Hiring is one of the most important processes you manage. By selecting the right person at the right time, you add immeasurably to your public service. Successful hiring requires effort long before and long after the hiring handshake.
Of course, you’ll need to work within the policy framework of your human resources department and/or your labor agreements. Just don’t leave hiring procedures to others. As News Director, you need to be as engaged as you can be in spelling out your needs and taking on as much of the process as you are able.
Hiring involves three phases: Recruitment, Selection and Orientation.
Recruitment is the most important phase. Bill Wareham of Minnesota Public Radio says he is always recruiting because he is also on the lookout for diverse talents and wants to be prepared when a position opens up.
When recruiting for a specific role, take time to define the job clearly while being mindful of your future plans. Recruitment also begins by articulating your ideal candidate’s qualities and skills.
Then you’ll need to lead an active effort to target the person or pool of persons who most fit your ideal profile. In general, you should cast your net far and wide being open and inclusive to all applicants — provided they meet your minimum criteria.
When you are clear on what you are seeking, you’ll need to construct an objective way of measuring those qualities prior to reviewing applicants. KPBS used a scoring system in which the News Director was able to assign values to key qualities.
This instrument will help filter those candidates that are the strongest contenders for personal interviews later.
The selection phase begins when the recruitment has yielded a pool of eligible contenders. You’ll benefit by having multiple candidates in close competition. Moreover, though it can seem unwieldy, the process also benefits by having a well-selected hiring committee to help sort the contenders and conduct interviews. This is because an effective committee brings broader perspective to the selection process. Try to make the process expeditious for the sake of the candidate, but deliberate enough to assure a good long-term decision.
The strongest contenders should be invited to the station to meet the staff and consider the benefits of employment there. This usually corresponds with a formal hiring interview. Because of time and expense to conduct such visits, you’ll want to narrow your field of candidates down to the final two or three, maybe four. And while the criteria you used above still applies, you’ll now want to have a set of questions that you will ask each candidate equally.
Begin the orientation phase as soon as a candidate has accepted the job offer. Be sure to follow through completely. This phase should include an assessment of the candidate’s training needs and a break-in period during which the News Director (or a designate) will be highly attentive to the new employee’s needs. A proper orientation takes nothing for granted (such as understanding your news mission, staff roles and responsibilities, specific expectations, etc.) Gradually, your orientation process gives way to your employee performance improvement process.