Best Practices In Hiring Diverse Staff

The Division of Student of Affairs (DSA) at the University of North Texas (UNT) values diversity and inclusivity and embraces the increasing diversity of our student body. We actively seek to create environments where all students feel included and supported in part by providing programs and services that enrich the student experience throughout their time at UNT.

Our Division is also committed to hiring and retaining excellent and diverse staff in support of our community. We seek staff members with the knowledge, skills, dedication, and drive for any position, but also with the potential to grow individually and as a part of the Division and university.

This guide is designed to aid DSA departments in the search process for a new employee. In this document, you will find best practices and other resources for the search committee and hiring manager to utilize. This guide is intended to help maximize the efficiency of the search process, while also accomplishing the overall goals of your department and the Division.


Hiring diverse staff starts with recruitment. It is important to recruit and fairly evaluate a diverse pool of applicants and failing to do so may jeopardize the search and negatively impact the culture and norms of the Division.


Language is important. Prospective employees make many judgments about how inclusive an employer is based on the language that is used in job descriptions, advertisements, and announcements. Here are some things to consider when developing job descriptions:

  • Avoid gender-coded words (i.e. “rock star,” “dominant,” “guru,” etc.).
  • Avoid using unnecessary jargon, acronyms, or department-specific language.
  • Remember that skills can be learned when writing job descriptions. Job requirements should include “must-haves” only.
  • Emphasize the Division’s strategic goals that show our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Review the DSA Strategic Plan for our specific goals.
  • Highlight the many inclusive benefits and opportunities available at UNT for diverse staff, such as Employee Resource Groups and trainings through the Learning Bridge and the Division of Equity and Diversity.
  • Tie the position to the UNT, the Division, and the department, emphasizing how the job will help accomplish the overarching goals of the department.
  • Postings must continue to state that the University is an "Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer." Our Human Resources (HR) department may have more than the posting must include.
  • Qualifications should be reviewed carefully to assure that the description does not in itself discriminate against the selection of applicants from underrepresented groups, women, veterans and persons with disabilities. For example, when creating your posting in PeopleAdmin, supervisors have the ability to select physical requirements for the position. Make sure you are only selecting those pertinent to the job so you do not unintentionally discriminate against someone.

Consider Where you Promote Your Position

Seek to promote your position as widely as possible. The Division has already made the commitment to conduct national searches for all of our positions. In additional to that, we recommend you consider the following:

Search Committees

In general, a search committee is appointed to assist in the recruitment and selection of staff hires. The main task of the search committee is to screen a pool of potential candidates by clearly defined and objective criteria. The second, though essential, task of the search committee is to act as an ambassador of the university that positively promotes the department, the division, and university.

Developing a Charge

Prior to forming the search committee, the hiring manager should develop a charge for the group to help guide the formation of the search committee. It should take into consideration the following:

  • Is there a developed list of community contacts, organizations, and groups that you can reach out to in order to advertise your open positions to diverse communities?
  • Is there a list of community partners that actively support diverse communities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities with their job searches? Contact these individuals to advertise your open positions.
  • Are there local community organizations in the area that help individuals from diverse backgrounds in their job search?
  • What authority do you want to delegate to the search committee (for example, make a hiring recommendation or decision)?
  • What are you looking for in a candidate (required and preferred)?
  • How many candidates to invite to each round of interviews?
  • What is your ideal timeline?

Once you consider these things and you understand how you want to utilize a search committee, move to the step of forming your search committee.

Formation and Roles

Regardless of how small the search committee is, the DSA Diversity Council recommends every search involves a search committee to ensure multiple perspectives are considered. Below are steps to guide the formation of this committee and the assigned roles:

Formation of a Search Committee

Roles and Responsibilities of the Search Committee

  • Definition of Roles and Responsibilities

    • Search Committee Chair: The search committee chair should serve as the committee facilitator, official spokesperson, and liaison to the hiring supervisor. Specific duties typically include scheduling committee meetings, creating a climate of trust, developing and organizing the meeting schedule, and maintaining records (See Appendix A for Tips on Building Rapport among Search Committee Members). For some searches, the chair may have support from an administrative specialist or coordinator.
    • Search Committee Members: Search committee members will participate in all aspects of the committee work by discussing and completing assignments in a timely manner, working with committee members to obtain consensus, and protecting confidentiality at all times.
  • Participation

    • For a successful search, it is important that search committee members are present at all meetings, and that decisions to select candidates at each stage of the process includes all members of the committee. If needed, accommodations (i.e. inclusion via Zoom or conference call) are encouraged in order for all committee members to participate in the process and/or provide feedback, this will allow for consistency.
    • All committee members should complete the Division’s Implicit Bias trainings at the first meeting of the search committee, if not before. This training can be accessed through the Diversity Council’s webpage.
  • Confidentiality

    • The search committee is responsible for maintaining confidentiality at all times and refrain from discussing candidates outside of committee work. The chair of the search committee should remind staff of confidentiality at each meeting. The search committee should not conduct independent background research regarding candidates.

  • Documentation

    • Search committee members should retain any notes that are related to the candidate screening and selection. Notes should not include information about the candidate that is not relevant to the position (i.e. wore glasses, quirky, from Oklahoma, etc.).

    • At the conclusion of the search, search committee members should turn all notes in to the chair so they can be compiled and shared with the hiring manager. The hiring manager will then upload the notes to PeopleAdmin when they start the Hiring Proposal.


The number and length of interviews for candidates will vary depending on the type and level of position, resources available to the department, and timeline to fill the vacancy. Ideally, there will be 2-3 rounds of interviews of candidates, including a longer final interview that would be on campus with multiple sets of interviewers, including campus partners and students. When candidates are initially contacted, the process should be explained, including information like the number of rounds of interviews and length of time anticipated for the entire search process.

As with the rest of the hiring process, care should be taken to track the team dynamics as members discuss candidates, the demographics of the interview pools, and the fairness and equity of interview dynamics, and as the committee debriefs interviews and makes recommendations.

It is especially important during this time to ensure timely communications, such as calling candidates prior to interviews to answer any of their questions and provide information about the interview.

  1. Establish a baseline question set for DSA with the support of Equal Opportunity (EO). Seek consultation from EO for additional interview questions when needed.
    • a. Gather feedback from recent participants in the interview processes and search committees for ideas for continuous improvement.
  2. Provide a consistent format for your delivery of interviews.
    • a. Provide a copy of the interview questions at the time of the interviews. Make sure it is shared with the candidate in an accessible format. A Word document is typically sufficient.
  3. Advise that all members of the committee should participate in all interviews to ensure fair and consistent evaluation of each applicant.
    • a. Provide the interview dates in advance to ensure the availability to attend all interviews.
    • b. Consider a best practice of at least 3 of the 5 committee members must be able to attend all interviews.
    • c. Try to reschedule whenever members are unable to attend to prevent the chance that one person’s feedback skews the decisions.
  4. 4. Advise that interview questions and candidate ratings must be related to the job and essential to determine the candidate’s qualifications for the position.
    • a. It is advised to be aware of unconscious bias when meeting with a candidate where visual representation is present such as Zoom, in-person, or through social media.
    • b. In reference to candidate ratings and/or informal evaluation/discussion, if you are going to use terms like “warm”, “personable”, “fit” and “professional”, there needs to be a clear definition of those terms and its relationship to the essential functions of the role. The search committee should define prior to the start of interviews.
  5. Search Committee members and participants in interview processes should present a realistic view of the position, the campus environment, as well as the surrounding community with respect to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Discuss candidly the challenges and strengths of the department, the Division, and campus.
  6. Define what the Search Committee or Department means by a “diverse pool” and create minimum benchmarks.
    • a. Determining what makes a diverse pool can be difficult, but considerations should be given to the institution’s status as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the demographics of the department around identities such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ability status, etc., and the candidates’ experiences with diversity and inclusion.
    • b. Supervisors have the ability to run aggregate reports in PeopleAdmin of some demographic data on the candidate pool. This should be reviewed.
    • c. Note the demographics of candidates for each round of interviews, for example, by race and gender. If there is not sufficient diversity among the candidates (25-30% of the pool), then consider creating several smaller pools using different key criteria, like years of experience, has a master’s degree, functional area (leadership, supervision, etc.). Then, form the pool for 1st round interviews from the top candidates across all of these smaller pools.
  7. After each Search Committee interview:
    • a. The committee members use the job description and the list of preferred competencies and experiences create an evaluation rubric and then discuss their initial reflections about the strengths and areas of possible concern for the candidate.
      • i. To help minimize conformity bias, it is recommended the chair of the search committee allows for committee members to submit feedback anonymously.
    • b. The Chair takes notes and prepares a summary of the committee’s comments.
    • c. Discuss and note the rationale for both selecting and not selecting each candidate for each round of interviews.
  8. For final set of interviews consider:
    • a. Calling candidates to ask which individuals and groups they would like to meet during the interview process, i.e., staff/faculty with similar backgrounds and interests, students, recent hires, long-term employees, peers in other divisions, etc.
    • b. Asking candidates what questions they have about the community, the region in order to gather and send them materials related to their questions, i.e., schools, housing market, spousal employment, etc.
    • c. Reviewing possible presentation requirements in detail with each candidate.
    • d. Being prepared to discuss issues raised by the candidate with respect to family and partner needs.
  9. Once the hiring manager has made a final decision about the selected candidate, the candidate dispositions should be submitted to Human Resources for review.
  10. Emphasize current policies for record holding as it relates to evaluation documentation and encourage the chair to retain all records.

Suggested Interview Questions

Describe an example that illustrates your demonstrated competencies to work effectively with a student population that is diverse by a wide range of group memberships, such as age, parental status, race, ethnicity, economic class, gender identity, national origin, 1st language, sexual orientation, educational status of parents, etc.

• Describe a time you were not as inclusive as you would have wanted to be; what did you learn from that experience?
• Talk about how you have developed your skills and competencies to serve our increasingly diverse student population.
• What are some of your areas of strengths in serving a diverse student population; and what are some areas you need to develop further to increase your capacity to serve the full breadth of students on campus?
• Describe situations that demonstrate your ability to supervise and/or partner with people who are different from you?
• Describe your experience working with creating an inclusive learning environment. What do you hope to accomplish with these tactics?
• Describe how you have intentionally supported the personal and academic success of students who are traditionally under-represented in ________. What were the outcomes of your efforts?
• What change have you made to increase your capacity to create inclusive spaces and support the persistence and success of the full breadth of students you teach and advise?
• Describe how you have intentionally designed pedagogy and curricula to help all students develop critical life and work competencies to live, work and lead in an increasingly diverse global context.
• How have you continued to deepen your multicultural competencies and capacity to teach and work effectively with students, staff, and faculty from the full range of differences on college campuses?
• Talk about your efforts at the local, regional, national, and international level to develop and encourage greater cultural competence and racial and gender diversity among others you have worked with.


Information included in this hiring guide was adapted from several online resources.
Fine, E. & Handelsman, J. (2012). Searching for excellence and diversity: A guide for search committees at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (2nd ed.) Retrieved from
Friesen, J., Gaucher, D., & Kay, A. (2011). Evidence that gendered wording in job advertisements exists and sustains gender inequality. Retrieved from
Obear, K. (2018). Creating inclusive campus environments: Our roles and responsibilities as leaders. Presentation at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX.
University of Florida. (n.d.). Identifying and Avoiding Interview Bias. Retrieved from
University of North Texas. (n.d.). Faculty Search Committee Guide. Retrieved from