Search consultants often share with boards that candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing the candidate. While this has been true for a long time, technology makes information about boards very accessible to candidates. While previously, that consideration was often based on the candidate’s interaction with a board during the interview process and whatever access they may have had through newspaper reporting; today’s communications environment means that candidates may have access to a whole array of public information about a board.
Many school boards now broadcast and/or record their board meetings, newspaper articles are easily accessible for a longer period of time, and Internet searches do not discriminate between verifiable reporting and one person’s opinion on a blog. This environment means that when candidates do their homework on checking on a district and the board, they have a wealth of information to review. Their impression of a board may not be based on what they see as best behavior during the interview process, but may also include what they see as on-going behavior during board meetings, blog posts about board members, and extensive long-term reporting by news sources.
The access to all of this information is an important consideration for board members. The number one question candidates ask search consultants is: “Tell me what the Board is like and how they work with the superintendent?” If candidates are watching recordings of board members that are disrespectful of their treatment of administrators, dismissive to the public, or rude in their interaction with each other, it may give them pause in their desire to be a candidate in that district. Board members need to remember that their public behavior and personal beliefs may impact the candidate pool when they are conducting a search. They need to understand that they are always on stage and their behaviors have consequences.