Washington University offers a suite of resources to support our hiring committees in their work to identify and recruit the next generation of outstanding researchers, scholars and teachers.
“Washington University welcomes difference on our campus in the form of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, geography, socioeconomic status, age, politics, religion, philosophy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and veteran status. We seek to bring these different backgrounds and perspectives to the great problems facing the world. These are not just ideals; they are competitive advantages to universities who strive to achieve them.”
Best Practices for Hiring Committees
The next cohort of outstanding Washington University faculty will be hired by our current faculty; leading that effort are our hiring committees and search chairs. We thank you in advance for your time, your energy and your commitment. The Office of the Provost stands ready to support you in any way that we can. As our provost says, above, ensuring that our faculty bring different backgrounds and perspectives to our research, scholarship, teaching and patient care is not only an ideal, it is a competitive advantage to our academic mission. Below is a summary of best practices and recommendations for identifying a pool of candidates that is excellent, diverse and likely to be enthusiastic about an offer to join Washington University’s faculty. We delve into best practices and hiring strategies in more depth in our annual workshop for search committee chairs, held every September by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Diversity. The annual workshop also enables hiring chairs to collectively learn from their colleagues’ past successes and efforts. In addition to the annual workshop for hiring chairs, our Office is available to do customized search workshops for full search committees or larger groups of faculty. To discuss customized workshops, or to obtain a cop(ies) of the guidebook Searching for Excellence & Diversity: A Guide for Search Committees contact Vice Provost Adrienne Davis.
The Power of the Beginning
The best way to ensure equal opportunity and a diverse pool of excellent candidates for faculty positions is conduct a thoughtful, vigorous search. Putting effort into outreach and recruitment at the beginning of your search is best practice to ensure to expanding your pool of qualified candidates. The search committee should discuss with your department chair or dean their goals for faculty diversity and how your search fits into those goals. Identify your school’s affirmative action process and any resources they may offer. Contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Diversity for additional resources or to discuss your search.
Creating Your Ad and Publicizing Your Search
Every Washington University job posting must include Equal Employment Opportunity language. In order to make a strong statement of Washington University’s commitment to the principles of equal employment and diversity, the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Diversity, Human Resources, and the Office of the General Counsel jointly recommend the following language for faculty hiring advertisements:
“Washington University is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity. It is the University’s policy to recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job titles without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or genetic information.”
Beyond the required EEO statement, a strong best practice is to carefully craft your search ad. The description of a position can greatly shape your applicant pool. We encourage you to:
- Tie the description closely to the actual skills needed for the position, and then be consistent in applying these criteria throughout your hiring process.
- Our academic units typically value the ability to work with diverse students and colleagues; success in creating inclusive classrooms; and experience with a variety of teaching methods and curricular perspectives. Stating this as a value will help to attract diverse candidates and expand your pool.
- Try to avoid narrow criteria (e.g., requiring a certain number of years of experience) if they are not necessary for the position
Aggressively publicizing your ad will also help ensure you are reaching and connecting with as many outstanding, qualified candidates as possible. To publicize your search, identify and take advantage of both disciplinary networks and listservs as well as diversity publications and lists. These include:
- Disciplinary listservs, publications, newsletters, professional and academic conferences;
- Disciplinary affinity organizations for women and minorities;
- Women and minority-serving academic fellowship organizations;
- For a list of higher education diversity publications contact Gail Boker.
For help in identifying resources to publicize your search please contact Vice Provost Adrienne Davis.
In addition to a well-crafted and well-publicized advertisement, one of the best resources for identifying a diverse pool of candidates is your own disciplinary networks. Targeted discussions with leaders in your field can be invaluable. They are most likely to know their students’ and colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses and often are aware of potential candidates who are not formally on the market. We recommend identifying a range of the top scholars in your field, including those known for producing cohorts of outstanding and diverse graduate students. Invite them for a phone call to discuss potential candidates and emphasize Washington University is especially interested in candidates who both diverse and excellent.
Strategies for Interviewing
Search committees should devote time to discussing their approach to interviewing candidates. Best practice is to treat candidates consistently to the extent possible, which requires preparation and discussion in advance.
- Because in-person interviews offer a significant advantage, offer candidates the same interaction with the search committee wherever possible, e.g., doing all interviews in person, by phone, or over Skype. If interviews will not be in person, encourage the candidates to find a quiet place for the interview and to confirm in advance that their technology/phone line works.
- All candidates should be given the same amount of time for the interview.
- Identify important questions in advance and ask all candidates similar initial questions, although follow-up questions will, of course, vary.
- Avoid questions regarding protected class issues (defined below). Instead, if you want to showcase a benefit or resource that falls under a protected class, be consistent in discussing it with all candidates. For example, you can advise all candidates that St. Louis is family friendly and that Washington University offers many highly competitive benefits to support families. Alternatively, you can wait for candidates to raise questions about these areas. You can also offer candidates a confidential conversation about our benefits with Human Resources if they have any questions or concerns.
- Wherever possible ask for examples. For example, if a candidate says how much they enjoy teaching ask for an example of a memorable or important teaching interaction.
- Send candidates an itinerary, including who they will be interviewing or meeting with, a few days in advance of the interview. This helps level the field between candidates who know our faculty and community and those who do not.
- If possible, the search chair can do a final, wrap-up meeting with each candidate to ask how the day went and ask if the candidate has any questions. This can provide invaluable information about how your search process is going and can be a good gauge into a candidate’s interest in the position.
For more information and resources on interviewing contact Vice Provost Adrienne Davis.
Implicit Bias Resources
Challenge yourself. Take the Implicit Attitudes Test developed by researchers at Harvard, University of Virginia and University of Washington.
Follow up by reviewing these additional resources and Implicit Bias Bibliography:
In addition to women in underrepresented fields, the university defines underrepresented minorities as those who are African American/Black, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic (people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race). The category also includes those who identify two or more races if at least one of the races is an underrepresented one.
Classes Legally Protected from Discrimination:
- National origin
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions)
- Military Status
- Genetic information
- Off-duty tobacco use*
- Sexual orientation**
* State law
** Washington University policy
To learn more about any of these recommended best practices or to discuss a specific search please contact Vice Provost Adrienne Davis.
University Supports for Hiring
The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Diversity actively supports the faculty hiring process. The Office offers an annual fall workshop for hiring chairs, focusing on best practices for running an effective and efficient search that yields an excellent diverse pool of candidates. Vice Provost Adrienne Davis is available to meet with or talk to potential candidates. Additional key resources offered by our office include:
- customized search workshops for full hiring committees on hiring best practices and strategies;
- supplemental funding for publicizing searches and recruitment visits;
- assistance in coordinating recruitment visits;
- conducting tours of St. Louis
- arranging cross-campus or community introductions for candidates or their partners;
- referrals to real estate agents;
- identifying resources regarding schools and daycare.
Target of Opportunity Hires
A Target of Opportunity hire represents an opportunity to recruit a candidate of outstanding quality who has not emerged through a conventional national search. Myriad reasons justify such targeted hiring, including opportunities to recruit outstanding faculty who are not generally on the job market, to strengthen existing areas or fill strategic needs, to make partner hires, and to diversify the faculty. All Target of Opportunity proposals must be approved by the school’s affirmative action process and the school’s dean.
“External” Target of Opportunity hires occur when an academic unit identifies a candidate to pursue;
“Internal” Target of Opportunity hires occur when one academic unit identifies a candidate and requests a different academic unit consider that candidate as a target hire. Partner hires are an example of internal Target of Opportunity hires.
Strategies for the Future
Cluster hiring entails hiring multiple scholars into one or more academic units based on shared, interdisciplinary research interests. Although cluster hiring advances many institutional goals, it has emerged as an effective way to recruit outstanding, diverse faculty simultaneously. Cluster hires are also an important retention tool; because faculty hired in clusters share scholarly interests, this can result in valuable professional collaborations and a meaningful institutional community. For more information on how cluster hiring can enhance diversity read the Urban Universities for HEALTH Report or Cluster Hiring and Diversity from Inside Higher Ed.
In 2009 The Brown School received a $30,000 Diversity & Inclusion Grant to support The Serenade Program: Making Targets of Opportunity Happen. The grant supported The Brown School in developing a strategic, highly effective approach to Target of Opportunity hiring. For more information about The Serenade Program contact Associate Dean for Diversity Tonya Edmond or Vice Provost Adrienne Davis.
Cultivating Ambassadors and Creating Pipelines
University initiatives designed to bring diverse scholars to our campus can also expand our academic networks and potential hiring pools. Learn more about our Distinguished Visiting Scholar program and the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellows Alumni Initiative. Resources are also available from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institutional Diversity to attend pipeline conferences, develop partnerships with minority-serving institutions, and create or enhance pipeline programs at Washington University.
Track Your Own Success
Consider giving applicants the opportunity to share with you where they learned about your position. This will help your academic unit understand which resources are effective in publicizing our searches. For example, the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering created the following template:
We are interested in the effectiveness of our means of position announcement.
Please select where you found our opening. Please select as many as appropriate.
a. Washington University ESE Department Website
b. Washington University Human Resources Website
c. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Website
d. National Society of Black Engineers Website
e. Society of Women Engineers Website
f. Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Website
g. IEEE Spectrum Magazine
h. Academic Keys Website
i. AcademicJobsOnline Website
j. E-Letters on Systems, Control & Signal Processing
k. Personal: Colleagues, Advisers and Friends.
Washington University recognizes that the decision to join our faculty often depends on the job prospects for a spouse or partner. Where possible, our schools work together to explore possible employment opportunities for those individuals. Department chairs and chairs of search committees are encouraged to contact their deans as early as possible in the recruitment process to explore and facilitate this transition process.
Washington University also participates in the St. Louis Regional Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), which offers resources for employment decisions involving two careers. Visit the HERC website for help with your dual-career job search. For additional assistance with HERC, please contact Lathon Ferguson, Manager, Community Diversity Outreach, Human Resources.
Washington University also realizes that many of our faculty’s partners are themselves outstanding academics. Recognizing that success in faculty recruitment often depends on the opportunity to facilitate the employment of an accompanying partner, Washington University has entered into a spousal hiring program with Saint Louis University. Although the program does not guarantee employment for the accompanying partner, it does provide an opportunity for both universities to more successfully place dual academic career couples.
Benefits and Housing Resources
Learn about Washington University’s highly competitive benefits, which are designed to support all of our faculty and their diverse needs. The university’s Human Resources team is available to have confidential discussions with faculty candidates and answer any questions they may have about our benefits.
New faculty are encouraged to explore the university’s Employer Assisted Housing Program. The program provides up to $8,500 in down payment or closing costs towards the purchase of a home in qualifying neighborhoods.
Washington University is committed to cultivating the next generation of academic leaders. We offer our faculty many formal and informal opportunities to build their leadership skills. Learn more about leadership development opportunities.
Washington University offers our faculty myriad opportunities to get involved and build connections with campus community members from many backgrounds and experiences. The St. Louis region is a vibrant and diverse one, with urban amenities and an affordable, high quality of life. Visit our Insider’s Guide to learn about the neighborhoods, sports teams, restaurants, arts and regional attractions that our faculty enjoy.
Washington University seeks to attract an ever more diverse and excellent global faculty. Follow our efforts!