Meeting at New Prospect House, London, the NEC interviewed candidates who had put themselves forward to succeed the current incumbent, Paul Noon, when he retires at the end of the year.
The NEC decision opens the timetable for nominations from branches and if necessary a full postal ballot of members. Nominations from branches must be received by Friday 23 March – full details will be contained in a circular to branches to be issued later this week.
The NEC decided last year that any ballot should be conducted before national conference on 22-24 May.
Prospect president, Nigel Titchen, said: "After conference the general secretary elect will work with Paul Noon and the newly-elected NEC for a transitional period before formally taking up the position in January 2013."