COVID-19: Search Committee Guidance

This webpage will be updated regularly as UO plans and responds to the evolving COVID-19 situation and its impact on our students, faculty, and staff.
Last updated October 6, 2020 at 2:40 p.m.

Regular University practices for faculty and staff recruiting have been adjusted in response to COVID-19. Interviews, including finalist interviews, for searches with an authorized exception request are being conducted virtually. Note: this guidance may be further adjusted as the University plans to resume more in-person events beginning fall 2020.

  • The University has implemented a hiring freeze, with exceptions for some positions critical to continued operations. Units seeking an exception to the freeze may submit an exception request.
  • For searches where an approved exception has been made by the Institutional Review Panel, search chairs should notify candidates that recruitment activities are being conducted virtually. Search chairs should assure candidates that the virtual process will not affect our consideration of their candidacy.
  • The university encourages committees to utilize best practices when conducting virtual selection events.

For searches partially conducted prior to the hiring freeze, continuing now:

  • Some searches may already have conducted in-person visits for some of their candidates in earlier rounds of consideration and may need now to conduct virtual interviews with others.
  • Search committees are asked to use the same base interview format and questions whenever practicably possible.
  • Search chairs and search administrators should clearly document in the search record any adjustments to the search process that were made in a single round (for example, which candidates were interviewed in person vs. virtually, how the processes were structured for each type of interview, etc.).
  • For additional guidance on planning virtual interviews where in-person visits have already occurred, consult with your assigned recruiter.

Exceptions for In-Person Visits:

In rare instances, for specific job-related reasons, units may request an exception for an in-person finalist visit. To request an exception, please submit the online request form.

Requests will include

  • The search number (requisition number) and job title for the search under consideration
  • The specific job-related purpose of the visit, including why the hiring process cannot be completed remotely
  • Confirmation that the hosting unit has an approved department resumption plan in place
  • An itinerary of individual events associated with the visit including names
    • Names of participants, date
    • Date/time(s) of proposed event, length
    • Length of event, location
    • Location of event, and specific
    • Specific plans for ensuring candidate symptom self-check, social distancing, face-covering and any other current community and campus requirements will be met.

Visits are subject to initial approval by Talent Acquisition in Human Resources and should be submitted several weeks prior to the intended date of the visit. If after reviewing the request, Talent Acquisition recommends approving it, it will be submitted to the Resumption Team of the Incident Management Team for final approval. Review of requests for faculty visits will be coordinated with the Office of the Provost or Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

It is expected that in-person visits will continue to be rare, with all recruitment activities for most searches completed remotely.

Please note:

  • In-person visits must be essential to the selection process, either for purposes of obtaining information essential to the evaluation of a candidate or for ensuring a candidate’s understanding of the position requirements OR be for a position that is currently working on campus. For example
    • A visit may include a tour of a worksite when the particular details of the worksite cannot be effectively portrayed through remote means such as a video tour, and where the details of the worksite or physical assets of the worksite are essential to the candidate’s understanding of the job responsibilities.
    • A visit may also be considered essential when the position involves activities that are sensitive or confidential in nature, and where the evaluation of the candidate requires observation of in-person, interpersonal interactions. This is not expected to include most customer service positions, including those that provide direct services to students.
    • However, if a unit has resumed on-campus activity for this position, or has remained on-campus through the period of reduced campus operations, on-campus interviews at the finalist stage may be approved.
  • Visits should be limited to the top candidate/finalist only whenever possible
  • Units are encouraged to think critically about visit itineraries and limit them to no more than one or two events.
    • Itineraries that include meals, groups of more than a few participants, or more than a minimal number of events will not be approved.
    • Note: depending on proposed event, units may be directed to utilize a specific space on campus in order to appropriately physically distance and coordinate hygiene items and post-event cleaning. Units can also consider outdoor venues for interview activities where appropriate and while maintaining accessibility and reasonable accommodation for candidates and other participants, and where the outdoor venues would not negatively impact the purpose of the event.
  • Units may wish to alter typical lodging and transportation arrangements for candidates where appropriate. For example,
    • Units may wish to consider alternative transportation options (for example, providing rental cars instead of using shuttles, public transportation, or offering transportation from University personnel).
    • Units may want to provide welcome kits at candidate hotels to include a face mask, hand sanitizer, tissues, thermometer, etc.
  • Units should understand candidates’ current geographical location and personal life circumstances may impact their interest in in-person visits due to testing and quarantine requirements in their home communities, travel restrictions, proximity to at risk populations, school closures, illness, etc. Units encountering concern from finalists about participating in in-person visits should consult with their assigned recruiter.
    • While there are currently no domestic travel restrictions for travel into Oregon, units should be prepared with alternative plans if that changes.
  • In the absence of a specific job-related reason for an in-person visit, opportunities for candidates to preview the Eugene community or seek housing should be arranged by candidates on their own but can be supported or reimbursed by the hiring department according to usual practices.
    • Units should remind candidates about current community requirements related to face coverings, social distancing, etc., prior to their travel.
    • Units may want to encourage these visits later in the process than customary, for example, following a contingent offer.
    • Units should be prepared to entertain candidates’ requests to delay offer acceptance or start dates while these visits or other arrangements can be completed, or candidates’ requests to begin and continue working remotely for an extended period of time.

When discussing candidates, committees should not engage in any speculation of potential exposure, travel bans or other COVID-19 responses – current or future – on any candidate.

The University makes selection decisions based on job-related factors and without respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, or other protected characteristics. It is important to remember that viruses don’t discriminate.

We are confident in the campus community’s ability to select new colleagues in the collaborative spirit of our traditional hiring practices, even while adapting to the realities of current events.

For more information about campus response to COVID-19, visit the UO’s COVID-19 website. Search-related inquiries should be sent to talent@uoregon.edu.