1. Ask the right questions.
Everyone goes into an interview with responses locked and loaded. Take a classic question and turn it on its head. Instead of, "What's a weakness you have when working with children?" ask, "What would challenge you while instructing a group of seven year olds?" By framing the question according to your program, you take your potential employee out of the interview and put them in your program–and you will get the answer to what you really want to know.
2. Hire more than a warm body.
Take time when hiring and don't hire the first person through the door just to fill a position. Take the time to survey your options or wait for more applicants. You may struggle to find the right person, but you will save yourself time and money in the long run by holding out for Mr. Right instead of Mr. Right Now.
3. Plan ahead.
Be aware of the changes in your hiring seasons and plan accordingly. Contact applicants even if you don't have positions available and let them know that you would be interested in interviewing them in the fall and they are welcome to observe your program during the summer. By opening a line of communication between you and applicants, they will feel comfortable staying in touch and you will establish a rapport for when it comes time to hire again. Also, hiring on-call substitutes is an effective, preventive strategy.
4. Do your research.
Don't be afraid to ask applicants about job history, gaps in employment and reasons for leaving previous jobs. Always get a reference and here's a good question: "If I called your previous employer, what would they say about you?"
Let people know you're hiring. The best way to find new employees is through your current employees. If you can, offer a recruiting bonus as an incentive for recruiting applicants that get hired.
6. Know your needs.
Include interview questions about personality traits and consider your needs for the specific position. Look for a person with characteristics that will complement your current employees and not clash. The last thing you want is drama with a new employee.
7. Character vs. Skill.
You can teach someone a skill, but you can't change someone's character. Would you choose an experienced, college graduate with a bad attitude or a less-experienced candidate with a positive attitude? Remember that nothing compares to a hard-working, determined, and flexible employee.
Give applicants an opportunity to observe your program to understand how it functions day-to-day. Take advantage of this time to see how they interact with children and staff.
Let a prospective employee know what you will expect from them from day one. Being straightforward about what you want to see will establish authority and create a direct line of honest communication.
10. Career Ladder
A promotion plan is important in all healthy programs. People want to know their ceiling and if you're looking for quality applicants you need to have an inter-program career path. Be able to communicate this or look at creating one if you don't have it.
Courtesy of Extend-a-Care for Kids, Austin, TX