The cicadas are buzzing, the city is re-opening, and it’s that time of year where we sadly say “so long” to AIGA DC’s departing board members — and excitedly welcome their incoming successors.
Our chapter’s leadership is committed to making our recruitment process as transparent and inclusive as possible, including sharing this view into how we work. We do this so applicants know how to best prepare, but also so our community can have a voice in the process. If you have feedback, questions, or suggestions regarding recruitment, please email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always building upon and improving this process.
Forming a Recruitment Committee
Our first step in the search for new board members was to form a Recruitment Committee. This group was made up of nine returning chapter board members, two departing board members, one advisory board member and one chapter member. Their task was to help evaluate the process and then propose a slate of new candidates to fill the 5 to 7 open board roles for the upcoming year.
We also made some changes to the process based on recommendations from AIGA National, including incorporating a public slate (more on that later)!
Building off past years’ approaches, this year’s process fell into three parts:
- Outreach and Application Collection
- Independent Review & Evaluation
The committee helped develop the process, and then participated in two training sessions to ensure a fair review and evaluation of the applications.
Outreach and Application Collection
Our objective with outreach was to ensure local prospective board members knew which positions were open, how to apply, and what to expect of the overall process. We published a list of the open roles on our website and across our social media platforms and provided the full list of application questions in advance, allowing individuals adequate time to prepare before submitting the online form.
In an effort to bring more voices and perspectives into the room, we both took nominations from the community and encouraged individuals to apply themselves.
One week before the application deadline, we hosted a public Info Session (with a live transcriber present), where a small group of current board members candidly answered questions about the board structure, how we work, available roles and the selection process.
Independent Review & Evaluation
After the application period closed, each member of the Recruitment Committee reviewed and scored a set of applications.
Reviewers were asked to rate the applications across five categories:
- Skills: How well does this person match the job description and have the skills to execute the role(s) they are interested in? If the person is applying for multiple roles, average the score.
- Perspective: How much additional perspective will this person bring to the board either from their background, interests, or area of knowledge?
- Spirit: How much support has this person provided to the design community, other communities, or others in the past?
- Accountability: Based on your review of this person’s resume, how accountable do you believe they are?
- Innovation: How likely is this person to bring new ideas to the board?
To ensure consistency across reviewers, the evaluators used the following criteria for grading each applicant in each category:
- 1 = Novice: New to the subject or not bringing any novel ideas or background
- 2 = Intermediate: Has some knowledge or skill but little applied experience
- 3 = Proficient: Has practical application of skills or knowledge on the subject
- 4 = Distinguished: A high performance level of experience and brings some new perspective
- 5 = Mastery: Has expertise and repeated experience in their subject matter, including novel ideas and background
Scores were submitted privately, so one evaluator couldn’t sway another’s scoring.
Each application was reviewed by at least four members of the Recruitment Committee, so each person ended up reviewing about eight applications. We avoided having anyone review an application of a candidate they knew personally or professionally to avoid any conflicts of interest. All applicants were evaluated on the basis of what they provided within their application alone.
The results of the scoring provided objective data points, but was only a starting place for a broader discussion among the committee. After extensive conversation during the first deliberation, the committee selected 15 candidates to move on to the interview.
The STAR Method is a type of behavioral-based interview structure, where candidates respond to questions by discussing the Situation or Task they had to resolve, the Actions they took, and the Results that were achieved. Each candidate was asked the same questions, which allows for a structured data-gathering process for the interviewers.
This form of behavioral-based interviewing is based on discovering how the candidate acted in specific position-related situations. Candidates were asked questions related to the skills and responsibilities outlined in position descriptions. Instead of asking how the candidate would behave in an imaginary situation, interviewers asked how they behaved in a past experience.
Additionally, and most importantly, by asking a set of standardized interview questions, the likelihood of personal bias in the interview panel is reduced and candidates are assessed on a much more even playing field, making behavioral-based interviewing an integral part of diversity, equity and inclusion practices.
The committee wrote four STAR Method questions for the interviews that aligned with our scoring rubric’s themes of Accountability, Collaboration, Spirit and Innovation. The candidates received information about the STAR Method prior to the interviews. During the interviews, each candidate was asked the same four questions in one-on-one sessions with interview panels. This ensured every candidate had an equal chance to give their responses and allowed the interview panels to accurately collect the data shared during the conversations.
Final Deliberation and Selection
After the interviews, the committee gathered for several hours for the final deliberation. They reviewed and discussed the interviews and revisited the applications.
As a final group of candidates was narrowed down, the committee also looked at the new candidates and the returning board as a group, to ensure the board represented as diverse a mix of individual identities, geographies, experience, and industries within the broad umbrella of “design” as possible.
The committee proposed a slate of seven candidates to AIGA DC’s current Board of Directors. During the May 2021 Board Meeting, this slate was unanimously approved by the current board.
This multi-phase recruitment process took about five months, and we’re not quite done yet. The last step in selecting our new board members to serve on the 2021-2022 AIGA DC Board of Directors involves our AIGA DC Members. This week all active AIGA DC Members will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed slate of new board members.
This was our second all-virtual recruitment, and the first time we’ve used the STAR Method during the board selection. The committee did retrospectives after each phase to get feedback for upcoming phases and for future years, from streamlining processes to improving the ways we communicate.
Overall, this process was lengthy and time-consuming for the committee, but created a more equitable selection structure for the future board members. In the end, the committee felt confident in their final selection, and that the new members will bring their skills and passion to building this community to the board. But we’ll end by opening the door once more for your feedback — if you have any questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.