How-To Series #3: How to Take Search Committee Training

A card with the words Equal Opportunity

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity’s Equal Opportunity and Equity unit presents the third installment of its “How-To” series of articles aimed toward informing the campus community about critical programs and services. (See also How-To Series #1: How to File a Report and How-To Series #2: How to Request an Accommodation.)

“The recruitment, hiring and retention of a diverse workforce — including faculty, administrators and staff — is essential to the university’s pursuit of continued excellence and in keeping with its core mission and values.” – Warwick A. Arden, provost, NC State University

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) adheres to this mission by offering search committee training through its Equal Opportunity and Equity (EOE) unit. Search committee training explores the ways in which unconscious bias impacts our hiring decisions; it is important to recognize that our biases, conscious and unconscious, towards applicants can occur from the moment we begin reviewing their resumes/CVs and cover letters.

Individuals may rely on their past experiences or their own identities to make decisions, instead of openly discussing their biases with the committee. When this happens, committee members are likely to make hiring decisions based on their personal opinions, and not based on the qualifications described in the job announcement. In addition, the training also covers relevant university policies, best practices, confidentiality and records retention. The training encourages participants to critically review their current practices to see where bias may impact the search in order to better the hiring process.

Why Take the Training?

In the 40+ years since the Civil Rights Movement, NC State has made significant progress in the admission, retention and graduation of minority students. Today, NC State is among the most diverse of the UNC campuses and among the nation’s leaders, for example, in the graduation of African American students with graduate degrees in mathematics, science, engineering and technology (Black Issues in Higher Education, 2004). Since 1993, NC State has been recognized as one of the 100 best colleges for African American students (The 100 Best Colleges for African American Students by Erlene B. Wilson, 1993 and 1998). However, diversity goes beyond the student population. Search committee training provides an overview about best practices for hiring an excellent group of diverse and inclusive faculty and staff.

Training Options

Two formats are available for the search committee training: in-person and online. Individuals who plan to engage in the hiring process or who will serve on a search committee should take the in-person training once every three years. Face-to-face training occurs throughout the year across the NC State campus. In between these times, participants should plan to take the online course once per year as a refresher course. Both programs take approximately one hour to complete and interested parties can sign-up online in the Reporter system.

Although the majority of our training is already pre-scheduled and in Reporter, if you are interested in a group search committee training for your department or unit, EOE will work with your department to schedule a time. Submit requests for group trainings to EOE at least two weeks in advance for a minimum of 10 individuals. Please note that it is the department or unit’s responsible for setting up an appropriate location (with technology). Should you have any questions about attending, registering for or scheduling a search committee training, contact the Equal Opportunity and Equity at either or by phone at 919.513.0574.

Mia Thompson is the program coordinator for Equal Opportunity and Equity in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.