National Convening for Educational Leaders on June 3, 2024

Should Your District Include a Public Interview Process When Hiring a New Superintendent?

How to involve the community in your district's superintendent search.

Some school districts are choosing to involve the community in the superintendent search process by conducting finalist interviews in a public forum, a process made nearly effortless by the widespread use of virtual meeting platforms. By doing so, the selection process is clear to community stakeholders. In every community, the more transparent the board is, the happier the community.

In some instances, the board chooses to take it one step further, gathering feedback from the community in real time during the interview process, as South Sioux City Schools did in their recent search.

The Board narrowed the search to four finalists, who each had an opportunity to participate in the school community for a day, touring the district, and meeting with interest holders who had opportunities to question the candidates on issues of importance. Likewise, the candidates were able to assess the strengths and challenges of the district in order to reflect on how they might advance the educational community under their leadership.

The director of communications publicized the interview details to all parties with interest in the school community using all available outlets. In South Sioux City, candidates were assigned an interview time slot. Community participants were invited to share their thoughts on the assets a candidate could offer the district, along with questions and concerns they might have about a candidate. These responses were collected via a google form accessible to all audience members. After the interview, the anonymous public responses were sent directly to the school board for their consideration as they debriefed and narrowed the search to a final selection. It is important to note that while the board values community input, the decision on who to hire is ultimately the responsibility of the board.

While an open interview process can have some advantages, there are also disadvantages, namely the number of candidates the District can attract.  Chief Associate, Hank Gmitro writes about these pros and cons to open interviewing in his article: Community Transparency and Candidates Confidentiality

Mike Richie

HYA associate Dr. Mike Richie, has led numerous executive searches and has committed to serving over 38 years in education.

Mike Richie

HYA associate Dr. Mike Richie, has led numerous executive searches and has committed to serving over 38 years in education.

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HYA provides comprehensive and customizable consulting for district leaders and school boards.

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