When we bring prospective faculty candidates to campus for seminars and interviews, we are eager to learn about each candidate’s expertise and accomplishments and their vision and energy for academic life that would contribute to their home department and to our College. Of course we also are eager to put our best foot forward as we try to attract outstanding candidates as they “interview” us.
Please remember, while interacting with prospective faculty candidates, that there are questions that are illegal and counterproductive for us to ask of candidates being interviewed for any position at our University. In a 2007 study of candidates for positions at U-M, who withdrew from searches or turned down offers, several women candidates mentioned that they had been asked illegal and discriminatory questions about their personal lives and intentions. Faced with such questions, candidates (male and female) may feel pressured to answer with the “right” answer, and they rightfully may resent such questions.
What questions are illegal?
The UM Human Resources and Affirmative Action Web site provides a chart comparing legal and discriminatory questions about:
Family status; Race; Religion; Residence; Sex; Age; Arrests or Convictions; Citizenship or Nationality; Disability.
Some of the Illegal Questions:
Are you married? What is your maiden name? Do you have any children? Are you pregnant? What are your childcare arrangements?
Please join me in making every effort to follow both the letter and the spirit of the law to ensure that every candidate is treated fairly.
Please keep in mind that the situation is different if the candidate brings up questions about family. Topics the candidate brings up can be discussed. In such conversations you may want to provide information about the University’s family-friendly policies, which are outlined in detail on the Provost’s website and in the folder of information we provide to all candidates.