and reviewed.
  • Regardless of where the vacancy was advertised, we must consider all applicants despite their state of residence.  If an applicant emerges at the top of the pool and lives outside the scope of the search (i.e. out of state), the applicant might be willing to pay their own expenses or a telephone interview or desktop conferencing might be a cost effective alternative.  This situation should be discussed with HRM at the appropriate time.
  • If an applicant volunteers they are not eligible to work in the United States, consult with HRM prior to screening them. 

Campus interviews should be conducted with the top candidates before a hiring decision is made.  To the extent possible, each applicant should be interviewed in the same environment, under similar conditions, and ideally introduced to the same group of individuals.  Each interview candidate should have an opportunity to meet with the Administrator of the Area (e.g. chair, director, manager, etc.).  The search committee chair should assure that the entire search committee understands the confidentiality expectations.

  • Although there is no longer a required minimum number of candidates that must be interviewed, whenever possible it is a good practice to try to interview a minimum of at least three individuals for comparison purposes.
  • Maintain consistency throughout all interviews.  Internal applicants should be interviewed in the same manner as all other applicants.  Make it clear to internal applicants that they need to fully answer interview questions as if the search committee is unfamiliar with their background.
  • Telephone interviews can be used in-lieu-of campus visits when the distance and/or funding prevents the individual from coming to campus.  However, telephone interviews are not optimum conditions under which to evaluate an applicant.  Non-verbal communication like eye contact, gestures, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are often used to evaluate an applicant’s communication skills, including interpersonal skills.  In the event of a telephone interview, non-verbal communication factors are limited.  If a telephone interview is conducted with one applicant, it is recommended that all applicants be initially interviewed by phone to ensure fairness.  Occasionally, telephone interviews can serve as a preliminary screening interview to help narrow down a large pool of applicants to a more manageable number.
  • State and federal regulations, as well as University policies and guidelines need to be adhered to regardless of the setting (i.e. receptions, dinners, conferences, social gatherings).  If special circumstances arise that provide an opportunity for interview sessions or meetings to occur off-campus, consult beforehand with HRM.

Interview Sessions:      

The purpose of an interview is generally to elaborate on the information contained in the application/resume, to collect new job-related information, and to better assess communication skills.

  • The interview should be conducted with all search committee members present.  Interviews with individual search committee members should be avoided.  To ensure consistency, prepare a list of questions to ask all candidates (see Appendix D for Sample Behavioral Interview Questions using the University’s Core Competencies).  However, additional questions are appropriate to gather information regarding a candidate’s unique qualifications or to supplement the application materials. 
  • Interview questions and discussion should be directly related to the responsibilities and qualifications of the position.  Discussion of non-job-related issues may lead to unintentional discriminatory statements.
  • In the event an applicant inquires about a topic that is not related to the position (i.e., can you tell me about the schools in Lawrence), an appropriate response may be provided but refrain from asking additional questions or conducting additional discussion on the topic area.  See Appendix E for Guidelines for Inquiries.
  • If during the interview an applicant discloses personal information that is not relevant to the job, the search committee chair should direct the conversation back to interview questions.
  • The Guidelines for Inquiries in Appendix E should also be shared with anyone who might come in contact with the applicants (i.e. staff members, students, greeters, etc.).

Suggestions for the interview:

  • Depending on the level of the position, consider providing a list of the interview questions for review before introducing the applicant to the search committee.  This allows the committee to judge an applicant’s skills rather than their ability to think on their feet.
  • Allow some time to review the general position announcement.
  • Introduce committee members.
  • Put the applicant at ease with neutral, not personal topics.
  • Describe the format of the interview.
  • Ask job related questions.  If an applicant doesn’t understand a question, rephrase it.
  • Do not imply an employment offer – avoid using statements like “you would be responsible for…”.
  • Make sure the applicant does about 75% of the talking:
  • Keep the interview on track.
  • Observe the nonverbal behaviors.
  • Take notes; make sure all recorded comments are job-related.
  • Describe the position in more detail after asking the questions; to do so too early in the interview process might cause the applicant to modify responses and to overstate qualifications.
  • Leave time for the applicant to ask questions.
  • Review the hiring time frame.
  • Once interviews have concluded, a major responsibility for the committee is to prepare for deliberation of the candidates.  Use of an Interview Evaluation form can help search committee members evaluate the information in a more consistent manner.  See Appendix F for a Sample Interview Evaluation form.  Also see Appendix E for Guidelines for Inquiries that apply to the entire hiring process.

Interview Biases:

It is important to recognize that it is human nature to have personal and sometimes even unconscious assumptions and biases.  Biases are not necessarily discriminatory; however, being aware of these biases is essential to keeping the recruitment process objective.

  • PERSONAL SIMILARITY: you may attribute characteristics to the applicant that may not exist, particularly when the person reminds you of a former colleague.
  • NEGATIVE CONCLUSION: the tendency to focus on an applicant’s weaknesses, while overlooking his/her strengths.
  • SNAP JUDGMENTS: to offset, gather information during the interview and evaluate it afterwards with the search committee.
  • STEROTYPING: to offset a tendency to categorize applicants focus on the duties of the position rather than personal traits.
  • OVER GENERALIZATION: a tendency to generalize one outstanding feature (or negative feature) of a candidate as representative of success (or failure) in all endeavors.
  • MIND SET: your background, attitudes, motives, and values
  • OVERSIMPLIFICATION: of either strengths or weaknesses

Information obtained from references can be vital in the applicant evaluation process.  It is recommended that reference checks be used for every search to provide additional information about applicants that cannot be established from the resume or interview alone and to confirm applicants’ qualifications.   In addition, the information can help further screen applicants who meet the required and/or preferred qualifications or to further screen all top applicants following interviews.  Information can be gathered either through reference letters or by contacting references via telephone.  If letters are requested it is recommended that applicants be notified when letters have not been received.  The following are guidelines for checking references by telephone and will help search committees avoid any perception of unfairness.

  • At a minimum be sure to contact the references of the top candidate before making a verbal offer.  It is also recommended that references come from individuals who have evaluated the candidate’s work performance, rather than personal references.  Reference checks for student hires is optional but encouraged. 
  • If contacting individuals other than the references listed, it is recommended that the applicant be notified.  Ask the applicant if there is anyone they wish not to be contacted.  Be sure any additional individuals contacted have direct knowledge of the applicant’s experience and skills.  Do not collect hearsay.
  • When developing a core list of questions, be sure they are related to the duties, responsibilities, and qualifications of the position 
  • When contacting references describe the duties and qualifications of the position or e-mail a copy of the position description prior to your call.  Be sure any information gathered is clearly linked to the applicant’s experience and ability to perform the responsibilities of the position. 
  • If a reference indicates they are not allowed to give out information, inquire about sending a signed release form or contact the applicant for an additional reference.
  • If performance problems are reported by previous employers, consider whether it is in areas that might affect performance in the position being filled.
  • If negative comments are received from a reference, it is recommended that the comments be confirmed or refuted by an additional reference(s). 
  • If unsolicited comments are received, they should be disregarded.  If the source of these comments is persistent, consult with HRM prior to discussion with the search committee.
  • A search committee member who has a close personal or professional relationship with an applicant should not contact the references, formally or informally.

If considering an internal candidate, or former employee of KU, contact the past supervisor of record, as well as HRM for employment verification.

Search committee members often have their own opinion about what education, training, experience, and abilities make one person more qualified than another to succeed in a position.  It is helpful to avoid overly simplistic means of determining who is most qualified.  For example, is a person who has performed a task for eight years necessarily more qualified than someone who has performed the task for five years?  Does the search committee value the amount of experience or the quality/relevance?  Thorough search committee discussions very early in the process play a vital role in reaching consensus as to what qualifications are most valued.  This will assure that all of those involved will evaluate applicants with the same priority in mind.

Before making an offer to a candidate who has retired from the University be sure to review the Retiree Rehire Policy.  Contact HRM if further clarification is needed. 

When deliberating a final selection, consider each applicant’s application, resume, cover letter, qualifications and quality of the interview.  Reference information should be weighed against the overall qualifications of the applicant.  Be sure to clearly document the rationale for hiring the selected individual, along with those not being offered the position.

A few pitfalls to avoid include:

  • Not checking all references thoroughly
  • Basing the hiring decision only on the interview
  • Not thoroughly reviewing and verifying all information contained in application materials
  • Confusing charisma for competency

Once the selected applicant has been approved by the appropriate hierarchy, an authorized designee should contact the applicant by phone or in person to extend a verbal offer. Information such as salary, benefits, work hours, job title, starting date and any other employment conditions should be reviewed.  Questions regarding benefits can be referred to your benefits coordinator or on the Benefits Overview.

The successful candidate will be sent an electronic offer by HRM, which should be accepted prior to the starting date of the appointment.

If a search is unsuccessful in identifying a candidate or the only identified candidate declines an offer of employment, consult with HRM or SSC regarding closing the search or re-advertising the vacancy.

Several federal agencies require that the University keep records regarding hiring.  Additionally, it is necessary to have the records available in case an employment decision is questioned.  After the search is completed, inquiries regarding the search should be directed to Human Resources Management.

  • The department is required to keep all documentation on each search for a minimum of three years, after which time the records should be destroyed. 
  • Documents that should be collected must be kept in a confidential location and include the following:
    • Tear sheets of advertisements
    • Verification of any listservs used to announcement the opening
    • Any correspondence to and from applicants
    • Completed screening instruments of all applications
    • Interview questions and documented responses
    • Reference questions and documented responses
    • All intra-university correspondence regarding the search
    • Any other documentation associated with the search
  • The Shared Service Centers provide electronic storage and destruction of all search related materials. All search related materials (faculty, staff, and student) that are three years old or newer will be accepted through this new process.  It is University practice to shred search related documents going back more than three years from the date of hire.

Materials to be shredded are to be treated as confidential and must be placed in a secured area or locked receptacles.

  • aloving@ku.edu Search Committee System Access: To view application materials go to the main HR Management webpage and select “Search Committee Login” under the quick links or go to Brass Ring. Under quick links you can also select “Hiring Process” then “BrassRing” to view a User Guide.  Applicants for all positions (faculty, staff, students) must apply to the online system.
  • Refilling Vacant Staff Positions: Except for USS positions covered by a bargaining unit, all vacant positions will be filled as Unclassified Professional Staff (UPS).
  • Shared Service Centers (SSCs): KU wants all new employees to feel welcomed to campus and be prepared for their positions.  These Centers help make onboarding a quick and simple process for new employees to complete necessary hiring documents and to learn about available services and trainings offered by the University. For more information about services, go to new employee onboarding.
  • Moving Expenses Policy
  • Background Checks:  Background checks are required on all newly hired or rehired (after a break in service of one year or longer) faculty and staff appointed to regular positions, current or newly hired faculty/staff appointed to “serve at the pleasure of” positions, temporary/regular lecturers, salaried student employees, and temporary or limited-term appointments.  Those holding a graduate salaried appointment (GTA/GRA/GA) moving to a different graduate appointment are required to complete a background check if one has not previously been done.  Student hourly employees are required to have a background check through the National Sexual Offender Registry.  Any student hourly working with non-KU minors is required to complete a full background check.  For more information about these guidelines please see the Policy on Criminal Background Checks.
  • Probation:  There is a six-month probationary period for staff that are newly hired or rehired into regular positions.  The policy also provides for an extension of the probationary period and for the initiation of a new probationary period in the event that an employee serving a probationary period accepts a different position that is substantially different in job duties or requires different qualifications. 

Please contact our team with any questions.