The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors narrowed its field of 98 applicants for a new executive director position to 10 candidates last week and set interviews for Wednesday, May 29 at 5 p.m.
Board members have been mostly satisfied with the performance of the district’s current manager, Rob Robinson, but he will be moved from his administrative position to a field supervisor position, overseeing a wide array of planned projects.
Human Resources Attorney Lara Donlon passed out a list of the 98 applicants to board members at the Wednesday, May 16 meeting and explained that she had previously given a copy to Supervisor Tim Sayre, who was attending the meeting via telephone. He had selected candidates he wanted to interview ahead of the meeting.
Donlon asked the four supervisors at the meeting to do the same, explaining that many of the applicants were inappropriate for the position due to confusion over the job title.
After a 10-minute recess, the supervisors had whittled the list down to 21 candidates, including veterans’ preference candidates and those who received a check by two or more supervisors, a process that had been approved by the supervisors at their previous meeting.
“That’s a lot to even think about interviewing,” Donlon said. “You usually want to get down to three to five [candidates].”
When she reduced the list further to candidates who had received three or more checks from supervisors, there were 10.
“That significantly whittles it down if you go to three or more,” she said. “If you go to four or more, we are down to nine.”
There were five candidates receiving the go-ahead from all five supervisors, including the two veterans’ preference candidates, but the board agreed to interview the 10 candidates who received three or more checks from supervisors.
“You’re looking at 15 minutes per interview,” President Betty Argue said. “That’s 150 minutes for 10 candidates. That’s two-and-a-half hours. That’s nothing compared to our board meetings.”
Donlon said the supervisors were free to choose the selection format they prefer, including narrowing the list collectively prior to interviews.
“You could take those nine or 10, and each of you agree to only select five,” she said. “If you still want to conduct interviews on May 29, we would need to whittle it down now because we would want to give the applicants time to make arrangements to be here for the interviews.”
Argue felt that two-and-a-half hours for the interviews starting at 5:30 p.m. would be manageable. She added that the May 29 meeting would include budget amendments at 5 p.m. prior to the interviews.
Sayre pointed out that all 10 candidates may not choose to come to the interview.
“I think we should just stick with 10 and send the invitations out,” he said.
Donlon said she would e-mail the short list of candidates to all the supervisors and staff, adding that she would send invitations to the candidates and letters of appreciation to those who did not make the short list.
Supervisors also decided on a format for the interviews, which will be three questions per supervisor, with candidates’ names drawn from a hat for order of interviews.
“Now that we know how many potential candidates we have… there are a couple of key things that we do need to decide tonight that will be helpful for you all in preparation,” Donlon said. “First and foremost, we need to outline the general process that we followed in the past.”
She said that candidates have been allowed to sit in at other candidates’ interviews, but space was given in the foyer of the office for those who preferred to sit out of the interviews.
“In the invitations for the interview, we ask the candidates to be prepared to provide you up to a five-minute introduction of their qualifications and skills and why they think they would be a good candidate for this position,” Donlon said. “And then the board asks the candidates questions.”
Donlon explained that in the past, the supervisors have gone down the line where each supervisor asks one question of the candidates.
Once the board is finished questioning, each candidate would have the opportunity to ask questions of the board.
“This is an interview, and we want to make sure that they continue to be interested in working for us and understand the district,” Donlon explained. “Sometimes their questions can be helpful in understanding their knowledge of the district.”