Designing a Student Hiring Process

Hiring Essentials Toolkit

The following toolkit is intended to assist hiring managers and supervisors in facilitating an equitable student hiring process in their departments. The tabs below offer a step-wise approach to hiring, including best practices in key areas of student review and interview processes. We hope these actionable steps will help to create a more equitable, inclusive and diverse workplace.

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Building / Updating the Student Position Description (PD)

  • Assemble a team to create and/or critically review the PD. Should include what your organization needs, what you value, and how you will evaluate candidates.*
    • It is helpful to get current student feedback when designing a PD!
  • Ask yourself, “Are there any unnecessary barriers to applying within this PD?”
    • Check your language! It could be deterring a diverse array of applicants. 
    • Make sure the PD offers ways to evaluate candidates.*
    • Requiring resumes and cover letters could put certain students at a disadvantage.* 
    • Embrace an interest in ‘developing’ skills—a growth mindset. Students will be trained on how to do the job.* 
      • Ex) Your PD says a necessary skill is “excellent verbal and written communication skills”. Do these skills need to be ‘excellent’, or will they learn to improve them while on the job? Perhaps just list it as: “oral and written communication skills”. 
        • When some folks see qualifiers like ‘excellent’ or ‘exemplary’, they may be deterred from applying because they don’t believe their skills in that area to be up to that level.
  • If hiring for multiple positions, make sure all PDs look the same, with differences specified.*
    • Remember these are students—don’t make the process harder than it needs to be!
* Adapted from materials and information shared by UW-Madison Cross-College Advising Services (CCAS)

Resume / Cover Letter Review Best Practices

If you require resumes / cover letters: 

  • Redact candidate names from all materials prior to sharing / reviewing*
  • Review materials based on criteria within a rubric* (see more detailed information below)
    • This criteria should mirror the position description (PD)
  • Clearly outline in the PD what you would like applicants to speak to in their cover letter. 
    • Be straightforward with your expectations – this is not a test!*
    • Ex) “In your cover letter, please address your experience with __________, ____________, and __________.”
  • Focus on the content of written materials, rather than quality, unless writing quality is a core value and identified in the PD and rubric
    • Ask yourself, “Did the student answer the prompt?”
  • Provide campus resources where students can get assistance with resumes & cover letters*
* Adapted from materials and information shared by UW-Madison Cross-College Advising Services (CCAS)

Inclusive Language in Job Postings

Importance of Inclusive Language

    • Language used in a job description can impact who can envision themselves working in your organization & ultimately who applies. 
    • Unknowingly including factors such as race, gender, age, ability, native language, or religion could alienate potential applicants and hamper your ability to create a diverse hiring pool.

Steps you can take to ensure your job posting is inclusive: 

 

Educate yourself on personal biases 

    • Our biases can impact how we perceive or treat people, how much attention we give to people and how far we actively listen to what they may say.
    • Unconscious bias can cause unintentional discrimination and poor decision-making, which can damage workplace diversity and inclusion.

Avoid gender-coded words as these can significantly impact who applies to your positions.

Check pronouns 

Avoid using acronyms, technical words, or industry jargon

    • This can confuse and intimidate your audience and can deter even the most qualified of applicants.
    • Instead clearly outline the essential skills and responsibilities for the job

Avoid any unnecessary job requirements

    • Certain requirements can limit the diverse pool of candidates.
      • Ex) Listing, “Applicants must lift bags or items weighing between 50 and 70 pounds” when it isn’t necessary can exclude candidates with physical disabilities from applying.
    • Do not use words like able-bodied, healthy, young, single/married, clean-shaven, or strong-English-language skills. These can exclude people belonging to specific demographic groups.
    • For more inclusive alternatives, please visit Northwestern’s Inclusive Language Guide

Emphasize your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

    • While you can simply state that you are “an equal opportunity employer,” a statement in your own words is more powerful and can demonstrate your organization’s strides toward becoming a more welcoming and inclusive place to work.

In Summary…

Ensure your application is user-friendly and the application procedure is easy for candidates to follow. Remember these are students—don’t make the process harder than it needs to be!

Using Rubrics in Student Hiring Processes

What is a Rubric

  • A scoring tool that outlines and defines the expectations by which each candidate will be evaluated
  • Can be used for resume/cover letter reviews and/or interviews 

Importance of a Rubric

  • Ensures all reviewers can equally assess candidates on previously established criteria & qualifications
  • Can assist in mitigating bias in assessing your candidates 

How to Build a Rubric 

  1. Assemble your team. Pull together a diverse group to review applications and interview candidates. Having different backgrounds and perspectives represented on your team will help you avoid the “like me” effect—the tendency to think more highly of people who are similar to us.
  2. As a group, identity 3-5 values/skills from the PD that candidates will be evaluated on. These values or skills should mirror those highlighted in the position description. 
  3. Create the rubric. Use the 3-5 values/skills as the foundation for your evaluation. Use the following scale to evaluate the candidates competencies within the given value/skill: *
    • 0 – did not answer question – highly significant training needed
    • 1 – answer lacks depth – significant training needed
    • 3 – question addressed, necessary skill present – moderate training needed
    • 5 – question addressed, significant knowledge of skill present – minimal training needed

                **Note: Do not allow half or partial credit with scoring. This will help to reduce variability between candidates

Sample rubric (shared by Cross-College Advising partners)

Next Steps…

  1. Share the rubric and get aligned. Meet with your team and discuss the criteria and how you’re testing for them. Don’t skip this! Without getting aligned on the rubric, people will default to their own (often biased) criteria to assess candidates. In this space you could also provide sample candidate responses to provide an opportunity for your team to “mock review” and get a feel for applying the scores. This will help ensure reviewers are consistent with their own internal rankings across candidates, which can minimize bias.
  2. For each round, have your interviewers fill out the rubric and debrief together. Interviewers should fill it out independently and then discuss their impressions—backing up their insight on observable behaviors and evidence rather than gut feelings. Debriefs give interviewers the chance to check for biases or assumptions, especially if there are discrepancies. Debriefing with the rubrics also ensures that candidates are measured against the bar you’ve defined, so that you’re hiring the right person (not just the current best option who may not actually meet the bar).
  3. Make your decision. Weigh all feedback and decide whether to reject or advance your candidate. If you find that you need more information to make a decision, use the rubrics to identify the evidence you still need, and follow up accordingly.
  4. Revisit your rubric. Consider vetting your rubric over time to make sure it’s helping you achieve equitable results in your organization.
* Adapted from materials and information shared by UW-Madison Cross-College Advising Services (CCAS)

Interview Best Practices

DO…

  • Create an email process timeline to provide all candidates with timely and proactive information*
    • Clearly outline what to expect during the interview process and general dates of next rounds / decisions
    • Share interview topics (not questions) with candidates ahead of time
      • This gives students areas to focus on when preparing for the interview. You’ll know which students did preparation when you provide topics ahead of time!
    • Provide contact information (see point below) 
  • Assign a main point of contact to communicate with candidates and answer questions 
  • Provide printed interview questions for the candidate (in-person) or place interview questions in the chat (remote)*
  • Ask candidates about their interest in developing skills, not about what they already know*
  • Schedule breaks if there are multiple interviews in one day*  
  • Use a rubric to evaluate candidates (see more detailed information above) 
  • Provide space at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask questions 
  • Notify every candidate regardless if they received the position or not 

DO NOT…

  • Do not allow interviewers to ask follow up questions
    • This will help to mitigate bias as not every interviewee may be asked the same questions
* Adapted from materials and information shared by UW-Madison Cross-College Advising Services (CCAS)

Additional Resources

Before starting your recruitment process it is highly recommended to view the Unconscious Bias Video and Guidebook provided by the Office of Human Resources Talent Recruitment and Engagement team:

The Office of Human Resources has also shared a “Recruitment Lifecycle” that can assist you in employing inclusive hiring practices during every step of the recruitment process:

In order to create an inclusive hiring and selection process, it is important to identify and eliminate unconscious and hidden biases. The following resources will help expand knowledge on unconscious bias and provide suggested strategies for reducing bias during the student employee recruitment process.

Social Justice aims to open the doors of access to everyone. The following resources include events and readings/documentaries to help build an understanding on the topic of Social Justice. The following have been graciously compiled by the Wisconsin Union’s Social Justice Hub:

The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC) is a unit on campus that is aimed to actively address oppression in all forms and affirms, includes and celebrates people across the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, including their intersectional experiences and perspectives.”

The GSCC provides a multitude of trainings, resources and guides for supporting the LGBTQ+ community:

For additional information or support, contact the GSCC at: lgbt@studentlife.wisc.edu

The Principles of Supervision and Management is an 11 week program that addresses recruitment, hiring, inclusion/diversity, bias and more!

Key Program Elements

  • Attend classes with the same group of participants to build a network over time
  • Discuss the complexities and nuances in managing others
  • Practice skills for navigating real-work scenarios

Learn more about Principles of Supervision and Management

Student Employment Podcast Series

The Podcast Series seeks to support our supervisory and leadership skills with student employees by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. No matter whether you supervise students or not, everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate in discussions. The topics as well as guest facilitators for the discussion session will rotate each month. Typically discussion sessions will include an opportunity to hear more on the topic as well as participate as comfortable by sharing ideas, posing questions, and collaborating on best practices.

How to participate:

  1. Listen to the featured podcast episode.
  2. Join the discussion session.

Not able to listen ahead of time? No worries, we’d still encourage you consider attending the discussion session if able.

If you need an accommodation to attend this event, please email student.employment@finaid.wisc.edu. All accommodation requests should be made no less than two weeks before the event. We will attempt to fulfill requests made after this date, but cannot guarantee they will be met.

February Featured Podcast:

  • The Lounge with Dr. Damon A. Williams
    • The podcast will discuss generational diversity from the beginning to the 38 minute mark. However, feel free to listen to the full podcast if you like.
  • Join the conversation February 26th 10:30-11:30am (CT) on generational diversity.
    • Featuring Guest Facilitator-
      • DeVon Wilson- Director of Center for Academic Excellence
    • No registration required-you will be able to access the session 15 minutes prior to the start time by clicking “Join the conversation” above.

March Featured Podcast:

  • Podcast details coming soon!
  • Join the conversation March 30th 1:30pm-2:30pm (CT) on LGBTQ+ inclusion.
    • Featuring Guest Facilitator-
      • Katherine Charek Briggs- Asst. Director-Gender and Sexuality Campus Center
    • No registration required-you will be able to access the session 15 minutes prior to the start time by clicking “Join the conversation” above.

Inclusion@UW Courses:

  • Participate in intentional conversations
  • Explore new learning opportunities
  • Visit Inclusion@UW for more information

Is there a resource that we haven’t yet highlighted? Please let us know!

We want to expand this resource! Resource recommendations can be sent to student.employment@finaid.wisc.edu with the subject “Inclusive Student Employment Practices Recommendation”. We appreciate your collaboration!