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I am wondering how the search committees take into account feedback that is provided by faculty members who meet one-on-one with a candidate. I am curious about both the process as well as how the committee considers the feedback when making their decision.

So, for example, does the faculty member who meets with the candidate email the committee as soon as the discussion is done to write about how the meeting went? Are they evaluating the candidate on "culture fit", technical prowess, teaching/research, etc.? Do they have veto power over a candidate? Do they meet with the search committee and discuss candidates after everyone's met with each one? Is it the same faculty who meet one-on-one with the candidates, or does it depend on who's available that day?

I'm rather interested in the process of how it works, for those who have been on search committees, and that is why I ask this question. I am most interested in responses for research interviews for institutions in the United States but experiences from other locations would be valuable as I am sure that the process is not identical even within one country (or even one department).

This question is highly related, but isn't specifically addressing what I am wondering.

  • Your question seems to presuppose that the search committee makes the final hiring decision, which isn't necessarily the case. In my department, all the tenure-track and tenured faculty vote on hiring. The search committee's special role is finished by the time the candidates visit the campus. – Mark Meckes Feb 13 '14 at 19:02
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    @mark meckes: your point is well noted. I may modify my question later - I can't do it now as I have a faculty interview to prepare for. :) – Irwin Feb 14 '14 at 7:33
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I am in a US R1 institution in a department of computer science.

All departments have their own style. Ours is something like this:

  • Each candidate is "governed" by a search committee (we often have multiple searches in different areas) consisting of 4-5 faculty.
  • Each candidate is "hosted" by one specific person on the committee: the host's job is to be the candidate liaison to the process, as well as managing the interview schedule, and making everything run smoothly from the department's point of view
  • Immediately after the interview, the host sends out mail to the faculty requesting formal feedback via email. The host will also typically buttonhole people in the hallway to get informal "vibes" as well.
  • after the formal feedback is collected (and anonymized depending on how things go), and after all candidates have been interviewed, the search committee sits down to assess the pool.

At this stage, faculty feedback plays the following role (the committee has already discussed the technical merits and strengths/weaknesses of the candidates):

  • Is there a clear consensus in favor of a candidate ?
  • Are there candidates that are drawing strong (and well-founded) opposition from the faculty ?
  • If the committee decides to choose one particular candidate to put forward to the faculty at large, will there be significant opposition, and why ?
  • what is the overall sense that the faculty appears to have about the candidates in general ?

After this is done, the committee might choose to:

  • present a candidate as a consensus choice
  • present two candidates as co-consensus choices that the faculty at large can vote on
  • decide that no candidate has crossed the bar for a faculty-wide vote.

To answer your specific questions that aren't covered above:

  • no one person (not even the chair!) has a veto over hiring someone, but obviously people closer technically to the candidate will have a "weightier" opinion. The way our structure works, it's possible (though unlikely to happen) that the committee will nix someone that the faculty all like, which is a sort of collective veto
  • faculty are assembled to meet the candidate based primarily on possible match of interest, and occasionally also for tactical reasons :). The host will make sure that people who are stakeholders in the hire meet as many candidates as possible. But there's of course an element of "who's available that day".
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I've been on a hiring committee twice. We don't typically have formal "one-to-one" meetings, but we do make a lot of time for informal discussions with the candidate and one or more faculty.

Each time, we have hired in an area which I'm very interested in but only know a very little bit about. So, I always have "stupid" questions in the back of my mind which I can ask to the candidates. This gives me a good opportunity to be favorably impressed by them.

Another thing I like to do is start talking about my own research area. Sometimes candidates will know at least a little bit about it and will ask very interesting questions. This also makes a positive impression, especially when it leads to a long discussion.

I don't care much about "culture fit", but candidates do, and they often ask a lot of questions about my university, the department atmosphere, and what the city is like.

  • This does not answer the question (how the information gained during one-on-one meetings enters the hiring decision process) but merely describes the sort of interactions that happen during one-on-one meetings. – user2705196 Feb 6 '17 at 22:02
  • @user2705196 I described opportunities that I deliberately give the candidates to give a positive impression. Later, when we meet to discuss the merits of the candidates in question, I talk about what impressed me about each of them. – Anonymous Feb 7 '17 at 5:15

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