Of the three C's of NRECA's strategic planning (Competitiveness, Community, and Competence), one of the actions that must be undertaken to enhance Competence is ensuring that boards can implement an effective approach when selecting a new general manager. The key aspects of candidate characteristics, interview preparation and conducting the interview are addressed.
Getting to the interview
Before talking to interested candidates, the board should have a clear picture in mind of the kind of manager it's looking for and invite to the interview those candidates who appear to best meet the position qualifications. For candidates you're never met, the resume provides a window into their qualifications, character and personality. Background information supplied in a confidential manner by others who know them well will either verify or contradict the claims of the resume.
A resume that seems much too thick may reveal someone who is very long-winded by nature, or someone trying to make up for some deficiency. Candidates who lack much formal education may try to distract the board by filling the resume with copies of certificates, commendations, job descriptions and such. A poorly organized resume, or one that doesn't provide all of the necessary information, may speak volumes about the candidate. Can you easily track the career path of the candidate, or are there unexplained gaps in their work history?
Come to the interview prepared
Prior to the interview, send helpful information to all candidates such as financial data like the year-end REA Form 7, copies of the last two or three annual reports, policies on board-manager relationships and functions, Chamber of Commerce brochures on the area, organizational charts or other information that would give the candidates a better understanding of the cooperative and the community.
Take note of the candidate who did not study carefully the material that was sent. Serious candidates will not only study the material, they will also be comfortable discussing specifics such as how the cooperative's financial ratios have changed over time. You will find that some candidates can even discuss these matters without referring to notes. Others will have prepared sophisticated computer reports based on your data. Whatever the response, it is usually a good insight to their communication skills. Listen for frequent comments like "I don't know what your cooperative does about..." The wise candidate will tell you...