Staff Resources

Formation of Search Committee

The search for staff and administrative personnel is vital in the 21st Century. Doing so with an eye toward diversity and intercultural awareness is important. The formation of search committees should be done with care and consistency. During the forming stage, the committee should have a recruitment process that is sensitive to formal recruiting processes and informal networking that can enhance the overall search process. Moreover, committee members should define and describe the desired candidate early in the search. Avoid terms and phrases like “fit,” “perfect,” and “like me” because they may reveal subtle biases that may be present. To reduce the risk of these biases, consider a diverse search committee. Search committees are successful when they are diverse. 

Tips and Considerations

Video Resources



Data: Current & Past | Department Staff Diversity


As a general rule, hiring managers at all levels should be well-acquainted with three very important data points: departmental data related to demographics, Duke University’s Annual Affirmative Action Plan, and departmental hiring trends over a three year period. A strong familiarity with each area will increase the likelihood of a positive yield in the space of diversity and inclusion hiring. Knowing data trends will bring to light areas that are ‘sufficiently diverse’ or woefully homogeneous. Examining data sets parallel to strategic planning related to diversity and inclusion is optimal. Data collection should inform and strengthen diversity planning and should not be the ultimate driving force behind creating a climate that embraces differences in the workspace.

Tips and Considerations

  • Hiring managers should meet with the Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action officer (within OIE) to learn about best practices related to equal opportunity processes;
  • Hiring managers should attempt to review demographic data in 3 and 5 year intervals;
  • Hiring managers should understand the role of Duke Human Resources during the recruitment phase;
  • Hiring managers should become familiar with national entities that aim to cultivate diverse talent.

Website Research


Staff and Administrative Position Description

Position descriptions should be written to attract candidates who offer diversity and inclusion as a skill set beyond mere awareness of federal affirmative action mandates. They should attract candidates who have a track record for interacting across intercultural lines and multicultural dimensions. Position descriptions should reflect that high importance is given to the need for a candidate to have highly developed interpersonal skills. Candidates should be able to easily exemplify a commitment to diversity, inclusion and evidence of a culture anchored in belonging and organizational excellence.

Tips and Considerations

  • The manager or vice president should consider meeting with the Chief Diversity Officer (or the like) to ensure job descriptions are balanced from an equity and diversity point of view;
  • The manager or vice president should consider knowledge of diversity and inclusion as an essential function when creating a job description;
  • The search committee chair should be able to coach the committee through the position description’s connection with diversity and inclusion — and the qualities of the ideal candidate;
  • The search committee chair (and members) should be aware of words and phrases like “fit,” or “perfect,” as they can serve to highlight prototype candidates;
  • The search committee should avoid buzzwords that promote attracting candidates that mirror the current departmental population (gender, race, national origin, academic pedigree).

Research Links


Unpacking the Impact of Bias

Diverse people2.jpg

Search committees are responsible for reviewing departmental demographic data to ensure that equity is a major part of hiring and talent acquisition. Although it can be difficult to determine when the workspace is “sufficiently diverse,” it is important to discuss ways to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. It is also important to be aware of barriers that prevent diversity hiring, such as the impact of bias and implicit associations during the talent acquisition phase.

Key Terms: Bias, Implicit, Explicit, Behavior, Subtle, Influence, Homogeneous and Impact

Tips and Considerations

  • The search committee chair should be aware of how “subtle bias” can negatively impact the search process;
  • The search committee chair should be mindful that the presence of diversity of thought within a search committee does not replace the value of differences based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, veteran status, professional rank or status, etc;
  • The search committee should pay close attention to the demographics within the workplace (unit/department levels). An awareness of similar or consistent ethnic, racial, gender, and academic hiring patterns should produce direct conversations about homogenous work environments.

Research Articles




Administrative Strategies to Build a Diverse Pool

Creating a simplistic way of hiring differently is crucial. The following are eight key strategies that will lead to diversity of thought during the recruitment and hiring processes. Although these strategies will vary by department each department should strive for equity.


  • The search committee chair (or co-chair in some cases) should draw a direct correlation with Duke University’s Annual Affirmative Action Plan and the overall search process;
  • The search committee chair should recruit at least one person from outside of the department, unit or division to serve on the committee;
  • Six phrases that every search committee should consider during the search process:
    • Inclusive Excellence
    • Community and Belonging
    • Diversity of Thought
    • Diversity of Experience
    • Transferable Skill Sets
    • Pattern Mapping (departmental trends related to hiring)
  • The search committee chair and members should be people who are sensitive to the need for diversity in the workplace;
  • The search committee should consider diversity’s importance similar to organizational succession planning;
  • If the search process (pool) does not yield “ideal diverse candidates” by the end of the anticipated time frame, they should be willing to extend or even consider aborting the process.


Selecting Candidates to Interview | Interview Process


Search committee teams should be sensitive to both the selection process and the interviewees. Diversity should be apparent during the interview stages. Avoid interviewing persons from only one demographic area. Due diligence related to narrowing down the finalist pool is very important. Here are a few sample questions that every search committee should be able to answer with a high degree of equity in mind:

  1. Are all of the finalists male or female?
  2. Does diversity between academic experience and pedigree exist?
  3. Is race and ethnic difference apparent amongst finalists?
  4. Do all finalists, regardless of individual demographics, have a demonstrated commitment (track-record) to diversity and inclusion?



End Notes:
The building and maintenance of this resource is ongoing.
Resources and information across faculty and staff searches can have overlap and unique differences.
Contact the OIE Webmaster for help.
This tool was created solely as a guide for those seeking to make hiring practices more equitable and inclusive. This is not an official requirement of Duke University/Duke University Health System.