Search Committee Preparations

Research conducted by Google found that teams are most effective when participation is equitable among members.3 All members should strive to be attentive to equal participation in both listening and speaking. Furthermore, all members need to feel comfortable enough to be frank in conversation. A welcoming environment for ideas about diversity and inclusion must prevail to check biases that may creep in throughout the process (see Appendix II, Sections D-F).

Inclusive excellence is a practice that requires us, as individuals and as communities, to assess and evaluate whether we are demonstrating outcomes that accurately reflect our institutional values and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In addition to search committee training, search committee members should attend training on implicit bias. Rather than striving for "color blindness," the training should focus on the value of divergent viewpoints and unique or non-traditional career paths. Search committee members are encouraged to be self-reflective about their own experiences and commitments to diversity (see Appendix II, Section E for links).

In preparation, the search committee should review the institutional goals in UNL's diversity statement and the diversity statement of the hiring unit, as well as discuss the impact of implicit biases in the position and discipline.

Obtain Information from Past Searches
The committee and the hiring official should review past departmental searches and results. Department and college institutional data can be requested from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics ( and UNL Human Resources. Additionally, some levels of historical search data may be accessed by college or department administrative staff through the People Admin System. A review of past data and comparative data to other institutions serves to emphasize the important consequences of the hiring process for the diversity mission of UNL.4 This is an important step to developing intentional and effective outreach and recruitment. (See Appendix ll-A.)

Equity within the Committee

Search committee members should be mindful of any power dynamics between group members and unconscious biases so that all individuals on the committee have an equal opportunity to voice their thoughts. This will enable fair, deliberate committee recommendations. The professional, mentoring, or personal relationships within the search committee itself may affect candidate evaluations in ways that have little to do with the submitted application materials. Although not all power dynamics can be avoided, aiming for equal participation in the search committee will result in a more effective group decision and provide an opportunity to strengthen inclusive practices in the department (see Appendix ll, Sections D and E).5 Some strategies that can help ensure the perspective of all committee members are given equal consideration are:

  • Systematic process for all committee members to participate in discussion and provide evidence of evaluation, such as use of rubrics in evaluating criteria.
  • Anonymous polling.
  • Anonymous voting.
Avoid conflicts of interest in search committee participation to ensure fair candidate evaluation. Members of the search committee should be ready to disclose possible conflicts of interest in the applicant review process, such as personal relationships, past mentoring or trainee relationships, or current and past financial or collaborative arrangements. Prior to applicant review, the committee should develop a plan for how to deal with any unforeseen conflicts of interest that may arise during the search process (see Appendix ll, Section F).

3 Duhigg, C . (2016) . What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team . The New York Times . Retrieved from: https://nyti .ms/20WG1yY

4 University of Nebraska–Lincoln (2018) Report of the Nebraska N150 Commission

5 Alipour, K . K ., S . Mohammed, and S . Raghuram (2018) . Differences in the Valuing of Power Among Team Members . Journal of Business and Psychology,33 (2), 231-47 . https://doi .org/10 .1007/s10869-017-9488-7