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The executive leadership in an organization should exemplify the culture and mission they expect to see their coworkers represent. It’s not always easy finding the right leaders, but once the necessary steps are taken, the organization is primed to thrive.

For more insight into how to identify the right fit for an executive leadership position, we spoke with Alli Miles, the human resources recruiting director for the Treasure Valley Family YMCA in Boise, Idaho, about their interviewing process and what they look for in potential executive directors.

What do you look for in a candidate’s application?

AM: Certainly functional expertise — experience supervising and leading a large team and significant-sized budgets, as well as experience with engaging a community. Since we are a non-profit, we look for experience with volunteerism and philanthropy.

What do you look for during an interview?

AM: I would say above all else, an understanding and connection to the YMCA’s cause and mission is critical.

Are there certain questions you ask during interviews?

AM: All of our questions are behavior-based questions. We ask questions for each competency we’re looking for. Something we ask regularly — again, because we are a non-profit — are questions around how a leader has motivated others to engage in fundraising activities, as well as how they develop a philanthropic culture within their organization.

Along with that, we ask a lot of questions about how they develop their team, since succession planning is also pretty important to us. We’re really looking for leaders who can develop the next wave of leaders underneath them.

What advice do you have to offer someone looking to pursue an executive director role?

AM: I would say do your research and network. I know when we’re looking at resumés — again, going back to a connection to our cause and our mission — it’s important that they’ve done their research. That shows in their cover letter and resumé. It also shows that they’ve reached out to others within the organization to gain an understanding of exactly who we are and what we’re about — so they’re educated about the job and organization before they even get to an interview.

If I had to boil it down to four main things we look for, it would be:

  1. Advancing our mission and our cause.
  2. Relationship building.
  3. Developing and inspiring people.
  4. Ability to lead operations.
Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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