With many COVID-19 policies requiring lower teacher-student ratios and increased health & safety precautions, many centers are faced with new staffing challenges in order to be able to reopen.
Every center’s situation and needs are unique, and so directors will need to be creative in coming with their own solutions to hiring challenges. In this guide, we have compiled tips to help you in your process of hiring during these unprecedented times.
Virtual First Interviews
While a lot remains unknown about COVID-19, one of the things that we do know is that limiting the number of people we come into contact with minimizes its chances of transmission. Instead of having all of your job applicants come into your center for an interview, host your first round of interviews online via Zoom or another video calling software of your choice. Do the same for any subsequent rounds of interviews you may conduct, until it reaches the point where you feel it is necessary to speak in person.
Follow Safety Precautions for In-Person Interviews
Try to reserve in-person interviews as a final step for candidates you are likely to make a job offer to. During the interview, follow common safety precautions, including:
- Sit 6 feet apart.
- Wear face masks (have extras available just in case).
- Do not shake hands or share items.
- Everyone uses hand sanitizer before beginning the interview.
- Wipe down the table with a disinfectant wipe between interviews.
- Meet outside if possible.
Assess Their COVID-19 Etiquette
Whether through direct questions or observing their behavior, gauge how seriously candidates are taking health precautions to get a sense of how likely they will be to enforce them in the classroom. For example:
- Did they sanitize their hands before being asked to?
- Were they wearing a mask when coming in for an in-person interview?
- Ask them what COVID-19 precautions they would take in the classroom (before you explain your center’s protocols).
- Pay attention to their reactions when you explain your COVID-19 protocols (are they agreeable, overwhelmed, dismissive, etc.).
Depending on the new responsibilities your staff will have, you may be able to rethink some positions so you can look for different qualifications in candidates. For example, perhaps you could have a role for someone to be in charge of bringing the children to-and-from your building’s entrance to their classroom at pick-up/drop-off times and they can help with cleaning throughout the day, in which case a degree in early childhood education wouldn’t be as important as someone with a teaching role.
Have a List of Backups
Prepare for worst-case scenarios when staff needs to stay home as a precaution when feeling sick or simply do not feel comfortable coming into work anymore. Even once you’ve reached your full staffing requirements, continue to build up a list of backups to draw from if you unexpectedly need someone else to call in.
Get Families Involved
If any of your students’ parents or guardians are currently not working, offering volunteer opportunities could be a great way for them to feel productive and give back to their community during these challenging times. Of course, you should never allow them to take on tasks that they are unqualified for, but for things like cleaning, pick-up/drop-off or administrative tasks, it doesn’t hurt to send a message asking if anyone would like to pitch in.
Offer a Referral Bonus
A great referral bonus will give your community an extra incentive to work harder to find quality candidates to apply for any open positions you have. Be sure to check out our referral bonus guide for ideas on how to create your own program and get the word out!
Consider Working With an Agency
Although working with an agency will be more expensive than doing things yourself, if you’re in a time crunch and you have the budget for it, an agency can save you a lot of time and effort by doing the heavy lifting for you.
Have you had any luck with hiring during the pandemic? What have been your strategies? Let us know in the comments!