The search process can often become unintentionally infected by bias. This section is intended to reduce that bias and eliminate barriers that may exist that unintentionally screen out certain potential applicants. In this section, you will find guidelines on screening applicants for minimum and preferred qualifications, establishing interview questions, conducting interviews, and evaluating applicants' performance.
When screening applicants, it is important that you apply the same criteria to all applicants, and that you apply those criteria in the same way to all applicants. Define terms used in minimum and preferred qualifications before you start reviewing applicants. For example, if a qualification is "a record of scholarship" in a particular area, decide as a search committee what that means. Are you looking for a specific number of publications? Are you looking for publications in particular journals? Similarly, if you ask for a master's degree in education or a related field, what fields do you consider to be "related"? It is important for all members of the search committee to be applying the same standards to all applicants because interpretation of potentially vague terms is an area where bias can easily enter the process. As you think through how you will evaluate specific qualifications, make sure that you are not setting expectations that will unintentionally screen out particular groups of people.
To assist you in the process of determining which applicants meet the minimum and preferred qualifications, Human Resources has created an Application Review Matrix.
Another way to mitigate bias is to reduce the amount of non-job-related information search committee members know about a candidate during the initial screening process. Research has repeatedly shown that even a candidate’s name, if traditionally associated with a particular race, can have a significant impact on their success in the job application process. The use of “blind” auditions for symphonies, where candidates performed behind a screen, drastically increased the number of women hired. When the evaluators didn’t have access to identity information about a candidate, they instead judged the candidate solely on their musical ability. The same principle applies to our hiring processes. We want search committee members to be focused on a candidate’s ability to perform the relevant job rather than extraneous information that is unrelated to the candidate’s job qualifications. You might consider redacting information from resumes before distributing them to the search committee, or even asking applicants not to include specific information on their resumes so you won’t have to redact it. Consider redacting the following types of information from resumes and cover letters: name, email address, address, college/university attended, graduation year, hobbies, and identity-based professional organization membership. Each situation is unique, and some applicants may reveal identity-based information (or information that would lead a reviewer to assume an identity) in other ways. For example, if a candidate previously worked for a religious organization, you may want to redact the name of the organization. Throughout the process, remember that the goal is to reduce the impact of bias – implicit or explicit – in the review process. To that end, consider the types of information candidates are providing in their application materials, and think about redacting anything that might cause search committee members to make decisions based on their own biases rather than the candidate’s qualifications. In doing so, though, be careful not to redact any information that establishes that a candidate is qualified for the position. This can be a fine line, and if you would like to discuss a particular situation you’re facing as you attempt to implement a process like this, please contact the Office of Equity at email@example.com.