How to Win at Hiring Student Affairs Professionals

Searching for the “right” job can become a lofty task but you rarely hear about the struggle that comes with finding the “right” candidates to fill vacant positions. Most searches end with settling on a candidate that meets MOST of the desired attributes and amount of experience needed for the position, which could pan out, but in an ideal world you want to find the right fit for the job.

Time sensitive searches can force your hand and narrow the range of your search but again, in an idealistic world you should take your time gathering a number of strongly qualified candidates that align well with not only your expectations for the position but also your company’s or office’s culture. After all you want everyone to play nice!

In Eric Stoller’s article When Bad Hires Happen to Good People he interviewed Jeremiah Shinn, Director of the Student Involvement & Leadership Center at Boise State University. The Q & A was focused on hiring practices in student affairs. When asked if he believed if student affairs professionals are prone to making bad hires Mr. Shinn had this to say;

I do. Again, it’s about processes that fail to yield the best possible hire, given the circumstances. I believe the culture of student affairs is such that we don’t typically believe we can make “bad hires” because we tend to believe that all candidates are good. There’s certainly an element of fit to be considered, but I still believe that “top talent” exists in our field.

Mr. Stoller followed up by asking Mr. Shinn why he believes student affairs professionals are prone to making bad hires?

One of the flawed assumptions student affairs professionals tend to make is that we exist in a “buyers market”. There are more candidates than positions, so automatically, we’re in the driver’s seat.”  said Shinn.

We agreed so much with Mr.Shinn that we’ve came up with the following tips to help you navigate the hiring process in student affairs in order to find a candidate that fits like a glove!

Do your homework!

Before you begin your search define what it is you’re really looking for/need! Be aware of your “target”. Once you have a clear concise idea of what you’re looking for then it’s time to start putting out feelers to figure out how to find the desired candidates. This can include using channels like Twitter, Linkedin, and other active communities that allow you to test the market.

It’s a Seller’s Market. 

If you expect the right fit to fall in your lap you might get lucky but chances are you’re inbox will be filled with less than desirable options. Actively seeking out the best and the brightest in the industry will benefit your search process and hopefully yield a highly qualified hire. You want people with options, you want 1st round draft picks not minor leaguers.

Do They Have Transferable Skills?

Having skills that can seamlessly transfer allow for quicker workplace integration. This makes the whole process of on-boarding easier on everyone. The less time needed to be spent on training the quicker you can get the new hire pumping on all cylinders. Also keep an eye out for other skills that can be used to expand the versatility of the vacant position.

“What” & “How” are great but find the “Why”.

Anyone can tell you what they can do and how they intend to do so but why they do it is something many people struggle with verbalizing. The “Why” is what drives passionate individuals to have a personal connection with their work which usually leads to higher quality output! Try and go off the script, anyone can answer those 10 questions that come up in every interviews, send them some zingers that gets candidates thinking on their toes. We like a good sense of humor here Presence, so having a clever joke is always a plus!

Include Others During The Hiring Process.

The rest of your team should be part of the search process. You want to make sure candidates fit your company or office culture. Setting up Skype or Google Hangout interviews between other employees and potential hires provides a chance for “face-to-face” interaction. Resumes and written document can only tell you so much about someone!

As you begin to conduct your candidate searches this summer and so forth remember there are such things a “bad hires” and take the time to find the “right fit”. Refer to these tips before diving into a search to avoid any settling on just someone!

If you yourself are looking for a change of scenery we’re looking for passionate student affairs professionals & creative individuals here at Presence. If you think you can deal with flip-flops, ping-pong, and a highly inspiring environment please feel free to take a look at our jobs page!

And if you have any other tips to consider while hiring student affairs professionals please comment below, your input is appreciated!




Anthony Freese

About the author: Anthony Freese is the former Director of Marketing at Check I’m Here, the complete student engagement platform. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

Check I'm Here is now Presence. Learn more about this change in our blog post here.