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Recruitment & Hiring

Human resources provides recruitment and related services to hiring managers in order to attract, hire and retain the best qualified candidates. It is our goal to work collaboratively with hiring managers and staff search committees to attract a diverse pool of applicants during the selection and hiring process. We are also available to provide guidance and support to employees seeking career development assistance.

Please contact Serena Harris for more information.

Diversity Outreach Resources

Smith College is committed to equal opportunity, diversity and a climate of inclusion. The following recruitment sources and organizations will help you to diversify your applicant pool and familiarize you with services for people of color, women and people with disabilities.

Local Organizations

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

430 Dwight Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 739-2145

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

16 Fort Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 736-7296

NAACP Springfield Branch

25 Saint James Avenue
Springfield, MA 01109
(413) 734-2765

Urban League of Springfield, Inc.

756 State Street
Springfield, MA 01109
(413) 739-7211

Online Resources

Affirmative Action Register

Black Career Women

Black Enterprise

Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The Bay State Banner

Chronicle of Higher Education

Diversity Inc

Diversity Web

Greater Diversity

Hire Diversity

Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


Latino Professional Network

National Urban League Career Center




Women in Higher Education


The purpose of a face-to-face interview is to further narrow your initial group of applicants by learning as much about the applicant as you can in a relatively limited time. This is a fact-finding mission for both parties. Both parties need information to ensure a successful outcome.


Prepare interview questions in advance. Some applicants are very rehearsed. They know how to anticipate or deflect difficult questions. They know the "correct" answer to many questions, mainly because they have been asked the same questions over and over or they have a written script that anticipates questions. There is a way to limit too many "canned" answers by formulating questions that cannot be anticipated by the applicant.

You will want to formulate original questions that are less commonly asked by interviewers and will lessen the possibility of getting formulaic responses.

Telephone Screening

A brief telephone screening is also a time-saving strategy. This allows you to find out potential interest in the position and the salary range the applicant is looking for.

Sample Questions

Below are samples of different types of questions for phone and face-to-face interviews, as well as tips on nondiscriminatory interviewing and legal considerations.


The onboarding process begins when a position has been filled. There are defined steps in this process for the new employee. If you have any questions please call (413) 585-2271.

Posting Exceptions/Waivers

There are times when a department would like to waive a posting period for internal candidates or waive a job search. Both instances are an exception to general policy and special handling and approvals are needed.

Requesting a Posting Exception

The hiring manager needs to contact human resources to discuss petitioning for an internal posting exception. If granted, a waiver of the five-day internal posting period will result in concurrent internal and external posting periods.

Requesting a Posting Waiver

The hiring manager needs to contact the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity to discuss petitioning for a posting waiver of the search process. A posting waiver exempts the job opening from normal posting requirements. If the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity approves the request, the job is not posted or advertised, and an immediate hire is allowed. If the waiver is denied, the hiring manager can petition human resources to waive the five-day posting period. If the waiver is approved, the hiring manager forwards the approved waiver to human resources to initiate the job offer.

Recruitment Guide

The hiring process begins when a position becomes vacant or a new position is created. Human resources can assist you in the following; in addition, here are some questions to consider.

Step 1: Review Your Department Needs

  • Does this position still meet the needs of the department?
  • Should there be a process or position redesign before this position is posted?
  • What other restructuring needs should be considered before moving forward with the position?

Step 2: Review Job Description

  • Human resources will work with hiring managers to review and update job descriptions.
  • If major changes are needed, contact Kevin Kerwood at (413) 585-2266 for assistance and possible grade review.

Step 3: Things to Think About when Determining Job Qualifications

  • Consider whether a specific degree or certification is required or preferred. This is critical in order to target the most appropriate pool of prospective employees.
  • Can the knowledge and skills be acquired on the job with specialized training, courses or seminars? Generally, a year of college translates to two years of experience.
  • Is academic experience really required? The skills applied in a different environment often can be transferred to support work at the college.
  • Is Word or Excel really needed? Word processing and spreadsheet applications are very similar, so avoid specifying brand software whenever possible.
  • Are the qualifications defined too narrowly so as to screen out or exclude applicants who may have broad experience that would enable them to perform the duties of the position? More broadly defined experience expands the pool of applicants.
  • Preferred skills: Consider how long it will take to learn required skills or knowledge. Are they essential for performing the work from the beginning, or can they be acquired within a reasonable period of time? If this is the case, these skills should be expressed as desirable or preferred.
  • Related experience: Essential skills have been demonstrated in a different role or environment (e.g., a customer services representative may have demonstrated the communication skills required for an administrative assistant position).
  • When replacing a long-time service employee, consider the experience actually needed to perform the work, not the experience of the prior incumbent.
  • Is supervisory experience needed, or could someone who has demonstrated the ability to guide or coach others as a lead or who has managed projects perform the work?
  • Have you required a level of expertise that is too high? Employees can become dissatisfied when work is not challenging.

Step 4: Schedule Prerecruitment Meeting with Human Resources

  • Answer questions regarding HireTouch
  • Discuss challenges and priorities of position
  • Identify resources for attracting a diverse applicant pool
  • Review job description
  • Discuss recruitment plan
  • Determine advertising and outreach options
  • Meet with the search committee to review process
  • Screen resumes, if requested
  • Provide interviewing tips
  • Interview final candidates
  • Conduct reference checks, if requested

Step 5: Screen for Best Qualified Applicants

  • Hiring managers are encouraged to give consideration to internal candidates whose experience and performance record makes them strong candidates for positions of greater responsibility.
  • Review résumés (see Reviewing Résumés section).
  • Sort the candidate pool.
  • The first screening should eliminate all candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements specified in the posting. Candidates who do not meet the advertised minimum requirements should not be interviewed or hired.
  • The second screening focuses on specific skills, experience, and overall sense of the candidate's ability to do the job.
  • Schedule first round of telephone interviews (see Interviewing section) with the search committee members.
  • When on-campus interviews will involve meeting with many people, the search committee should send the candidate an interview schedule in advance. Copies of the schedule should be distributed to the search committee including those responsible for escorting the candidate to and from meetings.
  • If applicable, travel arrangements and accommodations should be coordinated with human resources. Reimbursement for travel expenses is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Step 6: Prepare Interview Questions

  • Prepare one set of interview questions (see Interviewing section) prior to the interview that focus on job-related qualifications.
  • Do not include questions related to race, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, handicap status, marital status, childcare or health issues as there are legal implications to consider (see Interviewing section).
  • Identify open-ended questions (questions to which the answer cannot be a yes or no, or a one-word answer) to ask each applicant and be prepared for follow-up questions.
  • Analyze the qualities that are important for someone in the position and design questions that can assess whether a candidate possesses them (e.g., Describe a stressful situation that might occur on the job and ask candidates how they might react).
  • Ask "what-if" questions (e.g., Describe a typical job situation of the open position and ask the candidate how they would handle it).
  • Learn about the candidate's perception of strengths and weaknesses (e.g., What would your manager say were your major achievements and your major areas for improvement?).
  • Open the interview by asking the candidate to share an overview of their background, education and skills and reasons for applying for the position.
  • Close the interview by asking the candidate to add other pertinent information.

Step 7: Interview Candidates

  • The candidate should receive a welcome packet upon arrival. It should include the college catalogue or marketing materials, departmental brochure (if available), organizational chart, campus map, benefits summary, job description and interview schedule.
  • Select a quiet, private area to conduct an interview.
  • When scheduling interviews, set aside an appropriate amount of time between 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Follow the Behavioral Interviewing Outline (see Interviewing section) with each candidate .
  • Close the interview by letting the candidate know the next steps in the process and expected time frame for the hiring decision.
  • Allow 15 minutes for wrap up following the interview.
  • Helpful hint: Follow the 80/20 rule when interviewing; you should only be speaking 20 percent of the time.

Step 8: Finalist Selection Process

  • Search committee or hiring manager identifies finalists.
  • Finalists are scheduled to return to campus for second round of interviews with the committee or other members of the college community.
  • Copy of Benefits Summary given to each finalist.
  • Search committee reconvenes to recommend final candidates.
  • Complete the Recruitment Summary and send to the Office of Institutional Diversity for approval.
  • Whenever possible, human resources will interview the candidate before a formal offer can be made. The human resources recruiter will bring an added perspective to the process and will familiarize the applicant with the benefits Smith has to offer.

Step 9: Select a Candidate and Begin the Orientation Process

  • Communicate with human resources regarding the results of the interviews and begin checking references (see Reference Checking section).
  • It is recommended that three reference checks be conducted with present and former supervisors.
  • Human resources checks educational references and conducts other background checks, where appropriate.
  • Contact human resources to discuss references and determine salary.
  • Make verbal offer to the finalist.
  • Determine official start date.
  • Human resources sends finalist official offer letter.
  • Human resources schedules New Employee Orientation.
  • Human resources sends regret letters.

Reference Checking

Hiring decisions should not be made without making an effort to check references. References help you get the full picture of the candidate's skills, work habits and personality. Reference checking is all about making sure the candidate is right for the job. Making hiring decisions without complete information on candidates could lead to costly mistakes and may subject an employer to liability for its hiring decision. Reference checking should simply be regarded as a component of the interviewing process.

Reference Checking Process

Inform job applicants at the initial interview stage that all finalists are subject to a thorough reference checking process, which will involve contacting prior employers for detailed discussions of the candidate's work experience and performance. This advice sends the message to applicants that we have a rigorous selection process and that we don't rely solely on the applicant's "prepared" reference list. Advance notice can also help eliminate some applicants from pursuing the interviewing process further.

Have candidate provide a minimum of three reference sources. It is helpful to get references from a combination of people who can discuss the candidate's skills and work habits (e.g., prior supervisors, peers and subordinates). However, it is essential to get references from past managers. Ideally, one reference should be from the candidate's current or most recent manager. If it is not possible to speak with the current manager before hiring the candidate, you should still check the reference, even if it is after the candidate has been hired.

Reviewing Résumés

Review the cover letter and resume information to determine if the applicant meets the minimum requirements as outlined on the job description, and has provided the required information. Review the resume to determine how the strengths and weaknesses compare to the position requirements.

Cover letters should:

  • Always accompany a résumé
  • Be free of errors
  • Personalize the candidate to you
  • Be neat in appearance
  • Express genuine interest in the position
  • Describe how past experience would be transferable to the position

Résumé Strengths

  • Specific skills and abilities
  • Scope of responsibilities, capabilities, and accomplishments
  • Education, continued learning, and special training
  • Direct, related, and transferable experience
  • Care given to growth and progressions
  • Continuity of employment and career
  • Writing skills
  • Job stability

Possible Résumé Weaknesses

  • Lacking in related experience
  • Job hopping
  • Employment gaps
  • Lack of career progress
  • Lack of education and continued learning
  • Lack of specific accomplishments

What information can you get from a résumé?

  • Ability to think on feet
  • Need for direction
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Maturity level
  • Initiative
  • Flexibility
  • Reason for looking for a new position
  • Attitude toward achievement, work and people
  • Basic work values
  • Career goal and ambitions