Book by Sandra Hochel & Charmaine E. Wilson
Review by Derek T. Furukawa
College of Liberal Arts
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
In higher education, a good hire can be the difference between great progress, continued stagnancy, and a downward spiral. What most people don’t realize is the amount of time and effort put forth to effectively hire a new employee. A successful search consists of more than just putting out an advertisement and conducting an interview. There are several steps and each step holds its own set of intricacies and pitfalls.
In Hiring right: Conducting successful searches in higher education, Hochel and Wilson detail seven steps that comprise good hiring practice and address the intricacies and pitfalls in each step. They use their experience as search committee members and chairs, along with theories taken from research in human resources to develop a step by step guide to hiring.
The seven stages of the hiring process, and thus the corresponding chapters, include: Form and Charge the Committee; Define the Job; Recruit a Strong Applicant Pool; Evaluate Candidate Files; Identify Top Candidates; Arrange and Host the Campus Visits; and Close the Deal. Though most committee members enter the process around the fourth stage, the first three stages are important to understand prior to the review of applications. The average committee member is involved in the process up until the last stage, but often does not have the same influence in the final stages of wooing the candidate.
Whether readers are embarking on their first experience or chairing their fiftieth committee, this book addresses practices that are both consistent and universal. For the first-timer, the structure of the book helps define some of the expectations of committee members, especially regarding the time commitment required to conduct an effective search. For the veteran committee member, it’s a helpful reminder of the safeguards that must be taken to avoid any legal issues and to bring in the best candidates.
Hochel and Wilson try to emphasize equality in all stages of the hiring process. They discuss ways to better reach out to underrepresented candidates and how to best prevent a biased search. For women and minorities, the segregation of the past is one of the most pervasive influences on the hiring patterns of the present (Konrad & Pfeffer, 1991). Hochel and Wilson introduce several strategies to both advertise to and recruit applicants for the position and provide anecdotal references to previous experiences in the hiring process that address both good and bad practice. Unfortunately, they fail to consistently hold gender neutrality in some of their generalizations throughout the book, which detracts from the message of equity.
For academic advisors, the best part about this book is the inclusion of sample forms that can be adapted for any search. Even veteran search committee members will find it beneficial to read this book and refresh their memories and perhaps question their practices. By Hiring Right, we can bring in strong candidates for our positions and help further the progress of our profession, starting with our own campuses. I would recommend this book be on the shelf of those involved with the hiring process. Though not necessarily a scholarly text, it provides great guidance to everyone involved in a search.
Konrad, A. M. & Pfeffer, J. (1991). Understanding the hiring of women and minorities in educational institutions. Sociology of Education, 64(3), pp. 141-157.
Hiring right: Conducting successful searches in higher education. (2007). Book by Sandra Hochel & Charmaine E. Wilson. Review by Derek T. Furukawa. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 128 pp. $27.00. ISBN # 978-0-470-18087-7