Bremerton mayor opts for an expanded interview process for PW directorDecember 20th, 2011 by Steven Gardner
More than a week ago four candidates for Bremerton’s vacant public works director position came to Bremerton to undergo an interview process unlike others from the city’s recent past.
Two of the candidates were here from Colorado. The other two were from this state. City staff members, city council members and others made up four interview panels each candidate had to face. Those panels shared their feedback with the mayor.
The four candidates also took part in a public reception in the evening. Ultimately, Katy Allen was hired.
I received two complaints from residents about the process. Both said it was too big an expense during tough economic times, especially when the city at that time was proposing layoffs for utility employees. I asked the Mayor Patty Lent about that. She said it was a process she and the other county commissioners employed when she was doing that job. As for the expense, she said it was part of the contract the city had with Prothman to have this kind of interview event.
It is not the first time I have seen one like this. On Bainbridge Island the city hosted four candidates for police chief when Matt Haney ultimately got the job. Times were better then, but the complaint I heard that time around was it seemed a pointless process when it seemed the mayor there was intent on hiring Haney. He did get the job. His runner up, Alex Perez from the Inglewood, Calif. Police Department, was eventually hired in Longview, where he worked for seven years.
Cecil McConnell, a city councilman who was one of those on the interview panels, said the process was probably a long one for the candidates, but he seemed to like that he saw the candidates and was able to personally compare them. He eventually thought two of them, including Allen, would be great hires.
At the same time, I would say in my experience in looking for work I expected there to be a competitive process to be the candidate ultimately picked. The game changes when there is travel involved. I was turned down for lots of jobs when I interviewed close to home. I went six for six in the jobs I traveled for. (By that I mean I traveled for six interviews and was offered jobs at all six.) The point there is not to brag, though I am kind of proud of that record, it’s to show that in my experience a company doesn’t have someone travel into town if the job doesn’t seem certain. At the executive level (I think a public works director is way more executive than a beat reporter) it may be less likely.
What are your thoughts? Was this a good use of money? The candidates were viewed side-by-side before one was hired. It seems like that would be useful. Do you think it’s worth the extra expense, or should the mayor have arrived at this point without it?