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How To Interview Tourism Finalists?



How and when to interview final candidates for tourism director took up much of the Nov. 15 joint Tourism Advisory Council/Tourism Tax Commission meeting.

City Administrator Happy Welch informed the group that 18 applications had been received for the position, vacant since Jeff Wix resigned in early August.

A task force or committee had been formed to handle the initial interview process, with the finalists being brought before the entire joint group.

The topic was examined again during this meeting.

Welch said five people have emerged as the most serious candidates. He was in the process of reaching out to them to set up interviews. He said so far he had reached two of them and both had sounded enthusiastic about continuing the process.

The task force, consisting of Welch, Nichole French, Laura Oliver and Dena Kreitler, will interview the five candidates on Nov. 29. The top two – or possibly three – will then meet with the joint group in a closed meeting on Dec. 6.

It was finally agreed that the finalists would essentially audition at that meeting. That is, each will make a 10-15-minute presentation, after which the group will ask each one additional questions.

It turned out that not all the members had interpreted Welch’s suggestions the same way. They entered the meeting with differing ideas about what was planned for the December meeting – which the group agreed to move up from Dec. 20 to Dec. 6.

Kreitler expressed concern that it might be intimidating for the finalists to have to come in and face grilling from 12 or 13 people.

“Do we want 12 people to interview two people?” Kreitler asked.

“I think it would be structured, though,” Susie Johnson said. “Just because there are 12 people in the room doesn’t mean we’re all asking questions.”

Mike Fallert suggested that it would be more an opportunity for each of the finalists “to talk to the committee about whom they are and what they would like to do in the position.”

Kreitler felt it would be a daunting task for the applicants.

“If I were the person interviewing and I’m sitting on a panel with 12 or 13 people, I’d be, like, ‘What is happening?’” she said.

“But that’s what that job’s going to be,” Johnson replied. “They’re going to deal with this group; they’re going to deal with eight aldermen and a mayor. I think it’s a great try-out just to see how they act with all people in the room.”