The new school year is just around the corner. That means energetic students, new and old will soon be shaking off the summer and getting back into the rhythm of the new school year. Your afterschool staff members will be returning to the flow and structure of the afterschool program. But uh-oh, some of your staff will not be back this year, or maybe your enrollment has grown substantially since last year. So how do you fill these gaps and what should you look for when hiring for an afterschool staff position?
The biggest factor to consider is, of course, the students. Look to your current staff. What do the kids respond to best? How do your different staff members interact with the students? What are their personalities like?
These are the questions that will help you discern a strong candidate. Not all students will respond to all staff members, so you should have a healthy mix of personality types. While you may see that the enthusiastic, outgoing and younger staff tend to be more relatable to the children, you also have probably observed that the more experienced, calm staff members are often able to foster more respect and discipline. Identify the types of personalities that work well with the kids in your program and focus on finding that person before conducting the interviews.
Are they determined to help students learn and succeed? If you meet someone who may not have a lot of experience, identify what drives them. Ask them about their goals and what motivated them to work with students. You will be able to tell the passionate, driven individuals from those who are lackluster. Someone with the right attitude can learn how to adjust to the type of students in the classroom or activity.
Will they get along with the other afterschool staff? In other words, are they just “shy” or are they closed off and antisocial. How will that affect the rest of your team? Do they seem genuinely excited to start this job and to work with kids? One key thing to look for when the candidate answers questions, is how they are communicating nonverbally. If they are smiling and open throughout the conversation, or when they describe their personal experience with students, that may be the type of person with which you and your staff want to work.
Try asking questions about what they do for fun and see how they react to opportunities to build rapport with others. Have one or two of your staff members introduce themselves and get their opinion of the candidate. While the final decision may be yours alone, other staff members will be the ones working alongside them. These staff members could help point out certain traits (good or bad) that you may have missed about the candidate during the interview process.
Your goals align
Regardless of the type of program you run, look for those who will align with your goals of providing more than just academics. You could have a program focusing on a demanding academic schedule, if that is the case, you might want to find someone with similar interests in mind. That being said, since afterschool programs are essential to the development of social and emotional growth as well, a new hire should also be concerned with growing their students into someone who can handle the emotional and social aspects of situations; fighting, sharing, making friends, etc. So make sure you ask questions around their style of teaching to get a sense of “alignment”.
Experience is important when it comes to handling certain situations that arise. Surely a candidate with even 2-3 years of experience has seen enough chaos to know how to handle most common situations. But consider more than experience, also consider attitude and education. Many people in your local community have been to school to study subjects that can be quite valuable such as psychology, child behavior, education, nursing, etc. Look for someone who has a degree, whether it be high school, GED, or higher education. They had the determination to take courses that required them to listen, learn, problem-solve, cooperate with others and meet deadline – they may be more successful in helping others attain those qualities.
Some questions to ask when hiring:
When asking questions, try to ask as many situational questions you can for the role you are filling. Here are a few examples:
- What would you do when an unhappy parent approaches you about the lack of attention their child is receiving?
- What would you do if one of your students started having an allergic reaction to something?
- How would you respond if a student were acting out during a quiet work time?
- You are assigned a group of children who are a bit more rowdy than is productive. At a high level, what are your thoughts on how to manage this type of situation long term?
- How would you handle a situation where a child is being consistently disrespectful to you?
- How would you work to engage all children in learning or activities with regard to students who are different development levels?
- Two children are fighting over a toy, how do you handle the situation?
- You see a child push another child, what actions do you take?
- A child is not engaging in any of the activities, how do you get them to be more involved?
Best of luck with your hiring this Summer!
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