Search & Selection

It is important to have a fair and defensible screening process. This process involves various critical considerations, ranging from meticulously screening applications to conducting insightful interviews and thorough reference checks. By adhering to these best practices, you can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your recruitment efforts while fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment.

Prior to Releasing Applications to the Committee

Ensure all members have completed their hiring Equity training and understand UBC’s Employment Equity resources (Equity and Inclusion Office: Employment Equity)

Create a screening tool (rubric/matrix) to evaluate candidates that is aligned with the posted qualifications and experience in the advertisement to guide the screening process. You may choose to use one tool at multiple stages of the process or develop one tool for each stage of the process, as some criteria may only be assessed at particular stages. It is critical the criteria remains consistent at each stage of the process. Please contact your Assistant Manager, Faculty HR, for examples of how a rubric can be developed and used throughout the process in terms of using both qualitative and qualitative methods and tools.

Seek advice when needed from the Faculty of Medicine Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Office

Review and discuss with the Committee how conflicts and biases will be managed. Conflicts can influence decision making of both an individual and the Committee, so it is important they are managed appropriately. It is common for applicants to be associated with the current Department/School or Faculty hiring, and it should be acknowledged how the Committee will declare and discuss these conflicts ahead of time.

Acknowledge common biases that can affect decision-making, such as:

Affinity bias refers to the tendency of individuals to favor candidates who they perceive to be similar to themselves in terms of background, experiences, interests, or other characteristics. This bias can lead to a preference for candidates who share commonalities, even if those factors are not relevant to the job qualifications.

The bandwagon effect occurs when individuals align their opinions or decisions with the majority or popular sentiment. In the context of candidate selection, this bias could lead committee members to favor candidates who are already perceived as popular choices or who have gained widespread support, regardless of their actual qualifications.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. In candidate selection, this bias can lead to the overemphasis of information that supports a committee member’s initial impression of a candidate while downplaying or ignoring contradictory information.

The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which a positive impression of one aspect of a person leads to an overall positive evaluation of that person. In candidate selection, this might occur when a committee member is impressed by one outstanding trait or accomplishment of a candidate and allows that positive impression to influence their overall assessment, potentially overlooking other important qualifications.

Recency effect is the tendency to give greater weight or importance to the most recent information encountered. In candidate selection, this bias could lead committee members to disproportionately focus on the most recent experiences or interactions with a candidate, potentially overshadowing earlier, equally relevant qualifications or accomplishments.

Fundamental Attribution Error is the tendency to overlook situational and environmental factors for the behavior of a candidate while overemphasizing dispositional or personality factors.

Screening Applications

Once the Committee has the names of the candidates, it is critical conflicts of interest are declared and managed. Declaration and transparency with the Committee is important, as well as developing a plan to manage the real or perceived conflicts of interest. This may result in potential Committee members stepping down, if the conflict cannot be managed. Please contact Faculty HR should you have questions regarding conflict of interest management.

Provide committee members sufficient time to thoroughly review each application and complete their assessment(s) based on the screening tool(s).

Use the results as a guide for discussion. Discussing applicants who don’t have unanimous support can help identify strong candidates with unique skills, experiences, and backgrounds that were initially overlooked.

Use only information gathered through proper channels to screen applicants. Social media, word of mouth, and information gathered outside of the recruitment process should not be used.

Ensure all members of the Committee understand and refer to  A Guide to Screening and Selection in Employment.

It may be necessary to develop a long list prior to a short list, depending on the number of candidates, in order to fairly narrow down the number of applicants. It is important to ground these decisions in the originally agreed-upon criteria to reduce the influence of implicit bias.

Keep an accurate record of all decisions being made at each stage of the process as per retention requirements.

Developing Interviewing Questions

Prior to the interview, develop a set of questions and evaluation method(s) based on job-related criteria that was established at the initial stages of the search. Evaluate each candidate right after their interview rather than after all the interviews are completed to ensure accuracy and to limit comparisons between candidates.

Ask questions that relate directly to the requirements of the position and avoid questions relating to protected human rights grounds, such as sex, ancestry, disability or sexual orientation etc. For guidelines on questions employers may ask to gather information that relates to the ability to do the job, review What May I Ask? (pdf).

Ensure that your interview questions gather the most relevant information related to the job requirements while promoting a fair and inclusive environment. It’s important to be mindful of different lived experiences. This can help ensure that candidates are evaluated fairly based on their skills and qualifications, regardless of their background. For example, some candidates may have less work experience than other candidates but have a wealth of lived experiences that could positively contribute to any work environment.

Include questions that explore candidates’ transferable skills and competencies, emphasizing that excellence can manifest in various ways. For example, inquire about their ability to adapt, problem-solve, and collaborate, which are essential for the role.

Candidates may find it challenging to interpret abstract or hypothetical questions and can better provide you with the answer you’re looking for if the question is more behavioral based and is specific and literal. Instead of: “If you were the successful candidate, how would you complete projects ahead of schedule?”, try: “Can you tell me about a time when you were able to complete a project ahead of schedule?”

Candidates may not understand euphemisms, jargon or slang terms that are common in BC or Canada and this may result in those candidates being disadvantaged. It is important that we clear and specific when communicating our questions, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity  to understand and address them. For example, instead of: “Can you tell me a time when you thought outside of the box?”, try: “Can you tell me about a time when you solved a problem in an unexpected way?”

Ensure that all candidates are given equal consideration, and equal opportunities to address the Committee’s questions and demonstrate their qualifications and experience. This means that the base questions, interview time, and interview setting should be the consistent for everyone being interviewed.

Strive to eliminate as many barriers as possible to ensure candidates have the opportunity for success in the interview. This may involve rephrasing a question, probing with a follow-up question, or allowing a candidate time to return to a question. This also may mean that some candidates will require accommodation or accessibility considerations, and the administrator should communicate how this can be obtained upon the invitation to interview so it is accounted and planned for ahead of time. For online formats, refer to: Equity Considerations in Virtual Interviews.

Be aware of the biases that can come into play in interview stages and be prepared to have open discussions as a Committee.

Sample Interview Questions

  1. Which programs or initiatives have you developed or participated in to further Indigenization, anti-racism, decolonization, justice, diversity, equity and inclusion? What was the result, and what specific role did you play in those efforts?  What has been your approach to creating or contributing to cultural humility?
  2. What experiences have you had with recruiting, hiring, training, and/or supervising a diverse team or workforce? What role did you plan in creating an environment of mutual respect, care, civility, inclusion and equity?
  3. What have you done to further your knowledge or understanding about diversity? How have you applied your learning?
  4. How has Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) principles influenced your teaching approach, teaching strategies, and management of classroom dynamics?
  5. What is your experience in teaching students of diverse backgrounds? What methods have proven to be effective and what have you learned from the experience?
  6. What is your perspective on how to ensure equity in the care of patients? What behaviors, techniques, or decisions allow you to function most effectively as a provider or employee when working with a highly diverse patient population?
  7. Why do you think it is important to address diversity and equity issues in this position, and what are some ways you might do that?

For more interview questions to help assess candidates’ EDI capacity, please refer to the Office of Respectful Environment, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Tip Sheet – Criteria and Interview Questions.

  1. Please give us an example of when you had to adapt your communication style for various members within the organization.
  2. Drawing from your past work experience, what elements do you feel are important to support open and effective communication?  How have you introduced these elements into a working environment?
  3. Tell us about a situation where you were unsuccessful in cultivating a positive relationship. Please walk us through the steps you took to try and change the outcome.
  4. What mechanisms have you established that have ensured effective communication across functions and departments?
  5. Have you ever experienced a situation in which you had difficulties getting people to accept your ideas? What was your approach to handling these situations?
  • Please provide an example of your experience in leading change. What was your role and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a new idea you recently implemented. What approach did you take to gain buy-in from your team and stakeholders?
  • Describe how you have encouraged team development and ensured that each member has a commitment to the achievement of goals.
  • Please provide an example of your experience in leading structural change, for example restructuring a unit.  What was your role and what was the outcome?
  • What would your approach be to educational leadership and innovation in this department?
  • Burnout is a common issue. How do you as a leader achieve and model personal sustainability? Please explain what you do to support faculty and staff in terms of preventing burn-out.
  • What would be your top three leadership priorities and what would success look like with your leadership in the first three years?
  1. We’ve all had to work with someone who was challenging to collaborate with. Please give me some examples of when this happened to you. What made this individual challenging to work with? How did you handle the situation?
  2. Describe a time when you had to resolve a conflict or disagreement within or between teams. What was the most difficult part to address, and how did you successfully resolve it to restore a positive working relationship?
  3. Please tell us a time when you were involved in a performance management process. What role did you play and what was the outcome?
  4. Please give an example of how you approach difficult conversations with coworkers.
  1. What strategies have you used to encourage professional development? Please include examples relevant to staff, academic and clinical faculty members.
  2. Tell us about a time when you identified a training need. What did you do and what was the outcome?
  3. Please provide specific examples of how you incorporate active learning strategies, technology, or other teaching methods to enhance student learning in your classes. How do you assess the effectiveness of these methods, and what adjustments do you make to your approach based on student feedback?
  4. Please give us an example of a time when you experienced challenges in mentoring or your mentoring efforts were not successful.  What did you learn from this experience? Going forward, what are you doing differently?
  5. Please describe a time when you provided mentorship to someone. What are your goals as a mentor? How do you know if your mentoring practices are effective?
  6. Please describe your mentoring and coaching approach. How did you develop your current mentoring and coaching style? Over time, what changes have you made in your mentoring/supervisory practices and why?
  1. How would you go about strengthening research in this department both with respect to clinical and basic science areas?
  2. Can you provide us with examples of the ways you have disseminated the results of your research?
  3. As a distributed Faculty, how would you ensure that you interface, connect with and help promote research across distributed sites?
  4. Can you highlight for us how your research is interdisciplinary, community-engaged and collaborative with diverse groups?
  1. What will be your approach to educational leadership and innovation in the department?
  2. How do you ensure trainees are equipped to succeed in the diversity of careers they undertake?

Developing Reference Check Questions
Note that this process is different from collecting formal external review letters for the purpose of the University rank review as per the Collective Agreement. It is also distinct from the arm’s length referees obtained for Canada Research Chair (CRC) applications.

Perform a thorough reference check of the successful candidate once they are identified, and prior to issuing an offer letter. Some candidates may want to discuss a potential offer first; however, no written or verbal offer should be provided prior to obtaining references.

Only contact references provided by the candidate unless you have sought the candidate’s permission to contact others. This is the opportunity to speak to those who have directly observed the performance of the candidate and verify the information you obtained during the interview process.

Maintain consistency in questioning techniques and coverage of general topics, utilizing methods such as behavioral interviewing to delve into specific instances of the candidate’s experience.

Reference checks can validate details discussed in an interview and provide additional insights into conflict management, navigating challenging situations, day-to-day performance (including attention to detail, success in the role), and how the candidate compares others in a similar role. Ask questions aligned with the established criteria, with a focus on behavioral competencies not addressed in formal reference letters. The questions below should be tailored to the established criteria and competencies for the position, and aligned with the information you gathered in the interview process.

Verify what the candidate said in terms of their title, length of service, responsibilities and accomplishments.

You can ask for a “yes” or “no” answer to the question of whether or not the previous employer would rehire. If the response is “no”, probe for reasons.

It is best practice to contact the references via phone or video call unless they are not available (I.e. time zone differences) as speaking to them directly will allow an opportunity to probe or clarify their answers.

Reviewing social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.) for prospective employees poses risks. As it involves collecting personal information governed by privacy laws, such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the University must ensure accuracy and necessity in the hiring process. Gathering information indirectly typically requires the individual’s consent. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the committee (or any member) refrain from reviewing personal information on social media.

Keep detailed and comprehensive reference check notes. These notes are critical when evaluating the information and are required to complete your search file. Collected references also must be retained for at least two years after the decision has been made.

Sample Reference Check Questions

  1. How would you describe the candidate’s self-awareness in their interactions with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds?
  2. Can you provide specific examples of how the candidate has demonstrated a commitment to promoting Indigenization, anti-racism, decolonization, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  3. Can you provide specific examples of how the candidate has fostered an inclusive and equitable work environment?
  4. How would you describe the candidate’s professionalism and ethics?
  1. Has the candidate encountered challenges in their interactions with the administrative staff, faculty members, and/or students? 
  2. How would you describe the candidate’s listening skills and ability to engage with others?
  1. Can you provide an example of a time when the candidate demonstrated effective leadership by taking charge of a situation? What were the circumstances, and how did their actions impact the outcome of the situation?
  2. Describe a situation in which the candidate had to quickly establish their credibility and gain the confidence of others. What did they do?
  3. What strategies would you say this individual used to motivate their team or team members?
  4. Can you provide an example where the candidate demonstrated strong ownership and accountability of a specific situation? How did their leadership style and actions contribute to the resolution of the issue? Have you observed this individual holding themselves and others accountable?
  1. Can you provide an instance where you offered constructive criticism to the candidate? How did the candidate react to your feedback, and what actions did they take as a result?
  2. How does this individual handle differing opinions particularly when they hold strong convictions about a particular subject, policy, or matter?
  3. Describe a situation where the team was having trouble agreeing on a decision and what the candidate did to facilitate consensus.
  1. How would you describe the quality of teaching provided by the candidate?
  2. How effective has the candidate been in supporting their students and trainees?
  3. How effective has the candidate been in developing and mentoring peers within their own lab setting?
  1. Is there anything else you think I should know about the candidate’s skills, abilities or job performance?
  2. Given the opportunity, would you rehire the candidate?

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