The NAIS Head Search Handbook


The NAIS Head Search Handbook will help your board and search committee master the process of finding the best new leader for your school. This updated guide covers all the crucial steps, from thinking deeply about your school’s needs to smoothing the transition between your departing head and your new one. Written by experienced educators and search professionals, it considers the topic from the unique perspective of independent schools.


The contents of The NAIS Head Search Handbook include:

Creating a Firm Foundation for the Future

  • Thinking Strategically About Your School Today and Tomorrow
  • Assessing Your School’s Needs
  • Choosing the Search Chair and Getting Started

Knowing Your Options, Setting the Stage, and Starting the Search

  • Engaging the Community
  • Considering an Interim Head of School
  • Deciding Whether or Not to Work With a Search Firm
  • Profiling the Position and Creating the Prospect Pool

Broadening the Candidate Pool and Mitigating Bias

  • What Research Tells Us About Improving Diversity in the Talent Pool
  • Types of Bias and How to Reduce Them in the Search Process

Evaluating Semifinalists

  • Staying Strategic While Narrowing the Applicant Pool
  • Using Assessment Tools to Identify Leadership Potential
  • Evaluating Cultural Competence

Closing the Deal

  • Making the Choice
  • The Legalities of Reference Checks and Other Types of Screening
  • Setting Compensation and Building the Contract

Saying Goodbye and Hello

  • Smoothing the Transition
  • The Transition Committee
  • Cementing the Partnership Between the Chair and Head
  • Succession Planning for Next Time


  • Overview of the Search Process
  • Interview Questions for Prospective Search Consultants
  • Sample Position Description
  • Sample Reference Questions
  • Sample Term Sheet
  • Sample Transition Timetable
  • Sample Head of School Announcement
  • Sample Charge and First-year Goals for a New Head of School
View a PDF of the NAIS Book Catalog here.