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Academic Staff Recruitment Process Guidelines

Category Human Resources
Type Guideline
Approved by VCAG
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 February 2020
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Human Resources Director and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Responsible Officer Head of Organisational Development
Review Date 7 October 2021

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.

Purpose

These guidelines are intended to have the following outcomes:

  1. The recruitment of high calibre academic staff.
  2. The selection/appointment process achieves the best possible outcomes for the Department, the Division and the University.
  3. The selection/appointment process is consistent, fair and equitable.

Organisational Scope

Recruitment and selection of academic staff throughout the University, excluding joint clinical appointments.

Content

1. Sources of advice and relevant information

  1. Visit the Recruitment and Selection Toolkit at the University’s Human Resources website for guidance on the different steps of the selection process.
  2. Contact the University of Otago recruitment team at yourcareer@otago.ac.nz for further guidance and/or discussion on any recruitment topic.
  3. All academic appointments must adhere to University of Otago’s policies and guidelines:

2. Selection Criteria

  1. Information about the University’s academic expectations and requirements can be found in the Guidelines for Academic Titles. This information should be used in conjunction with other related supporting policies or guidelines that apply to a particular position. For example, for positions that are categorised as Confirmation Path refer to the Confirmation Path Policy. Similarly for positions with promotion and/or salary progression options, the Academic Promotions webpage, Promotions Policy, Māori Strategic Framework and the Performance and Salary Review webpage would provide essential information.
  2. The information statement for candidates and the Guidelines for Academic Titles will determine selection criteria and interview programme.

3. Principles to be adopted in the Selection Criteria

  1. Equity and Diversity
    1. Appointments should be on merit: Merit is defined as giving preference to the person who is best suited to the position. This normally refers to the qualifications, experience and attributes required for any given position and are related to the information statement.
    2. Equity and Diversity: The University recognises that members of equity groups are more likely than others to experience barriers to achieving their full potential and/or to be underrepresented (Māori Strategic Framework and Equity and Diversity Policy).
    3. There must be no unlawful and inappropriate discrimination in the selection process. All panel members need to be aware of the risk of discrimination in the selection/appointment process, as this has both legal implications and consequences for the diversity of the University. The Equal Employment Opportunities Policy and the Ethical Behaviour Policy outline what constitutes discrimination.
    4. Panel members are asked to be aware of unconscious bias and to focus solely on the criteria outlined in the selection criteria. Unconscious bias happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. Irrespective of how fair minded we consider ourselves to be, most people have some degree of unconscious bias. The University of Otago makes every effort to eliminate the effects of unconscious bias in its selection process.
      Panel members are asked to find out about their own unconscious bias:
      Visit the Project Implicit website
      Find out more about the effects of unconscious bias in this short video
    5. Panel members must also become familiar with, and adhere to, the University’s Equal Employment Opportunities, Good Employer and Affirmative Action policies.
  1. Confidentiality and privacy
    1. The privacy of candidates will be respected throughout the selection process. Candidate information (including CVs) should be circulated only to the selection panel.
    2. If it is deemed appropriate for a wider review of CVs (beyond the panel), the Chair will determine the most appropriate method, taking into account applicant privacy and the most effective method of collating feedback. Please refer to Section 4 (h) (Role of the Head of Department and Chair) for further details.
    3. Any intention to share CVs beyond the selection panel should be made explicit to the candidates.
    4. To ensure confidentiality, no member of the panel may report the views of any other member or what transpired in the course of the panels’ deliberations, or release outside of the panel any information relating to applicants in the recruitment process.
    5. The University is seeking to attract and hire the best candidates: it is important candidates have confidence and trust in our recruitment process and the care of their personal information.
    6. It is the role of the Chair to communicate with candidates. Panel members must not speak to candidates about the process: this includes speaking about other candidates, or providing them with information about the process that is underway. It is the role of the Chair to communicate with applicants and to ensure any other communication is appropriate.
    7. The Chair has overall responsibility to ensure that privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
  1. Conflict of Interest
    Members of the selection panel should declare any conflict of interest to the Chair before the shortlisting and interview process begins. The Chair will decide if it is appropriate for the panel member to be part of the selection process. If they continue in the selection process, the panel should be made aware of the situation and the conflict of interest should be managed. Please refer to the Conflicts of Interest Policy or contact the Recruitment team for further guidance when the situation arises. If the Chair has a conflict of interest, please contact the Recruitment team for guidance.

4. Role of the Head of Department and Chair

  1. Whilst the Head of Department (HoD) is usually the Chair, in some circumstances the HoD will appoint a Chair.
  2. The HoD will ensure that appropriate approvals are sought for the advert and panel membership. Refer to Academic Authority to appoint Guidelines.
  3. Screening/Pre-selection: The Chair shall convene a panel to undertake screening of applicants (including a longlisting process) in order to arrive at a shortlist of candidates suitable for interviewing.
  4. Panel: The panel would normally comprise the Chair, the PVC/Dean (or nominated senior academic leader) and at least two other academic staff members. This could include a member of staff from the Department or a member of academic staff from the wider University. An HR/Recruitment team representative can be included as part of the panel if appropriate. When selecting the panel, the Chair will consider the strategic focus, expertise required, and the need to consult with relevant stakeholders or interested groups. Careful consideration should be given to selecting a diverse panel.
  5. Senior appointment considerations: The process for senior level appointments (i.e. Associate Professor and above) is similar to that for making other academic appointments except that approval for appointments rests, at Associate Professor, with the Staffing Advisory Committee, and for Professor appointments, the Vice-Chancellor. The information for candidates’ statement for senior level appointments needs to follow an approved format and should be coordinated through the Recruitment team.
  6. The Chair is responsible for ensuring the selection process is appropriate for the position: fair, equitable and designed to clearly identify the most suitable candidates. This will include:
    1. Ensuring candidate enquiries are dealt with appropriately.
    2. Facilitating the shortlisting process and recording the reasons for decisions.
    3. Managing the interview programme and assigning topics to be covered by each panel member during the interview.
    4. Welcoming the candidate and introducing all the members of the panel.
    5. Facilitating questioning, ensuring continuity and time management.
    6. Recording and summarising initial panel feedback.
    7. Facilitating the decision making process and ensuring every effort is made to reach a unanimous decision.
    8. Recording final panel decisions and ensuring that records of recruitment decisions, including shortlisting and interview notes, are stored securely for 12 months then confidentially destroyed after this period.
  1. The interview programme for an academic position will typically include an interview, presentation of a formal research seminar to staff of the Department and invited guests, a teaching demonstration, and a programme of informal activities.
  2. The Chair will determine the most appropriate method for academic staff to view CVs of those shortlisted applicants who have accepted an invitation to participate in the interview programme. This will take into account candidate privacy and the most effective method of collating feedback. Ideally CVs will be available to view in a secure location, soft copies should not be circulated. Other application details, including the application forms, covering letters and references remain confidential to the panel. Please refer to Section 3 (b)(ii)(iii) (Confidentiality and privacy) for further details.
  3. Academic staff may provide written feedback to the Chair. Feedback will be invited during the interview programme – there will be a reasonable deadline, to allow for both reflection and to keep the recruitment process progressing efficiently. Written feedback will be submitted in confidence, summarised into a single document and be relevant to the selection criteria (as outlined in the information statement) of the vacancy. The Chair will collate and circulate feedback to the panel for consideration.
  4. At the conclusion of the selection process the Chair will also seek approval for the appointment of the recommended candidate in accordance with the University’s specified appointment delegations. For further information, please refer to the Academic Authority to Appoint Guidelines.
  5. In recommending an appointment, the Chair (with support from the panel) will submit a brief statement explaining why the candidate selected is the most suitable appointee in terms of the field of the job as advertised, the selection criteria, the applicant’s research record, teaching experience, and qualifications. This will include recommendation of the appointment level relative to the levels in the Department as evidenced by promotion outcomes for that Department/School.
  6. For advice on providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates, please contact Human Resources.

5. Other considerations

  1. Candidate impression of the University: remember that candidates are also assessing us as a potential employer, and their impressions of the University and the Department will have an impact on their decision making. All applicants will be evaluating:
    1. The University as a potential employer.
    2. The research profile of the Department.
    3. Facilities relevant to the candidate’s teaching and research, such as laboratories and seminar spaces.
    4. The region as a place to live for themselves and any family.
    5. Department staff and other academics in the University as colleagues and potential research collaborators.
  1. Reference checking: depending on the role and preference of the Chair, reference checking can take place prior to shortlisting, or later in the process. The common format calls for written references from three to four referees. It can help to specify to referees what aspects of candidate’s performance the panel would like them to comment on when requesting the reference, and a deadline for response.
  2. Video Conference / Telephone Interviews: When all or some of the shortlisted applicants are based elsewhere, the Chair may choose to conduct short interviews via telephone or video conferencing technology (e.g. ZOOM), with all shortlisted applicants, prior to bringing applicants to the Campus for the formal interview programme. The aim of the initial video interviews is to determine candidates’ motivation for their application and to clarify various aspects from their application to assist the panel with their decision-making.
  3. Campus visits for shortlisted candidates: when arranging for a candidate to visit the campus, considerations should be given to the following arrangements:
    1. Organise travel and suitable accommodation (wherever possible, pay for travel arrangements rather than reimbursing the applicant). Please refer to the Travel and Travel Related Costs Policy for more details.
    2. As a minimum, ensure transport to and from the airport has been organised. Ideally, it would be most welcoming to have the applicant met by the Head of the Department (or nominee). This is particularly important for any applicants travelling internationally to attend the interview programme.
    3. Always check with applicants for any specific travel requirements, for example dietary and disability requirements or other reasonable accommodation for travel arrangements.
    4. Provide applicants with relevant information in preparation for their visit in the form of a letter of welcome, confirming the day and time of the visit, travel and accommodation arrangements, list of expenses that are reimbursable and contact information.
    5. An itinerary for the visit including a complete schedule of events/interview programme and the names and titles of individuals they will meet. Include any social events and any dress code.
    6. Ensure there is space in the itinerary for the candidate to have some free time to relax – particularly if they may be affected by jet lag.
    7. For all applicants who will need to relocate, ensure a meeting with a University of Otago relocation and settlement support specialist is scheduled as part of the interview programme.
    8. Provide the opportunity for applicants to request any equipment/IT requirements and any accessibility related requirements they may need.
    9. Internal or local applicants should be extended comparable courtesies as external applicants e.g. information provided, invitations to social events and access to equipment/IT support.
    10. Care should be taken to ensure the interview programme is equitable e.g. wherever practicable ensuring the same composition of guests at any informal events.
    11. Any staff contributing to the selection process should be made aware of the importance of objectivity. For example, attending all candidate seminars or none at all.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Denise Lindsay
Head of Organisational Development
Email denise.lindsay@otago.ac.nz
Tel +64 3 479 5431