The CSU search process typically involves two interviews; the semifinalist interviews and finalist interviews. Semifinalist interviews are conducted via telephone or video and finalist interviews, also called, on-site interviews, are conducted in-person with the entire search committee. Though rare, a committee may choose to only conduct one round of interviews depending on specific needs of the search and applicant pool size. If a committee wishes to only conduct one round of interviews, please ensure applicants are moved directly to ‘Request Finalist Interview – EOC’ in the Talent Management System (TMS).
The semifinalist interview is a tool available to committees to further narrow down the candidate pool prior to investing time and money to bring a candidate on site. It provides an opportunity for the committee to learn more about the individual’s experience and qualifications, and can be used as an inclusive strategy to allow for a larger group of candidates. Once applications have been screened for minimum qualifications, rated/reviewed by the entire committee using the applicant screening/rating sheet, and a list of potential semifinalist have been compiled and reviewed/approved in the TMS, semifinalist interviews can be scheduled by the search support staff member. Below is a sample email which can be utilized by support staff members when scheduling semifinalist interviews with candidates.
Sample Email Template for Scheduling Semifinalist Interviews
Good morning/afternoon, (candidate’s first name or formal title),
Thank you for your interest in the position of ______________ in the (Office/Department) of _____________. We are pleased to inform you that you are among the candidates selected to participate in the first round of interviews which are conducted by phone.
I would like to share with you some basic information about our office and the position:
The (office/unit/department) is staffed by (list members of the office/unit/department). This position reports to the (title and name of supervisor). (Name of supervisor) reports directly to the Executive Director (or other).
The salary range will be ___________, commensurate with experience.
Given the information I have shared, would you like to schedule a time to participate in a telephone interview with the search committee?
Here are the different options:
(Interview Slot 1)
(Interview Slot 2)
(Interview Slot 3)
Is this a good phone number to reach you? (XXX) XXX-XXXX?
We hope to hear from you soon.
Search Chair or Search Support Staff Member
Semifinalist interviews are typically conducted via telephone or video and last for 30 to 45 minutes. It is important to stick to a set script during these interviews to ensure consistency and equity. It is okay to ask clarifying questions to candidates but follow up questions should be avoided unless asked of everyone. It is important for consistency to ensure that introductions and interview questions be asked in the same order by the same committee members for each interview. A predetermined schedule of the semifinalist interview day is highly encouraged to keep everyone on track. It is important to ensure candidate names, phone numbers and the interview time slots are correct prior to starting the process. Committees are encouraged to conduct semifinalist interviews in blocks of time, a few grouped together across multiple days to help speed up the search process. Below is a sample semifinalist interview schedule.
For candidates who are new to Colorado State University and to the department or unit, the interview is one of the most critical stages in the evaluation process. It is generally the first opportunity for the candidate and the search committee to interact in person. While the interview allows the search committee to evaluate the candidate, it also allows the candidate to evaluate the search committee, the unit, and the University.
Before the candidate arrives, a detailed agenda should be established that includes the individuals with whom the candidate will meet, facilities to be visited, and faculty or staff who will escort the candidate from place to place. The agenda items should be the same for all candidates, but do not necessarily have to be in the same order if it is not possible. This agenda should be sent to all members of the search committee and to the candidate or, at a minimum, shared with them at the beginning of the on-site or campus visit.
Before an on-site or campus visit, it is advisable to ask all the candidates if they will need any special accommodations for their interview. This is different from asking if the applicant has a disability—an individual may need an accommodation without necessarily having a disability. At no time may a candidate be asked if they have a disability or medical condition. Accommodations may be related to a person’s disability or to their special dietary needs. This can be done when writing or calling the candidate to arrange the campus or on-site visit. Below is a sample email which can be utilized by support staff members when scheduling finalist interviews.
Example Email Template for Scheduling Finalist Interviews
Good morning/afternoon, (candidate’s first name or formal title),
We are so glad you will be interviewing with us and our office/department looks forward to meeting with you in person. Your interview schedule is:
1:00 – 2:00 Interview with the Search Committee Members
2:00 – 2:45 Meet with (Position’s Supervisor or Other)
2:45 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 3:45 Meet with (Hiring Authority or Other)
3:45 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 4:45 (Open Form or Other)
4:45 – 5:00 Travel to Restaurant
5:00 – 6:00 Dinner with the Search Committee
(Open Forum information if applicable)
The open forum is an opportunity for members of the campus community that work closely with the office/department to meet you and ask you questions. Please be prepared to briefly share your background and interest in the position at the beginning of the open forum.
(Parking information if applicable)
The most convenient parking is (Lot name and number). A parking pass will be available to you the day of your interview which will allow you to park in this lot on your interview day. You can view a CSU parking map here: http://parking.colostate.edu/maps/mapside.pdf. I have also attached a copy for your convenience.
(Pick up information if applicable)
A representative from the search committee will pick you up and bring you to campus at (time). Please meet them in the lobby of your hotel.
(Location of office/first interview if applicable)
A map of campus can be found here: http://www.map.colostate.edu/#b=242. We are located in the (name of building).
While we have a defined schedule set for you from ____ pm/am to _____ pm, is there anything we can try to facilitate for you after your scheduled interview time? Please let me know if you are interested in a short tour of the University. Please feel free to contact me with any accommodation requests for your visit.
(Travel/Flight Itinerary if applicable)
A travel itinerary will be sent later this week with your flight confirmation and a hotel reservation. CSU will provide a shuttle to and from the airport to your booked hotel. As indicated earlier, you are planning on staying in Colorado a few extra nights. CSU will cover your stay for one night at the (name of the hotel) please contact the hotel if you wish to extend the reservation.
(Required confidential candidate information for booking a flight if applicable)
Please reply to this email with your full name and birthday so that I can begin the flight booking process with a travel agency. They will soon provide me with a few flight options which I’ll pass along to you so you can select the day and time that works best for you.
Search Chair or Support Member
Before interviews begin, it is advisable for all members of the search committee to review the candidate’s application materials, the job description, and the evaluation form. The members must know the candidate’s formal qualifications and accomplishments, have letters of reference and/or reports of telephone conversations with references (if collected or conducted by the committee prior to the onsite or campus interview), and must have reviewed the candidate’s transcripts when applicable. The committee members should agree on areas to cover in the interview, and in some cases, have assigned specific lines of inquiry to particular members. All committee members should be fully aware of lines of inquiry that are inappropriate (see page 31 of the CSU Search Manual).
You may also wish to reflect on how to create an atmosphere of openness in the interview. All parties need to know what expectations the search committee has of a candidate and the candidate has of the position.
The search chair and search committee members should greet the candidate when they are brought into the interview site. The candidate needs to be given evidence that the committee and department or unit are friendly and welcoming. Give the candidate a chance to interact with the department or unit’s faculty and/or staff in multiple venues.
The questions to be asked of a candidate are very important. The search committee should devise a group of core questions based on the job-related criteria by which candidates are to be evaluated. These questions should be asked of all candidates to ensure that crucial job-related information is obtained. Many search committees have found that beginning with open-ended questions relaxes the candidate and encourages them to speak freely.
Developing questions ahead of time need not be unduly restrictive. Follow-up questions based on the responses to predetermined questions will most likely vary with each candidate. The on-site or campus interview with the search committee is a more fluid conversation that explores the candidate’s particular experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities. During the interview with the search committee, the candidate is learning about the department, its members and the University. Therefore, a core set of questions is prepared in order to provide a consistent structure to the interview conversation. However, as the search committee explores the candidate’s particular background, knowledge, skills and abilities, what typically ensues is an exchange that prompts other questions to come to mind and be asked. This is acceptable as the wish is for more of a conversational exchange allowing the search committee to learn about a candidate in addition to the candidate’s experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities. The core set of questions become the common beginning of a conversation with the candidate. Questions may be asked that are not part of the core set of questions as the conversation takes place as long as the questions are appropriate and job-related.
One should also examine the questions to make sure none will have the effect of screening out or discouraging women, minorities, veterans or individuals with disabilities. An organized and patterned interview of this type has the beneficial effect of reducing unconscious biases.
When search committee members have asked all the questions needed, the chair should provide the candidate with time to ask questions. By now, the candidate should have developed a number of questions. To some extent, the quality of the candidate’s questions may indicate how serious a candidate is about the position.
Common Interviewing Mistakes
- Failure to put a candidate at ease.
- Signaling expected answers to questions or leading the candidate to the
- Failure to listen actively.
- Committee members talking too much.
- Lack of follow-up on questions to clarify ideas.
- Failure to plan for the interview.
- Not organizing the interview experience well.
- Personal bias used during interview.
- Committee does not keep an open mind about candidate.
- Asking yes/no questions versus open-ended questions.
Personal Biases in Interviewing
- Making judgments too early in the process.
- The halo effect—the last candidate was so bad that the present candidate
looks exceptionally good.
- The horn effect—opposite of the halo effect.
- Personal similarity.
- Verbal facility.
- False criteria.
- Forgetting the details of the interview visit of one or more candidates.
- Trying to find an exact duplicate personality to that of the incumbent in the
- Wishing to select someone like yourself.