Defining the Selection Criteria


Selection Criteria

Before a position is advertised and any candidate screening begins, the Search Committee must determine the screening and selection criteria in order to ensure a fair and equitable approach to the selection process. Selection criteria will be used to prepare the advertisement, screen resumes, form interview questions, rank candidates, achieve employment equity commitments, and make the final recommendation and decision. Selection criteria should relate to the already defined position description.

In order to develop the criteria, it is useful to ask these three questions:

1. What are the job expectations and responsibilities for this position? These may involve specific expectations for:

  • academic credentials
  • teaching experience and level of expertise
  • research (including publication record)
  • supervising and counselling students
  • university service and collegial relationships

2. What knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and qualities are required to do the job well? This requires matching the expectations in the above groupings with qualifications. For example, a teaching expectation may be to teach a graduate course on a specific topic, and the requirement for this expectation may be a specialization in the subject.

3. What value or weight will you give to these criteria or qualifications? Distinguish essential qualifications from merely desirable ones that would make a candidate more attractive. 

Bear in mind the following guidelines for defining the job and establishing the selection criteria*:

  • When determining the selection criteria, ensure they relate to the ability to perform the job;
  • Establish clear yet flexible selection criteria; area of specialization, teaching experience, research, community service, references, and publications, for example, are all appropriate and relevant selection criteria for faculty positions; as well, an overly rigid description might exclude outstanding women or minority groups who are interested in non-traditional areas of research; if the description is a rigid duplication of previous positions, it may exclude non-traditional applicants from being eligible;
  • Rank or weight each criterion in importance prior to beginning the screening process; establishing which of the criteria are most important may be difficult, but it is an important exercise to enhance and clarify the Committee's awareness of its goals before meeting the candidates;
  • Ensure that the skills and knowledge requirements for the positions are not made more specialized than necessary, and ensure that the years-of-experience criterion is not inflated beyond what is actually necessary to do the job; through the scope of the criteria, the potential for an increased pool of applicants is expanded;
  • Keep the University's commitment to diversity and excellence in mind when establishing the selection criteria.

Ensure that each criterion is based on bona fide job requirements and not on personal preferences. Also, it should be possible for candidates to meet the criteria in a variety of ways. Committee members should make an effort to give a fair assessment of foreign credentials.

Establish the criteria in writing and ensure that all involved in the selection process are aware of the requirements. A screening tool, to be used for the initial screening of applicants, should now be created, using the selection criteria. 

Develop a core group of questions, and a range of appropriate responses, based on the job-related criteria by which candidates are to be evaluated. Interview questions, based on the identified criteria, should be developed before the applications are received recognizing that there will be a need for follow-up questions from the interviews and individual CVs. 

Employment equity initiatives should be discussed with the entire Search Committee and should be kept in mind throughout the search process. As stated in Clause 14.01(a) DFA, "it is appropriate that positive initiatives be taken to increase the proportion of designated group members among those holding academic appointments at Dalhousie ... Where non-designated group member candidates who are eligible for appointment have qualifications and experience judged not to be substantially better suited for the appointment than those of a designated​ group member candidate, the designated group member candidate is to be selected. This policy does not apply in respect of women (not otherwise designated groups members) in those departments, schools and other such units wherein the proportion of women Members already exceeds one-half."

​If the posting is for an Instructor Member, the job description must be uploaded on PeopleAdmin under "Attachments" before the posting can be approved and advertised.

adapted from Queen's University