What Hiring Managers and Hiring Search Committees Do

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One of the most confusing parts of job searching is the sheer number of people involved in the job interview process. During a series of interviews with a single employer, you might talk to recruiters, HR specialists, hiring managers, hiring search committees, or almost any combination of those individuals and groups.

It helps to know with whom you’re speaking and what each person or group does for the company. So, let’s look at two common entities in the process: hiring managers and hiring search committees. As you’ll see, their jobs are similar.


The key differences will help you understand more about the interview process at the employer that’s interviewing you. 

Hiring Managers vs. Hiring Search Committees

The hiring manager is usually the individual who will ultimately supervise candidates if they are hired for a particular job. As such, they have the most detailed knowledge of the position for which the employer is recruiting. The hiring manager will play the most influential role in the screening and selection process.

Hiring search committees, comprised of a group of individuals who are involved in the hiring process, are used to recruit, screen, and interview applicants. This hiring model is often used in higher education and for executive hiring.

What Is a Hiring Manager Responsible For?

The hiring manager creates or revises the job description for a vacancy and conveys the requirements for the job to the Human Resources (HR) office. They review advertisements for the job after they have been drawn up by Human Resources.

How Applicants Are Screened

In some organizations, all resumes and application materials will be forwarded to the hiring manager for initial screening. In other cases, a representative from Human Resources will review resumes to make sure candidates meet the basic job requirements and then forward a batch of resumes to the hiring manager.

Often, the hiring manager will select and assemble a search committee, which is a group of individuals with an interest in and perspective about the job to help screen and interview candidates.


For some entry-level positions, the hiring manager might conduct the process alone without a committee, or delegate the initial steps to an assistant manager.

However, many experts advise hiring managers to work with their HR departments to manage the process.

The Interview Process

In some cases, initial interviews will be carried out by recruiters from the Human Resources department or contract employment agencies.

In other instances, the hiring manager or their designee might conduct telephone or in-person screening interviews in order to select a few finalists for interviews with the hiring committee.

The hiring manager will collect and consider evaluations completed by individuals who have met with the finalists during the interview day at the organization's facility. He will often lead a discussion at a meeting of the committee members in order to formulate a recommendation regarding which candidate to hire.

In other cases, the hiring manager will ask the committee members to share their individual appraisal of the candidates in writing, and will make a decision without drawing a consensus.

How Hiring Decisions Are Made

The decision of a hiring manager will often be subject to review and final approval by their manager.


Human Resources also usually review hiring decisions to make sure the hiring manager has complied with all of the employer's policies.

As a candidate for a job, you should pay careful attention to the needs and preferences of the hiring manager as you draft your application materials.

If possible, conduct informational interviews with professional contacts or alumni in comparable positions to sharpen your perspective regarding the expectations of hiring managers in your sector.

What Are Hiring Search Committees?

Employers use search committees to recruit, screen, and interview candidates for administrative and faculty positions within higher education. Some corporations or no-profit organizations also use a similar model to hire executives.

Search Committee Process

Deans, department chairs and college presidents typically give search committees their charge and select a chair to orchestrate the committee's activities. The administrator in charge might select the other committee members or delegate this responsibility to the chair.


Members are usually selected to represent constituencies and departments which intersect with the position in question.

Many colleges attempt to include individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Search Committee Responsibilities

Job descriptions are usually developed by Human Resources departments in collaboration with the responsible administrator and shared with the committee to guide their screening.

Human Resources departments will typically advertise jobs and may do some initial screening to determine if candidates meet basic requirements. In other cases, the search committee will work their way through all the applications. Outside search firms will sometimes be engaged to recruit candidates and conduct initial screening of applications and candidates.

Search committees will often conduct screening interviews with selected candidates from the pool in order to identify individuals for campus interview days. These screening interviews may be conducted by phone, Skype or in person.

College Campus Interviews

The hiring administrator will designate a number of candidates for the committee to select for campus interviews. The search committee will work with Human Resources to organize those visits and will solicit feedback from the individuals who have interviewed the candidates.

The search committee will also interview candidates on the day of their visits. A member of the committee will often greet candidates on arrival and may take them out to an evening meal prior to the interview day.

Selecting Candidates

After campus interview days, the search committee will meet to discuss the feedback from campus constituents and to share their views on the candidates. They will draw consensus on a list of one or more candidates whom they believe can handle the job.

The hiring administrator will let the search committee know how many candidates to recommend and whether the list should be ranked. In some cases, the search committee will decide that no individual adequately met the job requirements and the search will be reopened.

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  1. SHRM. "Hiring Policy and Procedures." Accessed Feb. 25 2020.

  2. Tyler & Company. "I'm Hiring: Do I Need a Search Committee or an Advisory Committee?" Accessed Feb. 25, 2020.

  3. Glassdoor. "Who Needs to Be Involved in Your Hiring Process?" Accessed Feb. 25, 2020.

  4. Inside Higher Ed. "Recruiting Diverse and Excellent New Faculty." Accessed Feb. 25, 2020.

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