Hiring the right candidate for higher education positions can be a difficult, time consuming process, involving not just time and money, but human capital too. It is a process and as such, consists of three important steps, which if followed, can lead to a successful hire:
1) developing the advertisement,
2) screening the ‘pool’ of candidates in order to select the most qualified interviewees, and
3) assessing the fit, based upon the interview.
When a vacancy occurs, it’s obviously important to review the job description—I have found it beneficial to review the job description prior to the individual vacating the position. A review of the job responsibilities with the person who has performed those enables a more accurate analysis of the academic position, which may have changed over time, i.e., new responsibilities may have been added; other tasks may have been changed, or removed.
In today’s economy, an open position can potentially result in a flood of resumes. While it’s important to review these for selecting appropriate candidates for the interview process, it can be unwieldy. Thus, it becomes paramount to define a clear set of qualifications that the ‘incumbent’ will possess, with respect to skill set, experience, and ability to ‘fit in’ within the organization and the team.
Assessing the fit is probably the most difficult aspect of the interview process when recruiting for higher education positions. Developing a list of specific questions (e.g., questions on how they handled a successful situation and the converse—how they handled a situation that was unsuccessful and what, if anything, they may have learned) for the candidate to address—even to the extent of asking the same questions, in different settings, leads to a greater in-depth analysis of the candidates’ personality and ability to fit.
John McCarthy is Associate Dean for the College of Education at Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA.
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