Search Committees

Effective search committees are essential to recruiting and selecting the most talented candidates who contribute to making our university the progressive and innovative establishment that it is. The positive outcomes of a successful search committee are the potential to increase diversity within our faculty and staff and to, of course, welcome the best and brightest to our university community.

Search Committee Training is an annual requirement for all individuals (Including External Committee Members) who serve on a search at UMKC. Search committee training includes the following modules:

Module One: Diversifying the Academy

Module Two: Search Committee Essentials

Dean/Chair Training is also available upon request for your search committees, please contact Mikah Thompson at 816-235-6910

General Search Committee training will occur on a monthly basis.


The Search Committee Process





Upon receiving approval at the department level, the hiring authorization committee, and the Provost’s office through the Request to Recruit Form, units are able to begin the hiring process.

Please visit the Academic Hiring site for more detailed information.


Upon receiving approval at the department level and the hiring authorization committee, units are able to begin the hiring process. Prior to jobs being posted, units meet with their respective HR recruiter to determine whether the search will be conducted by full-cycle recruitment or through the use of a search committee.

Please visit the Recruitment Services page for more detailed information.

Position and Organizational Analysis

It is important to analyze of internal factors when looking to fill a vacancy (Some of these issues/factors should be considered prior to seeking approvals)

Some important things to consider prior to forming a search committee:

  • Could this be a half-time, part-time, seasonal, academic year, or temporary position?
  • What would happen if this position were not filled/refilled?
  • Is it the right time of year to search for this particular kind of position?
  • Can some or all of the work be automated, outsourced, or distributed among others?
  • Are there internal candidates who could fill the position?
  • What changes in the industry, marketplace and position need to be considered before the search?

Lee, Christopher D. Search Committees: A Comprehensive Guide to Successful Faculty, Staff, and Administrative Searches. First ed. Sterling: Stylus, LLC, 2014. Print.                          

Adapted from Lee & Bradley-Baker, 2012.

Forming the Search Committee

Selecting Search Committee Members

Search committees should be made up of persons who are qualified to evaluate the qualifications of our candidates.  Diverse committees enhance your ability to provide the optimum assessment of all candidates and provide each candidate equal opportunity to feel comfortable and welcome in the process.  This also reflects the University’s commitment to our student body and community in being all inclusive. Committees should reflect  racial/ethnic diversity as well as gender diversity.

Selecting members for a search committee is a very important task. Research has found that for every additional woman on a seven-member panel reviewing a hire or promotion at the full professor level, the chances of success by a female candidate increased by 14% (Inside Higher Education, 2011). Diversifying your search committee is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. A diverse committee is more likely to generate diverse candidate pools and finalist lists. In addition, this also allows for candidates to be evaluated through multiple perspectives, increase the likelihood of fair and equitable process.

Keep in mind the following when seeking members to be on a search committee:

  • Search committee members do not have to be from the same department
  • The Office of Human Resources houses a list of everyone on campus who has completed search committee training
  • External, community members are great additions to your committee

Jaschik, Scott. (2011).  Impact of women on search committees.  Inside Higher Education.  Retrieved from

First Meeting of the Search Committee

A representative from HR and Affirmative Action should attend to provide the full search committee with information related to the committee’s affirmative action responsibilities, to answer any questions about search procedures, provide consultation through search committee training.

Also at the committee’s first meeting, a time-table is developed for the committee’s work. Procedures are established through setting the committee charge.

Setting the Charge

Search committees should always receive their charge before they begin their work. The hiring authority should keep in mind that a poor hiring recommendation by the committee is often the result of a poorly conceived or written charge.

The charge should indicate without any ambiguity the committee’s task, deadline, and budget and the kind of candidate that the hiring authority wishes to attract. The task varies. In some cases, the search committee is instructed to make a hiring recommendation. In other cases, the committee is instructed to hire an individual.

If the committee is instructed to rank candidates for the hiring authority, the charge should make clear that the hiring authority is not bound by the committee’s listing or ranking in making his or her selection. If the committee is not made aware of the hiring authority’s prerogative, and the hiring authority chooses the third-ranked rather than the top-ranked finalist, the committee may feel that its work was not as important as it was led to believe.

Please visit the resources section for a sample charge checklist.

Advertising & Recruitment

Advertising involves announcing a vacancy in various media to gain the interest of potentially qualified applicants.

Recruiting involves actively identifying and seeking qualified professionals. Recruitment targets candidates who are passive and may not be actively seeking work as well as non-passive candidates. Recruitment is a compliment to advertising.

Research indicates that there is a positive correlation between including a “salient job qualification [that] indicates diversity” and the diversity of the applicant pool.  “Even in science searches, adding an explicit criterion in the job description for experience and success in working with diverse groups of students has significant potential to broaden the qualities being considered.” (Smith et al, 2004).

“The rise in diversity among students on U.S. campuses demands that job descriptions stress experience in teaching different kinds of students as well as skill in developing classroom environments that facilitate learning for all students. Looking for these qualities is especially important in the sciences, where the content of the curriculum may or may not change because of issues of race and gender, but where helping students of diverse backgrounds to succeed is a widespread goal. Many faculty of color bring the expertise needed to accomplish that goal.” (Smith, 2000)

See the resources section for examples of advertising and recruiting activities.

Smith, D. (2000).  How to Diversity the Faculty.  Academe.  Vol. 86, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 2000), pp. 48-52
Published by: American Association of University Professors.

Smith, D., Caroline S. Turner, Nana Osei-Kofi and Sandra Richards. (2004).   Interrupting the Usual: Successful Strategies for Hiring Diverse FacultyThe Journal of Higher Education.  Vol. 75, No. 2 (Mar. – Apr., 2004), pp. 133-160

Olson, G.A. (2007). Don’t just search, recruit. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Screening & Evaluating

Having established clear selection criteria, the search committee is ready to screen applications with an agreed upon understanding of what will constitute a strong candidate.  Gaining a commitment from search committee members to rely on the established criteria during the screening process can greatly reduce the influence of unintended bias (Isaac, Lee & Carnes, 2009).

See the resources section for Sample Candidate Evaluation Tools

Isaac, C, B. Lee and M. Carnes. (2009). Interventions that affect gender bias in hiring: A systematic review.  Academic Medicine. 84(10): 1440-1446. [PDF]


Interviews should be conducted in a manner that complies with the University’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, to ensure that qualified candidates are not discriminated against in employment decisions on the basis of irrelevant criteria such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, and status as Vietnam era veteran. Federal statutes and court rulings have established that interview questions not relevant to the applicant’s ability to perform the job may be discriminatory and therefore illegal under certain circumstances.

Individuals conducting interviews should be aware that such questions could be used as evidence in discrimination charges against the University. The following examples of interview areas are taken from information provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. These areas are representative of the type of interview questions which, if not relevant to the applicant’s job performance ability, may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or other laws aimed at achieving equal employment opportunity for all.

Interviewing Tips

Sample Interview Questions

Inappropriate Interview Questions (UM policy HR-110)

Campus Visits

During the interview process, an important aspect of the campus visit is the fact that candidates are interviewing the organization concurrently. The courting nature of an interview process should be something all committee members are aware of.

Logistics related to the campus visit can be coordinated by the committee’s administrative support.

Ideally, candidates should receive driving directions and a full Itinerary/schedule of events. If applicable, it would be a good idea to connect candidates to a local realtor.

See the resources section for a sample campus visit checklist.

ADA Accommodations

The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.
In order to meet our accommodation obligation without violating the ADA, when inviting candidates for on-campus interviews it is useful to ask a carefully worded question that gives candidates the opportunity to identify any special needs without asking about a disability. Example: “Are there any special considerations of which we should be aware in planning your visit to UMKC?

“Questions and Answers.” Americans with Disabilities Act. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 9 Oct. 2008. Web. 23 Sept. 2016. 

Reference Checking

It is generally recommended that hiring managers or search committee chairs complete a minimum of two reference checks prior to a job offer being made (a third check is highly recommended if either of the first two are less than satisfactory).

Before the tentative offer is extended, two reference check forms must be emailed to your HR Facilitator, to be submitted electronically in eRecruit and filed with the official search documents.

Off-List References
Ask the candidate for permission before making any reference calls—both for people specifically listed as references, and then later to get the applicant’s general agreement that the committee or consultant may call anyone, with names unspecified.

Place the calls carefully, and request confidentiality.
Committees should contact off-list references for only a small number of serious finalists, or for candidates whose public interviews have already ended their confidentiality.


At the conclusion of the interview process, the hiring committee should discuss the outcome of all interviews.

Depending on the charge, committees are to deliver the candidate(s) they wish to recommend for employment.


Role of Human Resources

UMKC Human Resources is available to provide guidance throughout the search process. HR collaborates with the Chair and Affirmative Action office in order to serve as liaison for external advertising. Once finalists are identified, HR should be notified in order to conduct pre-employment screening, i.e., educational verification, professional reference checks and background reporting. HR will also work closely with the hiring official regarding the starting salary and offer of employment.

Additional Resources

The following are additional resources related to the importance equitable recruitment and hiring practices in the workplace.


Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) Resource Page on Bias

Bagues, M., Zinovyeva, N. (2010).  Does gender matter for academic promotion? Evidence from a randomised natural experiment.

Bertrand, M., & Sendhil Mullainathan. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination. American Economic Review, 94, 991-1013.

Bielby, W.T., & Baron, J.N. (1986). Men and women at work: Sex segregation and statistical discrimination The American Journal of Sociology 91, 759-799.

Biernat, M., & Fuegen, K. (2001). Shifting standards and the evaluation of competence: Complexity in gender-based judgment and decision making. Journal of Social Issues 57, 707-724.

Biernat, M., & Manis, M. (1994). Shifting standards and stereotype-based judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66, 5-20.

Bilimoria, D., & Buch, K. (2010). The search is on: Engendering faculty diversity through more effective search and recruitment. Change, 42(4), 27-32.

Burgoyne, R., T.M. Shaw, R.C. Dawson, R. Scheinkman, A.R. Coleman, S.Y. Winnick, J. Rippner, S.R. Palmer, and J.L. Keith. (2010). Handbook on diversity and the law: Navigating a complex landscape to foster greater faculty and student diversity in higher education. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Butler, I., & Godsil, R. (2010). Best man For the job? How bias affects hiring.  Retrieved from

Cook, K.C.   (2002).  Recruiting new faculty? Change your rhetorical perspective. Complicating Binaries: Exploring Tensions in Technical and Scientific Communication.  29th Annual Conference Proceedings 2002. pp. 119-122.

Dettmar, D. (2004).  What we waste when faculty hiring goes wrong. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Diamond, R. M. (2002). Defining scholarship for the twenty-first century.  New Directions for Teaching and Learning,  2002: 73–80. doi: 10.1002/tl.57 [PDF]

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Presentation at the 2014 CUPA-HR Eastern Region Conference, Baltimore, MD, March 23-25, 2014).

Dougherty, T. W., Turban, D. B., & Callender, J. C. (1994). Confirming first impressions in the employment interview: A field study of interviewer behaviorJournal of Applied Psychology, 79(5), 659-665. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.79.5.659

Dovidio, J.F., & Gaertner, S.L. (2000). Aversive racism and selection decisions: 1989 and 1999. Psychological Science, 11, 315-319.

Eagly, A.H., & Karau, S.J. (2002). Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573-598.

Fine, E.  (2010).  Benefits and challenges of diversity in academic settings.  University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fine, E., & Handelsman, Jo. (2005). Searching for excellence and diversity: A guide for search committee chairs. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fine, E., Handelsman, J. (2005). Reviewing applicants: Research on bias and assumptions.

Goldberg, C. (2005). Relational demography and similarity attraction in interview assessments and subsequent offer decisions. Group and Organization Management, 30, 597-624.

Goldin, C., & Rouse, C. (2000). Orchestrating impartiality: The impact of “blind” auditions on female musicians. The American Economic Review, 90, 715-741. [PDF]

Hatch, Nathan O., (2013) Recruiting Talent in Higher Ed. Inside Higher Education.

Heilman, M.E. Wallen, A.S., Fuchs, D. & Tamkins, M.M. (2004). Penalties for success: Reactions to women who succeed at male gender-typed tasks. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 416-427.

Implicit Associations Tests Online:

Isaac, C., B. Lee and M. Carnes. 2009.  Interventions that affect gender bias in hiring: A systematic review.  Academic Medicine.  84 (10): 1440-1446.

Jaschik, S. (2014). The Bias for White Men. Inside Higher Education.

Jaschik, S. (2011). Impact of women on search committees.  Inside Higher Education.

Jaschick, S. (2010). Too nice to land a job. Inside Higher Education.

Jashchik, Scott. (2008). Keys to hiring women in scienceInside Higher Education.

Kolb, D. (1998). Gender and the shadow negotiation. Center for Gender in Organization Insights.

Kray, L..& , Thompson, L. (2005). Gender stereotypes and negotiation performance: An examination of theory and
research. Research in organizational behavior: An annual series of analytical essays and critical reviews. 26.

Madera, J.M., Hebl M.R., & Martin, R.C.. (2009). Gender and letters of recommendation for academia: Agentic and communal differences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1591-1599.

Martell, R. F. (1991). Sex bias at work: The effects of attentional and memory demands on performance ratings of men and women. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, 1939–1960.

Matier, M. (1990). Retaining faculty: A tale of two campuses. Research in Higher Education, 31.

Milkman, K.F., Akinola, M., & Clugh, D. (2014). What happens before? A field experiment exploring how pay and representation differentially shape bias on the pathway into organizations.

Moody, J. 2010.  Rising above cognitive errors: guidelines to improve faculty searches, evaluations and decision-making.  Information about Dr. Moody’s publications can be found at

Nosek, B.A., Smyth, F. L., Sririam, N., Lindner, N.M. , Devos, T., Ayala, A., & Bar-Anan, Y. (2009). National differences in gender-science stereotypes predict national sex differences in science and math achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 10593-10597.

NSF ADVANCE, University of Michigan. (2009). Handbook for faculty searches and hiring, 2007-2008. University of Michigan.

NSF ADVANCE, University of Washington. (2007). Faculty hiring: Diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand. Center for Institutional Change.

Olson, G.A. (2007). Don’t just search, recruit. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Oregon State University Affirmative Action Search Advocate Handbook (2010).

Page, Scott E. (2007). The difference: How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Reskin, Barbara. 2000. The proximate causes of employment discrimination. Contemporary Sociology, 29, 319-328.

Ryu, Mikyung. (2010). Minorities in higher education: Twenty-fourth status report.  American Council on Education. If you are interested in receiving a pdf copy of this ACE report, please contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at 541-346-3175.

Smith, D. (2000).  How to diversify the faculty.  Academe.  Vol. 86, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 2000), pp. 48-52
Published by: American Association of University Professors.

Smith, D., Turner, C., Osei-Kofi, O., Richards, S. (2004). Interrupting the usual: Successful strategies for hiring diverse faculty. The Journal of Higher Education.

Smith, W., Altbach, P., Lomotey, K. (2002).  The racial crisis in American higher education: Continuing challenges for the twenty-first century.  Albany, NY: State University of New York.

Sotello Viernes Turner, C. (2002). Diversifying the faculty: A guidebook for search committees. Washington, DC:
Association of American Colleges & Universities.

Steinpreis, R., Anders, K., & Ritzke, D. (1999). The impact of gender on the review of the curricula vitae of job applicants and tenure candidates: A national empirical study. Sex Roles, 41, 509-528.

Trix, F.& Psenka, C. (2003). Exploring the color of glass: Letters of recommendation for female and male medical faculty. Discourse & Society, 14, 191-220.

Tuitt, F. A., Sagaria, M. A. D., & Turner, C. S. V. (2007). Signals and strategies: The hiring of faculty of color. In J.C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research. New York: Agathon Press.

Turner, C. (2002) Diversifying the faculty: A guidebook for search committees.  Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Tversky, A., Kahneman, D. (1990). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Judgment and Decision Making: An Interdisciplinary Reader (2nd Ed). Edited by Connolly, Arkes, Hammond.

University at Albany, State University of New York.  Mentoring best practices:  A handbook.

University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Office of Faculty Development, Mutual Mentoring Guide.

Valian, V. (1999). The cognitive bases of gender bias. Brooklyn Law Review, 65, 1051-1062.

Wheeler, Daniel.  National Academy for Academic Leadership. Critical components of departmental success.

Wennerås, C., & Wold, A. (1997). Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature, 387, 341-343.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a search committee required?

A search committee is required for all tenured and tenured track positions.

What are the search committee role descriptions?

The various roles in a search committee include:

Hiring Authority- responsible for deciding to fill and approve a position.

Search Committee Chair- designated to lead committee in their due diligence.

Search Committee Members- responsible for ensuring high quality, diverse applicant pool and making selection recommendations.

Administrative Support- Critical staff to support the search and ensure no detail gets lost.

How large should my search committee be?

Generally a search committee should include 5-7 and no less than 3 members. Usually, the higher the position level, the larger the committee will be.

What if I miss an interview?

As a committee member, if you miss some or all of the interviews you should not participate in discussions of rank ordering/grouping of applicants, but you may provide comments on those that you attended.

What are guidelines/best practices for internal candidates?

Internal applicants should meet the same levels of qualifications as external applicants. They should not be given ‘courtesy’ interviews and, of course, they are not allowed to participate in the evaluation process of other applicants.

How do I know when I am due to participate in another search committee training?

You can login on my Learn to check when you last participated in a mandatory search committee training.

When forming a search committee, how do I know who to choose?

Please contact Susi Mickey in Training & Development for references and guidance in selecting members of your search committee.