Faculty Search Committee Guide

The purpose of this document is to provide a step-by-step guide for running and participating in a faculty search at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. Revised September 2021.

I. General Information
II. Roles of Administrators and Committee Members
III. Search Committee Steps 
IV. Resources 

I. General Information

Search Committee Composition

  • Search committee members are assigned by the Director of the School of Music
  • Committees should consist of at least 5 members
  • Wherever possible, the committee should be diverse and include women and underrepresented minorities
  • The chair of the search committee is selected by the Director of the School of Music

General Guidelines

  • All committee members should have received University search training through the OIE Office in addition to attending a SoM meeting to discuss search protocol. 
  • Committee members must protect the confidentiality of candidates and the decision-making process. Committee deliberations should not be shared with anyone outside of the committee.
  • Committee members must disclose their full relationship with any candidates to the rest of the committee at the beginning of the search process. Committee members that know a candidate are asked to recuse themselves from discussions or wait to share their opinions after the rest of the committee has spoken. 
  • All committee members must review all application materials 
  • All candidates must be asked the same questions. Follow up questions can be different. 
  • For each interview, all questions should be prepared in advance by the committee and assigned to committee members 
  • To ensure independent review of each candidate, refrain from speaking about the candidates until all the evaluations have been completed by each committee member. 
  • When contacting references, it is recommended that each committee member only contact one reference for each candidate. This allows several committee members to hear about multiple candidates and counter any bias. 
  • Each search process brings a new pool of candidates and the committee should consider each applicant equally with the best candidates being selected for advancement in the search. Special consideration should not be given to any candidate (e.g. internal, local, etc.)
  • CCFA search recommendations: https://www.memphis.edu/ccfa/resources/faculty_staff/searches.php
  • University of memphis WorkforUM: https://workforum.memphis.edu
  • Office for Institutional Equity: https://www.memphis.edu/oie/

Search Committee Timeline

  • The position has been approved.
  • The committee chair has been selected. 
  • The committee members have been selected. 
  • The job description has been clearly written to communicate the desired candidate's qualifications (e.g. qualifiers like "experience" should be defined in terms of time, degrees, or national/international, etc.) 
  • A date of when screening will begin is clearly communicated on the job description (e.g. "preference will be given to candidates who apply by October 12." This language allows the committee to contact references before the official closing date.)
  • Search committee members are assigned by the Director of the School of Music
  • Committees should consist of at least 5 members
  • Wherever possible, the committee should be diverse and include women and underrepresented minorities 
  • The chair of the search committee is selected by the Director of the School of Music 

II. Roles of Administrators and Committee Members

  • Initiates the approval for the faculty search through WorkforUM. 
  • Selects the chair of the search committee 
  • With input from the chair of the committee, selects the other members of the committee
  • With consultation from the search committee, creates the vacancy posting. 
  • Meets with all final round candidates
  • Receives the search committee's recommendation 
  • Makes the recommendation for hire to the Dean of the CCFA 
  • Negotiates the terms of the selected candidate's contract 

  • Meets with all finalists 
  • Reviews and approves all proposals 

  • Assists the director with identifying search committee members
  • Reviews the vacancy posting with the committee members 
  • Manages communication between the director and search committee, as well as with the University community, nominees, and applicants, if applicable. 
  • Ensures compliance with state and federal laws and University policy 
  • Mediates conflict during the search process
  • Schedules and leads search committee meetings
  • Facilitates the creation of search committee rubrics, interviews questions, and interview schedules
  • Provides the search coordinator on the SoM staff with information regarding the application screening process for all candidates
  • Provides the search coordinator on the SoM staff with the list of candidates to be interviewed for OIE approval 
  • Works with the SoM Business Officer to book travel arrangements for finalists that are within the defined budget. 

  • Assists with the development of the position description to be advertised. 
  • Assist in the development of rubrics, interview questions, and interview schedules
  • Screen applicants based on minimum and preferred qualifications in a fair and consistent manner. 
  • Assists with the on-site interview itinerary, including scheduled interviews with the candidates. 
  • Participates in committee discussions and provides recommendations based on interviewees' performance.


III. Search Committee Steps 

Prior to the first meeting:

  • The Director and the Committee Chair will draft the job advertisement and send it to the committee for review.
  • Committee Members determine where the job should be announced
  • Flyers advertising the position will be shared with the committee. 

Step 1
Committee chair sets up the Kickoff meeting

  • Director of SoM attends and gives charge to the committee
    • Describes salary range
    • Discuss screening and closing date 
    • Budget for search to determine number of candidates to bring on campus
    • Discuss the position's workload (e.g. anticipated teaching and/or service assignments) 
    • Discuss if the SoM is able to sponsor a work visa for an international candidate
    • Set committee member expectations and the role of each search member
  • OIE personnel may attend to answer questions, reviews diversity needs, reviews legal and illegal questions
  • Discuss personal contacts for posting exposure and recruiting
  • In consultation with the Director, the committee chair will propose a general timeline for the search that identifies due dates for each of the steps listed below.
    • Committee member must be available for all search-related events
  • Determine how search data will be collected and stored 

Step 2
Committee Meeting 1 

  • Based on the charge and job description, determine categories for evaluation
  • Create a rubric based on the job description and charge. Download example rubic
  • Create a more detailed timeline that lists the dates for all committee meetings, virtual interviews, and finalist interviews.
  • Following this meeting the committee will begin to evaluate applications individually
  • It is important to begin individual review of candidates before the search closes. Often SoM positions can have 50 or more applicants

Step 3
Committee Meeting 2 

  • Members arrive to meeting having reviewed all applications and ranked candidates according to the rubric
  • After discussion, make the first cut
  • Request additional materials: teaching and performance materials. If these materials were requested in the initial posting, combine Steps 3 and 4.
  • Create a Rubric
  • Chair reports to Director

Step 4
Committee Meeting 3

  • Arrive with additional materials reviewed
  • Make 2nd cut. Typically, the first round of interviews are between 7-10 candidates. Due to the low cost and amount of insights to be gained from a virtual interview, committees are encouraged to go beyond this number if there are candidates of interest. 
  • Confirm dates for Round 1 Virtual Interview
  • Review questions for Round 1 Virtual Interview
  • Create Rubric for Round 1 Virtual Interview
  • Create questions for reference calls. NOTE: Ask everyone the same question.
  • Divide reference contacts amongst the committee with each member being assigned one reference per candidate (e.g. three separate committee members should contact three references for one candidate). 
  • Chair reports to Director

Step 5

  • Committee Chair along with search coordinator on the SoM staff prepare documents for OIE Pool Approval
  • After approval, the chair contacts candidates for Round 1 Interview (virtual interview). See email template #1 for reference.
  • Contact references for Round 1 candidates

Step 6 

  • Interview candidates for Round 1 Virtual Interview
  • Score via rubric
  • Share information found via reference calls
  • Determine finalists.
  • Review and Finalize Final Round interview dates
    • Chair sets schedule for the Dean and School of Music Director
  • Chair reports to Director 

Step 7

  • Chair contacts finalists. See email template #2 for reference.
  • Chair works with SoM Business Officer and search coordinator on the SoM staff to book travel and lodging and confirm budget for the final interviews
  • Chair works with administrators and committee members to create interview schedule. See Final Round Interview Schedule Template.
  • Chair notifies all faculty and students of finalists and the interview schedules.  Chair should invite all faculty to all candidate presentations and class meetings to encourage feedback to the committee.
  • Chair divides hosting responsibilities
    • Airport pick up
    • Lunch and Dinner meetings
    • Escorting of candidate from one location to the next
  • Chair shares an interview schedule with each finalist

Step 8 

  • The committee conducts Final Round interviews 

Step 9 

  • The chair meets with the director to discuss final interviews before the committee deliberates.
  • The committee meets for final deliberations.
  • An email is sent to the director that lists the committee’s recommendation, a thorough justification of the decision, and if any other finalist candidates were acceptable. 

Step 10 

  • Once the committee submits its recommendations, it can be several weeks until the candidate signs a formal contract with the university. It is imperative that the details and deliberations of the search remain confidential until this point.
  • The SoM Marketing & Communications Office will issue a press release announcing the new hire. Faculty should coordinate any additional social media or email announcements only once the official SoM announcement has been released. 

IV. Resources 

Final Round Interview Guidelines

  • Final round interviews generally lasts one full day.
  • Candidate activities should include the following
    • Interview with the search committee: 1 hour
      • The committee may schedule an additional, shorter meeting with the candidate at the end of the interview day to allow for additional questions that may come up during the day.
  • Interview with the School of Music Director: 30 minutes
    • Interview with the Dean of CCFA: 30 minutes
    • Q and A session with students: 30 – 45 minutes
    • Candidate Presentation I: recital, rehearsal, or research presentation: 30 – 45 minutes
    • Candidate Presentation II: applied lesson or sample course lesson: 30 – 45 minutes

Final Round Interview Schedule Sample 

TBD Candidates arrives later afternoon
  Chair or designee picks up from the airport and drops off at the hotel
TBD Rehearsal with collaborative artist 
TBD Committee dinner with the candidate (budget permitting)
  Designee picks up candidate from hotel 
9:00 - 9:40            Recital: Harris Stage
  Designee escorts from hotel
10:00 - 11:00 Lesson with Graduate and Undergraduate student: Harris Stage 
11:00 - 12:15 Lunch with Search Committee: Location TBD
12:30 - 1:15 Question and Answer with students: MU 107
  Designee escorts 
1:30 - 2:00 Meeting with Dean of CCFA
  Designee escorts
2:15 - 2:45 Meeting with School of Music Director 
  Designee escorts
3:00 - 4:00 Meeting with search committee: MU 125
   Designee escorts 
TBD Candidate is transported to the airport
  Designee transports to airport or travel is arranged

Evaluation Rubric
A sample rubric is provided to give faculty members a starting point for the creation of their search’s evaluation tools. The criteria to be evaluated should come from the job description, the position’s desired skills, and the interview questions. The rubric will produce a score for each candidate. The scores will be collected from each committee member by the chair and averaged to create a ranked list. Using the ranked list, the committee will begin its discussion of candidates to make cuts to the list.

  • Demonstrated ability to teach and supervise graduate students
  • Demonstrated ability to attract and supervise graduate students
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully prepare students for 21st Century careers in music.
  • Ability to align with or complement the School of Music’s priorities as established by the director
  • Ability to enhance the diversity of the School of Music
  • Evidence of successful teaching and/or student success
  • Evidence of successful recruiting
  • Evidence of collaboration
  • Evidence of scholarly impact
  • Evidence of research/creativity productivity
  • Evidence of research funding

  • The musician consistently demonstrates manual dexterity and flexibility.
  • The musician is very sensitive to musical phrasing, shaping phrases, and gives direction to musical lines.
  • The performance conveys a high level of artistry and musical understanding to the audience/listener.
  • The musician demonstrates a wide range of performance styles, periods, and skills.
  • The musician demonstrates a deep knowledge of performance practices.
  • The instructor demonstrates a clear plan for improvement in the rehearsal/class/lesson.
  • A deep knowledge of the score/music is evident in the instructor’s feedback.
  • The instructor selects appropriate rehearsal/lesson objectives for the student(s).
  • Noticeable change in student/ensemble/class performance occurs because of the instructor’s modeling/feedback/sequencing.
  • The instructor creates an environment that is engaging and has a strong connection with the ensemble/student/class.
  • The ensemble is sensitive and responsive to the conductor’s gesture.


The criteria for the Virtual Interview and Final Round Interview Rubrics should be generated from the questions that the search committee will ask each candidate.

Guidelines for Crafting the Interview

  • All candidates must be asked the same questions. Follow up questions can be different.
  • Consider asking questions that test a candidate's preparation by providing a question in advance that the candidate can research prior to the interview. For example, "What about the Memphis music community interests you the most? What do you think is missing from our student experience in the area you are applying to?"
  • Create behavior-based questions
  • Questions should include scenarios and hypotheticals
  • Generate questions that are related to the qualifications stated in the job description
  • Generate questions that are related to the desired skills of the position
  • It is recommended that the committee allow the first few minutes of the interview for introductions, small talk, and 1-2 “softball” questions to create an environment where the candidate can feel comfortable opening up.
  • Interviewers should not seek any information from candidates pertaining to the following: age, race, color, disability, religion, national origin, family/marital status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, or any other protected characteristics under state or federal law. 

What attracts you to our program?

Are you legally authorized to work in the United States for the University of Memphis? 

Do you now, or will you in the future, require sponsorship for employment visa status (e.g., H-1B visa status, etc.) to work legally for the University of Memphis?

Please share with us, what Diversity Equity and Inclusion means to you, and its role in a university music program.

How does your programming/teaching reflect a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

What has been an innovative approach to teaching that you have found effective in your current or previous positions?

Describe what has been successful in your recruiting efforts to grow your program/studio with majors and non-majors?

How have you engaged students with great potential but who lack motivation or follow-through?

Describe the ways in which you have and/or would engage with your community locally, regionally, and nationally. 

Drawing on your experience as an educator, describe a moment or moments in which you mentored students.

Describe a moment in which you disagreed with a colleague and/or student or when you made a decision that was unpopular. How did you resolve the issue?

What do you feel is your role in overseeing and coordinating your area? How does your program interact with other areas of the SOM?

What are your thoughts on a program that has a diverse range of ensemble offerings? What ensembles would you like to create?

Explain how you would prioritize using the allocated budget for your area.

Lay out for us your recruitment plan for the first 3 months in the position.

What metrics will you use to evaluate the health/success of your program/studio?

Tell us how you might collaborate with other areas of the SOM and University.

Preview for us your first concert/recital. What repertoire would you choose and why?

Describe your ideal graduate program. What qualities are important when selecting graduate students?

Talk to us briefly about your musical and educational background and why you would like to join us here at the University of Memphis.

Our aim is to capitalize on the unique strengths and experiences of each applicant regarding related teaching responsibilities. Tell us about your strengths as an educator and musician beyond your instrument and the types of courses you feel most qualified to teach.

Your ability to attract and recruit high-quality students into our program will be essential. Can you please speak about some of the ways you go about recruiting and an example of your success in this area.

As our profession continues to evolve, it’s increasingly clear that students in the 21st-century need a greater set of skills both musically and professionally than ever before. Describe for us some of the skills you believe a musician of the future needs today and how you would go about incorporating those skills into your teaching.

How do you know the candidate?

Do you have any knowledge of the candidate’s experience or involvement with music education and music industry students or students with a wide range of ability and skills? Quality of work?

What are your thoughts on the candidate’s ability to work with doctoral and master students? 

Describe the candidate’s ability to recruit and develop relationships with area teachers.

How would you describe the candidate’s commitment to diversity and inclusion? 

How has the candidate demonstrated a cooperative attitude with their colleagues?

How is the candidate regarded by his/her students?

Can you recall how the candidate reacted and overcame a difficult situation? If not observed, how do you think the candidate would respond?

How will the candidate contribute positively to our faculty? In what areas will they need further mentoring?

Is there anything you would like to tell the committee that would help us in our search?  

Dear (insert title and last name),

On behalf of the (insert position) Search Committee I would like to thank you for your application. We have reviewed your materials and would like to invite you to a virtual interview. If you are still interested in our position, may we meet with you on (insert date) at (insert time and time zone) via Zoom? The meeting will last approximately 30 minutes and joining me on the call will be the following committee members: (insert committee members and titles). Once a time is confirmed I will send you your Zoom link.

We look forward to speaking with you.


Dear (insert title and last name),

Thank you for adjusting your schedule to meet with the search committee on (insert date).  Based on your virtual interview and reference recommendations, we want to invite you to the University of Memphis as one of our finalists for the (insert position title). We hope that you will accept our invitation. If so, are you available to travel on any of the following dates: (list possible interview dates)? 

Once we confirm your interview day, our Business Officer, Theresa Winkelmann, will contact you to book travel accommodations. I will send a more detailed schedule later, but for your preparation, you can expect to participate in the following activities: (insert all teaching and presentation expectations).

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions. We will be happy assist you.