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Division of Human Resources

Screening and Interviewing Applicants

By properly screening and interviewing applicants, you will be able to separate good candidates from those who are truly the right fit for your team and reflect the university culture of diversity and inclusion.

Applicant Screening Process

When reviewing applications and resumes, approach the process with methods that reduce bias. This enhances fairness and often results in a more inclusive applicant pool. 

  • Candidates should be screened based on job related criteria listed in the minimum qualifications.
  • Utilize standardized review templates to screen candidates.
  • Do not introduce new criteria once screening begins.
  • Preferred qualifications can be taken into consideration but not during the initial screening process.

Screening an applicant’s social media can be a legal risk if the information is misused and can perpetuate bias in the hiring process. 

  • Focus only on objective and professional information regarding the candidates.
  • Do not make assumptions. Social media profiles can be misleading or inaccurate.
  • Be consistent. All candidates' social media must be reviewed if used as a screening tool.
  • Do not use social media as the initial step of the screening process.
  • Do not base hiring decisions solely on social media screening.
  • Do not gravitate towards similarities based on social media information as it could result in confirmation or "similar to me" bias.
  • Do not use social media to try and gain a visual of the applicants prior to the interview as it can lead to age, race and gender discrimination.
  • Social media screening could lead to discrimination on protected characteristics.

Conducting Interviews

Ensuring interview techniques are free of unconscious bias is critical in attracting and selecting a diverse workforce. Interviews should be conducted in a manner that is equitable to all candidates. Whether interviewing face to face or through a virtual platform, our interview methodology should reflect our value and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

  • Utilize a structured interview process in which candidates are asked the same job-related questions and candidates are evaluated using a pre-determined rating scale to reduce bias. Use these sample interview questions [pdf] and rating guide samples [pdf] to ensure you are free of unconscious bias. 
  • Make sure interview locations are accessible for all candidates. When scheduling interviews, allow candidates to request accommodations if needed for the interviewing process by directing them to contact the Office of Talent Acquisition.
  • Include at least one interview question related to diversity, equity and inclusion to further show the importance of reaching our diversity and equity goals at all levels of the organization.
  • Ask for work samples or portfolios to further assess a candidate's skill set and competency level. If work samples are utilized, be sure to use a standardized rubric to evaluate the samples presented and require work samples from all candidates being interviewed.

Reference Checks

Reference checks can supply more information about the applicant’s qualifications than any other source; and this information may be more objective than the applicant’s responses. As a result, reference checking will be another important strategy in mitigating bias. Instead of making hiring decisions based on assumptions, reference checks will allow a hiring manager to objectively assess a candidate's qualifications and skill set.

Some hiring managers check references before the interview to establish which candidates will be interviewed. Others may contact references of only those candidates identified as a finalist. No matter the order, be sure not to contact a candidate's current employer until that candidate is determined to be the candidate of choice. Best practice is to conduct reference checks after the interview and only on the applicant(s) to whom you are considering making an offer. 

Key Considerations

When checking references, keep the following points in mind: 

  • Questions must be job related.
  • Carefully document reference information.
  • Confirm factual, objective information candidates provide during the application and interview process.
  • Remember that the same State and Federal laws that govern the interview apply to the reference checking process.
  • Develop consistency in questions when contacting references for multiple candidates.
  • When feasible, references should always be conducted by the hiring manager.

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