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For your reference, you may view and/or print the Search Firm Summary, the EEO Profile Survey Form, and full Search Firm Guidelines here.


Search Firm One Page Summary
Resource to assist departments when it's determined the services of a search firm will be needed.

Search Firm Guidelines
View and print the entire Search Firm Guidelines document.


Responsibilities of the Affirmative Action Representative

  • Evaluate the search process on a continuing basis, keeping in mind the goals and principles of affirmative action and diversity as defined by the university in its values statement.
  • Ensure the search firm completes the EEO Data Form with applicants.
  • Lead discussions with committee in identifying benefits of diversity and in developing a diverse pool that could lead to hiring a member of an underrepresented group for the department or administrative unit.
  • Bring process gaps to the attention of the search committee and/or the chair for immediate action. Process gaps may include the following:
      • Bias, prejudice or stereotyping in verbal or written communications, such as meetings, written correspondence, and interview questions
      • Inadequate representation of underutilized groups in pool of candidates
      • Bias, prejudice or stereotyping of candidates during evaluation period
  • Review all search committee activities to ensure that differences are cultivated and respected and that fairness is the norm. These activities include:
      • Developing job descriptions and minimum qualifications to cast the widest possible net
      • Utilizing multiple creative recruitment methods
      • Conducting interviews that are consistent and legal for all applicants
      • Facilitating campus visits that provide similar opportunities for each candidate
      • Developing a final group of candidates that, whenever possible, gives the opportunity to select from a diverse pool.

Examples of Interview Questions

Interview questions are typically created based on the job related competencies and knowledge one needs to be successful in the position. Below are some general questions to consider, unrelated to any particular position.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure.
  • How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Describe a decision you made that was not popular and how you handled implementing it.
  • Give an example of how you worked on team.
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with someone within the organization.
  • Tell me about a time you worked on a challenging team project.
  • Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
  • Tell me about a time you took a leadership role.
  • What’s the most difficult problem you had to solve?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to implement change in your area of responsibility. How did you go about implementing them?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment that you are very proud of and why it means so much to you.
  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you use? Was the recommendation accepted? If not, why?
  • What is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make at work? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
  • What is the toughest group that you have ever had to lead? What were the obstacles? How did you handle the situation?
  • What has been your greatest leadership achievement in a professional environment? Talk through the steps you took to reach it.
  • What have been the greatest obstacles you have faced in building/growing a team?

Inappropriate Questions During the Interview

Questions that are NOT job related should NOT be asked and are inappropriate during all phases of the search process. Examples include:
  • Questions asked to one gender and not of the other.
  • Questions about race, color, place of birth, national and family origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or ancestry. However, you may ask about membership in job-related organizations or activities even if that also indicates or implies a person’s protected group status.
  • Questions about past, present, or future marital status, pregnancy, plans for a family, or child care issues. You may ask if the applicant has any commitments that would preclude the applicant from satisfying job schedules or performing job-related travel. If such questions are asked, they must be asked of both sexes.
  • Questions about the candidate’s state of health. Questions about disabilities, and the time needed for treatment of the disabilities, unless this information is necessary to determine the candidate’s ability to perform an essential job function without significant hazard.
  • Questions about a foreign address that would indicate national origin. You may ask about the location and length of time of a candidate’s current residence.
  • Questions about a candidate’s native-born or naturalized status. You may ask if the candidate is eligible to work in the U.S. if the question is asked of all candidates.
  • Questions about a candidate’s native tongue or how foreign language ability has been acquired. You may ask about foreign language skills if the position requires such ability.
  • Questions about a candidate’s willingness to work on religious holidays. You may ask about willingness to work a required schedule.
  • Questions about whether a candidate has filed or threatened to file discrimination charges.
  • Questions about military service and/or the candidate’s type of discharge should not be asked. You may ask questions concerning service in the U.S. armed forces only if such service is a qualification for the position being sought.
  • Questions about a candidate’s credit rating or financial standing.
  • Questions about the date a candidate graduated from school. You may ask number of years attended and degree(s) obtained.

UAB Hiring Resources

Office of Human Resources       (205) 934-5321
Recruitment Services                 (205) 934-5246
HR Campus Consultants           (205) 934-4458
Hospital Recruiting                     (205) 934-4681
HR Hospital Consultants            (205) 934-4681
Human Resources website-
Policies and Procedures Library-
Faculty and Staff Handbook-
Faculty Handbook-

The Role of a Search Firm

A search firm provides a wide range of recruiting activities including identifying the core responsibilities and qualifications needed for a given role; writing job descriptions; developing a candidate pool; assessing how candidates’ skills, experience, and personalities match the open position; conducting reference checks; and advising on the negotiation process between the organization and the final candidate.

The functions of a search firm:

  1. Identification of qualified candidates. A search firm can develop an outreach strategy to identify candidates outside of an organization’s common networks. This may include a strategy for placing advertisements, making phone calls and sending emails to uncover new candidates—even those potential candidates not actively job hunting.
  2. Coordinating interviews and notification to unsuccessful applicants.
  3. Complete tasks within its area of expertise. Many search firms will have a particular expertise that may be focused on a service area (e.g., higher education or healthcare), a budget size, or a function (e.g., executive directors, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, development directors, etc.).
  4. Act as an objective participant in the process. Search firm consultants should identify issues as they arise.
  5. Free up valuable time of the search committee. Search firms can create useful resume screening and interview tools to save time and create a better outcome.
  6. Maintain confidentiality. Sometimes the nature of a search must be confidential in order to avoid publicity of a senior leader’s departure. A search firm can conduct a search without sharing the name of the organization. The search firm is also responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the potential candidates.

Continue to How to Choose a Search Firm >

How to Choose a Search Firm

Build a list of potential search firms.

Often, the first step in the process of selecting a search firm is to talk with colleagues and associates to identify the firms or individual consultants they have worked with in the past. While compiling the list, assess their experiences and ask questions about specific consultants as well as the firm. Typical questions for references may include:
  • What kind of position were you seeking to fill?
  • What impressed you the most about this firm/consultant?
  • How did working with this firm compare to other experiences you have had using search firms?
  • If the search committee drafted a job description prior to the search engagement, how did it differ from the original specification (i.e. what was the contribution of the search consultant)?
  • Did you get quality candidates that you may not have gotten on your own?
  • How well did the search consultant represent your organization to sources and candidates?
  • How accessible was the search consultant?

Determine how the firm builds its candidate pool

The methodology used to access good candidate talent pools is a point of differentiation between firms. For example, if the position requires someone with specific business skills, the organization will want to understand how the search firm would build the candidate pool, if it has done this type of search before, and how successful it has been. In their assessment, the search committee will want to ask:
  • Is this firm tapped into the networks needed for a successful outcome?
  • Is the firm innovative in its approach in a way that will bring access to a talent pool that would otherwise not be accessible?
  • Who will be working on the search? Will it be only one consultant or will there be a team assigned to build the pool, review resumes, and screen applicants?

Understand how the search firm is paid

Search firm services typically require an organization to pay a fee that is one-third of the position’s salary plus expenses related to the search. However, fees will vary and can often be negotiated depending on the firm’s guidelines and type of service provided.
  • In a retained search, the organization commits to work with only that particular firm on the search.
  • Some search firms will offer unbundled services. For example, an organization could hire a firm only for advice on formulating the job description, or developing a candidate pool. Terms of engagement with search firms are usually negotiable.
A fully executed contract must be in place before the search begins. EEO information requirements and applicant tracking requirements should be included in the contract.

After gathering all relevant information, request references and proposals from your top choices and schedule a follow-up interview.

If the hiring manager prefers, Human Resources can provide a short list of potential search firms.

What should be done once an organization has engaged a search firm? Please refer to the Organizing the Search Checklist for steps to help this process run smoothly.

Continue to Addendum >