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Hyattsville Administrator Hiring Process Gets Rolling Again

Council, human resources director, tasked with arranging interviews with selected candidates for top city staff job.

After a pause in momentum, Hyattsville's city leaders are now set to arrange interviews with candidates for Hyattsville's long vacant city administrator position. 

Chris Vermillion, human resources director for the city of Hyattsville, will be calling back applicants who have been highly ranked by the city administrator hiring committee to see if they are still interested in and available for the job. 

Hyattsville has been without a city administrator since October 2011 when Gregory Ross resigned the post which he held for less than a year. 

City officials didn't post the vacancy until May 2012. By the middle of July they had more than 60 "viable resumes" according to Vermillion. Then the city administrator hiring committee whittled that down to 15 candidates for further review. Four applicants backed out, but by mid November, Vermillion said that the 11 remaining candidates had been assessed. 

According to Vermillion, not much progress has happened with the city administrator hiring process between the middle of November, when the assessments of the 11 remaining candidates were completed, and Monday, when city council gave Vermillion direction on how to proceed. 

Vermillion explained that this lull in progress was the result of shifting focus to completing the hire of the new municipal clerk, Laura Reams, who began working for the city this month, and progress towards selecting a an applicant for the vacant Department of Public Works directorship. 

Now, Vermillion is to call back the six highest rated candidates and ask if they are still interested in and available for the position. If five or more are still available, the applicants will be reviewed by the hiring committee to decide who to interview. If four or less are still available, Vermillion will proceed to arrange an interview process with each of the candidates. 

However they get there, the final candidates selected for in person interviews will be subjected to a three-phase interview process consisting of a brief interview with the full city council, a "mock community meeting", and a "mock staff meeting". 

During the city council meeting, Vermillion suggested that each council member be able to ask each applicant three questions. That's 33 questions, potentially, each applicant could face. Questions would have to be approved, and a method to determine the order of inquisition–such as by drawing lots–would have to be determined. At this point, the city council would have the power to unanimously strike any candidate from progressing to the next two stages.

Those applicants that advance beyond the council interviews would be asked to participate in a mock community meeting facilitated by a city staff member to discuss a topic to be determined. 

The meeting would be attended by a select group of volunteers, particularly "longtime residents who are active in the community, local business owners," according to a memo from Vermillion to the city council. Those volunteers selected to participate in the mock community meeting would then provide feedback to the city council about each candidate. 

Vermillion's memo proposed that the city council not participate in the mock community meeting, but that it would be filmed for later review by the city council. 

Vermillion proposed that candidates also go through a mock staff meeting, roughly one hour in length, allowing the candidate to take questions from staff and ask questions to staff. Questions would have to be approved and follow up questions would have to be limited. Staff would then be asked to provide feedback to the city council either in closed session or in writing.

Shani December 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Quick corrections: if more than 4 of the 6 top candidates are still interested, the selection committee which originally ranked the candidates will meet (probably in the first week of January) to whittle the number down to 4 or fewer to go through the involved interview process, the new city clerk is Laura Reams (not Reims).
Michael Theis December 19, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Thanks for that note. I've edited the article to reflect those errors.

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