Interpreting reference letters: Opinion

July 12, 2021
Correctly interpreting reference letters when making hiring decisions is important, writes David D Perlmutter, and a variety of best practices can be used to help academic leadership understand these letters. The author explains that a hiring administrator should judge the qualifications and credentials of the letter writer, and that evaluating how tailored the letter is can show a student’s strengths and fit for a position. The author also notes that hiring administrators should evaluate how much praise the letter gives the candidate, and be skeptical of letters that show the candidate as strong in every single area or leave out certain details in order to “accentuate the positive” while leaving out any mention of weaknesses. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Subscription required) (Editorial)