Reviewing and Incorporating Applicants Not Interviewed at TPE

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    Edward F. D. Spencer, Ph.D. and Chris MacDonald, Ph.D.
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Often we are faced with the challenge of how to review and incorporate those position applicants who were not interviewed at TPE. We believe that ethically we should and must treat such applicants as closely as possible to the way in which TPE-interviewed applicants are treated. So, what does this mean?

First, those not interviewed at TPE should be subjected to the same screening process utilized for those who were interviewed. The same criteria should be applied and a decision should be made as to whether an applicant would have been interviewed at TPE had they been present for TPE. If so, arrangements should be made to interview that person via Skype or Facetime, if at all possible. Those not selected for an interview should be so informed in the same manner that non-selected applicants at TPE were informed. We are fortunate today to have the technology of such video interviews available so that we can create a situation closely resembling the live interviews done at TPE.

Our suggestion is that the hiring department set up a bank of interview times and work with each applicant to be interviewed to determine an exact schedule. Since these interviews, like those done at TPE, are screening interviews, our suggestion is that the same person or persons who would have conducted an interview at TPE be the one(s) to conduct the video interview. This ensures that the same equal treatment is given. Interviews with the entire Search Committee at this point would be inappropriate as they would give non-TPE applicants an unfair advantage.

Following these video interviews, the Search Committee should review all candidate files and ensure that all procedures have been followed. Then the Committee should move on to the next step in the procedures to narrow down the pool of those being considered. That next step might be a second round of video interviews, this time with the Search Committee, for those still being considered (being careful to treat the TPE and the non-TPE candidates equally). Alternatively, that next step might be being able to move on to choose semi-finalists or finalists without further video interviews. A decision on “what next?” really swings on how many applicants are still being considered at this stage. Our years of experience in Student Affairs suggest that the more narrowing down you can do before choosing finalists for campus visits, the better will be your process and the less it will cost.

One of the challenges faced in any search is how to handle applications which come in post-TPE and even after video interviews have begun. Ideally, the same procedures should be used to determine whether more video interviews of some applicants should be conducted. It may be, however, that the selection process is so far along that the Committee can make an educated decision on which new applicants are truly competitive with those already screened and interviewed. We always recommend that the search advertisement include a statement like “Screening of applications will begin on (date)” so that candidates will know that applications received after that date will be at a disadvantage. Alternatively, one can make the statement “The closing date for applications will be (date).” However, using that second statement means that you will be unable to consider that ideal candidate whose application arrives after the closing date! For that reason, we always recommend using the first statement.

Those are some initial thoughts on the process for considering applicants not interviewed at TPE. We look forward to responding to questions and suggestions!


Dr. MacDonald currently serves as the Executive Director of Housing & Residence Life at West Virginia University. His primary roles have been in housing & residence life, along with his experiences in student activities, career services, student conduct, and student affairs administration will offer a diverse perspective to our theme this month.  Chris received his both his Bachelor and Masters’ degrees from Appalachian State University and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Spencer has had an impressive career in student affairs, retiring with the title of Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech. His experiences have spanned new student programs & orientation, fraternity & sorority affairs, housing & residence life, student conduct and student affairs administration. Edward received his Bachelor degree from the University of Rochester, two Masters degree from Syracuse University and the University of Delaware and a Ph.D., also from the University of Delaware.

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