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Exempt Search Policies and Procedures

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. Every committee member holds the potential to portray the University as a fair and hospitable entity, all while executing the search process in alignment with federal, state, and University policies.

At any point in the process, EOA is available for consultation, to answer questions, and to discuss specific situations and offer search committee training. Please contact EOA staff at 865-974-2498 for assistance.

Exempt Staff Search Procedures

Exempt-Staff-Search-Summary-Report

Touchpoints of a Hiring Decision-Maker

Appropriate & Inappropriate Areas of Inquiry

Strengths and Weaknesses Addendum

HR – Exempt Position Workflow

Exempt Search Committee Procedures

Hiring decision-makers must:

  • Draft position description, have position evaluated, create a position, and post on UT’s website.
  • When the position is live on Taleo, it is permissible to include one HR Rep and one Administrative Professional in the requisition. Please also include the search chair and committee members. Anyone outside of that, even the Hiring Decision-Maker, is not to be included. 

1. Search Chair & Committee Selection

Hiring Decision-Maker:
Determine who will be on the search committee and who will be the search chair. The hiring manager CANNOT be on the search committee.

Search Committee Chairs:
The search chair will contact Nicole Cangey (ncangey@utk.edu) to schedule an exempt staff search orientation session.  Under minimal circumstances, this orientation can be waived. However, attendance is mandatory annually. After the orientation, the search chair will be responsible for completing the Exempt-Staff-Search-Summary-Report sections 1 and 2 before the start of the search.


2. Charge meeting

The search committee chair and hiring decision-maker will host an initial committee meeting where the hiring decision-maker conveys what the needs are for the position. Discuss the following details with the committee:

  • Anticipated search timeline
  • Additional recruiting and advertising efforts
  • Determine how the committee will share information and access application materials via Taleo access, Microsoft Teams, or a Google Drive folder. Be careful with your permissions; be sure nobody can share or add someone to the folder. Once the search is over, transfer relevant documents to the official search file, delete the shared folder, and give the file to the hiring unit for storage
  • Method of evaluating applicants (rubric/matrix)
  • Thoroughly discuss consideration of required vs. preferred qualifications
  • Have a discussion about social media searches (NOT recommended as an independent search committee member endeavor)

A note on internal candidates to share with committee:

  • Internal candidates must be treated the same way as external candidates
  • Avoid consideration of unsolicited information as a basis of rejection of candidate in initial evaluation
  • Personal knowledge of candidate may be appropriate later in process at time references are checked

If the search is for an upper-level position (director and above), EOA must attend the initial charge meeting. Please email eoa@utk.edu to ensure an EOA representative is in attendance.


3. Initial Screenings

The search committee will determine the best method to conduct initial screenings prior to on-campus interviews. Initial screenings can be conducted via phone call or teleconferencing platform (e.g. Zoom or Microsoft Teams).

Pre-screening questions should be pre-determined by the committee, as well as be fair and consistent across candidates.


4. Pool Development

After initial screenings, the search committee will develop a strengths and weaknesses statement for primary and secondary pools. Primary pool candidates will be invited to on-campus interviews. This pool should generally be greater than one. While it is not required to have a secondary pool, it is beneficial if primary candidates are not selected.

The search chair, with input from committee, must complete the Exempt-Staff-Search-Summary-Report including strengths and weaknesses for candidates in the pools. The chair will then send the completed report to eoa-opportunity@utk.edu.

For IPS positions please only send the Strengths and Weaknesses to Angie McLemore, mclemore@tennessee.edu
Committee chair may contact EOA to review the diversity of pool prior to making primary and secondary pool decisions to determine whether additional recruiting should take place.

EOA will comprehensively review the full applicant pool to ensure equal employment opportunity in comparison with the summary report.

EOA may require additional strengths and weaknesses for diverse candidates who appear to meet qualifications but are not under further consideration.


5. On-campus Interview

After approval from EOA, you may proceed with inviting primary candidates to on-campus interviews. See some considerations for on-campus candidates:

  • Be consistent with itinerary (length of interviews, scope of process). Each interview should contain the same elements for each candidate.
  • All primary candidates must be interviewed before the committee can make any hiring recommendations.
  • Be sure to include the hiring decision-maker in the interview process, as a one on one meeting.
  • Avoid problematic questions or discussions of personal issues.
  • Answer candidate questions, but don’t probe areas that would not be appropriate for questioning (see list of inappropriate questions).
  • If inappropriate questions are asked, address it immediately and inform the candidate that the question will not be used to evaluate the candidacy. Document any issues that arise and discuss with EOA as soon as possible.
  • For upper-level searches (director or higher), on-campus interviews need to include a meeting with EOA.

6. Reference Checks and Successful Candidates

  • Notify the successful candidate that you will be contacting references, including their direct supervisor.
  • Be consistent with questions. Don’t probe inappropriate areas.