Council takes new approach to hiring

Meeting to gather residents' desired city manager qualities

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 3 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information

Agenda

3 p.m. Interviews for the City Manager Search Committee

6 p.m. Community meeting to gather information, suggestions, qualities and other information pertaining to the type of individual residents would like to see in the next city manager

— Roger Good is showing the Steamboat Springs City Council a new way to hire a city manager.

Good, a management consultant and former executive with a Fortune 500 company, is volunteering his time to coach council on the tenets of structured behavioral interviewing, which is based on the idea that a job candidate's past performance provides the best forecast of his or her future performance.

In the past, Good said, the city has relied on situational questions in interviewing finalists for the city manager position. The difference, according to a definition used by the Washington State Department of Personnel, is that "structured behavioral interview questions are built around specific incidents that have happened rather than hypothetical situations. The questions ask candidates to describe what they have actually done, as opposed to what they would do in a given situation."

Good said one benefit of the behavioral interview style is that it allows employers to ask for references to back up a job candidate's claims.

"Situational is great," Good said during his second meeting with council Monday. "Behavioral is awesome. It puts the applicant on the hot seat, but you learn an awful lot. ... In a hypothetical, there are no proof points."

Good has been working with City Council to identify members' top priorities in the next city manager and to formulate questions that will help them ascertain whether a candidate possesses those qualities. City staff and the City Manager Search Committee will do the same.

Council members thanked Good for the donation of his time to "hone their skills." Council President Loui Antonucci referred to the process of hiring a city manager as "a real art."

"And it makes it more of an art when you have seven hiring managers," Good replied in reference to the seven-member City Council.

Former City Manager Alan Lanning reached a severance agreement with the City Council in July. Today, the council will spend three hours interviewing 20 candidates for the City Manager Search Committee. They will choose five residents, who will join one city staff member on the committee that, along with an executive search firm, will help the city select its next city manager. After its interviews, the council will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. to gather residents' input on what they would like to see in the next city manager.

Also this week, at noon Thursday, the council will receive an update from Phil McKenney of executive search firm Peckham & McKenney. Today, Wednesday and Thursday, McKenney is interviewing council members and other government and business officials throughout Routt County.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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