All members of the Search Committee are responsible for tasks including resume screening, developing interview questions, selecting candidates for interviews, reviewing reference letters, and recommending the final candidates to the appropriate official.  All Search Committee members should attend all meetings and review, screen, and interview all selected applicants. The major criterion for membership on a Search Committee should be the ability to recognize candidates qualified for a position. However, it is equally important that the Search Committee be sensitive to its affirmative action and equal opportunity responsibilities.

Search Committees for professional positions are typically 3-5 people, and many times include staff from other departments who interact regularly with the position. They must possess sound independent judgment, personal integrity, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Committees should be diverse in terms of gender and race in order to bring diverse choices and perspectives to the committee work.  Each member should possess technical expertise sufficient to make astute comparisons among applicants.

A human resources representative is considered an ex officio member of all Search Committees and will attend Search Committee meetings as requested by the Search Committee Chair. 

The Search Committee Chair is responsible for ensuring Search Committee members adhere to hiring procedures and monitoring compliance throughout the search.  

Human resources staff members are available to meet with the Search Committee Chair, along with other members of the Search Committee to review hiring guidelines.  Please contact the Human Resources Office at 774-455-7150 to schedule a time to meet.


Confidentiality is the foundation of a credible Search Committee and trustworthy search process. The importance of maintaining strict confidence throughout the process cannot be overestimated. A breach of confidentiality threatens a successful outcome in three ways.  First, it may result in the immediate termination of the search, a serious loss of time and money and potentially viable candidates.  Second, it may cause the most qualified candidates to withdraw from the search, fearing that a premature disclosure of their candidacy will jeopardize their current positions. Third, a breach in confidentiality, by its very nature, is bound to become more widely known, and may undermine the University’s ability to attract candidates in the future. In short, confidentiality is an absolute requirement to be understood and honored by everyone on the search team, from the first meeting until the conclusion of the search.

It is University of Massachusetts policy that if a potential new hire or contract employee has the appearance of a conflict with Conflict of Interest Law for Public Employees under Chapter 28 of the Mass General Laws, the Search Committee Chair must inform Search Committee before proceeding with the hiring process. 

Conflict of interest applies to relatives, friends, or other associations that interfere with a Search Committee member’s ability to be impartial.  A Search Committee member should not participate in a recruitment if a current or former friendship or other association interferes with considering all applicants fairly and impartially.  Potential conflicts in the recruitment process are more easily resolved when they are known and discussed within the Search Committee.  Acknowledging and addressing these relationships as soon as they are known will maintain the integrity of the hiring process.  For guidance on how to handle a conflict of interest situation, please contact the Office of Human Resources.

  • If an Interviewer knows an applicant and cannot be impartial regarding the applicant, the Interviewer should immediately inform the Search Committee. Potential concerns about impartiality and conflict of interest need to be discussed within the committee. Based on the relationship between the Interviewer and the applicant, a decision needs to be made about the appropriateness of the Search Committee member continuing to participate.
  • If you are a relative as defined in the law, you will need to recuse yourself from the recruitment.  An employee is prohibited by law from participating in an institutional decision involving a direct benefit to her/himself or to a relative.

If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest, please contact the State Ethics Commission.