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Hiring the Right Candidate: Two Must-Have Qualities for an Executive Director of an Assisted Living Community

Whether you own, operate, or oversee an assisted living portfolio, you understand how executive directors can make—or break—the performance of your individual communities.

From operations to clinical care, the buck stops with the executive director of an assisted living community.

And occupancy growth is no different.

Your executive director (ED) has a profound impact on your sales process. Regional leadership can only provide targeted support.

When it comes to the day-to-day accountability needed to grow revenue…that’s the job of your ED.

Growing occupancy is a challenge for any executive director—even in times of robust demand. However, assisted living occupancy is at a low of 85.7%, and the senior housing industry has fallen on hard times.

That means…

It’s even more important to have the right executive director in each assisted living community. It’s even more important to make the right hiring decisions for ED candidates.

At Bild & Co., we help organizations fulfill their potential and grow top-line revenue.

At times, that means screening potential ED candidates to see if they’re qualified to do just that.

In addition to our own interviewing expertise, at Bild & Co., we leverage the proprietary Innermetrix ADVanced Insights Profile to look for specific qualities—characteristics that reveal if a candidate will drive occupancy.

Without diving into the details of this assessment, today, we’re sharing two key qualities we scan for, among others. We use these ideal behaviors to determine if an ED candidate is the right fit.

While we’re writing this post for those of you hiring an executive director for an assisted living or memory care community (or those of you who oversee an AL/MC portfolio), the reality is…

These principles apply to all senior living communities—no matter the care level.

1. The Executive Director of an Assisted Living Community Should Be Assertive


The senior living industry is one that requires empathy, compassion, and a true affinity for relationships.

All of that is true…especially when it comes to caring for your resident population.

Your caregivers must know how to gently persuade a resident to join an activity.
Your nursing staff must understand how to empathetically listen to resident needs.
Your sales counselors must grasp how to make the emotional connection.

But when it comes to driving revenue, the executive director of an assisted living property needs assertiveness.

That’s because—while your ED does interact with residents—the primary job of your ED is managing employees and running a business.

Don’t get us wrong—you don’t want a leader who is harsh or overbearing.

Just make sure your ED’s tender heart toward residents doesn’t spill too much into the management side of his or her role.

You’ll want to look for an ED who is…

  • Unafraid to make unpopular decisions.
  • Able to make decisions and stick to them.
  • Unashamed to set expectations and hold people accountable.

On the other hand, beware of the ED candidate who…

  • Hints toward the need of constant buy-in before making a decision.
  • Changes his or her answers depending on how your interview is going.
  • Is more concerned about pleasing employees than leading the sales process.

2. The Executive Director of an Assisted Living Community Should Be Results Driven

results driven

In addition to being assertive, the executive director of an assisted living community should be assertive of the right things.

More specifically, he or she should be assertive about financial or financially related results.

These include objectives such as conversions, occupancy, revenue, NOI, ROI, and other metrics related to your top-line growth.

At Bild & Co., when we screen candidates, we want someone who…

  • Is passionate about meeting goals and predefined outcomes.
  • Wants to be the best in his or her role.
  • Grasps the importance of ROI and top-line growth.

That’s why you’ll want to be cautious about candidates who…

  • Have strong backgrounds in directly providing caregiver support or who are driven to care for others. (While it’s noble for an ED to be driven by caring for others, you might find that he or she provides 20 second chances and struggles to hold underperforming employees accountable.)
  • Place more importance on happy employees than metrics that create a financially healthy property.

Connect with people to the detriment of driving results.

Hiring the Right Executive Director

Assertiveness and a passion for results—look for these two characteristics, and you’ll be on the right path to hiring a qualified ED candidate.

And—as you interview executive directors for your assisted living portfolio—make sure you can quickly spot an unqualified candidate.

In fact—at Bild & Co.—we’ve also done quite a bit of screening for senior housing candidates…and we know what indicates an ill-equipped new hire.

Tap into our expertise to make better talent decisions. 

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Contact Bild & Co to grow your
occupancy now at (800) 640-0688