You found a promising job posting and submitted the requested application materials – now what? When it comes to dealing with potential employers, particularly higher education employers, patience is key, but knowing what a typical hiring process is like can give you an advantage, including identifying actions you can take to follow up.
I talked with my colleagues Maranda Holtsclaw and Tonya Mathis, both with expertise in higher education recruitment and retention. We discussed common questions asked by job seekers that have applied for higher ed jobs. Below, I’ve captured their insights on the review process and their advice on what you can do after you’ve submitted your application materials.
Q: What is the typical timeline for a hiring process (including reviewing applications and contacting candidates)?
Maranda: This is truly dependent on the institution and even on the department or unit within the institution that you are applying to. It can be dependent on the search committee, like how big it is, and the time of year. For instance, are they trying to hire during the summer when committee members may be taking vacations and it’s challenging to find a day or two that works for everyone to conduct interviews? Also, it can depend on how many other people have applied. If there are many applications, it can take a while to review and determine which applicants will be invited to move on to the next step. The workload of the HR representatives that do an initial review of applications can also be a factor in timing.
Tonya: I agree with Maranda – the timeline for reviewing applications and contacting candidates is dependent on the institution, department, and/or hiring manager. From my experience, the application review process can take anywhere from four to six weeks. Another thing to note is that there is usually a required amount of time for a job to be posted. For example, at my current institution, unclassified jobs are required to be posted for five days, classified positions for 10 days, and faculty positions for 30 days. If an institution is using a search firm, that may impact the timeline as well. Finally, it also depends on when the search committee is formed. Was the committee formed at the beginning of the process or towards the end? It takes time to create the committee, then coordinate schedules to hold its first meeting.
Q: Will I receive a confirmation email or any notification to confirm that my resume has been received?
Maranda: Many schools use an applicant tracking system (ATS) that will show the status of your applications. The status will reflect that your materials have been received and what stage they are in. If there is no status available in the program that you used to apply and you don’t receive an email confirming receipt, you may want to call the Human Resources office at that school and just let them know you are checking if your materials were received.
Tonya: Yes! Applicants will receive a confirmation email indicating that their resume has been received. Applicants are also encouraged to check their application status via the ATS.
Q: How will I be contacted if I am selected for an interview?
Maranda: This depends on the school, but I think a phone call is the most typical form of communication to set up an interview as there is sometimes a little back-and-forth to find a time. Sometimes you will be reached via email, so it is wise to check your email often and look at your spam folder from time to time as well. If the system that you applied through has a ‘status’ for your applications, you may see that you have moved to a ‘contacted for interview’ status. If you see this, but you don’t see an email or get a phone call, it would be wise to reach out.
Tonya: Oftentimes, candidates get an email inviting them to an interview. This includes an invite for a pre-screening interview and additional rounds of interviews. We usually provide the candidates with several dates and ask them to select their top three choices. It also depends on who is handling the interview logistics. I have observed an administrative assistant or search committee support person contacting candidates by telephone while the search committee chairperson contacted candidates via email. In my previous roles as a hiring manager, my practice was to contact candidates via email. It was my experience that individuals don’t usually answer their cell phones if they don’t know who it is calling, even though they provided their numbers. If I reached out to someone via email and they didn’t respond in a timely manner, then I would give them a courtesy call.
Q: Is it appropriate for me to follow up on the status of my application, and if so, whom should I contact?
Maranda: You can, but you don’t want to come off as pushy. Use this as an opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the position, but don’t take too much of the person’s time – be succinct with your question. If there is a staffing coordinator listed on the posting, you can contact that person. However, sometimes there isn’t a person listed on the posting for questions and in this case, the advice is varied because each institution’s structure is unique. At some larger universities, HR can be very decentralized and it can make it tricky to find the right person to talk to. In those instances, you can call the Central Human Resources office.
Tonya: This is a great question. The Office of Human Resources is where I would recommend a candidate follow up on the status of their application. That said, if someone reaches out to me directly, I will make an inquiry on their behalf to the talent manager and then get back to the person. Usually, this is someone I have met at a job fair or networking event. If you have an established connection at the institution, consider using them as a reference.
Q: Will there be any additional steps or assessments in the hiring process?
Maranda: Typically, if there are, they will be listed in the posting details. The other way you may learn of this is when you are notified of an interview. Some examples may be something like a physical test or stress test if the position requires physical labor, or a presentation to a specific group.
Tonya: I’m with Maranda on this one. The only other thing that I might share is that when I interviewed for my previous position as assistant dean, I was asked to complete a writing sample. So, a word to the wise – be prepared!
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About the Author: Marcia Silva is the director of marketing and communications at the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium. She strives to create engaging, research-informed content that empowers job seekers and employers committed to creating inclusive workplaces. She is passionate about using digital media and technology to encourage participation and strengthen communities.