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employment guide

This guide is meant to be a quick and easy reference when contemplating staffing changes and filling positions.  The goal is to cover topics of interest clearly and concisely while also providing enough detailed information for those issues or occasions when more explanation will be needed.

As supervisors go through the hiring process, it is important to keep in mind that it is one of the most important activities a supervisor will undertake and should be taken very seriously with a commitment to hire the very best for the university.

If there are suggestions or comments about this guide, please e-mail us at solutionscenter@hr.msu.edu.

Step 1: How to Begin

Review Staffing Needs

The first step in filling a vacant position is to review staffing needs. The questions below provide some areas to consider when developing a strategy.

  1. Has the unit considered the impact of department goals on present and future hiring needs?

  2. Have there been significant changes in funding that will impact the position?

  3. If the position is reclassified, can the department afford it?

  4. Has the unit considered diversity strategies and reviewed the Affirmative Action utilization for the position in the department?

  5. Have the duties and responsibilities of the position changed since the last time it was posted due to workload, technical changes or reduction in staff?

    Yes, they have: Continue reading this section.

    No, they haven't: Go to the Filling Existing Positions section below.

Changing the Position (Reclassification)

  • Identify the new job duties and responsibilities

  • Complete a Human Resources Staffing Request Form. The process for initiating a classification review or request that a new position be established is now completed on the EBS Portal.

    • Call Human Resources at 517-353-4434 for more information or if reclassifying an incumbent.

Filling Existing Position

  • Go to Step 2.

Step 2: How to Post

Prepare the Staffing Request

  • Complete a Staffing Request Form on the EBS Portal.  Adjustments to publishing deadlines may be made for holidays.

Quick Reference for Filling Vacancies

Recruitment Strategies

  • To increase the applicant pool, departments may utilize a variety of recruiting sources.  A list of possible recruitment tools follows. The university now centrally funds advertising of faculty and staff positions to Inside Higher Ed. Contact HR to discuss recruitment strategies 517-353-4434.

    • MSU job posting website

    • MSU placement services

    • MSU Alumni sources

    • Employee referrals

    • Professional recruiters

    • Radio advertising

    • Print advertising (it is strongly recommended that Graystone Group Advertising be used for placement in all of the following advertising sources)

      • Newspaper advertisements

      • Minority Newspapers

      • Specialized publications such as association newsletters and periodicals

      • Internet Ads

Step 3: How to Screen and Interview

Screening for Interviews and Who Conducts the Interview

  • Human Resources will perform the initial screening of candidates. If there are candidates within the union associated with the job, union contract guidelines must be followed to assure that union members who apply will be considered according to contract language.  Where applicable, each candidate needs to be evaluated against the job posting for the required skills, knowledge, and ability to assure that the most qualified will be selected for interviews.

  • Is an interview committee needed?
    Interview committees are not required, but do offer a way to utilize the knowledge of individuals who bring different viewpoints and skills to the interview process. Having input from several individuals helps assure that the screening and interviewing processes do not overlook important aspects of candidate diversity and selection. Because the interviewing and rating process is more structured, biases are reduced and candidate evaluation becomes more objective.

  • Who should be on the committee?
    A committee might be composed of those individuals who have direct knowledge of the specific job, those who will be working with the new staff member, and/or those who have special knowledge of the skills and tasks to be performed on the job. For example, an interview committee for a programmer analyst position might be composed of coworkers in the office who will interact with the new staff member and a programmer analyst from another department who will understand the technical qualifications of the job.

  • What are the functions of each member?
    Each member contributes according to his/her special skills and knowledge by providing interview questions and determining evaluation guidelines.  It is important that all members be present for the actual interviews. Different members are assigned different tasks. One member could be assigned to greet all of the candidates, introduce the committee, explain the interviewing procedure to them, and escort them out of the interview when it is over. One or two members could be assigned to ask the questions while the other members evaluate the answers and record their observations. All members should contribute to the evaluation of the candidate after an interview.

Interview Preparation, Process and Matrix

  • Preparing for the Interview

    • Analyze the Job

      • Review minimum qualifications, basic functions, physical demands and/or health risks (Health Risk/Physical Demands form), competencies and skills, licenses/certifications, and interpersonal skills necessary to be successful in the job.
    • Develop interview questions that will determine if a candidate possesses the necessary attributes.  Specific questions should:

      • verify minimum qualifications
      • explore education, job history, and overall experience
      • elicit detailed information regarding job-related skills and competencies
    • Additional questions should elicit information about certain behaviors that are necessary to succeed in the job. Avoid questions that require a yes or no response. Using questions that are open-ended will provide more detailed and useful information about the candidate. Examples of different types of interview questions are:

      • Behavioral questions: Asking questions about how candidates reacted to situations in the past can help interviewers try to predict how the candidates might handle similar situations in the future. For example, "Tell me about a time when you..." or "Give me an example of how you handled..."
      • Definitional Questions: Require candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of terms concepts, tools, posed in the format of "What is a ...?" or "What does 'xyz' refer to or mean?"
      • Casual Questions: Require candidates to indicate the consequence of an act of procedure. Posed in the format "What happens when..." or "What is the result of...?"
      • Hypothetical questions: Measure a candidate's ability to react and deal with possible future situations based on past experience. Posed in the format "What would you do if...?" or "What could happen if...?"
      • Situational questions: Similar to hypothetical questions, except the interviewer will describe a realistic scenario in detail and ask how the candidate would react. Posed in the format "Here is the scenario...what would you do?"
      • Explanatory questions: Require candidates to explain a task or process involved in the job. Posed in the format "What would you do...?" or "How would you explain...?"
      • Relational questions: Require a candidate to demonstrate, often by role playing, how they would react in a given interpersonal situation.
    • You may not make inquiries about a candidate's:

      • Maiden Name

      • Birthplace/National Origin

      • Age

      • Religion

      • Complexion and Color of Skin

      • Height

      • Weight

      • Marital Status

      • Sex

      • Arrest Record

      • Handicap or Disability: Inquiries regarding an individual's physical or mental condition which are not directly related to the requirements of a specific job are illegal and inappropriate. After describing the essential duties of the job, you may ask candidates if they are able to perform the position as described.

Develop a Rating Methodology

Develop a method of rating candidates that ties answers directly to the required skills and competencies. Effective rating methods that might be used include narrative comparisons, numeric ranking, or weighted factor ranking.  A matrix can be an effective tool for charting interview results.

Conduct the Interview

If a panel is used, it is important that all members be present for the actual interview.

  • At least two, if not all, individuals from the panel should conduct the interview.

  • If possible, conduct all interviews in the same physical location.

  • Schedule the same amount of time for each interview for each candidate.

  • Interview opening:

    • Introduce members of the panel.
    • Explain the candidate selection process and time frame.
    • Provide an overview of the meeting.
    • Inform the candidate there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the conclusion of the interview.
    • Inform the candidate that notes will be taken to assist in the candidate rating process.
    • Make sure that all questions are asked similarly of each candidate.
    • Wait for good answers and avoid talking too much.
  • Interview close:

    • Invite the candidates to ask questions.

    • Ask the candidates if they still wish to be considered.

    • Indicate the anticipated time before a final selection is made and next step, if any.

    • Request references.

Check References

References can be requested when the applicants complete their application or later in the process.

Step 4: How to Select and Hire the Best

Assessing Interview Results

  • Once information has been gathered from the interviewed candidates, the interviewers need to compare notes.

  • All interviewers need to provide feedback in the final selection. The candidates and their rating should be discussed resulting in a decision about which finalist is most likely to succeed on the job. Decisions will be made on the basis of job related criteria and behavioral predictors of success in the position. A Candidate Rating Sheet/Matrix may be used to assess each candidate. Each interviewer should report his or her determined ratings for each candidate and give a final recommendation for the group to review.

Complete a Hiring Recommendation and Update Applicant Statuses

  • This is the official record of the applicants, interviews, and hiring decisions.

  • If the position is underutilized in the department and the person selected does not represent the underutilized group, the department may need to provide various supporting documents on recruitment and selection such as candidate comparison/matrix and a written explanation of the recruitment efforts utilized.  The completed Hiring Recommendation will be forwarded to OIII and to MSU HR.

  • OIII will review the information and notify the department if additional information is needed. OIII will update the status in the hiring system. After Human Resources has reviewed the request, the status will be updated and the department will be authorized to make the job offer contingent on the criminal background check and completion of a physical demands test if applicable.

Job Offer

  • When the job offer is contingent on successfully completing a physical demands test for the position, do not have the employee terminate his/her employment until the test is completed.

  • Contact applicants by phone and state the salary and start date.  Where applicable follow up in writing to the candidate.

  • Update applicant status when a job offer has been accepted.

  • Reimbursement for limited moving expenses may be authorized by the unit administrator for eligible new employees. For a detailed explanation, please see the Manual of Business Procedures, Section 53.

Step 5: Preparing for a New Employee

New Employee Orientation

All new regular employees and any temporary employees hired into regular positions are given an orientation session that includes employment processing and introduction to MSU.

The HR Solutions Center will contact the new hire to schedule orientation and will notify on what items they need to bring for processing. 

Many departments have their own orientation program and/or checklist that will include information regarding uniforms, computer access, building keys, and name tags.

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