Executive Director Recruitment

Updated: Jun 13

Coming to a group decision on who will be the next leader of your non-profit organization can be tough! It helps to have an outside expert lead the group through a well thought out process to ultimately find the right fit for the job. At Fortress and Flourish, this is the system we use to facilitate ED recruitment with the hiring committee.





Kick Off

The first step is to finalize the members of the hiring committee and to review the recruitment and hiring process with them. According to the organization's timeline, we go over a regular schedule for meeting. Typically I recommend getting together every two weeks for discussion and approval of next steps.


Approve Job Description and Recruitment Plan

Next we make sure that the job description is correct and up to date. We determine the starting salary for the position and any benefits that will be promoted as part of the job ad. We approve when and where the job will be posted and any additional efforts we will take to recruit for the position (such as reaching out to personal/professional contacts, requesting the job ad be included in newsletters, etc).


Approve Interview & Reference Questions

Next we make sure that the interview questions for screening interviews and panel interviews, and reference questions meet the expectations of the committee. We start with a standard set of interview questions and adjust them as needed and requested by the committee. This often means that we adjust the questions to fit the specifics of the organization. All of this happens before interviews begin so that we are sure that we are gathering the right information from the candidates.


Should the hiring committee also want to include key competencies for the panel interviews, these are discussed at this time. Key competencies are other topic areas that committee members may find helpful in determining who is the most qualified fit for the position. They can include things like a local preference, a minority preference, or other qualities.


Screening Interviews

Fortress and Flourish handles all the screening interviews. We interview not just for qualifications but for person/job fit. All the top candidates are forwarded to the hiring committee with resumes and interview notes for their consideration. Candidates who are given the thumbs up from the hiring committee are then scheduled for panel interviews. Typically there are 3 - 5 finalists who move on to panel interviews.


Reference Checks

Fortress and Flourish handles all the reference checks for candidates scheduled for panel interviews. This means calling each candidate's references and asking all the approved reference questions. All this information is compiled and shared with the hiring committee before final deliberation.


Panel Interview

Fortress and Flourish handles all communication related to scheduling panel interviews. The panel interviews are conducted with each finalist with as many members of the hiring committee as possible. Committee members take turns asking the approved set of interview questions and rate each candidate on their response. We use a scale of 1 - 4: 1 doesn't meet expectations, 2 meets expectations, 3 exceeds expectations, 4 outstanding. This scale requires what is called a "forced choice", not allowing members to select a middle number and helps to facilitate later discussion on the candidate's qualifications.


This is the most time intensive part of the process for the committee members. Fortress and Flourish helps to keep things simple by determining availability ahead of time and keeping everyone to schedule.


Deliberation & Board Approval

The goal of deliberation is to decide on which candidate will be offered the position, and the details of the job offer. Depending on the will of the committee and the quality of candidates, this step can happen in a variety of ways. We typically start with a report of the committee's candidate ratings. This includes highest points and averages across categories for comparison. Next we can move on to a general discussion of the candidates positive and negative qualities or the committee members can rank their top three picks.


Once the top candidate is chosen, we then move on to the job offer. The details needed in order to move forward are typically the start date, starting compensation and sometimes details about the benefits being offered.


Depending on the board by-laws, we may go to the board for approval before sending the job offer. If the board does not need to approve the offer but just needs to approve the candidate once the offer is accepted.


Job Offer

Almost the final step is when we send the job offer to the candidate. This is typically sent to the candidate by the Chair of the Board of Directors (typically also the Chair of the Hiring Committee). Fortress and Flourish remains in communication during this time to help facilitate negotiation of the job offer.


Once the offer is accepted we follow up by notifying the hiring committee and board as appropriate. Celebration time!!


Want to learn more about the Wholistic approach to HR, the framework that I have used with 100s of clients to help them attract and keep the best staff? Check out the free Guide to Wholistic Human Resources.



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