How to Interview for a New Director

Interviewing a director candidate is a task that should be well-planned
Interviewing a director candidate is a task that should be well-planned (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hiring a professional director for any organization is a task that should not be taken lightly. A director needs excellent skills that will steer the organization toward success. Fiscal responsibility, leadership skills and experience are just three of the characteristics that any candidate for a director position should exhibit. The interview is an opportunity for a hiring organization to assess these qualities.

How to Interview for a New Director

Once resumes and applications are received, narrow the number of candidates selected for interviews. For example, choose the top five for the first round of interviews. This provides the opportunity for assessment of each candidate's potential. Using the job description for the position, determine 10 must-have qualities that your organization is looking for in the ideal candidate, and use this rubric to narrow the choices for the initial round of interviews. This step could be accomplished by the human resources department that generally accepts applications or resumes; by a board of directors, or by the person responsible for supervising the director to be hired. The human resources department should automatically weed out candidates whose resumes do not meet or exceed the desired qualifications.

Choose an interview team. It is customary to conduct team interviews for positions at this level. Depending upon the organization, the team might consist of a human resource director, or hiring manager; board members, individuals who will be supervised by the incoming director, and stakeholders outside of the organization. Ask the interview team to assist in developing a set of questions that will be asked of all candidates. This keeps the process fair and consistent.

Require a formal presentation from each candidate. Each candidate should address the same question or problem in his or her presentation. For example, if your organization is hiring a non-profit executive director, the question to address in the presentation might be "How can a non-profit organization remain viable in a weak economy?" Each interviewee presents his or her observations in the format of their choice. Score sheets can be devised to help the interview team evaluate each candidate's performance.

During the interview, provide an opportunity for each individual to share some information about his or her background, hobbies and interests. The presentation should be next on the agenda. Team members should listen to the presentation and evaluate the candidate's performance. Ask the candidate to elaborate on or clarify issues that need further explanation. Allow each person on the interview team to ask questions from the previously prepared list. Avoid questions perceived as discriminatory such as "Do you have children," "Are you married?" and "How old are you?" Interview team members should rate the candidate and provide comments about the interview.

Once all interviews have been conducted, the team should discuss the candidates and once again, narrow the field by selecting the top three. Deliberations should continue, comparing presentations, interview performance and observations to determine who would be the best candidate. If it is impossible to agree on one candidate, select the top two candidates to invite for a final interview.

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