Faculty Affairs

Communicating with Search Candidates

Protocol for Communicating with Candidates during Faculty Searches

"The Ethics of Recruitment and Faculty Appointment," a statement adopted by the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences in November 1992 and jointly by the American Association of University Professors in June 1993, contains the guiding principles for faculty searches.

Within this context of full disclosure, departments should respect the wishes, professional needs, and sensibilities of candidates. This means, for example, that once a short list has been approved to visit campus, the remaining members of the candidate pool may be informed that their applications are no longer under consideration. Likewise, if a short list of, say, four is further reduced to a shorter list of two, the department may inform the unlucky two of the decision. That said, departments may wish to delay final negative notifications until the position has been filled. This is acceptable, unless individual candidates ask for clarification about the state of the search, in which case the department should provide that information.

In all cases, departments should deliver negative notifications with as much sensitivity and encouragement for the candidate as possible. It may be helpful to prepare scenarios early in the search so that if candidates inquire about the state of the search before the department is ready to make any formal announcement, they can contain what needs to be said but no more. Here are two possible templates for written notification and one sample telephone script:

A. For informing candidates that they did not make the short list (or the shorter list):

Dear ____,

Thank you for your interest in the position for which Duke University has conducted  a search this year in the Department of ____. We were fortunate enough to receive XX applications and expressions of interest and have arrived at a short list of candidates to invite to campus for interviews.

In order to inform you of developments as soon as possible, thereby assisting you in your professional planning and decision making, I regret to inform you that – despite your excellent credentials and scholarly record – we have decided not to invite you to campus for further consideration. Our applicant pool, including your candidacy, was extremely strong; as you can imagine, our process for reaching a short list was not an easy one.

Our search committee enjoyed its conversations with you at our annual convention in _____ and thanks you for your interest in our program at Duke. We wish you the best of luck in your continuing professional career.

Sincerely,

Department Chair of Search Committee Chair

B. For informing candidates that the position has been filled:

Dear ____,

Thank you for your interest in the position for which Duke University has conducted a search this year in the Department of ___. We were fortunate enough to receive XX applications and expressions of interest.

I am pleased to inform you that the search has reached a successful conclusion and that we have appointed Dr. _____ , currently ____ Professor at the University of ____, to the position. She will begin her appointment in August.

My departmental colleagues and I were pleased by the high interest in this position and were excited by your visit to campus. It is clear that the field is an important and vibrant one and that its future is rosy. We thank you for your interest in our program at Duke and wish you the best of luck in your continuing professional career.

Sincerely,

Department Chair or Search Committee Chair

C. Telephone script for a spontaneous inquiry:

Hi.

.....?

Yes, I am able to inform you of the search's status. Just yesterday our faculty received the search committee's recommendation for a short list of candidates to invite to campus for interviews (after reviewing the credentials of an extraordinary pool of more than __ applicants). As department chair I am, this morning, contacting the short-listed candidates to schedule interviews and preparing email notices to all those whom we are unable to invite.

I regret to tell you that your name does not figure on the short list. Your credentials are impressive, and my colleagues and I found your accomplishments and planned research to be imaginative, important, and promising. However, we have decided to invite others to campus for interviews.