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How to Screen and Interview Prospective Applicants

A step-by-step guide to selection and closure of a staff recruitment.

Step 1:
Search Committee Selection and Training

The Hiring Chair/Manager is responsible for selecting a search committee.

  • The recommended number of committee members is at least 3
  • Committee membership should be selected based on direct knowledge or the position and its essential functions

* All members should be present at all meetings and interviews
Note: Training for the hiring committee is highly recommended and is available upon request through the School of Natural Sciences Staff Personnel Specialist


Step 2:
Screening Criteria and Preparing for the Interview

All committee members should be given access to the hiring pool and should review the applicant pool.

Develop screening criteria based on the position requirements. Clearly define required minimum and preferred qualifications. 

Applicants should be dispositioned as they are screened. Anyone who meets the minimum qualifications should be categorized appropriately. Details on how to disposition can be found here.

Compile interview questions. Each specialized skill and ability listed on the job announcement is typically measured.

Determine what tool(s) will be used to measure the applicant's qualifications during the interview process (eg rating sheet, etc). Every criteria listed on the on the rating sheet should directly link to one or more interview questions.

• If a critical/specialized skill and ability assessment tool is desired, request access to the Pre-valuate Online System from the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist.

The committee will screen applicants to be invited for an interview.

To ensure an equitable and fair process, consistent formats of interviews (eg in-person, phone, or Skype) for each of the applicants and ensure the interview appointments are allotted the same amount of time.


Step 3:
Conducting the interview

Choose an appropriate and comfortable interview environment with limited interruption.

Welcome the candidate and provide them with an overview of the interview process.

Use follow-up questions to elicit additional information about past performance or behavior indicated on the resume/application.
- The Search Committee may provide the Hiring Manager with a list of strengths and weaknesses for each applicant along with a ranking.
- The Hiring Manager works with the Dean/Assistant Dean to schedule second round interviews for the final candidates (Note: This is not application for PI's)
- The Hiring Manager contacts finalists to schedule the second round of interviews, if applicable.
- Dean/Assistant Dean meets with finalists as required and shares feedback on finalists with Hiring Manager. 


Step 4:
Reference Checks                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Before you extend an offer, the Hiring Manager should conduct reference checks. A minimum of three (3) professional references must be verified. The Hiring Manager may consult with HR regarding possible internal resources such as review of performance evaluations.

Email the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist to initiate a pre-hire 360 check. This system emails the applicant for their references and automatically sends the references a questionnaire via email. The system generates questions based on the type of work being performance and provides a summary report of the responses. A sample report can be found here. The advantages of using the pre-hire 360 check include faster response time, easier for recommenders, easy to read results, and less time intensive for the Hiring Manager.

You may alternatively use the Reference Check Form to record responses. Write down your questions before you call, highlight the information you want verified or expanded upon. If you are checking references of more than one applicant, make sure you ask the same questions to each of the applicant's references.

References may include current or previous supervisors, co-workers, or others that are familiar with candidate's work history. If the work history is minimal, personal references or references from school/volunteer association may be used. It is highly recommended to contact their current supervisor. 


Step 5:
Offer of Employment                                                                                             

Following interviews and successful reference checks, the Hiring Manager should work with the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist to draft the offer letter of employment. 

  • New employees are typically hired between the minimum and 25th percentile of the salary range

  • Hiring current UC Merced employees - if offering the position to a current UC Merced employee within their current salary grade, please contact the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist to discuss appropriate salary options.

  • Rehire retirees process, if applicable

  • Hire of a near relative process, if applicable

  • Request for Exception to PPSM30-H (Increases over 25%), if applicable

  • The hire of a foreign national requires several additional steps. Contact the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist for more details regarding this process

NOTE: If you are hiring a UC retiree, a near relative of a current employee in the department, a current employee with an increase of over 25%, or a foreign national, other policies may apply and you must have exceptional approval. Please consult with the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist immediately. 

SNS Staff Personnel Specialist will submit finalized approved offer letter to the hiring manager. 

The hiring manager should call the candidate and offer the job verbally.  Then follow-up with an email with the offer letter.

  • If current candidate counters the offer, contact SNS Staff Personnel Specialist.

Once the candidate accepts the position, he/she should sign the offer letter and submit back to the hiring manager.

  • The hiring manager must complete the disposition in PAWS for approval by HR.  


Step 6: Notification of non-selected candidates                         

Upon confirmation of acceptance to the offer made to the selected candidate, notify the non-selected candidates who were interviewed by the committee on the status of their candidacy by telephone or email and follow up by sending an the following communication: 

  • After Interview Letter or Letter of Non-Selection

If the candidate was not selected for an interview, UC Merced HR Talent Acquisition will notify the non-selected applicants by email or letter

Step 7: Documentation Maintenance

Signed offer letter and supporting documentation should be submitted to the SNS Staff Personnel Specialist. The following documents are required: 

  • Completed interview rating sheets
  • Completed references forms
  • Finalist application packets - including application, resume, and cover letter
  • Signed job description
  • Signed offer letter or contract

** Any personal notes taken by the committee/committee member should not be maintained


Notice: University policies, procedures and applicable collective bargaining agreements shall supersede information/documents listed on this website.