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My School of Music

OPP 9.00 - Faculty Search Procedures Handbook

Approved by Music Faculty, December 1, 2011
Edited on October 1, 2014 to be in compliance with immigration law
Edited on August 1, 2018 for updates to HR Policies and Procedures
Edited on September, 2018 for updates to include ACAF 1.61 Policy
Edited on March 20, 2019 with International Hiring Appendix
Edited on May 25, 2021

I.              Initiating the Search

Early in the year, and likely the previous year, the Dean – in consultation with the Area Coordinator and appropriate faculty, including the Executive Committee – will determine the searches to be conducted for FTE faculty positions throughout the School. Prior to advertising positions, several steps must be followed, including…

 The Provost and Budget Office must approve an FTE Adjustment Request, submitted by the School of Music HR Coordinator / Dean’s Assistant.
Please pay special attention to the italicized sections below: *Searches which may result in International Hires. The Department of Labor needs proof that every effort was made to recruit and hire a US worker (defined as a US Citizen or US Permanent Resident).


II.            Selecting the Search Committee

The Dean of the School of Music will work with the appropriate Area Coordinator, if applicable, to identify a faculty member to serve as the Chair of the search committee. The Dean will enlist the aid of the Chair of the search committee to identify possible persons to serve on the Committee. The typical search committee consists of five to seven (5-7) members. The Dean’s Office will notify the EOP Office that a search committee is being formed and its proposed composition. The EOP Office will review the proposed composition of the committee and, if necessary, suggest alternate or additional appointees. A representative from the EOP Office can meet with the search committee, or its chair, to review procedures for the search.

The Dean or the Dean’s assistant will send an invitation to each of the members of the proposed search committee. Once the committee is finalized, the chair will be free to call the first meeting of the group, for the purpose of reviewing/revising the job description and vacancy notice and appointing an Equity and Diversity Advocate from the committee.

The Search Committee should become familiar with the Diversity Toolkit for Search Committees website. In addition, the Strengthening Academic Excellence Through Affirmative Recruiting guide can serve as a reference for search committees.

At the point it is essential that the regulations set out in policy ACAF 1.00 RECRUITMENT AND APPOINTMENT OF ALL TENURED, TENUIRE-TRACK, AND PROFESSIONAL (NTE) FACULTY and ACAF 1.6 FACULTY DUAL CAREER ACCOMMODATION be followed to the letter by committee members.


III.          The Job Description / Vacancy Notice

Early in the process, the Dean will confer with the Search Committee Chair to prepare a draft job description and vacancy notice. Avoid a flexible deadline for applicants. Best practice is to use a hard deadline or none at all.

Prior to the first meeting of the Search Committee, the Chair will distribute copies of the draft job description/vacancy notice to the entire committee for their review at the first meeting. The committee will review and discuss the document and suggest changes to the Chair, who will forward those to the Dean for final approval.

Also at the first meeting, the committee’s Equity and Diversity Advocate will outline procedures in effect, to ensure compliance with appropriate federal legislation, including, but not limited to:

  • Ensuring a sufficient pool of candidates
  • Measures for increasing the diversity of the pool
  • Review of appropriate and inappropriate questions and procedures during the search process
  • Other guidelines for, and limitations to, the search process, as they affect the Search Committee

The Diversity Toolkit for Search Committees website is a great resource for the Equity and Diversity Advocate, as well as the entire committee.


IV.          Advertising the Position

It is important that NO advertising of the position occur until the required paperwork is approved by the Provost and the Office of Human Resources. This may take several weeks.

Once approved, the Dean’s assistant / HR Coordinator will advertise the position on the USCJOBS website. All applicants must apply online, uploading all documents and reference contact information, as required by the job posting.

The Dean’s assistant / HR Coordinator will advertise to a world-wide applicant pool on sites such as: The Chronicle of Higher Ed, College Music Society, Higher Ed Jobs, Sphinx, and any area-specific sites the committee deems appropriate. If the job ad is shared on a listserv, conference job board, or other site, please send this information to the Dean’s assistant / HR coordinator.

Search Committee members will also be advised to inform qualified colleagues about the vacancy and encourage eligible parties to apply.

*Searches which may result in International Hires – All job postings should be posted in National print ads and various other print or websites at least 30 days before screening begins.


V.            Accepting and Reviewing Applications

Once advertised, applications will be viewable on the PeopleAdmin system. All Search Committee members will have login access to the files and will be able to evaluate applicants in the system (this is not required).

Search Committee members should review the candidate files independently, prior to a meeting of the entire committee. The same screening criteria must be used for all candidates. ALL notes about applicants must be kept as part of the search process and should be submitted to the Dean’s assistant / HR Coordinator after the search is complete.

 Initially, candidates must be evaluated in terms of the Required Qualifications from the job description/vacancy notice. Those who do not meet the Required Minimum  Qualifications cannot be considered for the position. For example, if the position required a completed PhD or DMA and the candidate does not hold such a degree, that candidate cannot be considered for the position. An Applicant Template is often helpful in tracking qualifications and requirements.

Once candidates have been screened for Required Qualifications, it is appropriate to consider the remaining candidates on the Preferred Qualifications, indicated in the description. At this point, the process would also include evaluation of recordings, scores, writing samples, etc.

*Searches which may result in International Hires – Detailed notes of contact with candidates (emails, phone calls, correspondence of any kind, must be retained. Include date, time, and copies of emails or letters).


VI.          Selecting Candidates for Interview

Finalists are often chosen through a multi-level screening process: from a pool of 60, the committee may narrow the pool to 12-15, and then further to 6-8 candidates. At this point phone or online interviews can be conducted with these candidates. It is required that a set list of questions is used for these interviews, in order to ask all candidates the same questions and be able to compare them on the same issues. These questions and the answers must be kept as part of the search file.

It is essential that the regulations in policies ACAF 1.00 and ACAF 1.61 be followed to the letter. (See Section II above)

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Finalists must have a minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation submitted to be considered. These letters must be on letterhead and signed. If they are not, the Committee Chair should contact the candidate and ask that signed letters on letterhead be sent as soon as possible. These can be sent directly to the Dean’s Executive Assistant.

Following an online/phone screening, a final evaluation is made, and the top 2-5 candidates are identified for on-campus interviews. The Chair should meet with the Dean to forward the committee’s recommendations and to determine the number of candidates to be interviewed.

At this point, if it was not done previously, Search Committee members must disclose any relationship to the selected candidates. Steps should be made to recuse any member, if necessary, to ensure a fair hiring process. See Attestation of Hiring in Appendix.

 f there are any non-US citizens invited to interview, inform the Dean’s assistant / HR Coordinator, and the Office of International Scholars. Forward the letter from OIS (included in Appendix) to the applicant and include a meeting with the OIS staff in the itinerary for the campus visit/interview.

 *Searches which may result in International Hires – Detailed notes of contact with candidates (emails, phone calls, correspondence of any kind, must be retained. Include date, time, and copies of emails or letters).


VII.        Recruiting Veterans (NEW for 2021)

In conjunction with the Veteran’s Preference Hiring Initiative, implemented by the SC Department of Administration, UofSC provides employment preference to eligible veterans who apply to staff and faculty Full-Time Equivalent positions.

The hiring preference requires at least one qualified veteran to be interviewed for every FTE position posted, unless there are no qualified veterans in the applicant pool.

UofSC Veteran’s Preference Resource Manual

  • The applicant must be a veteran who served in any branch of the US Armed Forces on active duty and was discharged under honorable conditions.
  • The Veteran must meet the minimum qualifications of the position.
  • The Veteran must be capable of performing the duties assigned to the position with or without a reasonable accommodation.
  • Prior to the interview, the applicant must submit a DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
  • There will be a section on the application for the applicant to indicate if they are eligible for the veteran preference. Additionally, there is a saved search in PeopleAdmin to find applicants who qualify.
  • The HR contact and the hiring manager will identify if there is a qualified veteran applicant. The HR contact will request the DD Form 214 form be submitted. This form is only to be reviewed by the HR Contact.


VIII.      Establishing the Interview Itinerary

Once finalists have been identified to be interviewed on campus, the Committee Chair contacts the candidates, gives them a brief overview of what is expected of them at the interview and asks them to check on flight schedules for coming to Columbia. Candidates are asked to pay for flights and are then reimbursed following the interview.

A Travel Authorization must be approved before the candidates purchase tickets. Submit the following information to the Asst. Dean for Finance:

  • Name of candidate
  • Address
  • Dates of travel
  • Method of travel
  • Estimated costs
  • Hotel accommodations will be made by the Dean’s Executive Assistant
  • See Appendix for detailed travel instructions/requirements/procedures.

Normally, for faculty searches, the interview includes:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Teaching component
  • Recital, with rehearsal for performance faculty
  • Lunch with Search Committee
  • Open time to meet with students
  • Tour of the School of Music and/or campus and Columbia
  • Interview with the Dean
  • Other sessions, depending on the nature of the position

For any International candidate, the search committee should schedule a meeting between the candidate and the Office of International Scholars during the campus interview process.

Meal Expenses

  • Group meal reimbursements are limited to a maximum of three USC employees, plus the candidate. Spouse reimbursements are not allowed. A receipt and the name of everyone at the meal is required for reimbursement.
  • The maximum reimbursement levels, including alcohol are:
    • Lunch - $40 per person, per meal, including tax and gratuity (this includes the $15 alcohol limit)
    • Dinner: $75 per person, per meal, including tax and gratuity (this includes the $25 alcohol limit)
  • Expenses for alcohol during campus interview dinners cannot be reimbursed from School of Music funds. If reimbursement for alcohol is requested, the meal host should request separate receipts at the restaurant. Reimbursement for alcohol will be made from Education Foundation funds.
  • To expedite the reimbursement of meals, itemized receipts must be submitted to the Asst. Dean for Finance. Please include the following:
    • Payee’s name
    • Name of candidate and each person at the email
    • Amount
    • Was alcohol served? If so, include the separate receipt for the alcohol tab.


IX.          Conducting the Interview

At the point it is essential that the regulations set out in policy ACAF 1.00 RECRUITMENT AND APPOINTMENT OF ALL TENURED, TENUIRE-TRACK, AND PROFESSIONAL (NTE) FACULTY and ACAF 1.6 FACULTY DUAL CAREER ACCOMMODATION be followed to the letter by committee members.

It is critically important that all members of the Search Committee and the faculty realize that there are certain questions and topics that are not permitted by virtue of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employment laws. Do not ask questions about date of birth, graduation date, gender, race, marital status, children, child-care arrangements, transportation, financial commitments, religion, disabilities or arrest records.

Candidates should be asked the same job-related questions and candidates are evaluated using a pre-determined rating scale to reduce bias. Use Planned Interview Questions and Rating Guides to ensure you are free of unconscious bias. Include at least one question related to diversity, equity and inclusion to further show the importance of reaching our diversity and equity goals at all levels of the University.


X.            Selecting the Desired Candidate

After all Finalists have been interviewed, the Search Committee will seek input from all who have interviewed the candidate and will convene to discuss the candidates.

Before making a hiring decision, the Search Committee Chair, or another member of the committee, must conduct a thorough reference check on the top candidate. When checking references, keep in mind:

  • Questions must be job-related
  • Document reference information
  • Confirm factual, objective information candidates provide during the application and interview process.
  • State and Federal laws that govern the interview also apply to the reference checking process.
  • Be consistent with questions, if contacting references for multiple candidates.

Following deliberations, the Chair submits the results to the Dean, ranking from high to low. It is also important for the Dean to know if any of the candidates are unacceptable for the position. In most cases the Dean follows the recommendation of the Committee. It is a rare occurrence when the evaluation by the Dean and the report from the Search Committee vary, but that is a possibility. In this situation, the role of the Search Committee is advisory to the Dean, who will make the final choice from the pool of acceptable candidates.

*Searches which may result in International Hires – The International candidate must have the required degree “in hand” by the beginning date of employment or they cannot be hired. All offers must be documented, especially if made to US citizens who decline; if done verbally, a follow-up email, confirming the conversation, is best practice.


XI.          Cancelling the Search

At times it is necessary to cancel a search:

  • None of the candidates interviewed is suitable for the position
  • All of the candidates to whom the job was offered have accepted other positions
  • Funds are no longer available to offer the position as advertised.

Prior to canceling the search, the Dean and the Search Chair will confer to determine the advisability of interviewing additional candidates. If none qualify, the search is cancelled and reported to the Provost.


XII.        Search Follow-Up

After a candidate has accepted the Dean’s verbal offer, the Dean calls the candidates who were interviewed but not chosen for the position.

At this point the chair moves the remaining candidates through the PeopleSoft Workflow, documenting why they were not chosen for the position.

 All materials submitted by applicants, including CDs, recordings, scores, etc. must be stored and maintained for a period of five years, in addition to all committee notes and meeting minutes. Files from searches resulting in a non-US citizen must be retained for 6.5 years. All notes and materials should be submitted to the Dean’s Assistant immediately following the search.


  • All communication with candidates must be documented, including emails, phone calls, Skype, Zoom, TEAMS, or any other form of communication.
  • All communication between the candidates and HR representative must be documented.
  • All interview questions and responses must be documented.
  • All committee rating guides and/or evaluations must be documented.



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