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Confidentiality and Fair Treatment of Candidates on Campus

Confidentiality and Fair Treatment of Candidates on Campus

This question is taken from AGB Search's monthly newsletter, "Securing Leadership," which features two questions—one frequently asked by search committee members and another often posed by candidates. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

A search committee member asks: What is the best way to preserve confidentially for candidates when moving to the campus interview stage of a search?

Candidates understand that once they reach the finalist stage of a search there is a good chance their candidacy will become known on their home campus. So instead of “candidate confidentiality,” we are really talking about fair treatment of finalists.

Reminding members of the campus community to treat candidates as they would like to be treated is a good start.

Your search committee has invested months to identify, say, three highly competent and successful finalists; two of them will be disappointed in the end and return to their current jobs. Heated, personal critiques; out-of-context discussion of qualifications; offhand, negative comments online or in the press: any of these acts is poor treatment of an invited candidate and risks escalating a “not the right fit” judgement of a particular candidate to a “wholly unqualified” perception, which can damage a career. 

Using an intranet is a nice way of revealing finalists information and being open to the campus community without feeling like you are exposing your candidates to the world. After removing all contact information, posting the full CV is most common; some choose to post an abbreviated bio, however, and some the CV and cover letter.

Finally, there is no right time to release finalists’ information. Campus constituents deserve a reasonable amount of time to review CVs, typically somewhere between 48 hours and one week ahead of visits. Some release information one candidate at a time, believing this places each candidate on equal footing; others choose to release all candidate information before the first visit. There is no single answer.

Starting a presidential search on your campus? Consider AGB's Presidential Search Toolkit, with four publications to assit your board with all elements of the search process.
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