Human Resources
Mitchell 1st Floor, MS: 7425
Phone: (509) 963-1202
Fax: (509) 963-1733

Committee Structure and Member Responsibilities

Search committee members may be involved in the entire recruitment and selection process. They work hand in hand with their appointing authority and/or hiring department.

Member Responsibilities (as requested by Appointing Authority or Department):

  • Development of the position announcement;
  • Development and implementation of a recruitment plan (e.g., advertising, posting position announcements and, bearing in mind the university's commitment to a diverse workforce, aggressively seeking out applicants for the position);
  • Reference checking and phone interviews;
  • Development of questions for campus interviews and conduct interviews as appropriate;
  • Recommendation of top candidates to the appointing authority;
  • Notification to candidates who have been eliminated from further consideration.

Search Committee Chair

The search committee chair should be experienced in the university's recruitment and hiring process since he or she will serve as liaison with the department head/chair, appointing authority, HR and OEO.


The search committee routinely handles sensitive information. Members of the search committee should carefully guard the privacy of candidates and the information which the committee gathers about them during the search process. To protect confidentiality, committees should:

  • Keep applicant files in a secure place where only search committee members have access;
  • Conduct meetings in privacy;
  • Share information gathered from application materials, letters of reference, reference checks, etc. only with individuals directly involved in the hiring process; and
  • Publicly share, when necessary, only the names of individuals who have accepted campus interviews.

Record Retention

All documents relating to the search effort must be retained by the Human Resources Department for a minimum of three years from the date the successful candidate is hired or the search is discontinued. (State laws require that original correspondence be retained for a minimum of six years.) No recruitment documentation should be maintained in individual departments. Examples of such documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Copies of job announcements/advertisements;
  • Specific effort to diversify the applicant pool;
  • Letters of application and resumes;
  • Communications between applicants and search committee/departments;
  • Screening tools, questions used for interviews and reference checks;
  • Documents used by the committee in the evaluation process (e.g. screening tools, completed rating sheets, interview feedback forms, etc.).

Appointing a Search Committee


Appointing authorities must be sensitive to the constituencies that surround each position and may want to assure their representation on the search committee. Committees should be appointed according to the guidelines outlined below.


Search committees will be composed of a diverse cross section of male and female representatives of the constituents working with the position. (Departments lacking a diverse representation may refer to a list available from HR of minority male or female employees willing to serve on committees outside their departments). It is strongly suggested that search committees also include minority representation. For a list of minority employees willing to serve on search committees, please contact Human Resources.

Appointing authorities should not serve as members of search committees within their area. Appointing authorities have discretion in determining the total number of individuals who will serve on search committees. Appointing an odd number of committee members, including the chair, often makes committees function more smoothly. Extremely large committees can create scheduling conflicts and impede the process.

The appointing authority should check with the supervisor of the search committee member (particularly classified employees) and the employee to assure they understand search time commitments so that time spent as a member of the search committee can be accommodated within the employee's regular work assignment. An employee's work schedule may be adjusted to meet search commitments.

Unexpected Vacancies

If a vacancy occurs on a search committee after it has been appointed, the appointing authority may choose to appoint a replacement. Appointing authorities should notify Human Resources when a substitution has been made.

Selecting a Chair

The appointing authority selects one committee member to serve as chair. Committees function best when the chair has had some experience on other CWU search committees. The chair should be appointed prior to the first meeting of the committee.

Providing a written charge (see sample below):

The appointing authority should develop a written charge (see below) to the committee and make it available to each member before or at the committee's first meeting. The charge should outline the duties and responsibilities of the committee and specifically address the following:

  • time frame for the search
  • amount and source of funds available for advertising and interviewing
  • salary range and anticipated starting date for the position
  • special confidentiality requirements (if any)
  • secretarial assistance available to the committee
  • desired number of finalists to be recommended to the appointing authority for interview
  • format for the presentation of feedback after interviews (e.g., unranked list; strengths and weaknesses).

Scheduling/Attending the First Meeting

The appointing authority should schedule the first meeting of the committee, taking into consideration not only the schedules of the committee members but the schedule of the Recruitment Specialist as well. It is recommended that the secretary to the committee also attend this meeting. The appointing authority should plan to attend this meeting so that he/she can stress the most important aspects of the position, review the charge, and answer any questions which committee members might have.

Sample Letter to Search Committee

Sample Letter


TO: Search Committee Members
FROM: Appointing Authority or Director
DATE: <Date>
RE: Search Committee Charge

Thank you for agreeing to serve on the search committee for this very important position. Each of you has expertise which will help the committee in its recruitment and evaluation of candidates.

Our first meeting will be <Date> in <Location>. During this meeting I will review my expectations for this search as set forth in the "Search Committee charge," share my expectations for the position, and discuss the recruitment plan. Please come with a list of places you think we should advertise for this position (newspapers, websites, publications, etc.), as well as other ways we can publicize this opening. I have enclosed a copy of the position description for your information.

Search Committee Charge:

  • Conduct search in accordance with Recruitment and Hiring Procedures and with assistance from Human Resources.
  • Maintain confidentiality, discussing search committee business and applicants in private and only with other committee members.
  • Develop a recruitment plan that reflects the university's commitment to diversity.
  • Prepare advertisement for publications.
  • Use your contacts to actively recruit qualified candidates for the position.
  • Establish a timeline for the process with the goal of having interviews completed prior to <Timeline>. (I would like the successful candidate to begin <Date>.)
  • Develop screening tools and conduct paper screening of candidates.
  • Develop questions and conduct phone interviews and initial reference checks of semi-finalists.
  • Recommend three-five individuals for campus interviews.
  • Provide me with the names of candidates who met the minimum qualifications along with brief explanations of why they were not moved forward in the process.
  • Develop interview questions and interview schedules for finalists which include opportunities for various constituencies within the university community to meet with and provide feedback on the candidates.
  • Interview the candidates, collect feedback from others and incorporate into committee's evaluation of the candidates. Provide me with written feedback regarding the interviewee's strengths/weaknesses/suitability for the position, in unranked order.
  • At the end of the search process, forward all search materials to the Human Resources Department for retention.

Tentative Recruitment Plan

There will be a national search to fill this vacancy. Your suggestions are welcome. So far, the following recruitment sources have been identified:

List serves:
Mailing Lists: Office for Equal Opportunity's Mailing List
Personal contacts in state government:
Other contacts:

Search Committee Debriefing

It is beneficial for the appointing authority to meet with the search committee following candidate selection to debrief on the process and to share, as appropriate, the steps leading to the final selection. Some aspects of the appointing authority's process may be necessarily confidential to protect candidates' privacy, but an understanding of the effects of their work assists in encouraging employees to participate in future search committees and strengthens their understanding of their role.