VI. Managing Campus Visits
Interviewing the Candidates
The following is an important check list for each search committee to consider as candidates are invited to campus for interviews.
- Identify all persons and groups to be involved in the interview process.
- Review the interview process with all interviewers, including:
- Responsibility for interview facilitation.
- Interview format and schedule.
- Relevant information about the position: position description, essential functions of the job, necessary areas of inquiry.
- Positive aspects of Lehigh University (as candidates are interviewed, they are assessing the department, college and Lehigh University).
- Importance of consistency of questions for all candidates.
- Confidentiality expectations.
- “Guidelines for Asking Questions During Search Processes” (details follow).
- Evaluation criteria.
- Design interview process and campus visit carefully to eliminate bias toward any candidate (details follow).
- Develop interview schedule.
- Develop interview format to include:
- Questions to be asked of the candidate.
- Benefits review by the Dean/Human Resources (see Faculty Resource Benefits Guide).
- Questions from the candidate to the committee.
- Current status of the search process.
- Develop questions that relate to the position based upon the job description.
- Ensure that the interview formalities are not biased (examples below).
- Develop evaluation criteria.
- Consider having each candidate perform relevant job skills during the interview (i.e. teach a class, make a presentation).
- Provide transportation to and from airport and hotel and an individual to escort the candidate to and from each interview.
- Conduct interviews.
- Request evaluation of each candidate from all interviewers.
Campus visit is a critical part of the recruitment process. The department or program has the opportunity to communicate the following messages:
- Lehigh University is a good place to come because it is intellectually lively, and committed to diversity in the faculty, staff and student body.
- Lehigh University is seriously interested in the candidate’s scholarly credentials and work.
- Lehigh University is a good place to come because it has a variety of humane, family-friendly policies in place.
- Information about the Lehigh Valley is available in Appendix 16.
- Work-life balance and dual career services are available to faculty and their spouses or partners through our Faculty Dual Career Assistance Program.
- How well the department or program can represent itself as a whole place in which women and underrepresented minorities can thrive.
- Emphasize the positive aspects of Lehigh relative to women and underrepresented minorities. Don’t rely solely on Lehigh’s reputation.
Factors that Bias Interviews
Being aware of the following biases and their definitions can help evaluators avoid making snap judgments or inappropriate decisions.
First impressions – making decisions ONLY on this basis.
- Contrast effect – comparing applicant to previous candidates.
- Negative information – weighing negative information more heavily than positive to screen out candidate.
- Halo/Horn effect – allowing one strong point that interviewer values highly to overshadow all other information. When this works in the candidate’s favor it is the halo effect, when it works against the candidate, it is called the horn effect.
- Similar to me effect – rating those who are like the interviewer higher than those who are least like the interviewer.
- Cultural noise – failing to distinguish between responses of candidate that are socially acceptable rather than factual; candidate will give responses that are politically correct but not revealing.
- Affect bias – if the candidate appears to like the interviewer, then that interviewer rates the candidate higher.
- Physical characteristics – the more attractive the candidate is, the higher the score.
Suggestions on Ways to Eliminate Bias
Set criteria in advance.
- Identify questions in advance and tie questions to criteria.
- Use the same interviewers during the process.
- Ask the same questions of all candidates.
- Develop a consistent interview agenda for all candidates.
- Educate interviewers on position, process and questions.
- Use standard rating sheets.
- Conduct reference checks consistently, and complete by the same person.
Examples that Bias Interviews
The following are lists of bias interview questions for a variety of candidate groups. If you will be meeting with a candidate not listed in the examples below and have specific questions, you may contact the Vice Provost for Academic Diversity.
Regarding female candidates:
Assume that child-rearing or family responsibilities are too demanding.
Assume the candidate has less time for research or professional activities.
Assume the candidate is an expert on, or can speak or represent, the experience and issues of all women.
- Regarding male candidates:
Assume that child-rearing or family responsibilities are less demanding.
Assume the candidate has more time for research or professional activities.
Assume the candidate is an expert on, or can speak or represent, the experience and issues of all men.
- Regarding African-American candidates:
Assume will only be interested in research or professional activities exclusively related to African-Americans.
Assume that research about African-Americans is not as valid or pure as research about European-Americans.
Assume the candidate is an expert on, or can speak or represent, the experience and issues of all African-Americans.
- Regarding Asian-American candidates:
Assume he or she might not be assertive enough to be in the role of leadership.
- Regarding persons with a disability:
Assume someone who uses a wheelchair or is blind would not be an effective teacher or researcher.
Assume someone who has an invisible disability is not disabled (e.g., heart condition, psychological condition).
Best Management Practices for Interviewing
The most effective interviewers: are completely prepared; give the candidate undivided attention; put the candidate at ease; ask open-ended questions; listen at least 80 percent of the time.
Guidelines for Interview Questions
Questions that are not job-related are inappropriate and illegal during all phases of the search process, including formal interviews, informal interactions between candidates and search representatives (including mealtime conversations), and reference checks.
Interview questions should be occupational questions aimed at discovering what the candidate can bring to the position and the university, and must be limited to issues that directly relate to the job to be performed. There are inquiries that are not permitted because they request or allow use of information that may lead to an unfair or discriminatory decision.
There is a fine line between being social and genuinely interested in the candidate as a person, and asking questions that can be interpreted as discriminatory or illegal. Therefore, avoid asking personal questions.
Examples of legitimate questions include:
Work history and references
Ability to perform the job
Potential starting date of employment
Relationship with current or last employer
Career goals, objectives
Research expertise and experience
Future research directions
Experience with teaching
Examples of inappropriate questions:
Inquiries about children
Sample questions that are potentially illegal include:
Your name is unusual. Where are you from originally?
Will your husband/wife need help looking for employment in our community as well?
Sometimes the college has open houses on Sundays. Would this interfere with your attending religious services?
We have a great childcare center on campus. Do you have children?
The students on this campus tend to be pretty conservative. How would you describe your political views?
Would you like information about the quality of schools in the area?
What is your native language?
Have you ever been in the military?
You don’t look old enough to have a Ph.D., how old are you?
Have you been treated for mental illness?
Guidelines for Hiring Foreign National Employees at Lehigh University & Services Available to a New Foreign National Faculty Member (8/16/12)
In addition to the various rules and regulations applicable to the hiring of any employee, the University must comply with U.S. immigration rules and regulations when hiring a foreign national. The University’s failure to comply with these rules and regulations may jeopardize the University’s ability to employ foreign nationals and may result in severe financial penalties to the University.
In order to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary delays, the hiring Department should consult with the International Students and Scholars office (ISS) within the Office of International Affairs prior to entering into any negotiation to hire an individual who is on a non-immigrant visa status and is either, currently residing in the U.S., or will be entering the U.S.
One of the functions of ISS is to provide both the Department and the foreign national candidate with information and assistance for obtaining visa documentation and authorization for employment, and for maintaining immigration status.
Please note that ISS is the only University office that is authorized to submit immigration applications on behalf of Lehigh University.
Hiring a foreign national faculty member is not just about their initial employment offer but also about helping them to acclimate to both the campus and local community. Therefore, ISS looks at the following four stages when a new foreign national is hired.
Stage 1 – Application/Interview:
After a candidate submits an application to the search committee, the search committee will determine whether it wishes to invite the candidate to campus for an interview.
At this stage, the search committee should not be addressing any of the complexities associated with the legal issues of hiring a foreign national.
However, since it is possible that the candidate may be interested in learning about the services Lehigh University offers to foreign nationals, the search committee should offer the candidate the opportunity to meet with the Director of ISS so that he/she may have the opportunity to ask questions. The candidate, of course, is not obligated to do so.
The committee should also provide the candidate with the following links to the ISS web site and information about an H-1B visa:
Stage 2 – Hiring:
It is highly recommended that the Department Chair contact the Director (or his/her designee) of ISS once the search committee has ascertained that it wishes to hire a Foreign National.
The Director of ISS will provide the Department Chair with a summary of the information that the Foreign National needs to be aware of when preparing to come to Lehigh.
The Director of ISS will provide the Department Chair with a one page information sheet/check list that may be used during the initial conversation with the candidate. Also, it is recommended that the Department Chair share this checklist with the candidate to ensure that all details relating to the candidate’s visa status are clarified and to determine whether any additional information is needed with regard to the candidate’s family.
- As the U.S. Government may change its rules and regulations often, the one page information/checklist, will be generated at the time the Department Chair contacts the Director of ISS to ensure that the most up-to-date information is being provided.
The following are the categories of visas that may apply when hiring a foreign national:
H-1B visa is a non-immigrant category established by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to employ international workers in “specialty occupations.” It has a maximum of six years duration.
TN visa is based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is a non-immigrant category for Canadian and Mexican citizens to be employed in a professional field. It can be granted for up to three years at a time and extended without maximum limit.
A permanent resident, also known as an immigrant, or green card holder, is a foreign national who has been granted approval to live and work permanently in the United States. – see Apply for Labor Certification for Permanent Residency below.
Stage 3 – Arrival day to 6 months:
The International Services Office is available to assist new international faculty members as they assimilate into both the Lehigh and surrounding community.
The Council for International Students and Scholars (CISH), within the Office of International Affairs, is a community volunteer organization, whose primary mission is to assist in helping international students and scholars become established in the Lehigh Valley.
New faculty members and their spouses will be invited to join CISH and to take advantage of any services offered by the organization, such as:
Helping people to "feel at home". Many international scholars who come to the U.S. to work may feel isolated since they are in a new environment. CISH helps the faculty member and his/her family develop a sense of belonging within the local community.
Inviting new international faculty for a home-cooked meal when they first arrive and in the first few months in the area.
Inviting international faculty and their families to community events.
Providing help in finding schools, doctors, shopping, housing etc.
Stage 4 – Beyond Initial Appointment
On the [one year] anniversary of a foreign national faculty member’s hire date, ISS will provide him/her with an update of immigration status, including any necessary steps he/she must take to remain in compliance with the U.S. regulations.
Also, ISS will provide periodic reminders to foreign national faculty members about changes in regulations that may affect them as well as any steps they must take if they are traveling outside of the U.S. to ensure they remain in compliance with their immigration status.
Apply for Labor Certification for Permanent Residency
- Special Recruitment-
Colleges and universities are eligible to apply for labor certification on behalf of any foreign professor (as well as any other foreign employee who engages in classroom teaching), through a streamlined and advantageous labor certification process known as Special Recruitment. To be eligible, the College must engage in a “competitive recruitment and selection process” that led to the selection of the Foreign National. A Special Recruitment case must be filed within 18 months of the Foreign National’s date of selection.
The Department of Labor as of July 16, 2007 requires employers to pay the legal costs for non-U.S. resident faculty to obtain labor certification for Permanent Residency. College and university teachers may obtain labor certification through a process that is now called "Special Recruitment."
The key points are as follows:
The search process must include AT LEASE ONE PRINT ADVERTISEMENT in a "national professional journal." This can be the Chronicle of Higher Education or another appropriate national professional journal. The advertisement can be fairly general, with title, specific field, and required teaching experience. This print advertisement is in addition to other normal recruitment resources such as HigherEdJobs.com, HERC, and other websites, mailings, etc.
- The application for Special Recruitment must be initiated within 18 months of the date of the non-U.S. resident's offer letter.
- The college and/or department must pay the required fees for labor certification for Permanent Residency; it should be noted that the Provost's office does not have funds to cover these costs.
- The Office of General Counsel at Lehigh engaged two immigration attorneys to handle the labor certification process for Lehigh faculty. Both attorneys (contact information provided below) have agreed to charge $2,500 per case. Departments should contact the General Counsel’s Office prior to engaging any attorney other than the two listed below.
Faculty members seeking additional information are encouraged to contact Mr. Gang Wang, Director of International Students and Scholars at 610-758-6377 or gaw312@Lehigh.edu.
Faculty members may also contact representatives from the law firms below for more information on the Special Handling and labor certification processes:
Wendy Castor Hess of Goldblum & Hess
H. Ronald Klasko of Klasko, Rulon, Stock and Seltzer
Phone: (215)-825-8608 E
General Information: Work Life Balance, Faculty Dual Career Resources & the Lehigh Valley
If during an interview the candidate asks about schools or opportunities for employment for a spouse or partner, then these topics can be discussed. Top candidates can visit the Faculty Dual Career Program website, Life & DCConnect. Other resources are available about Work Life Balance and About the Lehigh Valley.
The program successfully fuses personal service with on-demand technology to support faculty and their spouses or partners through their searches.
Contact the Faculty Dual Career Assistance Program office at email@example.com for assistance.
- Consider including the following in position postings if the committee and Department Chair are willing to assist with placing qualified partners, “The University strives to be responsive to the needs of dual career couples.”
Ensure that everyone on the search committee is familiar with the Lehigh University Faculty Dual Career Program, coordinated by the Office of the Provost.
- Consult with your Dean and the Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs about top candidates’ dual career inquiries as appropriate.
Guidelines for Conducting Reference Checks
Lehigh University must make a reasonable effort to learn about a candidate before inviting him/her to join the community. The university can best protect against liability for “negligent hiring” by checking background and references to the extent possible. Reference checks may also help clarify or dispel any concerns or uncertainties about a candidate, and may provide information that will help you supervise the employee more effectively.
It is true that many organizations give only the slightest information about a former or present employee (e.g., position title and years of employment). Nonetheless, you should attempt to conduct a reference check and document that you have done so with the results noted. This will protect the university in the event of a situation after the person is employed or if the person does not get the job and files a lawsuit.
- Visit a candidate’s website only if the candidate has specifically referred you to it, for example by listing the website on their CV.
- Remember that all questions asked during references checks must be job-related. It is illegal to ask questions of references that cannot be legally asked of the applicant.
- It is not good practice to conduct online research about candidates by using Google or social media in employment decisions. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, You Tube, and other platforms. LinkedIn, which is strictly a professional social networking site, is an exception. It is acceptable to visit a candidate’s website only if the candidate has specifically referred you to it, for example, by listing the website on their CV. Online research has the potential of inadvertently uncovering private information about the candidate that is irrelevant to his/her ability to perform the job duties, including information about the candidate’s race, religion, or sexual orientation, potentially introducing bias into the process. While some employers permit Human Resources to do social media searches after the interview and finalist selection has taken place, we do not and will not do so at Lehigh. HR performs background checks on finalists, with their express consent, and these checks provide the appropriate information Lehigh requires for decision-making purposes. See Lehigh’s guidelines at http://spotlight.sites.lehigh.edu/article.php?id=309.
Guidelines for Providing Accommodations for Disabilities
For assistance in preparing to interview or evaluate a candidate with a disability, contact Lehigh University's Provost's Office at 610-758-3813, and refer to the Manual for Disability Accommodation for Faculty.
As an employer, Lehigh University is subject to both Section 503/504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. To be covered by the law, a person must currently have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The Supreme Court, in
interpreting eligibility, has decided that when judging whether or not an individual has a disability recognized by the law, one must take into account any corrective measures that are being used to control or overcome the impairment, such as corrective eyeglasses, medication to control diabetes or other illnesses.
One provision of the laws on disability is that the university must provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities who are able to perform the essential functions of the job in question. Individuals are more than the injuries they have.
Candidates with disabilities may include (but are not limited to):
- Mobility impairments
Blind or visually impaired
People who use wheelchairs can hold physically demanding jobs and need not be confined to desk jobs.
A person’s visual acuity may change under different light conditions. Keep in mind that visual impairment is not necessarily total lack of vision. Most individuals who are legally blind do have some vision. Use appropriate technologies that exist to assist people with visual impairments.
Muscular impairments or neurological limitations, such as cerebral palsy
Be aware that there are varying degrees of hearing impairments. Many utilize technology to compensate.
These requirements should be well understood by those involved in a search process. All employers must be sensitive to the barriers faced by the qualified individuals with disabilities and must ensure that they have the same opportunity as all other applicants to be considered fairly for positions at the university. This may require providing accommodations in the interview process or in testing. In addition, we must clearly identify the essential functions of the job in order to determine whether or not each applicant can perform those tasks, with or without reasonable accommodations. When conducting an interview, all questions must be job-related and focus on the candidate’s ability to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. All interviews should be held at a location that is accessible.
Qualified candidates cannot be rejected for employment because they need, or it is thought that they need reasonable accommodations. It is important to note that the cost of potential accommodations should also not be considered when making employment decisions. Although it is important to understand that people with the same disability or functional limitation may not have the same needs.