Search Committees: The Long and Winding Road of Academic Hiring

Only in academia does it take a committee and several months to a year or more to hire someone. In industry, most often a supervisor can hire an employee. But searches for new faculty are complicated. Graphic: Cathleen Heard The mechanics of a search are fairly simple; it's the nuances at each step that challenge participants. First a position opens up, then the department chairperson or dean decides on the disciplinary background of the position and the level: assistant, associate, or full pro

Karen Young Kreeger
Nov 7, 1999

Only in academia does it take a committee and several months to a year or more to hire someone. In industry, most often a supervisor can hire an employee. But searches for new faculty are complicated.


Graphic: Cathleen Heard
The mechanics of a search are fairly simple; it's the nuances at each step that challenge participants. First a position opens up, then the department chairperson or dean decides on the disciplinary background of the position and the level: assistant, associate, or full professor. Usually a chairperson appoints a search committee of three or more faculty members who make sure ads get placed in prominent publications. Phone calls are made, and letters soliciting applications are written
to colleagues.

The committee reviews typically 200 to 500 applications and whittles the mountain of packages to a short list of three to six researchers who will be invited for a two-day round of interviews...