Published Date

June 3, 2023

Resource Type

AHA Standards and Guidelines, For Departments

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Professional Life

Revised by the AHA Professional Division and approved by AHA Council, June 9, 2019; updated by AHA Council, June 3, 2023. 

In an effort to better serve members of the AHA, and to promote the highest standards of professional conduct in the hiring process, we provide these guidelines for search committees and job candidates.

As of 2019, the AHA urges hiring departments to schedule teleconference interviews or on-campus visits for first round interviews. The AHA will not maintain the AHA Job Center or provide interview suites. First round interviews may be conducted through phone, videoconferencing platforms, or in-person if arranged by the department.


General Criteria

  1. Most job discrimination is illegal. Interviewing and hiring should be based solely on professional criteria. Interviewers should not ask questions about a candidate’s marital status or family, race or national origin, disability, age, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Candidates may, however, volunteer such information in the course of their own inquiries about the hiring institution, although this sort of discussion is usually more appropriate during an on-campus interview than in the preliminary stages of a candidacy.
  2. All positions for historians should be advertised in the job ads section of Perspectives on History or the online AHA Career Center.
  3. Advertisements for positions should contain specific information regarding qualifications and clear indication as to whether a position has actually been authorized or is contingent upon budgetary or other administrative considerations.
  4. Candidates should seek interviews only for those jobs for which they are qualified, and under no circumstances should they misrepresent their training or their qualifications. To do otherwise is unprofessional and wastes the time and energy of everyone concerned.
  5. Positions should, absent extenuating circumstances, be advertised for a period of at least six weeks.
  6. All applications and inquiries for a position should be acknowledged promptly and courteously (within two weeks of receipt, if possible), and each applicant should be informed as to the initial action on the application or inquiry. No final decision should be made without considering all applications received before the closing date. Advertisements that list closing dates should consider all applications received by that date, and applications for positions should be accepted for at least six weeks after the initial announcement date.
  7. At all stages of a search, affirmative action/equal opportunity guidelines should be respected.
  8. As candidates are eliminated, they should be notified promptly and courteously. Some hiring institutions notify all candidates when their search is completed. Unsuccessful candidates may wish to ask how their chances might have been improved. Hiring institutions often respond helpfully to such inquiries but they are not obliged to disclose the reasoning leading to their ultimate choices.
  9. Hiring committees are encouraged to request reference letters only from those candidates who have passed the initial screening i.e. at the stage requesting additional materials, or before first-round interviews. Given the current academic job market, having applicants provide letters of recommendation only after the initial screening stage can reduce stress and unnecessary paperwork for candidates, letter-writers, and hiring committees.

Pre-Interview Considerations

  1. Search committees scheduling interviews should provide ample notice to applicants. If travel for an interview is required, applicants should be given notice more than 14 days in advance.
  2. All participants in an interview should be prompt, efficient, and courteous.
  3. Interviews should take place on time, and candidates should be allowed enough time in interviews to develop their candidacies in some depth. This means that interviewers have to watch the time carefully, and try to avoid departing from the schedule they have established. It also means that job candidates should not schedule interviews too close together. Appointments often run over the allotted times.
  4. Interviews should proceed in a manner that respects the professional and personal integrity of candidates and interviewers. Whenever possible, interviewing committees should include more than one gender.
  5. The AHA strongly discourages recording any employment interview activity.  If a department does record the activity, permissions for recording should be obtained and the intended use clearly stated in advance of the interview. All appropriate measures should be taken to maintain confidentiality of the interview. Any recordings should be limited for use during and related only to the search process and should not be retained after the search has been completed.

Phone and Videoconference Guidelines for Departments/Institutions

  1. All candidates should be interviewed using the same method. Decide in advance how interviews will be conducted. Will they all be via phone, videoconferencing service, or a combination of both methods? If using a videoconferencing service, consider using a system that allows for multiple participants. Committees unsure of the best system should consult with their IT offices.
  2. Decide whether you will conduct the interviews all in one day or in several time slots. If you decide to conduct interviews over several days, make every effort to ensure that the interview committee remains the same.
  3. Ensure that faculty have the appropriate technology and feel confident using it.
  4. When calling to arrange the interviews, convey clearly to candidates how long the interview will be, who will call whom, who will participate (sending a list to the candidate would be helpful), and what technology is required for the interview.
  5. Remember to take into account time zone differences.
  6. Don’t assume that all interviewees have access to the same technology. Be aware that requests to interview using a particular platform may incur expense or inconvenience for some candidates.
  7. Job notices or application forms and all communications with candidates should state that applicants who need accommodation for a phone or video interview should request this in advance.
  8. Before the interview, determine the order in which the interviewers will ask questions just as you would for an in-person interview.
  9. Be sure to test speakerphone, teleconferencing, or web-based video client.
  10. As the interview begins, introduce the individuals participating in the interview and describe how the interview will be conducted.
  11. Remember that during a phone interview it may be difficult for the candidate to remember who is speaking. Repeat your name each time you speak.
  12. Be sensitive to the fact that if you are on the phone the candidate won’t be able to see your body language. Offer more verbal cues: “Thank you for that answer,” etc.
  13. Interviewees for whom English is not the primary language may be at a disadvantage, especially during telephone interviews. Strategize about how to make this process as fair as possible to them.
  14. Although interviews are dynamic conversations, consider posing the same basic questions to each candidate.
  15. Departments should make every effort to use a video chat client that allows for multiple participants.
  16. Leave time for the candidate to ask questions.

Phone and Videoconference Guidelines for Candidates

  1. Make sure you understand the technological requirements for the interview.
  2. When scheduling take time zone differences into account.
  3. If you are participating in a telephone interview make every effort to use a landline. You will have a better connection than on your cell phone and you will not risk the call being dropped.
  4. If you are doing a video interview, ensure that you have a reliable internet connection.
  5. Do your best to remove all distractions and background noise, such as barking dogs, the sound of children playing, ringing cell phones and doorbells.
  6. If you are having a video interview, be aware of your appearance; dress as you would for an in-person interview. Also be aware of what appears in the background. A neutral background (a plain wall) or a professional background (a bookcase, for example) is best. Also be aware of the room’s lighting. A bright light directly behind you can make it difficult for the interviewers to see you.
  7. Speak directly into your phone, headset, or microphone and make sure your interviewers can hear you.
  8. Let each person finish before you begin speaking.
  9. Some candidates find it helpful to print out interviewing search committee members’ profiles so they can put a face to the name in phone interviews.
  10. Have your application materials next to you when the institution calls you.
  11. Practice answering some questions over the phone or via videoconference. Your career center should be able to help you with this type of practice run. If not, enlist a friend or colleague.
  12. If the interviewers don’t say much, feel free to ask occasional questions to see whether or not they’re with you: “Would you like me to say more about that?” “Was that clear?” “Have I answered your concern about that?”

Considerations for In-Person Interviews

  1. Interviews should take place in a professional setting whether through phone, videoconference, or in person. If interviews take place at the meeting of a scholarly association, the Association strongly advises that a neutral room that is not designated for sleeping, rather than a sleeping room be used, and that a third person always be present in the room with the candidate.
  2. Interviewers bear sole responsibility for establishing an appropriate professional atmosphere and should take special care to ensure that all interviews are conducted courteously and in a proper and professional manner.

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