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Ensuring Bias-Free Recruitment

A Guide for Search Committees

The Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy of Indiana University


“Indiana University prohibits discrimination based on arbitrary considerations of such characteristics a

s age, color,

disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”

It is important to keep this in mind when evaluating candidates for positions at Indiana University

Southeast. Although it is unlikely search committee members would overtly discriminate against

candidates based on the characteristics above, discrimination may never the less occur. Search

committees may set criteria or make inquires that screen out otherwise qualified candidates because of

characteristics such as those above. They might also make assumptions about candidates based on such

characteristics, which would therefore exclude the candidate from consideration. Interviewers might ask

questions or make comments that would lead a candidate to believe one or more of the above

characteristics will be a factor in their evaluation either negatively or positively. This may lead the

candidate to “voluntarily” remove him or herself from consideration. The effect of these situati

ons is the

same as overt discrimination and is not in keeping with Indiana Universit


non-discrimination policy.

In addition to finding the best qualified person for the position, search committees are often concerned

with finding someone who will fit in well in their department. Nobody wants to hire a candidate who

subsequently feels uncomfortable in the department. But whether a candidate will be comfortable in the

department is an issue for the candidate to decide. This can best be accomplished if candidates have the

opportunity to meet and interact with a large number of the faculty, staff, and students in the department.

They can then form their own opinion about what the department is like and if they would fit in. A

candidate should never be asked if he or she thinks they would fit into the department given an arbitrary

characteristic unrelated to his or her administrative, research or teaching area.

Specific information on characteristics that should not be used to evaluate candidates and ideas on how to

avoid possible perceptions to the contrary is listed below.


Persons age 40 and over are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of age. Questions that

would reveal age should be avoided. Additional comments or questions that might indicate age as a factor

should be avoided. Examples include:

“Our faculty is young and on the cutting edge of research.”

“We are interested in getting new blood or new energy into the department.”

Some positions at Indiana University have a mandatory retirement age. This part of the position should be

made known to all candidates, not just persons suspected of being close to the retirement age. If a position

requires a specific term such as five years, then all candidates should be asked if they can fulfill that term.


All candidates should be asked only if they are currently eligible to work in the United States. This

question should be asked of all candidates not just those suspected of being citizens of another country.

After an offer is made, he or she will be required to produce documentation of eligibility.