Now that this year’s yearbook is likely wrapped up and flying off the shelves, yearbook advisers should be turning some of their attention to recruiting student yearbook staff for the fall.
To build the best possible team, you’ll want to use strategy and sound planning. Your plan of attack may involve asking students and educators for recommendations, identifying leaders and high achievers from other school programs, seeking undiscovered talent and persuading top candidates to apply. And you may wish to back all that up with recruitment tools such as posters, school announcements and in-class presentations.
You should also be ready to talk up your program to potential applicants, explaining how their experience, talents and personalities align and describing the skills and experience they can expect to gain.
One way of zeroing in on top candidates is by insisting those applying for leadership positions interview with you and/or previous yearbook leaders. Not only can such processes create better credibility for your program, but they can also identify students who may be hidden gems — and screen out those who may not have the positive attitude or work ethic needed to help your team create a quality product.
Consider these tips for conducting effective student interviews when it comes to your staff leadership.
- Establish an application process. Be clear on the interview procedure to ensure your process is fair to all. Post the steps that must be taken to apply, and avoid misunderstandings by letting newcomers know ahead of time if certain positions have already been filled by incumbent staffers.
- Know what you’re looking for. Take time beforehand to consider what skills and personality traits are necessary for each position, and which ones can be taught. For example, design skills can be learned, but the work ethic needed to put in extra hours on a grueling project may be harder to find.
- Maintain objectivity through an interview panel. Ensure you aren’t the only one making key leadership decisions by including student editors, your principal and/or your yearbook representative in the interviews themselves.
- Set applicants at ease. Because this will be the first meaningful “job” interview for many students, it’s important to make the experience positive and encouraging. Make applicants glad they “put themselves out there” by showing warmth, asking respectful questions, listening closely to their answers and sincerely thanking them for applying. “This isn’t the time to pull out your interview tricks and make it stressful,” advises Candice Galek on Inc.com. “These candidates don’t have years of experience, confidence in their skills or expectations from previous interviews.”
- Ask open-ended questions. Try to get applicants talking freely about themselves, why they want the job in question and what abilities they think they would bring to the position. Then do more listening than talking, paying attention both to what they say and what they don’t say.
- Set expectations. As you learn more about applicants, talk to them about expectations for your program leaders. Be transparent about daily responsibilities and the level of work required, but also highlight what they can gain in return — such as a sense of accomplishment and valuable experiences to add to their resumes. “Many teenagers have entrepreneurial ambitions of their own,” notes Pamela Kleibrink Thompson on Trainingmag.com. “So offering to show them how a business works may be the added incentive a teenager needs to work diligently and attentively in your business.”
- Seal the deal. Once you’re ready to offer positions to key staffers, meet with them one-on-one to confirm they’re ready and able to handle the job responsibilities. Make sure they’re clear on how and when they’ll begin their roles, and assure them you’re looking forward to working with them. Make sure you also contact students not selected for leadership, thanking them again for applying and letting them know they can still be a valuable part of your team.
Find other great suggestions for hiring highly effective yearbook production staff at Lifetouch.com.