Protocol for Searches with Internal Candidates
Faculty searches in which there are internal candidates are difficult for all concerned, and can result in feelings of resentment among colleagues. Some of this is inevitable, owing to the inherent awkwardness of the situation. Some, however, can be avoided. It may also be the case that improper search procedures are more likely to occur in these than in searches with only external candidates, and these, too, can be avoided.
As a general principle, internal candidates should undergo the same procedures (presentations, interviews, etc.) as external candidates. Ultimately, everyone benefits by this. Nevertheless, an internal candidate is not, in fact, the same as an external candidate. Internal candidates are also members of the Kenyon community, and are present when other candidates are on campus. This should be taken into account in interpreting the principle of equal treatment.
- At the beginning of the search, the internal candidate should be fully informed of the procedure that the search committee plans to follow (e.g., schedule, format of presentations, interviews). Openly discussing the search at this stage might minimize the tension that inevitably occurs. At later stages, colleagues should try not to let the search prevent normal interaction with the candidate.
- Every effort should be made to hold search committee meetings outside the department's office area, and to avoid discussing the search in hallways, etc.
- Search business should not be conducted during normal department meetings; nor should the candidate be asked to leave a meeting for such discussion. When discussion of the search with the entire department is necessary, a time should be scheduled either before the start of a regular meeting or at some other time.
- Student representatives on a search committee should be selected in such a way as to avoid introducing potential bias, either for or against the internal candidate. The chief factors to be considered are the size of the department and the length of time the internal candidate has been here. With a large department and/or a candidate in his or her first year at Kenyon, it might be best to exclude students who have taken the candidate's classes. With a small department and/or a candidate who has been here a few years, students should be selected randomly, not excluding those who have taken classes with the internal candidate.
- No visiting faculty member should be told that his or her application for a tenure-track position will not be accepted. This should not rule out frank appraisals regarding the person's suitability for the position.
- The internal candidate and all department members should be given full schedules of all external candidate visits. The internal candidate should be advised (if necessary) against attending any of the public presentations. However, since the publicly announced events are open to all members of the Kenyon community, the candidate cannot absolutely be forbidden to attend.
- The same procedure should be followed for all internal and external candidates. This includes teaching demonstrations, scholarly presentation, meeting with members of the Department, reception and/or dinner with members of the students and other College constituencies as needed. The frame as that of external candidates (e.g., a few days). In general, the internal candidate should receive the same consideration and courtesy during the interview as do the other candidates.
- Colleagues should make every effort to attend the candidate's formal class presentation. The option to have colleagues visit another class should be left to the candidate.
- Search committee members and other faulty who meet external candidates should be advised how to respond to questions about internal candidates. In general, one should not go beyond saying that there is an internal candidate, if asked.
- Informal communications with internal candidates often lead to misunderstanding. Communications that would be sent in writing to external candidates should, if possible, be made in writing to internal candidates. In any case, they should be clear, unambiguous, and agreed upon by the department or search committee.
- Speaking to an external candidate can be a highly stressful situation for an internal candidate. Such interviews should be granted only when necessary, e.g., when information specific to the particular position is sought and cannot be supplied by other members of the department or faculty. In such cases, the internal candidate should be given some advance notice.
- An internal candidate should not be asked about his or her prospects in other searches.
- An internal candidate should not be informed that he or she has not been selected for an interview until confirmations are received from all those who were selected. The point is that if the internal candidate is eventually offered the position, it is better for him or her not to know that he or she missed the first cut. This might be unavoidable, of course, if the candidate is promoted to the short list at a later stage of the search because of a cancellation or disappointment with the external candidates, etc. However, if the internal candidate is no longer being considered, it is only thoughtful and courteous to inform him or her of that decision.
- When a decision is made to offer the position to an external candidate, the internal candidate should not be informed before the offer has actually been made (for the same reason as the item above). Discretion should be used in deciding how long to withhold the information while waiting for an answer.
- It is inadvisable to provide reasons for a negative decision to an unsuccessful candidate. Personal comments on the candidate's performance are acceptable, especially if they might benefit his or her performance in subsequent searches, as long as they are not comparative (in reference to other candidates).
- A successful internal candidate should be given the same time frame in which to accept or reject the offer as an external candidate. A minimum of two weeks is recommended.
- No candidate, internal or external, successful or unsuccessful, should be given any details concerning department voting results.