Search Committee Chair

Role & Responsibilities  

Best Practices
1. Develop Faculty Position Description 
  • Develop Position Description.
    • Often done in collaboration with another department stakeholder, such as, Department Chair, Division Chief, Diversity Search Advisor (DSA), etc. 
    • Connect with the Faculty Coordinator (FC) early in the process. They will facilitate posting the position and have an understanding of format / content restrictions and best practices. 
  • Ensure that the
    • responsibilities, and requirements are appropriate based upon COAP Guidelines for rank and track.
    • position description is sufficiently broad to capture all individuals who could be well-qualified for the position, while still providing candidates with an adequately specific description of the job and its requirements.
  • Once an FC submits a position posting it must be reviewed by PSOM and the DSA before it can be posted.  Postings typically take 5-7 business days to make their way through the levels of review and posting, though they sometimes move more quickly. Keep this timeline in mind when timing a search.   
2. Select Search Committee Members & Determine a Plan for DSA Involvement in Search
  • Work with the DSA in the formation of the committee.
    • The committee must have a minimum of 3 faculty members, inclusive of the Search Chair.
    • Wherever possible, search committees should have members with a range of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences as well as individuals with clinical and research interests that align with those sought through the search.
    • Where feasible the DSA should also serve on the committee.
  • With the DSA determine the plan for DSA involvement in and certification of the search. 
3. Advertise the Position and Conduct Outreach to Attract the Broadest and Most Qualified Candidate Pools 
  • Outreach and advertising are critical to reaching the broadest, most diverse, and highly qualified candidate pools.
  • Search Chairs should develop an outreach plan at the beginning of a search and reassess as the search progresses whether additional outreach and advertising may be needed.
  • There are minimum requirements for conducting National (R, CE, and T) and Limited Searches (AC) which can be found in the PSOM Guidelines for National and Limited Searches
  • Additional suggestions for advertising and outreach can also be found on the PSOM Guidelines for National and Limited Searches page.
  • DSAs may request additional outreach if the original outreach plan is not resulting in a sufficiently broad pool. 
  • A list of all outreach efforts and advertising needs to be retained as part of the search documentation.  
4. Establish the Committee and Search Process

Schedule an initial meeting of the committee to establish procedures and review key information. 

  • Review the Position Description with committee members to ensure a common understanding of how candidates will be evaluated and what criteria, methods, and tools will be used.
  • Ensure committee members understand relevant track requirements based upon COAP Guidelines.
  • In collaboration with the DSA, ensure that the search committee members are familiar with university and PSOM policies for faculty searches, Affirmative Action Guidelines, unconscious bias, and appropriate interview process.
  • Faculty members involved in searches are expected to participate in some form of bias education at least once every three years
  • Share best practices for taking compliant interview notes
  • It is strongly recommended that committees use a candidate evaluation form as this helps support more equitable decision making and can help committees recall information about each candidate when making final decisions. 
  • Committees must in some way document the stages of decision making around candidates who were selected to move forward for campus visits, 1st interviews, 2nd interviews, final preferred candidates, and who of those fell out of consideration and at what step. This can be done via a candidate comparison chart (Excel or Word) or summary memo, but should cover the flow of decision making, including interview dates, and a clear list of who was in consideration for each stage. It should include very brief reasons for why candidates advance or fall out of consideration. 
5. Applicant Review & Selection
  • Ensure fair, unbiased, and equitable review of all applicants.
  • All applications must be reviewed.
  • Ensure all candidates are evaluated in the same manner, using the same criteria.
  • Search Chairs should consult with the DSA throughout the process. 
  • FCs must update the status of all candidates in Interfolio periodically throughout the life of the search, not just at the conclusion. Keeping the FC in the communication loop will lead to more accurate documentation. 
  • Work with the search committee to identify candidates who will move forward in the process, for example, shortlist, invite for presentation, Interview 1, Interview 2, final candidate. 
  • Be sure that key information is documented and all documentation is retained for the search record. 
  • While DSAs should be engaged throughout the process, ensure that the DSA has had an opportunity to do a final review the search and selection process when a preferred candidate is being identified. 
  • Communication with candidates throughout the process is important to the candidate experience.
6. Documenting and Certifying the Search Process 


  • Search Committee Chairs and Diversity Search Advisors (DSAs) each hold unique roles in ensuring searches are conducted in accordance with University of Pennsylvania policy and guidelines, including certifying at the conclusion of each search using the Faculty Search Report Form.  The Faculty Coordinator will help facilitate the completion of this form, but key information must be provided by the Search Committee Chair. Search Chairs and DSAs should work closely with Faculty Coordinators throughout the process to ensure FCs, as the administrative managers of the search, receive all necessary search documentation to properly document the selection process in Interfolio Faculty Search. 
  • Search documentation may be audited by the University or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
  • Departments must retain any search documentation as part records and provide it to the FC.

Search Committee Member Role & Responsibilities Best Practices
1. Establishment the Committee and Search Process
  • The Search Committee Chair will establish the committee and review best practices, policy, and procedural points. If you have questions about what is covered or any of the points below reach out to the Search Committee Chair for clarification. 
    • Review the Position Description.  Ensure an understanding of the position and qualifications.
    • How will candidates be evaluated by the committee, and what criteria and methods will be used?
    • What are the relevant track requirements based upon COAP Guidelines.
    • What will the selection process and timeline look like?
    • What will you be required to submit in terms of feedback?
    • Search committee members should become familiar with university and PSOM policies for faculty searches, Affirmative Action Guidelines, unconscious bias, and appropriate interview processes.
  • Faculty members involved in searches are expected to participate in some form of bias education at least once every three years
  • Diversity Search Advisors (DSAs) are assigned to every search and are also a resource for committee members.
2. Outreach to Attract the Broadest and Most Qualified Candidate Pools
  • An outreach plan is developed by the Search Chair at the outset of the search, but committee members can help develop additional strategies to get the word out. 
  • What are the best ways to put the word out in your field?
  • Are there any professional connections that can help advertise the open position? 
3. Applicant Reviews and Candidate Selection
  • Committee Members will work with the Search Chair to identify candidates for interviews and in the selection of a preferred candidate, including short lists, campus visits, etc. 
  • Complete a candidate evaluation form to provide input and assessment of each interviewed candidate. The Search Committee Chair and/or department Faculty Coordinator will indicate when recommendations for interviews are due and will collect evaluations.
  • Interview notes taken by committee members or candidate evaluations should be retained as part of the search record and forwarded to the Committee Chair and FC. Guidance for taking compliant interview notes can be found here.

Faculty members involved in searches are expected to participate in some form of bias education at least once every three years. To meet this requirement, DSAs and search committee members may complete bias training provided by the Provost’s Office, Schools, departments, and other organizations. See examples below.
  • UPenn's Unconscious Bias Training for Faculty, Staff, and Students (Source: PSOM-Workday Learning)
  • Faculty Bias Training  (source UPenn Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty - Workday Learning)
    This asynchronous course is evidence based, developed for faculty by faculty, and contains scenarios that occur during faculty searches and other aspects of faculty work. The training was developed by faculty at the University of New Hampshire with funding from the National Science Foundation
  • Additional in person faculty bias training workshops through Provost's Office (periodic) 
  • Bias education training offered through UPenn Schools, departments, and other organizations will also fulfill this requirement. 
  • The department should retain proof of training in the faculty file for any course taken outside of UPenn's Workday Learning System. This may be needed in case of audit.

  • Login to
  • Select ‘Interfolio’ under ‘Faculty Administration’
  • Select ‘Positions’ under ‘Faculty Search’ to view Faculty Positions

Should you experience difficulty logging into Interfolio please reach out to your Faculty Coordinator for assistance.

Resources for Search Committees

Special Recruitment Considerations

Resources for Candidates Relocating to the University of Pennsylvania