When it comes to selection committees, the stakes are higher and the pressure is intense. Whether you’re applying to be considered by one, or sitting on one, there are several strategies that can help ensure a fair and equitable process.

First, it’s important to make sure that the committee is diverse in terms of gender, age, functional expertise, etc. This will allow for different perspectives to be brought to the decision making process, and minimize the likelihood that a single person will influence the outcome of the decision.

Another key point is to agree on the criteria and the process for evaluation before committee members begin reviewing nominations. This will prevent unintentional bias entering the discussion via “criteria-shifting” once nominees are discussed. It is also advisable to use random ordering when evaluating and discussing candidates, rather than the traditional method of assigning committee members to groups to evaluate and discuss in rotation. This will avoid “presentation bias” – the tendency for a candidate to receive more attention simply because they were evaluated or discussed earlier in the day, and is more likely to result in a thorough evaluation of all candidates.

It’s important to keep committee members informed about the progress of the evaluation and selection process. This will help avoid confusion and frustration, especially if a candidate does not appear to have made the final cut. A brief summary of the deliberations at the end of the meeting can be a helpful way to communicate this.

Finally, it’s important to maintain confidentiality during committee meetings. This is important for a number of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, it allows for a free and open discussion. It’s also a good way to ensure that any conflicts of interest are disclosed and dealt with appropriately.

During the interview stage, it is vital to focus on what makes you stand out from other applicants. This could be a specific experience or skill set that you possess, or a personal story that can help the committee understand and appreciate your motivations and goals. It’s also a good idea to prepare and practice questions for the committee, as this will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role, and allow you to address any concerns they might have.

If a committee member believes that their involvement in the process may be compromised by a conflict of interest, they must inform the chair immediately and discuss an appropriate course of action. In some cases it might be necessary to remove the member from the committee if the chair decides that the nature of the conflict is severe enough. This should be documented on the recruitment file. If the committee chair does not believe that a conflict of interest exists, they must still declare this in writing. The Chair is responsible for setting the rules, reminding members of their obligations, and taking votes. The Chair is also the sole spokesperson for the committee and must provide a report on the deliberations, as well as any other information required by the organisation for the recruitment file.