Frequently Asked Questions: Staff Hiring Process

Securing approval to fill a vacancy

What is the first step in filling an open position?
All staff replacements or changes to staff positions at Western Michigan University are requested and approved with a position authorization form. The position authorization contains pre-printed position data and is obtained by contacting your budget officer at (269) 387-4275. Blank position authorizations, used for new positions, are also available upon request from your budget officer. When Human Resources receives the position authorization, your Human Resource representative will contact you to discuss posting your position.

Who must sign a position authorization before the position can be posted?
Before a position can be posted, the department head, appropriate vice president, and a budget officer must sign the position authorization.

Posting a vacancy

What is the posting period for internal positions?
New internal job opportunities are posted daily. Each internal job opportunity remains posted for six business days.

When can I post my position externally?
In accordance with the job opportunity program, positions are first posted internally (to benefits eligible WMU employees). If you have completed the internal posting process and do not have a qualified candidate, please contact your Human Resource representative to assist you in the external posting process. In addition, it will be necessary to obtain approval from the Office of Institutional Equity to post your position externally.

When should I advertise my position?
It is appropriate to advertise your position when the Office of Institutional Equity has approved a simultaneous (internal/external) search or an external search. Your Human Resource representative will assist you in preparing the advertisement and identifying advertising sources.

Who pays for advertising my position?
The hiring department pays for all employment advertising. Billing occurs after the advertisement is published. Human Resources charges the advertising expense back to the hiring department through an intra-departmental transfer.

Reviewing and processing application materials

May I request materials from applicants that cannot be easily submitted online, for example work samples, tapes, videos, etc?
Yes, there is a section in the online vacancy notice that tells candidates how to submit these materials "off-line." Please let your Human Resources representative know that you will be requesting such materials when the posting is being created.

May I request a "pre-screen" of applications?
Yes, the online system allows for applications to be "pre-screened" automatically so that you only see the application materials for those candidates who meet the minimum qualifications. Your Human Resources representative will assist you with the "pre-screen" process, but the automated system does most of the work.

What if someone sends me an application or a resume directly?
Please contact the applicant and ask him or her to apply for the vacant position via Careers and Job Postings. Requiring all job seekers to use Careers and Job Postings ensures consistency in the recruitment and hiring process.

When may I begin reviewing application materials?
Applications are available for review by hiring agents as soon as they are submitted by applicants via the online application system.

Do I need to notify applicants when a job posting has been canceled?
No, as a hiring agent you do not need to notify applicants if a search process is canceled. Applicants are able to check the job posting status for any positions for which they apply via the secure, Web server that hosts our online application system.

What is the purpose of the electronic position activity record?
The electronic position activity record is used to officially document applicants and the corresponding reason for selection or non-selection for a particular job posting. The hiring agent is responsible for completing the electronic position activity record for review by the Office of Institutional Equity prior to any offer of employment, verbal or written.

What if an applicant states on his/her application that they do not have the legal right to work in the United States?
Contact your Human Resource representative immediately. All employees at WMU must have legal authorization to work in the United States. Your Human Resource representative will assist you in determining what action, if any, needs to be taken for applicants without proper authorization to work. Please keep in mind that the process for obtaining work authorization may take three to six months, and any applicant offered a job may not start working until authorization to work is received from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

How can I prepare for an employment interview?
Job analysis is always the first step. Review the skill requirements for the position. You must be able to describe and assess the skills and characteristics necessary for success in the position. Your analysis should include a review of the job posting.

After analysis of the position, the second step is to develop appropriate job-related interview questions. For assistance with developing interview questions, please contact your Human Resource representative.

Third, review each applicant's resume and application to determine whether he or she meets the qualifications for the position as listed in the job posting.

Must I interview all candidates for the position?
No. When your applicant pool is so large that it would be unreasonable to interview all qualified candidates, you need only interview the candidates that best meet the requirements for the position. However, you must be able to document on the electronic position activity record the reason you did not interview the candidate within the context of required qualifications. Human Resources encourages hiring agents to interview all qualified internal candidates whenever possible.

What is a finalist?
A finalist is a candidate whom you have interviewed, checked references, and would be willing to offer the job. Sometimes you will have more than one finalist to list on the electronic position activity record (in the event that your first choice candidate declines your job offer) for approval by the Office of Institutional Equity. Please do not list candidates as finalists on the electronic position activity record unless you would be willing to make a job offer to that candidate.

Checking references

Do I have to conduct reference checks on all applicants?
No. However, we strongly recommend that hiring managers thoroughly check references for finalist candidates.

How do I check applicant references?
The best indicator of how a person will perform in a position is how he or she has performed in previous positions. Therefore, hiring agents should check references of all finalists whenever possible. If your finalist is a current WMU employee, we recommend that you contact his/her current supervisor. If your finalist is an external candidate, we recommend that you contact as many of the former employers listed on the application as possible. While many employers are pleased to provide needed information regarding their past and current employees, some employers are only willing to verify employment dates. However, even this information may be helpful to you in your hiring decision. Some employers require a written consent before providing information about a previous employee.

An applicant has checked "no" on their application pertaining to checking references with their current employer. What should I do?
In most cases, the employee does not want his/her current employer to know that he or she is looking for another job, which is understandable. Once you have identified the applicant as a finalist, you should contact the applicant, explain that further consideration for the position is contingent upon reference checks with previous employers and request permission to contact the current employer. If the applicant does not allow you to conduct a reference check, you may want to reconsider the applicant as a finalist for the position.

May I review the employment file of an internal applicant who has applied for a position in my department?
Hiring agents may schedule an appointment with their Human Resource representative to review the employment file of University employees who have been interviewed and are potential finalists for the position.

Making a conditional job offer

When can I make a job offer?
You may proceed with a job offer after you have received notice from the Office of Institutional Equity that your finalist has been approved for hire and after you have contacted your Human Resource representative to discuss pay recommendations and applicable background checks.

Should I request that a criminal conviction history check, credit check or physical be conducted before I offer my top candidate the job?
Due to the nature and responsibilities of some positions, it may be necessary to extend a job offer contingent upon a satisfactory criminal conviction history check, credit check, and/or physical examination. Please consult with your Human Resource representative prior to making any offer of employment.

Is a signed letter of offer/acceptance necessary?
An offer letter signed by the finalist indicating their acceptance is necessary to ensure that both WMU and the finalist are in agreement with respect to all of the details of the job offer such as pay, benefits, and other related conditions of employment.

What if the job offer is declined?
If the job offer is declined, the hiring agent may offer the job to the next finalist listed on the electronic position activity record. If there are no other finalists, your Human Resource representative should be contacted to discuss other options.

Hiring the successful candidate

How do I put a new employee on the payroll?
Once the job offer has been accepted and the letter of offer received, Human Resources completes a staff appointment form in conjunction with the hiring department. Please contact your Human Resources representative for more information.

Closing the search process

How are non-selected internal candidates notified of the hiring decision?
Once the appointment form is received in Human Resources, the position will be designated as filled in the online application system and non-selected applicants will be notified of their non-selection via a system generated email message.

How are non-selected external candidates notified of the hiring decision?
Once the appointment form is received in Human Resources, the position will be designated as filled in the online application system and non-selected applicants will be notified of their non-selection via a system generated email message.

Do I have to keep all the resumes and applications I received for my posted position?
Copies of printed applications, interview notes and other selection-related documents must be maintained in the hiring department for two years. The online application system will automatically maintain necessary archives of electronic documents.