I am a first time faculty member straight out of grad school and I have been installed as a director for a "learning center". We hire undergraduate and graduate student "coaches" in the learning center to help students who have trouble understanding concepts in physics or math.

Now, I have interviewed students for the "coach" position and I have to have 10 of them sign a contract. How do I do this? I am assuming that I cannot have all of them sit in a circle and sign the contract? Should I ask them to come to my table one at a time and read and sign the contract with them?

I am unsure if this is really a "question" here and please feel free to re-assign it if it isn't.

  • 1
    Is it a problem to have them sign individually? or together? It is not clear what constitutes the problem? Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 20:40
  • @PeterJansson is there any etiquette that I must follow when I have students sign contracts? I can't just wave a sheet at them and ask them to sign it ;)
    – dearN
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 20:42
  • I cannot see any specific etiquette as such but of course provide a good work description and make sure they understnad any terms and conditions as well as expectations before signing. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 20:44
  • 3
    I would just put them in the regular classroom, come to the board, go over the contract and general expectations, ask if there are any questions, and by the end ask them to sign and submit them to you. The only etiquette with the legal documents is that each party should retain a copy. Normally, when you ask students to sign, the university representative signature is already there.
    – fedja
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 22:01
  • 3
    Your human resources office can surely offer some guidance on this. Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 4:00

3 Answers 3


I agree with earthling's answer and want to add to it.

Since you have ten of them signing the same contract, there is nothing wrong with first explaining the contract to them as a group. Then, they can ask questions and benefit from the questions each of them asks. Tell them that they have until X date and Y time to sign the contract, that they have to sign it in front of you, and that they should feel free to ask you additional questions in private in case they did not want to ask a sensitive question at the group setting.

Since these ten people will be presumably working together at the same job, there is nothing unethical about them all knowing that they have exactly the same contract.


As with any contract, especially with people who have likely never signed an employment contract before, the best thing is to to give them a copy (hard or soft) so they can review it with someone they trust. Then tell them to bring it back in on/by a certain date.

It is better if they sign in front of you. Then you sign and give them a copy immediately.

  • From the ethical standpoint, this is the best way. However, from the technical standpoint, there is one minor problem: to have 10 people coming to you separately with signed contracts and to make sure that nobody is late, loses his copy, forgets, etc. may be harder than you expect ;). I followed the same logic as Ben when offering to do it in one room. After your post, I would also suggest to say that whoever wants to discuss things in private should do it right after the session and to send students a sample a few days before the meeting, but I would still finish it in one day :).
    – fedja
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 15:40
  • 4
    Inconvenience does not excuse being unethical. Do it right.
    – JeffE
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 16:14
  • Ethics doesn't excuse being inefficient either :). This is the world of compromises really. But yes, do it right (to the best of your judgement, at least).
    – fedja
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 22:26
  • 1
    We can have ethics and convenience. Ask all of your hires to come to a joint meeting where you will go over expectations, what they'll do this semester, etc. Tell them that you'll also ask them to sign the contract at that meeting, and attach a copy of the contract in that email. That way, they can review the contract in advance. At the meeting, have 10 copies, each with your signature already affixed. After you brief them and ask if there are any questions, ask them to sign the contract and give you the signed copy (and immediately give them a signed copy for their records).
    – D.W.
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 2:36

If this is a big university, employment contracts should be administered through HR. There would very likely be a web app that is supposed to be used. Check with HR before you do anything. Ask them if it needs to be checked with university council. These are the people who will give you a hard time if something goes wrong.

You and the student workers should not be interested in the details of the contract and how it's signed. Use normal management skills.

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