Hiring the Right Candidate (after the interview)

The final candidate interview has been completed and now you (or the committee) are faced with making the “right” selection of which candidate to make the offer of employment to.  Sorting through this process can be a difficult task.  Interview responses from different candidates can begin to ‘run together’.  How does this get sorted out, you may be asking yourself.

The answer typically lies in the process that was developed before the final candidates were interviewed.  Interviews for higher education jobs consist of questions—usually asked by multiple interviewers in a variety of settings.  It’s important to develop some standardization around this process.  As it is, recruiting is a subjective undertaking—but, to a great extent, subjectivity can be minimized through standardization.

Standardization is achieved by gathering potential interviewers together (the search committee) to discuss development of interview questions, as well as a ranking—or scoring for each question.  Scoring candidates on question responses (often times using a likert scale of 1 to 3): 1=acceptable (candidate ‘hit the mark’ on their response) to 3=marginal (candidate’s response didn’t equate to what the interviewer was expecting).

Through quantifying the responses for any academic jobs, this can lead to an overall ranking of the candidates, at which point, the ‘softer’ analysis can come into play: how the candidate stood out (or didn’t) in people’s minds; did one candidate ‘feel’ like a ‘fit’?  This quantifying of the interview process can then become coupled with the screening of the references (again through quantifying/grading those responses) to achieve an overall score (or ranking) of where the candidates place.

Subjectivity cannot, nor should not, be totally eliminated.  Relying, to some degree, on feelings of comfortableness, ability to relate and carry on a ‘regular’ conversation are all important components in the overall recipe for success in recruitment.

John McCarthy is Associate Dean for the College of Education at Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA.

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