The council eventually picked Bob Murray and Associates, the same firm that recruited City Manager Kevin Duggan, who is retiring in May after 20 years in Mountain View. Duggan is considered by many to be a hard act to follow.
Word of Duggan's retirement has already spread — one of the firms that was not picked already had five applicants for the job, Siegel said.
"Because the city is already in such good shape, a lot of people will want to work here," he said.
The selection process may take until June, which means there will be an interim city manager for at least a month. Siegel said it may not make sense to hire someone outside of the city to learn the job for such a short time, which means the new assistant city manager, Melissa Stevenson Dile, would briefly take the helm. Since joining the city Sept. 7, Dile has taken on "a broad range of responsibilities" including the role of employee services director after Kathy Ferrar retired last year.
The council spent three hours Tuesday morning interviewing three headhunting firms, ones "we believed to be the top firms in the state," said Mayor Jac Siegel.
The pool also included Santa Cruz-based Avery Associates and Sacramento-based Peckham and McKenney.
In the next week the council will meet again with Bob Murray and Associates, run by the former city manager of Olympia, Wash., to develop selection criteria for a new city manager. The council also needs to figure out what stakeholders will be involved in creating selection criteria, Siegel said.
Siegel said the criteria involved in finding a firm included its views and practices to ensure a diversity of applicants, how the firm advertises the position and how it would go about keeping things confidential for potential recruits, who may already have good jobs as a city managers.
The council has budgeted $23,000 for the recruitment process, which will come from general fund reserves.