How do we handle questions from our colleagues regarding internal candidates?
Three issues are connected to this question:
The first is the institution’s willingness to consider internal candidates. It is in the institution’s best interest to be clear from the beginning of a search that not only will internal candidates be considered, but well-qualified internal candidates will be encouraged to apply. Such willingness sends an important message to leaders and those seeking leadership positions about their value as members of your community.
The second issue is connected to the importance of confidentiality in the search process. Search committees should always have one spokesperson (typically the chair) for these and other questions about the search process and progress. Even though an internal candidate may make it known he or she intends to apply, search committee members must never confirm or deny an application. Confidentiality on this issue continues indefinitely, even after the search has ended. The reputation of your institution and the work of future search committees is put at risk when confidentiality is not maintained.
Finally, when an interim is holding the position and either institutional policy prohibits interims from being considered for the position or when the interim has acknowledged that he or she will not be seeking the position, such information should be shared with those expressing interest in the position. Often potential candidates will not apply for a position being held by an interim if the interim is allowed to apply for the position.