be represented, but partisanship
really must give way to the good
of the whole. People who hold the
interests of their constituencies as
primary to the task thus violate
is a search for an appeaser, not a
leader. Those are two very differ-
ent sorts of people.
6. Take too formal an ap-
It is deadly when a panel
is so focused on process that it
feels that it must ask the same
questions, using the same words,
in the same order, with every can-
didate. Interview conversations
go better, and institutions get a
far better sense of the personality
of the candidate, when they flow
naturally, like a conversation. I am
also a great believer that inter-
view sessions are more productive
when they are enjoyable for all
parties. After several hundred
of these things, I am convinced
that they go better when there is
laughter in the room.
about strategy, and strategy is
largely about making difficult
decisions in the best long-term
interest of the institution as
a whole. Leaders invariably
make decisions that make some
constituencies happy and leave
others unhappy. Search commit-
tees must focus on the reasoning
behind a candidate’s decisions
and the impact of those decisions
on the fortunes of his current in-
stitution as a whole, rather than
on their immediate effect on any
particular constituency. A search
for candidates who have a track
record of keeping everyone happy
And No. 1: Allow the process
to become more important than
A hire that emerges
from a less-than-perfect process
may or may not turn out badly, but
a perfect process that does not re-
sult in an appointment is a failure.
Process is intended to serve result,
not to be a result itself. When
institutions become so immersed
in the process that they come to
believe that it’s more valuable
than the outcome (the hire itself),
things tend to go awry—and they
do so very, very slowly.
Dennis M. Barden is senior vice
president at Witt/Kieffer, an
executive-search firm in Chicago
specializing in searches for aca-
demic and administrative leaders.
5. Don’t ask about the elephant
in the room.
People in group
environments, particularly those
who represent an institution, tend
to be polite to a fault. Rather than
confront a difficult or contentious
issue, they too often either ignore
it or probe around its perimeter.
Then, after the candidate leaves,
they wonder why he didn’t raise
the issue. Or they extrapolate what
they think they would have heard
had the question been asked. They
may think they are being polite,
but they are robbing the candidate
of the opportunity to put their
minds at ease about the issue. For
goodness’ sake, just ask!
GET THE LOWDOWN FROM BROWN
Brown University’s experts give you five reasons they decided to use
their LMS to offer a MOOC.
4. Forget that interviewing
is still recruiting.
In an optimal
search, the institution and the can-
didates find themselves at the same
stage of mutual consideration at the
same time. In my previous column,
I spoke of the social contract be-
tween search committee and can-
didate, in which it is axiomatic that
each is in discovery mode during
the interview process. So, not only
should the candidates be telling
the institution that they want the
job, but the institution should be
telling them how interested it is in
them. Even in an interview setting,
the institution is still recruiting.
Interviewers who forget that find
themselves with great insights into
people who are no longer interested
in the position.
Please join Ivy League LMS experts Wendy Drexler and Catherine Zabrieske of Brown University on
Wednesday, May 29, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific, 2:00 p.m. Eastern for this informative webinar during
which they will discuss five lessons they learned in their search for an open access LMS, how they
formed their selection committee, involved faculty and students, and why they ultimately selected
Canvas as their LMS.
Drexler and Zabrieske will also discuss the latest on MOOCs in general as well as specifically how
using Canvas Network as a platform for their MOOC “Exploring Engineering” has allowed them to
create a more interactive course that engages students and keeps participation high rather than
merely providing lectures and quizzes.
We feel that you will greatly benefit from the valuable lessons that Drexler and Zabrieske learned
in both selecting Canvas and putting it to the test. Please register at the URL below—we look forward
to your attendance!
This webcast is sponsored by Canvas and hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. All content
presented during the event is provided by Brown University.
3. Treat candidates like sup-
This is No. 4 on steroids.
When institutions forget that
they are constantly in recruit-
ment mode, when they treat a
candidate as if her commitment
to the job is already a given, they
forget that part of the purpose of
any interview is the cultivation of
that candidate’s interest in the job
and the institution. Talent is hard
to find. It needs to be invited in
and to be given a reason to stay.
That is a big part of recruitment,
and one that hiring committees
frequently forget in the heat of the
Register now at:
2. Misunderstand the nature
article text for page
< previous story
next story >
Share this page with a friend
Save to “My Stuff”
Subscribe to this magazine