OCMA is the leading organization in the State of Ohio promoting and developing excellence in local government.   OCMA’s mission is to promote excellence in local government management and encourage personal and professional growth of local government administrators. 


Download a full copy of OCMA’s Guide for the Recruitment and Selection of a Chief Administrative Officer


Recuitment Guide


The Recruitment Process 

Recruiting a local government administrator who directly oversees the day to day operations of a local government can be a challenging task.   Further, the  quality of the recruitment process can directly influence the number and quality of candidates who apply for an open position.   

Professional administrators can come from different backgrounds but a common denominator should be adherence to a framework of standards and practices which assure an understanding of the relationship the new hire is to have to policy, politics and administration. 

The process of a search can be undertaken by two methods: internally or with the help/ guidance of a municipal executive search firm. Municipal executive search firms are professional organizations dedicated to the placement of executives in the private and public sector. With either option, the search process will be expedited if an internal search committee is established to handle some of the logistics of the search.


Develop A Position Profile

A profile of the skills, experience, training and qualities of the position should be developed by the governing body. It is extremely important that the applicant and the mayor/council clearly understand what the duties and responsibilities of the manager or administrator are to be.  

Initially, position profiles should identify what’s most important to the hiring body including the working relationship members expect to have with the new administrator.  From the profile, applicants should be able to determine if they are a good fit for the job and focus their preparation.  An inclusive process, including senior staff and significant stakeholders, should be used to define the issues foreseen for the new administrator. 

A sample administer profile can be found in the OCMA Recruitment Guide.



Ohio law no longer allows residency requirements in local government charters. If residency within the municipality is desired, clearly state this in the advertisement. Thought should be given to define if the local government is open to candidates living outside of the jurisdiction which will broaden the pool of potential candidates.  If residency is desired, it should be discussed whether the elected body is open to a period of transition during which a successful candidate may live outside the community.   


Ohio Open Records Law 

The Ohio courts and Attorney General have ruled that job applications are considered public records upon receipt, whether they are received by the local government, a search committee, or a consultant.  As such, the public as well as the news media can request copies of that information (it may be redacted for the privacy information as per State law).  Recognition of this should be included in any posted job announcement.


It is important the entire hiring body interview all proposed interviewees. Questions intended to test the candidate’s reaction to issues raised in the profile should be prepared in advance and asked of all candidates. After each interview panel members should be asked to record their reactions but not hold an extensive discussion of each candidate until all candidates have been interviewed.

Without a strong consensus of an ideal candidate, each member of the governing body may have a different vision of the “perfect” candidate.   Interview biases are also important to recognize.  Interviewers may prefer candidates that are most similar to themselves in terms of style or background.   This may result in a first-impression or confirmation bias in interviews that diminishes the needs of the organization.  

A sample set of questions, an interview evaluation form, as well as interview “do’s” and “don’ts” are included in the full OCMA Recruitment Guide.  


“OCMA believes a local government form which defines roles for political leaders, but calls for policy execution and administration to be in the hands of a professional, is a preferred approach for Ohio local government.”


Appointments & Contracts

When the hiring body has tentatively selected its preferred candidate, there are still several decisions that need to be made. Someone from the hiring body may wish to visit the candidate’s present  local government in order to speak personally with people there about the administrator’s performance. The results of this exploration should be shared with all members of the selection process. 

If a finalist is selected and tentatively agrees to be hired, a contract should be prepared reflecting the terms and conditions agreed upon with the finalist for his or her review.  Because of the at-will nature of administrator positions, contracts with Administrators are common.

Other finalists should not be rejected until the hiring body has reached agreement with its top candidate, and the hiring body should refrain from any announcement until an agreement is finalized.  Negotiations between the government and its top candidate can occasionally break down, requiring the hiring body to turn to its second choice.