[How We Hire] Securing staffers in a fluid organization
As Senior Talent Acquisition Strategist for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Tawanna Myers seeks people who bring diversity in thought and experience to the organization, an interest in true development and ability to adapt quickly to change. She spoke with us from BGCA’s National Headquarters in Atlanta about what she expects from talent, and what they gain in return from working at the national nonprofit.
My elevator pitch for potential hires: It varies depending on the position, but for the most part: why not be part of an organization making such a tremendous impact on a national level? Working at an organization like Boys & Girls Clubs of America is an opportunity not just to use your skill set to make a difference for youth nationwide, but develop your skills to make a difference in your career.
My go-to interview question: What is the most useful criticism you’ve ever received, and how did you use that feedback? That question allows you to see not only how they think in terms of developing themselves professionally, but also their motivational and cultural fit. We’re a fluid organization: things move quickly, and what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. We need people who can use constructive advice to make a greater impact. If someone tells me they’ve never been advised of or self-identified a development area, it makes me question their openness to constructive feedback and full development.
What we look for beyond skills: We look for flexibility in thought as well as in action and response. We look for an aptitude for innovation, but also for patience—someone able to take the time to understand the “whys” before seeking to make immediate change. Someone who can manage the fast pace, and embrace a culture of caring about one another. We also refer to our organizational values, abbreviated I CARE: integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect, and excellence.
How we structure the interview process: After a position’s been posted, and we’ve received online applications—we may also have recruiters do some passive sourcing—we screen candidates by phone to discuss compensation and background, and a couple questions that tell the hiring manager whether to take the next step. If approved, we advance to a one-on-one informational meeting with the hiring manager, a chance to speak directly and discuss position-specific questions. After that, we determine who should come in for a formal panel interview, where we ask behavioral questions—“tell us about a time when”—and make sure candidates get to see the work environment. Depending on the position, there may be a couple follow-up interviews with a senior leader-. When the decision has been made, we contact the top candidate or two and begin background checks. After that, we extend an offer.
How we onboard new hires: Organization-wide, there’s a two-day orientation for new employees, where they hear from each department and get a full understanding of their roles, attend a casual reception with senior leadership; and make a Club visit to see how we make an impact in the lives of youth.
On an individual level, each hiring manager develops a specific onboarding plan at the time of the job posting, including who they should meet with one-on-one and any resources they’ll need to be successful at the outset.
What people love about working here: The mission drives everything we do: ensuring youth have the opportunities to become successful, productive citizens. But what we also love is the familial atmosphere. You can’t walk down the hall without someone smiling at you and asking how you’re doing; when there’s a tragedy in someone’s family, bereavement notices are sent out, and support comes in from across the organization.
We’re also focused on internal advancement, so people also love knowing that there’s opportunity to grow—from working in cross-functional teams, to getting deeper into your own role, to moving into another area of the work. I also love the energy, which is fast-paced and invigorating.
What new employees notice first about our office: Probably the colors—it’s a very bright office, which we carry over from our Clubs. The alumni display also makes an impression—the range of celebrities and public officials pictured in our “Hall of Fame” is often surprising to people. Newcomers notice our receptionist too: she’s a skilled conversationalist, and is great at putting people at ease before the first interview.
For more than a century, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has provided young people across the country a safe place to learn and grow, develop relationships with adults, and build character, hope, and opportunities. There are more than 4,100 Club facilities throughout the nation, serving nearly 4 million young people annually. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their blog.
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