Schools are increasingly valuing culture over capability, but when a couple of interviews are all you’ve got to go on, how can a principal be sure they’ve found the right fit?
HR manager and official “culture cultivator” Krisha Buehler, who heads up the people operations at virtual assistant provider eaHELP, says the risks are all too real if schools end up hiring someone who doesn’t assimilate well.
“Morale could be compromised [and] current employees may feel that the culture isn't as important as it once was, putting team collaboration at risk,” she warned.
“Frustration can take root within the existing team, as they bear witness to – and are affected by – the challenge of managing someone who may perform tasks well, but who doesn't fit into the company culture.
To avoid these – and a myriad of other unwelcome repercussions – Buehler said she always looks out for four tell-tale signs in the recruitment process.
Is this person a team player? Is he/she excited about joining a team and accomplishing goals together rather being an individual super star? – They’re both questions that Buehler asks herself before hiring a new recruit.
“A humble but driven personality is a great indicator of a team player,” she told The Educator, noting that it’s also important to understand the dynamics and personality of your current team.
“This should be taken into consideration when interviewing,” she advised.
“You don't have to find a mirror image of the group, but the candidate should be able to work well and build relationships within the school.”
“Listen for how the candidate talks about his successes and opportunities. Does he take all the credit but no blame? How does he describe a time of failure? Is it someone else's fault or treated responsibly as a lesson learned? Ask the candidate to describe prior team environments. Are these detailed negatively or positively?”
Strong work ethic
“Our organisation works at a very fast pace, and we demand excellence,” said Buehler.
“When talking with candidates, I listen for examples of when life or a job was tough and how they persevered. I'm looking for someone who is willing to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty to accomplish a task or achieve a goal.
“Celebrating and having fun together is a great reward. We spend a lot of time and money on events and awesome activities during meetings to show our team members that we are grateful for their hard work and dedication. I talk about this with candidates and pay close attention to body language. Some people get excited and think it's awesome, while others stare blankly.”
“Typically, if you can determine that candidates have passion, then you know that they have it in them to ‘get on board’ and live out your school’s mission,” said Buehler.
“Their work will have purpose, and that is very important. This is one of the main reasons I love meeting with people via video. I love to ask what they’re passionate about, and then sit back, watch and listen.
“Those with passion will answer with a twinkle in their eyes and a big smile. Their voice changes a bit, and they may even become more animated in conversation. I can feel their excitement. This is what I want for our customers. I want someone who is passionate about what we do and, as a result, our customers can see it and feel it, too.”
“I expect candidates to be punctual and dressed appropriately,” stressed Buehler.
“I listen for good communication skills and how well they articulate their skills and experiences. I appreciate it when it’s clear that they performed some research before our interview, and they ask thoughtful questions about the company, team, position and future growth. This level of preparedness shows me that the candidate is serious about the opportunity and his career.”
This article was first published on The Educator’s sister publication for HR professionals, HC Online.