Masterclass Recap: The Hiring Process

HINGE Founder Kathy Ligon and long-time childcare business owner Kathe Petchel teamed up for another information-packed Masterclass on Tuesday, May 15th to discuss tips and tricks that childcare business owners and directors can use during their hiring process.

After sharing a quick recap of April’s Creative Hiring Strategies class as well as a few topical hiring and retention stories, Kathe segued into this Masterclass by tackling employers’ top concern: How do I identify the right person for the job?

One of Kathe’s tips: Get out of your own way when it comes to preconceived notions about different generations. Not all Millennials are entitled and not all Baby Boomers are technologically challenged.

Another great tip? Recruit retiring Baby Boomers to fill part-time work at your childcare center. There are 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day and many of them aren’t well-prepared financially for retirement which means they will be seeking part-time jobs. This is a hard-working generation who want to stay active to remain sharp – and what’s a more active atmosphere than a childcare center?

Other great demographics to recruit for part-time work include stay-at-home moms starting to send their kids to school and college students starting their summer break. Widen your circle and think outside of the box when it comes to recruiting.

Kathe also suggests thinking differently about the hours your staff work throughout the week. Her secret trick? Schedule full-time staff for 37 hours a week instead of the regular 40 hours. This is beneficial for directors who want to save on unemployment and overtime costs and for employees who want to avoid being overwhelmed and overworked.

But back to the hiring process…

The most important tip from Kathe’s coveted hiring process task list is to be clear about your school’s core values. What is it that you stand for? Transparency? Nurturement? Teamwork? Reliability? Communicate these values up front during your recruitment efforts and throughout the process so potential candidates can self-select into your company culture or self-select out if it doesn’t sound like the right fit.

Once you’ve peeked the interest of a few candidates, look over their resumés and then do a social media screening. Ask yourself: Are they an influencer on social media? Do they have high enough privacy settings? Is there inappropriate content on any of their pages?

If they’ve passed the above, set up a phone screening to further evaluate their fit in your company. All you need is 20 minutes and a trusted assortment of interview questions. Start with the basics like, “What schedule are you looking for?” and “Are you looking for something permanent or temporary?” and give them a point for every answer that fits the position you’re looking to fill. Then make sure they’re qualified: Do they have the correct certifications? What’s their educational background? Ask for their transcripts and their training. And another really important thing to know up front: their salary expectations. What are they looking for and what can you realistically provide?

So far so good? Great! Now ask them to complete a task for you. Kathe requests that potential hires get their fingerprinting done at this stage - as required in the state of Virginia where her childcare centers are located. This gives candidates another chance to self-select out of the position if they aren’t as committed or interested in the role.

If they’re up for the task, begin drilling down on your core values again. Construct questions that will tell you if they are reliable, trustworthy and communicate openly – if these are some of your essential core values. Ask how your core values resonate with them or how they used one of your core values in their last job.

One great, final tip for the phone screening: ask the candidate to set up reference check calls with their former employers. Again, this gives them an opportunity to self-select out of the process.

Always give honest feedback at the end of your phone screening. If you’re not interested, tell the candidate why you won’t be moving forward with them and don’t give them false hope. Also, don’t waste anyone’s time. Once you know that someone isn’t the right fit, thank them for their time and end the interview with your feedback.

If the candidate makes it through the phone screening with high enough marks, schedule their in-person interview with your director. Kathe loves for at least five people - two administrators and three staff members - to weigh in on every single candidate, so make sure to get different people involved throughout the process.

First impressions are important. If the candidate is late, dressed sloppily or doesn’t make eye contact, chat with them nicely and exit them out quickly.

The in-person interview is when you ask your situational and open-ended questions. Categorize these questions to make sure you cover all the bases. Child question: Why do you want to work with children? Situational question: There are two toddlers and they both want the truck. What do you do? Teaming question: What attributes do you have that make you a good team player? Skills question: How competent are you with technology? Character question: Tell me a time you were frustrated, and you still did the right thing.

Another great interview tip from Kathe: Give the candidates time to think about each question and don’t be uncomfortable with a long pause.

Once the candidate has wowed you with their responses, it’s time for classroom observation. Allow them to observe at least three classrooms – one of which should be the one that you plan to place them in. This should be strictly an observation with no child interaction.

At the conclusion of the interview, Kathe has one final tip: Ask the candidate to type up a short paragraph about themselves. This will give you a hint to their literacy level and you’ll have a bio ready to use if you choose to hire them!

For more tips and tricks, watch the recorded, one-hour Hiring Process Masterclass here.

Meredith Martin