Williamstown City Manager’s Search Committee aims to select those interviewed this week / iBerkshires.com

The City Manager’s Research Advisory Committee met GovHR’s Michael Jaillet (middle row, right) last week via Zoom.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass .– The City Manager Search Advisory Committee plans to select candidates for an initial round of interviews this week.

Last week, the advisory group began defining the type of questions it wishes to ask, a process that co-chair Hugh Daley said he wanted to complete at the committee meeting on Tuesday.

Two days later, the committee will choose the interviewees from a list of candidates shortlisted by headhunting firm GovHR.

Daley said he hoped the research panel could conclude their interviews – which will be conducted in private – and decide on a shortlist of two to four candidates to recommend to the selection committee as early as Friday, October 8.

Time is running out – both because the city has not had a permanent city manager since the spring and because the pool of candidates is drying up, the committee was told at its September 21 meeting.

“We had 15 [candidates], and we are down to 10, mainly because people are taking other positions, ”said Michael Jaillet of GovHR. “I started on another [municipality’s] search with 14, and I’m at eight.

“My advice is this: let’s keep moving the process forward quickly. “

To that end, Daley presented his colleagues with a list of more than 30 potential questions that the city has asked in previous screening processes in the hopes of coming up with a dozen that could reasonably be asked in an interview. of one hour.

Committee members agreed that hyper-specificity in the questions could prevent thoughtful answers from candidates.

“You cannot ask for everything related to the job of general manager,” said Ngonidzashe Munemo. “That list, as we go through it, is this: Here’s everything a GM does. Even if we had infinite time, I don’t think a serious candidate would answer all the questions.

“Maybe it’s a time to go back to the job description we sent out and have questions that fit the priorities and not this long, endless list of things because I don’t think that’s going to get any information. helpful candidates – certainly not in an hour. “

Abigail Reifsnyder agreed, suggesting that the committee frame its questions around some of the broad themes that emerged from a survey of community members that the research committee conducted this summer: financial management, transparency, leadership skills and work on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Myself and many in our community would be interested in the experience our candidates have had in promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the city’s workforce,” said Jose Constantine. “And could they explain why the values ​​of diversity and inclusiveness are important.”

Melissa Cragg, who chairs the city’s finance committee, said she felt the search committee alone couldn’t cover financial management issues in an hour with each candidate. She asked if the committee could ask candidates for sample budgets they’ve worked on in the past or Powerpoint presentations they’ve used to present budgets to get a feel for how candidates think about these concerns.

Jaillet recommended that the search committee ask questions related to finances and ask applicants to submit a page or two of written answers on the topic.

Daniel Gura suggested that the question could be framed as a hypothesis to understand the candidates’ thinking process.

“One question I would suggest is what the city manager should answer for us each year: what steps would you take to start your budgeting process,” Gura said. “I’m just making this up. Or, we could say, ‘We’re looking at doing bond financing, what are the things you would think of to start this process.’ I think there are real world questions we could ask without making them too specific. “

Andrew Art, who recently joined the search committee as a representative of the city’s diversity, inclusion and racial equity committee (an appointment to be confirmed by the board of directors on Monday evening ), suggested that applicants be invited to read and respond to a city-commissioned resource audit this year.

Daley asked if it was reasonable to expect candidates in an initial round of interviews to be aware of a 91-page audit report.

“I feel like we’re operating in a market where, if we were to say to someone, ‘We want you to take three standardized tests to apply for this job,’ they’d say, ‘You know what? I have three other offers. , ‘”Daley said.” Is this the market we’re in, Mike? “

Consultant GovHR responded that the city may run the risk of being too demanding of applicants at this point in the process.

“You have a situation where people apply for a lot of jobs, and a lot of them have jobs that they’re doing as well,” Jaillet said. “Depending on how much they want to come here, you might lose candidates if you ask too much of them. “

Art responded that the next city manager will have to implement changes based on the audit of Andover’s human resources departments, so it might be useful to know how they react to some of the recommendations there.

Daley said he would prepare a new draft of questions based on the committee’s comments for its Tuesday meeting, when he hopes to come up with a final list of questions to use in the interviews.

Once the search committee votes on its list of finalists to recommend, GovHR will confirm that applicants are interested in moving on to the second round, where they would be questioned publicly by the selection committee.

The board aims to complete their interviews and come up with the job in time for a CEO to be in place to work on the FY2023 budget.

Key words: research committee,

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