Recruitment of Faculty Members to the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto

Every major university ultimately rises and falls on the calibre of its academic appointments. If the academic appointees are strong, they create a culture of excellence that enables recruitment of outstanding staff and students. The department therefore considers recruitment a top priority.

To ensure the recruitment of highest quality faculty via a fair and transparent process, recruitment of full-time faculty members to the department is generally by a formal search process.

The Search Process
Scope of the Search
Ensuring Equity and Diversity
Striking the Search Committee
Posting the Position
Finding the Best Candidate
Policy Regarding University Rank at Recruitment

The Search Process

All searches must comply with the following University of Toronto policies and recommendations regarding the search process:

Scope of the Search

Searches may be limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents (local and national searches) or open to both Canadian and non-Canadian applicants (international searches). National searches are recommended at minimum to attract the highest calibre recruits. However, the scope of the search is determined by the search committee based on financial and other resources and the depth of potential candidates locally. All clinician-scientist appointments must be the result of a national or international search in order to enable access to startup funding.

All recruitment of new full-time clinical academics must be done with a ‘Canadians First’ policy. However, it is recognized that there may not always be the ability to fill the role with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The appointment of a non-Canadian to a position requires that evidence be submitted to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that all attempts to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the role have been unsuccessful. The governmental standards for posting of positions where non-Canadians will be considered are stricter than for other positions. Input from an immigration lawyer is generally required and obtained by the University or the host hospital to ensure all requirements have been met.

The University provides a number of resources outlined in the Requirements for Hiring Foreign Academics memo for how this requirement can be fulfilled. There are also additional resources including:

Ensuring Diversity and Equity

All hiring and appointment decisions are also made with a consideration of the Employment Equity Policy and the Statement on Equity, Diversity, and Excellence.

Ensuring attention to diversity throughout the search process is more than just a principle of ensuring equal representation. It is about ensuring that the Department of Medicine is recruiting the very best clinical faculty members with a wide range of viewpoints and experience. A diverse faculty and diverse candidate base ensures that the Department of Medicine is on the forefront of developments in research, quality improvement, and teaching. With this in mind the Department of Medicine has developed Gender Equity Guidelines for Department of Medicine Search Committees. These guidelines have been woven through this webpage.

Use of tools to raise awareness regarding unconscious bias among search committee members is strongly recommended for all departmental searches, and required for all leadership roles. Suggested tools are the Harvard Implicit Association Test and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Unconscious Bias e-learning seminar.

The phenomenon of institutional reproduction, as outlined in the Gender Equity Guidelines, is another area where search committee members are mandated to develop an awareness before recruitment begins.

Striking the Search Committee

Searches must comply with University policies and procedures.

For searches initiated by a hospital and/or departmental division head, the physician-in-chief (PIC)/department division director (DDD) is asked to submit a proposed membership slate for Department Chair approval. The slate must bring together a diverse mix of faculty, administrative staff, and students from both minority and non-minority backgrounds, to generate multiple perspectives and stimulate fresh ideas. 1/3 of the members must be women. No member will be eligible for consideration of the position. The membership of the committee must remain the same throughout each individual recruitment process. Specific constituencies will include:

  • Department Chair or delegate, such as department division director;
  • Physician-in-chief or delegate;
  • Institutional division director; and
  • Other persons as deemed appropriate (e.g., hospital research institute lead, representatives of other departments or divisions).

Posting the Position

A draft posting is generated by the search committee and must be submitted to the Department of Medicine academic appointments administrators for approval. The posting is then created on the University of Toronto website, which includes an automatic posting in Inside Higher Ed. The open search process should be publically announced to all members of the department/division. For national and international searches, the posting will also be distributed to the Chairs of Medicine across the country and in at least one additional location, such as in a relevant journal. All positions must be posted for a minimum of 35 days on the University of Toronto website to ensure the general Faculty of Medicine minimum of 30 days is met.

Postings should avoid gender specific language and have broad description of qualifications to enable recruitment from a wider pool.

Finding the Best Candidate

During the period of posting, the search committee will generate a candidate pool through open and targeted strategies. Broad, informal networks should be used to advertise the position. The search should not be closed until the pool is of sufficient depth and diversity. The Department is aiming for at least 25% of applications from women for positions. Ways of ensuring a diverse candidate pool include:

  • Inviting members to identify viable internal/external candidates and initiate contact. The committee chair will follow up personally with potentially interested candidates.
  • Contacting prominent members of relevant/diverse organizations/communities and soliciting their support in identifying candidates.
  • Advertising in electronic resources likely to reach diverse applicants by virtue of their organizational focus, affiliation or readership.

The committee must record all applications received and basic data for the long-listed candidates, including but not limited to: gender; Canadian/Permanent Residency status; and current academic rank. These records should be kept by the PIC office (hospital initiated searches) or the Chair’s office (searches for departmental leaders and division-wide searches).

The interview and candidate selection process should be standardized. This is achieved by:

  • Confirming the confidentiality of all discussions
  • Establishing agreement on credentials/qualifications for position in advance of interviews
  • Using standardized questions and structured interviews
  • Not requiring letters of reference until later in the recruitment process
  • Raising awareness that letters of reference may reflect unconscious bias (see Gender Equity Guidelines for more details)
  • Not penalizing candidates for ‘CV gaps’ that may coincide with parental/family leaves
  • Comparing responses to the interview questions horizontally, across candidates, question by question
  • Ensuring sufficient time is available to discuss each applicant
  • Using agreed upon evaluation criteria (see Gender Equity Guidelines for an example)

Once the candidate pool has been finalized, the search committee begins its short-listing process. The committee will:

  • Systematically look for excellent candidates who have flourished in less prestigious institutions or who have earned less recognition in prestigious institutions despite their excellence.
  • Recognize that interdisciplinary inquiry has produced some of the most significant new work; evaluating it may pose challenges to discipline-based scholars, e.g. a leading health economist may have published in non-economic journals.
  • Recognize diverse scholars, researchers and students are directly affected by knowledge produced in research institutions and by that which is left out; their inclusion helps to transform our knowledge base, e.g. women’s studies, Aboriginal Studies, etc.
  • Recognize there exists a range of ways to describe valuable contributions to a discipline and that cultural differences reflected in a curriculum vitae or letters of reference may influence evaluators. e.g. letters may reflect cultural values that emphasize different aspects of scholarship like affiliation with excellent scholars rather than individual achievement.
  • Create shortlists based on different criteria to help ensure diversity. For instance, if three of the criteria are teaching, research and service, create shortlists that rank applicants within these categories. Interview top candidates in each category.

Once the shortlist has been identified, all shortlisted candidates should be interviewed by the full committee. For candidates who are not familiar with the University of Toronto, the interview should be combined with a visit to the host-hospital/department, which is hosted by the search committee chair. For such a visit, the following is recommended:

  • A dedicated administrator is identified to co-ordinate candidate visits. This person communicates directly with candidates, manages logistics and develops the itinerary. They function as the key contact for candidates. Note - candidates make their own travel arrangements based upon University policy.
  • Working with the search committee chair and the candidate, the administrator develops a one to two day visit itinerary that ensures sufficient exposure to the depth/breadth of the department (including department leadership) and alignment between perceived best fit between host-hospital site(s)/division and the candidate’s interests and expertise.
  • Visit itineraries are provided to candidates in advance of their arrival at the University.
  • The host and administrator meet candidates at the beginning of their visits to review the schedule and act upon any last minute requests. The administrator accompanies the candidate as required to off-campus appointments.
  • Further resources for campus visits are available on the University of Toronto’s website.

Once the preferred candidate is selected, the focus shifts to preparation of a formal offer, including checking of references, and a joint hospital-University recruitment package. At this point, an additional visit may be scheduled to allow the candidate to explore the city and real estate options.

Policy Regarding University Rank at Recruitment

The Department of Medicine considers all new appointments based on the specific merits of each candidate as per the Faculty Appointments Advisory Committee (FAAC) Guidelines.

Usually, new appointees who hold the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor at another university will be recruited at this same rank. However, the lateral transfer of rank is not guaranteed; candidates must meet the qualifications for that rank at the University of Toronto.

The Department of Medicine does not promote candidates at appointment. However, the Department Appointments Committee may recommend that a new recruit consider promotion upon appointment.