Campus Interview Visits: Best Practices

Introduction
Initial Contact with Interviewees
General Organizational Tools
Planning the Campus Visit
Travel & Lodging
Reimbursement of Candidate Expenses
Post-Interview Follow-Up
Additional Resources

Introduction

This DRAFT handbook of best practices is a work-in-progress and is intended to help departments plan for campus visits of candidates for academic positions. You must have approval of your selected list of interviewees (recruitment documentation, Part B) before you initiate a campus visit

A primary goal of all employment interviews is to find out if the candidate is the right person for the position. However, a commonly overlooked aspect of these visits is that “the candidates are interviewing you at the same time you are interviewing them.” Therefore, it is important to make the interview experience as positive as possible. In a competitive recruitment environment, it is important to consider all aspects of the candidate’s visit: the accommodations; transportation; free time to see the campus and community; a well-scheduled interview day; well-attended seminar; pleasant meals; activities for their spouse/partner and/or children if they accompany the candidate; and an opportunity for them to get questions answered about our research and teaching programs, as well as the local area.

Another aspect that makes academic interviews unique is the time commitment for the candidate, the search committee, and the recruitment coordination staff. Most departments on the UC Santa Cruz campus allot between one and three full days for the interview. With this interview framework, there are unique challenges and equally unique solutions.

Inside this handbook, you will find handy practices, ideas, and tips that may be useful in planning visits that will help your department achieve its goal of recruiting the most diverse and qualified faculty possible.

These recommendations have been made by a committee of department managers and divisional staff across the campus. If you have additional recommendations that you would like to make, please forward them to the Academic Personnel Office, apo@ucsc.edu .


Initial Contact with Interviewees

The campus interview visits are set into motion once the Dean has approved Part B of the recruitment documentation. This is the Search Committee’s recommendation for “interviewees”; those who are the most qualified candidates with whom they would like to schedule campus visits.

After approval by the Dean, it is typically, the Search Committee Chair who will be the first to call the candidate. It is good to have tentative dates in mind for a campus visit or be prepared to ask the interviewee about his/her availability. The Chair may discuss this during the initial contact, or may tell interviewee that a staff member will follow up with details.


General Organizational Tools

With the volume of candidates many departments see during recruitment season, staying organized is a key to success. One way to keep things organized is to use a visiting candidate checklist.


Planning the Campus Visit

  • Communicating with the Candidate

    A great tool for keeping the whole process organized is to document all the details of the interview visit in a communication to the candidate. This sample letter can be customized to your department. The correspondence outlines important items that the candidate should be aware of such as a confirmation of the date and time, sample schedule, expectations for their seminar, hotel and transportation information, reimbursement information, documentation, and campus parking information. You may have additional information to include, but the sample letter can serve as a template. You may also want to include driving instructions.

    Another helpful item to provide to candidates is information about the campus and community, including general campus information, information about campus health and welfare benefits, campus and community maps, and more. This information can also be found in the On-line Interview Packet, in particular, Faculty Relocation Resources. You can also include information about your division and department to complete this packet. Candidates and their families may find this helpful in preparing for their interview visit and when trying to make a decision about a job offer.

  • The Itinerary

    Campus departments vary on the number of days a candidate comes for the interview visit and what is included during the visit. Typically, a campus visit is between one or two days. These sample schedules for a one-day visit and two-day visit may assist you with planning the interview visit.

    In addition to presenting a research seminar, it is typical for candidates to meet individually with the dean, search committee chair, individual faculty members, graduate students, and others as appropriate. It is important to remember to schedule time for breaks and preparation. You may also want to schedule time for a campus or community tour, or other important activities. If the candidate is serious about wanting the job, they may consider extending their stay (at their expense) so that they (and perhaps their whole family) can have more time to view the area, meet with a realtor, etc.

    The visit itself is a two-fold communication opportunity where the candidate has an opportunity to communicate about their suitability for the job during the job talk/seminar, formal and informal meetings with search committee, interactions with graduate students, etc. It is also a time for the search committee to communicate to the candidate about the department, division, campus, and community.

  • Seminars

    Getting a good turnout at seminars is important for showing the candidate your active department. One easy way to get the word out is by emailing your faculty, administrators, and students ahead of time and also sending a reminder on the day of the visit. It is also important to consider inviting faculty members who may do research of interest to the candidate and invite them to attend the seminar as a way of encouraging a climate for interdisciplinary collaborations.

  • Recommended Activities

    In addition to the meetings recommended above, candidates can benefit from meeting with others on campus to get important questions answered. It is strongly recommended that your department consider scheduling time with the following resources:

    Faculty Housing Coordinator: Call Faculty Housing to schedule an in-person meeting to discuss campus rental and for-sale housing opportunities at 458-3506.

    Library: Have the candidate meet with a librarian for their discipline to discuss the library’s holdings, intercampus access, and process for securing additional holdings. Visit the Library’s web site to determine appropriate librarian.

    Campus Tour: A member of the search committee is a good candidate for driving the candidate on a campus tour. Enroute to dinner can be a good time to fit this in the schedule. If a campus tour isn’t possible, the candidate can take a virtual tour by visiting this web site.

    Realtor: Candidates who will be purchasing a home if they accept an offer find it very useful to meet with a realtor to learn about the area, neighborhoods, housing costs, etc. People in your department may have recommendations. It is best to have at least 3 hours for this and it’s a good idea to have the candidate speak to a realtor in advance about their needs including price, size, location, schools, other preferences, etc. It is also advisable for them to meet with a mortgage professional (they can do this in their area) so that they can determine the loan amount for which they qualify.

  • Activities for Spouses or Partners and Children

    Decisions about a career move often involve the input of a candidate’s spouse or partner. They will likely have concerns about the area’s amenities, cultural opportunities, schools, housing, job opportunities, and more. Candidates often wish to have their spouse/partner and sometimes their children accompany them to their campus visit so they can check out the area. If the candidate lets you know that their spouse or partner will be accompanying them, providing information, resources, and activities is a great way to help them feel welcome. Here are some ideas:

    You may want to direct the candidate’s spouse or partner to the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council web site . They have a very comprehensive list of local activities including recreation, shopping, arts and culture, activities for children and more.

    You can also check the campus events calendar for events that are happening during the time the candidate’s family will be visiting. There could be a lecture or performance that they may find of interest.

    The Seymour Marine Discover Center is one option that offers a variety of camps for youth. Visit their website for more information.

    An additional web resource to direct candidates to is www.santacruzkids.com.


Travel and Lodging

Helping visitors with travel and lodging is an important part of their visit to campus. Generally, the candidate will make their own flight arrangements, but you should inform them that the University can only reimburse travelers for coach fares. The department generally takes over logistical arrangement once a candidate arrives at the airport.

Information on transportation services, hotels and restaurants can be found at the Santa Cruz Visitors website.

  • Transportation

    You have several options for getting candidates to their hotel and to campus: rental car driven by candidate (generally arranged by the traveler); faculty or student host picks up and shuttles candidate; candidate takes airport shuttle or taxi/limo to hotel (generally arranged by the department). Generally, a faculty host shuttles the candidate to and from campus; If candidate is in the area, they may drive their own vehicle.

  • Hotel

    The hotel accommodations are important for candidates. Time in their hotel can often be their only down time to reflect on their experience at UCSC, to prepare for their job talk, and to talk with their family. Selecting an accommodation that showcases the best of Santa Cruz is a plus. Also, local hotels offer special UCSC rates and because most interviews are scheduled during the week during non-peak season, favorable rates can be negotiated. Be sure to ask for those when booking a room. For information on hotels, please visit Santa Cruz Visitors website.

  • Restaurants

    Dining is another opportunity for the candidate to get a feel for Santa Cruz and enjoy a more informal visit with potential colleagues. Most candidates will have breakfast at their hotel, so typically lunch and dinner are the meals to schedule. On campus lunches can be a nice way to introduce the candidate to campus and college life at UCSC. Information on on-campus dining can be found at http://housing.ucsc.edu/dining/locations.html.

    For off-campus dining , please visit Santa Cruz Visitors website.


Reimbursement of Candidate Expenses

The two important forms for reimbursement are: the Payee Setup Form #204 and the Post Travel Expense Form. You can find these forms online by visiting http://financial.ucsc.edu/Pages/Travel_main.aspx. It is advisable to have the candidate fill out their portion of these forms before arriving. You can include the Payment Data Record in your initial letter or email to them and indicate the areas they must fill out. They can submit the Post Travel Expense Form after they complete their travel.


Post-interview follow-up

A single point of contact should be identified for communication with the candidate post campus visit. Generally this is the department or search committee chair. It is important to have a consistent message sent to all candidates. Until the time that the Dean has approved the recruitment record, the department must be careful in what is communicated to the candidates. It is appropriate to let the selected candidate know that they are being recommended for appointment, but you must be clear that an official offer can only be made by the Dean or Campus Provost.

Once the search committee or department has selected a final candidate for whom they wish to propose for appointment, the recruitment record (Part C) must be approved by the Dean and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel. This signifies the approval to initiate the appointment process. A successful review for appointment will result in a written offer being made by either the Dean or the Executive Vice Chancellor, depending on who has authority for the level of appointment after review by the Committee on Academic Personnel.

Once an offer is formally accepted, it is recommended that your department mail personalized letters, signed by the search committee chair to the interviewed candidates who are not offered positions and have not withdrawn their candidacy. Here is a sample regret letter:


Additional Resources

UCOP Affirmative Action Guidelines for the Recruitment and Retention of Faculty http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/fgsaa/faculty-diversity.html