The following pages consolidate the necessary staff hiring tools into one central resource. The purpose is to provide a better understanding of the hiring process, outline best practices in selecting candidates, and provide the resources for additional assistance.
The Human Resources Services team at McMaster partners with departments and teams across the university to recruit and hire diverse and talented staff. These guidelines have been developed in collaboration with various university partners with the intention that these practices will be incorporated into all standard staff hiring at McMaster.
This guide provides general assistance to hiring managers and those involved in recruitment and selection processes at McMaster. This process is highly decentralized and these guidelines are not intended to address all possible scenarios or roles and responsibilities related to recruitment, interviewing, selection and hiring, nor to replace any specific requirements that are part of existing collective agreements or any existing department policies. Members of the Human Resources Services team and the Faculty of Health Sciences Human Resources office are available to provide guidance and support throughout this important process. NOTE: Nothing in this document is meant to supersede any collective agreement. Where a contradiction arises between this document and any collective agreement or policy, the collective agreement or policy will govern.
These guidelines were written as a fluid document, and feedback is welcomed on what works, what doesn’t, and what should be added. Please share all comments and suggestions with the Human Resources Organizational Development team at email@example.com.
McMaster University strives to embody the values of respect, collaboration and diversity, and has a strong commitment to employment equity. The diversity of our workforce is at the core of our innovation and creativity and strengthens our research and teaching excellence. We strive to hire individuals who share our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Message from the AVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, Wanda McKenna
Our innovative and inclusive McMaster community showcases the diverse talents of our more than 10,900 staff members in 10 employee groups. Our Human Resources Services team is committed to creating an inclusive workplace that attracts, develops, retains and inspires an exceptional group of employees. McMaster University ranks among the top 100 universities in the world.1 Our past and current employees enabled us to achieve this prestigious status, and we look to our future employees to help us retain and advance our vision and to contribute to a brighter world.
To promote an engaged, diverse, healthy and versatile workforce now and in future, Human Resources Services will continue to align our efforts with University priorities, collaborate with our community partners to help them achieve their goals, deliver excellence in service and solutions, empower learning, and champion opportunities for individuals to grow their careers at McMaster.
1. Source: Academic Rankings of World Universities
McMaster’s Staff Hiring Guidelines have been informed by the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Recruitment Best Practices, as well as the shared practices on equitable staff hiring at several institutions across North America. We also appreciate the insights and contributions by our internal McMaster Human Resources and University partners, as we leverage their current best practices. In particular, we appreciate and recognize the initiative taken by the Office of the Provost to develop a guide for Faculty hiring and share it with Human Resources Services.
Roles and Responsibilities
Together, all parties work to ensure an equitable hiring process. The goal is not to make “equity hires,” but to have a process that ensures a broad applicant pool and equitable assessment of applicants, so that the best candidate is always hired.
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The Hiring Manager is typically the person who is responsible for identifying the recruitment need, initiating recruitment, and acting as the main point of contact during the recruitment process. While others will be engaged throughout the recruitment and selection process and will provide input, the Hiring Manager is ultimately responsible for the hiring decision.
The Hiring Manager is expected to ensure that:
- recruitment is conducted in accordance with approved staffing plans, guidelines, and relevant legislation
- funds are available to cover the costs of the position
- they are intimately familiar with the skills, qualifications, abilities and relevant experience required for the job in question
- all related recruitment and selection requirements are met in accordance with applicable collective agreements and University policies
- selection criteria and interview questions are appropriate for the particular employee group and are unbiased, gender-neutral, comprehensive and consistent with the job description/duties
- job postings are compliant with employment equity policy and distribution of job postings are in locations that are accessible to diverse groups and deliberate and targeted in order to ensure the diversity of the applicant pool
- a Selection Committee is established and the members are informed of the job requirements, selection criteria, employment equity policies and best practices (depending on the employee group, consider engaging Human Resources)
- an inclusive and respectful environment is created where all Selection Committee members are encouraged and supported in participating equally (e.g., the Hiring Manager is prepared to moderate when someone continually dominates the discussion)
- the recruitment and selection process is conducted in a fair, equitable and inclusive manner at all stages of the process
Each member of the Selection Committee (including the hiring manager) is responsible for:
- reviewing and understanding the University’s guidelines on staff recruitment and policies on employment equity and discrimination
- demonstrating a strong commitment to equity and inclusion
- identifying and removing potential barriers to equity and inclusion throughout the selection process, including issues of unconscious, implicit and any other kinds of bias
- understanding Human Rights considerations, including the duty to reasonably accommodate
- assessing the merits of each applicant against the selection criteria
- demonstrating impartiality and objectivity
- attending interviews of all interviewees
- recommending successful applicants
- maintaining confidentiality throughout the selection process
The Human Resources teams are responsible for:
- facilitating the approval of the job description and salary classification (as applicable)
- providing Mosaic support and posting job opportunities on McMaster’s Career site
- facilitating job postings with external agencies and ensuring job postings meet required criteria
- issuing offers of employment (as applicable)
- providing advice and guidance on all activities associated with the recruitment and selection process
- assisting with targeted recruitment strategies
- providing staff members to participate as members of Selection Committees as requested
- facilitating human rights, diversity and equity training for all hiring managers and members of selection committees
- providing advice and guidance on activities associated with the successful onboarding and orientation of new hires
The Employment Equity Specialist, Equity experts and Equity Advisors will provide support, advice and oversight of the overall hiring process, in collaboration with Human Resources Services to ensure the process is equitable, inclusive and unbiased.
Employment Equity Specialist, Equity experts and Equity Advisors
Equity Experts, including the Employment Equity Specialist and designated Equity Advisors, are responsible for:
- reviewing and approving job postings and interview/testing questions
- assisting hiring managers with diversity outreach and developing recruitment, promotion and retention strategies
- facilitating/coordinating human rights, diversity and equity training for selection committee members
- identifying ways to ensure that the hiring process is equitable, transparent and inclusive
- providing pertinent advice and support to hiring managers, chairs of selection committees and the Human Resources Services team
In addition to the responsibilities noted above, the Employment Equity Specialist is available to provide specialist advice, support and customized training to encourage diversity in recruitment practices. Aggregate data on the representation of federally designated groups within the applicant pool, as well as reports on current workforce composition by Faculty and Department, can be made available through the Employment Equity Specialist.
Evaluating the Need and Preparing to Post
Identify your staffing needs
Carefully assess your department or faculty to accurately determine the scope of the vacant position.
Questions you will want to consider include:
- Why has this vacancy arisen (e.g., leave of absence, new project, increased demand, re-organization of work)?
- How long will this position be required? (e.g., to the end of a project, for the duration of a leave, ongoing)?
- Does this position exist elsewhere in my organization? (e.g., administrative positions)?
- How will this position be funded?
- What skill set will be required of the incumbent?
- What duties will the incumbent be required to undertake?
- How will this position fit into the organizational structure of the unit? The department? The University?
Determine the general terms of the assignment and the appropriate Employee/Assignment Type required.
Determine the general terms of the assignment (e.g, hours per week, months per year, length of contract). Based on these terms, determine the appropriate Employee/Assignment Type required. Refer to collective agreements and/or any related hiring policies or guidelines for additional information.
- Temporary (or Interim) – A position with a duration of less than 12 months.
- Casual – A position having no specified schedule and of definite or indefinite duration.
- Limited Term – A position with a scheduled end date and with a duration of 12 months minimum.
- Continuing – A position with no foreseeable end date.
- Seasonal – Positions that are required on an ongoing basis for only a part of every year.
Determine the Employee Group
Determine the Employee Group and applicable collective agreement or framework that is applicable to that group (e.g., TMG, Unifor, CUPE). You must be aware of the policies and/or guidelines for the group you are hiring into (e.g., guidelines for internal vs. external posting timelines, compensation, employment equity goals or strategies). If you are creating a new job and think it may be in TMG, please contact the Total Rewards Unit, Human Resources, or for Health Sciences departments, Health Sciences Human Resources. For further support, advice, and guidance, consult your Employee & Labour Relations Advisor.
Identify or develop the appropriate Job Description
Identify or develop the appropriate Job Description and have it evaluated, if required. (It is also a good practice to have job descriptions reviewed every four years.) If the position for which you wish to recruit is newly created or the duties have changed, please contact the following offices for advice in developing or updating a complete and thorough job description:
A newly developed job will require evaluation, and an updated job may require re-evaluation. Job description templates and guides are available here. NOTE: Please be sure to leave adequate time for the job evaluation process. Depending on committee schedules and submission date, this can take 2 to 4 weeks.
Ready to Post
Develop a vacancy and job posting in Mosaic.
Develop a vacancy and job posting in Mosaic. The Mosaic Human Resources system includes a module which supports the recruitment function. Contact Human Resources for more information and for any questions related to using Mosaic.
For positions within Unifor, a job posting exists for each job description and must be used when posting. For jobs within TMG, as each job description is evaluated, a job posting is created and must be used when posting. Human Resources will confirm any documentation required for your position, and, if applicable, coordinate and provide support with external job advertisements.
REMEMBER: An effective job posting should briefly outline the primary purpose and major objectives of the position (i.e. what the incumbent will be doing), followed by the qualifications and skills required of the incumbent. Be sure to distinguish between required and desired skills/experience in your posting. You should also ensure that the language is inclusive and that all skills/qualifications/abilities are bona fide occupational requirements of the job (i.e., that it is a requirement that is necessary for effective or efficient performance of a job).
Focus on Active Recruitment.
Focus on Active Recruitment. Reaching the best possible candidates and increasing the diversity of the applicant pool requires active and targeted recruitment. Active recruitment can involve:
- Advertising on websites, publications, or professional associations that serve various diverse and equity-seeking groups.
- Directly contacting potential candidates to invite them to apply.
- Seeking networking opportunities at conferences and professional events.
- Asking colleagues in other departments for recommendations for outreach. They might be able to recommend recruitment activities that worked in their searches and some that did not. There may be excellent candidates who were not successful in a previous search but are qualified for the current search.
- Reaching out to relevant professional associations or non-profit organizations to identify individuals who meet the job requirements.
Examples of Potential Sourcing Options:
- Academic Institutions (schools/colleges)
- Alumni Networks & Affinity Groups
- Associate job boards & list services
- Career Websites
- Direct Sourcing (networking, word of mouth, etc.)
- Diversity websites and listservs
- Job Boards
- Newspaper (print or online)
- Online advertising (i.e. banner ads)
- Recruiting Events
- Community Groups and cultural centres
- Employment agencies
- Interfaith agencies and centres
As you move further into the recruitment process, ensure that you are familiar with the best practices. There are many tools and resources available to support you throughout the rest of the process, e.g., evaluating applicants, conducting interviews, checking references, and making an offer.
Once employees have been selected, the next step is orienting and onboarding them to the University and their new job. New employees need a clear understanding of policies, expectations, and operating procedures. The first few months of employment are critically important to the success of the employee and the long-term employment relationships. Links to resources and a suggested orientation checklist can be found here.
In Canada, employment equity efforts have focused on four designated groups that have historically encountered barriers to full and fair representation in employment: women, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples (Aboriginal Peoples), members of racialized groups (visible minorities), and persons with disabilities. More recently, organizations and institutions, including McMaster University, have expanded beyond the four designated groups to include other groups that may face employment barriers, such as LGBTQ+ persons (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and related identities).
McMaster includes all of these groups in its employment equity planning and programming. Employee diversity data is collected through the University’s Employment Equity survey, with anonymized data shared with senior leaders.
At McMaster, we understand the importance of equity and diversity within our community and recognize the following benefits:
- A thorough and active equitable recruitment process instills confidence in the hiring process and the selected candidate.
- Research reveals that diversity enhances innovation, creativity and strengthens teams, and ultimately enhancing research and teaching excellence.
It is essential to review any goals or strategies for employment equity that have been established for your Faculty or Department and identify how the current search process can support those goals.
Raise Awareness of Unconscious Assumptions/Implicit Bias
A significant body of recent research has shed light on the impact of unconscious assumptions or implicit biases on equitable hiring. Identifying the implicit biases that each person has provides the opportunity to reflect on how they may influence individual assessments during the search process. Being able to recognize when bias has been triggered allows those involved in the hiring process to evaluate whether that bias is relevant or discriminatory.
Psychological research has reported the following findings (University of Michigan Office of the Provost Academic Affairs Hiring Manual):
- We often judge people based exclusively on our own experience.
- We tend to favour people who look like us or have other experiences like our own.
Understanding the biases you may have or the generalizations you tend to make about certain groups should be identified at the beginning – before a selection committee decides where to do outreach, how to screen a resume, or how to evaluate a candidate’s answers. Though identifying implicit biases involves some degree of self-reflection, there are external tools that can assist.
Sometimes, hiring managers and/or selection committee members may face allegations of discrimination and/or bias during the hiring process. When such a scenario arises, contact an Employee & Labour Relations Advisor in Human Resources Services for assistance and guidance.
Diversity and Equity Training
Training is a key component of diverse recruitment, promotion and retention. All senior leaders, hiring managers, selection committee members and staff involved in the hiring process are strongly encouraged to complete diversity and equity training that includes instruction on how to recognize and combat unconscious, implicit, overt, prejudicial and any other kinds of bias. This training also includes aspects of anti-oppression, anti-racism, cultural competency, accessibility and LGBTQ+ education.
Human Resources Services facilitates diversity and equity training for staff, in collaboration with the Equity and Inclusion Office, the Indigenous Studies Program, Equity Experts, Equity Officers, Equity Advisors and other equity-seeking groups or individuals, as necessary. Contact the Employment Equity Specialist in Human Resources Services or the designated equity officer/expert/advisor within your unit to discuss your training needs.
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Hiring managers must avoid irrelevant and unlawful interview questions designed to solicit information related to grounds protected under human rights legislation, including: a candidate’s age, race, religion, gender, citizenship and nationality, disability, and sexual orientation. Understanding and complying with employment laws when conducting searches will help ensure fair and lawful hiring practices are employed while allowing hiring managers to obtain adequate information on which to base hiring decisions.
The Ontario Human Rights Code and Reasonable Accommodation
The Ontario Human Rights Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment, without discrimination or harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
This right extends to all aspects of the hiring process, including the posting, application, screening, interviewing, selection, and offer stages. The hiring decision cannot be influenced either directly, or indirectly, by one of the prohibited grounds.
In addition, the University has a duty to accommodate an individual’s needs, to the point of undue hardship, where those needs are protected by any enumerated ground of the Ontario Human Rights Code. If an individual makes an accommodation request during the hiring process, or if it appears that an accommodation may be required, please contact an Employee & Labour Relations Advisor or Employee Health Services in Human Resources Services for assistance and guidance.
AODA 2005 and Integrated Accessibility Standards
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is a provincial law that recognizes the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario and requires the development, implementation and enforcement of standards for accessibility to goods, services, employment, transportation, information and communications, and buildings for persons with disabilities. The Integrated Accessibility Standards was enacted on June 3, 2011, under the AODA, 2005. This new regulation sets out rules that organizations, institutions, businesses and municipalities must follow to support persons with disabilities.
The Integrated Accessibility Standards specifically outlines guidelines for employers to address barriers faced by persons with disabilities in workplace accommodations, performance management, career development and advancement and communications. It also provides guidelines for recruitment, assessment and selection. Employers must provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports in the hiring process. An ‘Accessibility Clause’ must be included in all job postings, flyers or information brochures about recruitment, job fairs and other related recruitment materials.
Be proactive in considering any accommodation needs for interviews and assessment. For example, consider the location of the interview. Is your office accessible to an individual who uses a mobility aid? For more information on accommodating applicants or staff with disabilities, contact your Employee & Labour Relations Advisor, Employee Health Services, or the Employment Equity Specialist.
McMaster’s Policy on Discrimination, Harassment & Sexual Harassment: Prevention and Response
McMaster University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment: Prevention and Response (the “Policy”) affirms the University’s commitment to fostering a respectful and inclusive organizational culture that is free of discrimination and harassment. The Policy sets out responsibilities and procedural guidelines for the University community to ensure this commitment is upheld.