Our Search process

Since the inception of Northwest Leadership Associates, we worked hard to develop a search protocol that finds the appropriate balance between meaningful involvement of key stakeholders while maintaining final decision-making authority of the board of directors. We initiate the search by meeting with key stakeholder groups, individuals, and board members to gather input on the needs of the district and the criteria the board should use in making the final selection. Our process provides ample opportunities for participation and input from all interested patrons.

Development of the Leadership Profile

The Leadership Profile developed at the outset of the search process becomes the guiding document in evaluating candidates and making the final selection decision. As indicated in the search outline, we will facilitate the development of the leadership profile through:

  • conducting an on-line survey inviting input from all interested staff and community members,
  • holding focus group meetings with key stakeholder groups, including both community members and district staff, and
  • meeting individually with each board member.

Based upon this input, we will create a draft of the leadership profile and selection criteria for the review, revision, and approval of the board of directors.

Advertising and candidate recruitment

We will develop an email-based vacancy brochure for the search that outlines the leadership challenges and selection criteria identified by the board, along with a profile of the district and other information of importance to prospective candidates for the position. We will email the brochure to over three thousand five hundred school districts and individuals in our database, which includes superintendents, assistant superintendents, university professors, and professional association executives. At the direction of the board, we will also produce a direct, targeted list for the vacancy brochure that will be emailed to over several hundred individuals in our consultants individual databases. We will list the opening on appropriate state and national websites. With approval from the board, we can place advertisements in appropriate national publications including Education Week and the School Administrator magazine. Most important, we will conduct aggressive one-to-one recruiting efforts with individuals we believe are qualified candidates for the position.

Candidate analysis and screening

Northwest Leadership Associates will conduct preliminary reference checks on all qualified candidates. We will contact references identified by the candidate and, more importantly, other individuals who are familiar with the past work of the candidate. Once the field of candidates has been narrowed to those to be invited for interviews, we will encourage board members to make additional reference checks. We will provide a rubric for analyzing the qualifications of each candidate in relationship to the criteria developed at the outset of the search. Variations of the rubric will be used in the candidate screening process to evaluate interviews and to assist in reaching the final decision.

The interview process

We typically recommend a two-round interview process. The preliminary interviews of six to eight candidates should be open to the public. The board will conduct these interviews, and those attending will be invited to provide feedback prior to the board executive session to select those candidates to be invited to return for the final interviews. We will also recommend the board appoint an Interview Observer Committee composed of 20 to 24 individuals representing a cross section of the staff and community. This group will be charged with attending all of the preliminary interviews and completing a more extensive input process based on the specific criteria developed as part of the Leadership Profile.

During the final interviews, candidates will hold open forums with the staff and community, and these forums will include open question-and-answer sessions. Again, feedback from those in attendance will be solicited prior to the board's executive session to evaluate the candidates. The final decision will be made by the board in open session, as required by Washington State law.

Underrepresented Groups

Northwest Leadership Associates embraces diversity and welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups., in order to promote that key leadership positions in schools and organizations have the best, most diverse talent. Northwest Leadership Associates works with leaders and policy developers to ensure representation in key educational leadership positions by members of underrepresented groups. We consistently encourage an objective, measurable selection process based on relevant qualifications, free of discrimination. Our team of search consultants include a diverse group of individuals. We are very proud of our experience in placing women and candidates representing diversity into key superintendent positions. Last year, 28% of the successful superintendent candidates in searches led by Northwest Leadership Associates were female and 14% were Black or Latino.