Identify an interview panel or establish a search committee

The creation and use of a search committee is required when filling executive and senior administrator positions and is optional when filling all other university and academic professional positions. When a search committee is used, it must conform to the University and Academic Professional search guidelines. When a search committee is not used, the use of a representative interview panel, described below, is required.

A collaborative approach to hiring has many benefits. It allows for a thorough evaluation and diverse assessment of candidates based on a number of different perspectives. In addition, potential biases that may exist in the hiring process are reduced. 

Search committees are typically involved in more steps of the recruitment process than interview panels. Search committees often provide input on the position announcement, are more actively engaged in recruiting candidates, may conduct reference checks, plan on campus visits, etc. Interview panels are only typically involved in the interview process. It may be helpful to consult with HR to determine the most effective recruitment approach based on the position and department’s needs. Below is information about search committees and representative interview panels.


  • Search committee. Search committees play a vital role in recruiting, evaluating, and recommending the most qualified candidates for employment by the University. Search committee members are often the first University employees that a candidate will meet, and each member has an opportunity to represent the University as a diverse and welcoming community.

A search committee should comprise a representative cross-section of individuals to bring diverse perspectives to the team. The size, composition and scope of the committee will vary based on the specific position under recruitment. However, it is required that search committees consist of at least three (3) members. For senior-level searches, the committee size may be larger, reflecting the number and diversity of stakeholders affected by the hire. The composition of a search committee is key to a broad and inclusive search. As such, the committee should:

  • Include individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise.
  • Include individuals with knowledge of the substantive area and the technical expertise to effectively evaluate candidates’ qualifications.
  • Represent a diverse cross section of the University population, comprised of members with a demonstrated commitment to diversity.
  • Include appropriate stakeholders such as peers of the new hire, supervisors, and those in similar positions. Search committee members can be comprised of VCU faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community partners, as appropriate for the position.

Typically, direct reports are not included as members of a search committee.  However, there may be instances when participation from a direct report on a committee adds value and insight about the position, which may not be represented from other committee members.

Hiring managers should involve the search committee as early in the process as possible, so that they may help develop position descriptions, advertisements, and ranking criteria. For more information about the duties and responsibilities of a search committee in the recruitment process, please see the Search Committee Resource Guide. For assistance with search committee member selection, please contact Human Resources.

  • Interview Panel. For positions not utilizing a search committee, a representative interview panel is required. An interview panel is a team committed to interviewing and aiding the selection process for a position. The panel process is beneficial because it provides varying perspectives, helps to eliminate biases, and involves employees and customers in the hiring decision. A representative interview panel should be composed of at least two individuals who have a strong knowledge of the position and its requirements. Although there are no specific gender or race requirements, the diversity of the panel should be considered.