Hiring A Headmaster

Hiring A Headmaster
Hiring a headmaster is one of a board of trustees' most important jobs. Here's how one search firm handles the hiring process.

Douglas Halladay heads The Halladay Group, a consulting firm which specializes in all aspects of private school operations. We asked him how to advise a board of trustees on a headmaster search. Here are his answers.

We aggressively seek candidates for you who combine strong administrative skills and outstanding management abilities with dynamic leadership experience. Included below is the model that we utilize.

Step 1: Initial Meeting

During our first meeting with the client, we review your organization regarding the position to be filled. We also seek to understand the organization's environment, which includes learning about the culture, norms, philosophy, history, work atmosphere, and personalities of the people and community this person will work for and with, as well as coming to know what causes individual success or failure at this organization and thoroughly understanding the vision of the organization. If confidentiality allows, we spend time with the supervisor and peers of the position in order to determine the management's style and personality. Since our goal is to find someone in whom the community will have confidence, both in ability and in style, this part of the process is crucial.

This video outlines the hiring process involved with hiring education professionals.

Step 2: Position Profile

HEG next prepares a Position Profile that describes the client organization, details the nature of the position, the key issues facing the new leader, and the qualities and experience possessed by the ideal candidate. This document, once approved by the client, serves as the primary instrument to communicate the opportunity during the search process.

Step 3: Exploration of Candidates

We begin identifying sources and candidates. We access our database of potential candidates or sources likely to provide leads, utilize a variety of reference materials including directories and association membership lists, and gather names from our broad network of related contacts. We also stay current with electronic methods of information gathering, including the internet, and various specialized databases.

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Step 4: Identification of Prospective Candidates

We then proceed with an exhaustive exploration from our sources to identify potential candidates who meet the criteria in our Position Profile. This step includes sending copies of the Position Profile to the 100-300 people on our "target" mailing list, with phone calls to follow up on high-potential sources or candidates, and strategic advertising.

Step 5: Short Listing Candidates

As resumes are received in response to our mailings and phone calls, we begin the narrowing-down process. Through in-depth interviews, HEG reduces the pool of prospective candidates to those with sufficient potential to warrant a personal interview with the selection committee. During these exploratory interviews, each candidate is evaluated against the criteria set out in the Position Profile. Other areas explored include the candidate's level of interest in the position, compensation requirements, career goals, and the geographical/cultural fit for the candidate and his/her family with the position's locale.

Step 6: Candidate Profile Preparation

Four to Six references are typically checked for each candidate we expect to present, including superiors, peers, and staff who reported to the candidate. Educational degrees are also verified at this time. Before presentation to the client, we prepare the Candidate's Profile, which includes the candidate's resume, career progression, initial interview, and an evaluation of his/her overall fit for the position. This process will reduce the potential of having to remove a candidate from eligibility once presented to the client.

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Step 7: Candidate Introduction to Client & Preliminary Client Interviews

The three to five most highly qualified candidates are introduced to the client, and interviews are conducted by their committee. HEG then follows up with the client and then each candidate for feedback after the interviews are completed to ensure that all-important issues are identified. As needed, HEG assists in any clarification or problem resolution between candidates and the client.

Step 8: 2nd Candidate Interview with Client

After the initial interview process, the client may wish to interview the top one or two candidates a second time. After determining the preferred candidate(s), additional stakeholders may join the Search Committee and interview the candidate, in order to gain additional input leading to a final decision.

Step 9: Offer & Negotiations

Our clients often ask HEG to assist in structuring the contract and compensation package. HEG also acts as a facilitator to resolve issues such as relocation, severance agreements, etc. After the client makes the offer, HEG seeks the candidate's response. If there is any hesitation in the candidate accepting the offer, we help resolve any problems that might prevent the offer from being accepted. Acting as the neutral "go-between" during the offer period helps prevent any breakdown in communication during the "courtship" and decreases the potential for misunderstandings between the client and the candidate. Once the candidate has accepted the offer, HEG talks with the candidate in order to minimize any apprehensions or questions that may arise regarding the new position and to avoid the development of any other situations that might cause the candidate to change his/her mind.

Step 10: Follow-up

HEG periodically follows-up with our client and the newly placed candidate during the first year after the completion of the search. If both can say that things are going well and there haven't been any negative surprises, then we know that we have accomplished our job.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @privateschoolreview

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