Several weeks ago I mentioned that our college president had left for other pursuits. Since then there has been a nationwide search for a replacement, and I had the opportunity to sit on the search committee during the final stretch of interviews. Now I’ve had my share of jobs and have had numerous interviews in the process of getting those jobs. It’s always intimidating to sit in the hot seat, waiting to be evaluated and worrying that every word you say is the correct choice. It’s pressure. I’ve had a couple notable interviews over the years. One was at a rather large company where I was interviewing for an internal communications/marketing position. I had done everything I was taught to do at the time. Submit my application and follow up with the appropriate phone call/email or whatever. When I got to the HR department for my interview, I was called into a woman’s office. She had my application on her desk, and I noticed someone had written on it Why is she so persistent? I thought that was odd. Wasn’t persistence normally considered a good thing? I was then brought to the manager’s office for the next leg of the interview. The first thing he asked me was, Do I know you from somewhere? Have we met before? Um, no. Odd. Then he asked me a couple of mundane questions, followed by a discussion of cameras and whether I knew how to use one. That was it. I left wondering what the heck that was all about, and I DIDN’T follow up with a thank you note. I knew I didn’t want the job. I’m often considered a bit quirky, but that was beyond even my comfort zone. Another memorable interview I had was years ago at another college. Educational institutions like to hire by committee, so I was prepared for that when I showed up. What I wasn’t prepared for was a room with about 15 people around a huge conference table. After all, the position was not executive level. Trying to answer a question to a panel of that many faces was definitely intimidating. I wasn’t even sure where to look.
That’s why I found the interview process for our next president rather compelling. The candidates were all very impressive. The wealth of experience and the resumes were remarkable. And the ease with which most of them interacted with a large interview committee (more than 15 people) was extraordinary. I wished I could have spent time simply chatting with them one-on-one. I’m sure I could learn something notable from each of them. I love meeting people who are accomplished and charismatic and eloquent. It makes me want to emulate them. That’s what I believe good leaders should do. Make people aspire to be the best versions of themselves. And I think we picked some great final candidates who could do that. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had them to the college for open forums with staff, faculty, and the community. Today as I sat in one of the forums, I was newly impressed. It’s exciting to know that one of these candidates is our next president. And there are good things on the horizon. I’m thankful to have played a role in this process. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.