Interviewing and Evaluating Candidates


A. Preparing for the Site Visit

The selection process works both ways -- remember that candidates visit the University to see whether they wish to work here. The interview process will be increasingly important as an opportunity for a unit to "sell" itself to candidates. The on-site or virtual visit should be well-organized and one person should be responsible for any hospitality arrangements. A checklist may be useful to keep track of the airport schedules, local transportation, meeting times and so on.

It is important to ensure consistency in the interview process and in the campus visit in order to give candidates equivalent opportunities to present themselves.

When contacting shortlisted candidates for interviews, ensure that all candidates are asked if they have any special needs that require consideration, such as dietary requirements or accessibility issues that may require accommodation. The invited candidates should receive a detailed schedule in advance of their visits so that they are fully aware of the expectations and what is required, for example, presenting a one-hour lecture for undergraduates. For a candidate whose area of study is unfamiliar to Committee members, it may be useful to invite an external expert to take part in the interview process. This could, for example, take the form of having the specialist meet with the candidate individually, and then report back to the Committee.

B. Interview and Presentation

The Committee should review the core questions they developed before posting the ad. Committee members should be made aware of different types of question formats, including behavioural questions, and they should decide who will ask each question. The same questions should be asked of all candidates, thereby allowing comparative judgments to be made. To this may be added questions that arise from a candidate's CV or references. Along with structured questions, however, probing questions exploring areas of concern are recommended for individual exploration of candidates. This format should provide a balance between flexibility and consistency.

Avoid questions that could be considered discriminatory. If there is a period of time unaccounted for in the employment record of the individual or if there is a long period between degrees, it is appropriate to allow the candidate to explain these time gaps. Keep in mind, however, that according to human rights legislation, you may not ask questions about factors such as a candidate's age, marital status, family or personal life, religion, ethnicity, country of origin, etc. Refer to Fair Hiring Practices for further information regarding hiring practices that support Employment Equity.

The interview should open with the Chair introducing all members of the Committee and outlining the interview format for the candidate. An exchange of information will comprise the main part of the interview. At the conclusion of the meeting, the candidate should be encouraged to ask questions, and give any relevant information not sent previously. Finally, the candidate should be thanked for attending, and advised when they will be contacted.

Throughout the process, Committee members should keep in mind the requirements of the position and the selection criteria. A standard form with the interview questions, the criteria sought, and a space for the evaluations of the candidate's answers provide a useful tool for comparing candidates, as well as for documenting the interview process. Committee members should complete these individually before discussing the candidate. Interview notes should be objective, factual, and individual - avoid subjective comments and personal opinions. Be sensitive to, and question, any biases that may appear to be operating within the Search Committee or unit. Each candidate should be evaluated against the criteria after each interview.

When a lecture and/or seminar is included as part of the selection process, ensure that all candidates are given an equal opportunity to demonstrate their potential. Fairness may be achieved by ensuring that whenever possible:

  • conditions are equivalent for all candidates (i.e. room location, audience);
  • the candidate and the Committee members agree in advance on the topic;
  • before the presentation, the candidate is shown how to operate lights, audio-visual equipment, etc., and is given time to set up and review the presentation; all Search Committee members attend the session;
  • the lecture is not scheduled at a time that is inconvenient for colleagues and students.

Given that most individuals will be expected to teach and to conduct scholarly work, it may be useful to ask candidates to give two presentations - a seminar on their research and scholarly work and a lecture on a topic normally included in the undergraduate or graduate program. If student/faculty feedback is sought from any presentation given by the candidates ensure that the evaluation sheets reflect the selection criteria. 

C. Evaluating the Candidates

The Committee should ensure that anyone in the unit who will meet with the candidate and/or comment on their application is made aware, in advance, of the selection criteria and requirements for the position so that the comments are job-related. An evaluation form should be drafted that relates specifically to the job criteria. 

Treating all candidates fairly includes ensuring that all Search Committee members who are voting on the selection of the candidate have reviewed all candidates' curriculum vitae, reference checks, publications and other supporting documents, and attended any seminars or lectures that the candidates have given and are aware of further reference checks, if appropriate.

At this stage, the Committee may need to review the essential requirements of the position. Applicants must be judged on the pre-determined criteria, not any individual's personal image of the 'best' candidate. In assessing candidates against the criteria, remember that the 'face-to-face' interview is only one source of information. Use all the sources of information you have in arriving at a decision (e.g., various feedback/evaluation forms, references, CV, publications, teaching dossier). If the final scores of the candidates seem out of step with overall impression, this indicates the need for more discussion with the Search Committee and perhaps the need to seek more information from the candidates or the referees.

Equity information

  • Be aware of cultural or gender differences that may get in the way of judging quality and content. Unconscious biases can inadvertently interfere with a fair assessment. 
  • Remember to keep Employment Equity initiatives, and the representativeness of your unit, in mind during the final selection process. 
  • Among qualified candidates, a non-designated group candidate must have qualifications and experience judged to be substantially better suited for the position than a designated group candidate for them to be offered the position. (See Board/DFA Collective Agreement Clause 14.01, and Unconscious Bias and issues in Candidate Assessment [myDal login required].
  • Remind all people involved in the selection process that they are bound by confidentiality. (See Board/DFA Collective Agreement Clause 17.04) 

If questions arise concerning recruitment in relation to the DFA Collective Agreement [PDF] within this process, please contact the appropriate person, such as: Manager of Academic Staff Relations or Director of Academic Staff Relations.