Hiring practices evaluated

Deeming hopes that by working alongside hiring and recruitment this year, it will create one cohesive unit when implementing the new policy.

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Hiring practices for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union will have undergone changes by the time volunteers apply for positions in March 2015.

As of March, the Union will be implementing a new hiring policy for all volunteer positions, which does not include the “lottery” method that has been used since the 2012-13 year.

Samantha Deeming, vice-president of finance and administration for the Students’ Union, explained hiring practices were something she wanted to review coming into her current role. She was part of the executive team for hiring and recruitment that approved the lottery process and believed volunteers were “slipping through the cracks.”

“Coming into the role it was part of my proposal to evaluate the hiring process, what can we implement, what can we make better and make it fair so that anyone … can get involved without leaving it up to chance?” she explained.

In the past, the hiring policy has been created by the vice-president and implemented by the hiring and recruitment department without any discussion between the two parties. This year, Deeming worked with the department’s executive team on the research and planning of the new policy.

Deeming hopes that by working alongside hiring and recruitment this year, it will create one cohesive unit when implementing the new policy.

“If the people who are helping implement it can’t buy into the process, it’s very difficult to get others to buy into the process at that point.”

An extensive process went into reevaluating the hiring practices, Deeming said. Surveys were sent out regarding different scenarios, everything from keeping it the same to getting rid of the lottery system. She believed there were good responses from both volunteers and non-volunteers.

Student executive roundtables and focus groups took place in the following months, putting together research from other schools as well as what would work best for Laurier’s students.

In the last few weeks, the Union has come up with what the policy will look like when it is finally implemented.

Coordinator positions, which are the highest volunteer position the Union has, will move to a full hour-long interview from a 30-minute interview. It will also include a short icebreaking question, three STARR questions, a roles and responsibilities question and a question-answer period with the vice-president.

“Things that will actually happen in the position are being asked now,” Deeming said. “It’s adding that extra component to it that allows a lot more freedom in answering and not just rigid STARR.”

The executive position has gone from a 30-minute interview to a 45-minute interview and will include an additional question on what the executive’s responsibility is along with an icebreaking question. The candidate will still have to complete an eight-minute presentation, a cover letter and three STARR questions like before.

Deeming explained that the reason they changed the interview formats was because before the executive and coordinator interviews were “basically the exact same interview process” which isn’t fair for the coordinator who is in a higher position.

General volunteer hiring will see the biggest changes, as Deeming explained this is where the Union saw most of their volunteers being left out by chance.

Four different categories will be used this year. Carousel interviews will occur for GO Team, Shinerama and Icebreaker applicants; situational interviews will be used for Emergency Response Team; a personal statement/letter of intent will be required for BACCHUS, Peer Help Line

External, EcoHawks, Food Bank, Winter Carnival, University Affairs, Foot Patrol and Hiring and Recruitment, Formal interviews will take place for Peer Help Line Internal.

ERT coordinator Jordan Brazeau, explained that when he was in first-year they did not include the first aid component and it was all STARR.

Now, with a formal situational component to the interview, he can see which applicants are best for the position.

“I think that works best for us because at the end of the day, I’m interested in people’s abilities as somebody giving first aid. And I can see that when they come in,” he said. “If they hate STARR, they can see we’re not just hiring based on a marking scheme, we’re hiring based on you.”

Brazeau said he believes the Union’s volunteer hiring practices are moving in the right direction to fitting what each service and team needs.

The Union will be holding open forums for final feedback before the policy is actually implemented and put into place. The goal, Deeming said, is to give students a more realistic environment for hiring practices.

“It’s based on how you answer questions, how you’re selling yourself, basically. So it allows, I’m hoping, for a more realistic experience for what hiring is like in the real world,” she said.

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