School Bus Fleet

September 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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18 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 4 INTERVIEW BEST PRACTICES Use a pre- screening process. Nicole Portee, ex- ecutive director at Denver Public Schools, says that a recent speaker at the district provided an invaluable strategy for select- ing the best candidates. Geoff Smart, one of the authors of Who, a New York Times Best Seller List book, recommends that management get more in- volved in the process and con- duct more conversational-style interviews. The district has ad- opted some of the methods de- scribed in the book as part of a pilot program in transportation. For example, Portee now han- dles reference checks instead of depending on the human re- sources department, and fnds the strategy very useful for get- ting crucial information about the candidates' work ethic. She also conducts pre-screen interviews with a list of ques- tions formulated with the hir- ing manager and transportation department human resources representative. The human re- sources representative conducts the pre-screen interview over the phone, and looks for profession- alism; team players; goals; and efforts to research Denver Public Schools. The representative then recommends some applicants to the hiring manager, weeding down eight to 10 candidates to four or fve for an in-person in- terview with the hiring manager and Portee. Carefully plan your interview team. Orange (Calif.) Unifed School District's Pam McDonald, di- rector of transportation, and Ellen Johnson, transportation su- pervisor, rely on input from the driver training instructors who conduct classes for many driver applicants, since they quickly learn which candidates are asking good questions and may ft in well. Addition- ally, they include a union representative during the interview process to get their insight on whether a new applicant will be a good ft. Richard Skibitski, feet manager, Wayne (N.J.) Board of Education, Wayne School District, has a mechanic or driver trainer present in interviews to prompt a technical conversation. "A transportation supervisor, for example, interviewing a mechanic, [may not] be able to ask technical [questions]. It wouldn't fow," he explains. "[However], the mechanic can have a casual conversation about different ve- hicles, body styles, systems, and can get a lot of information just out of that conversation. You can tell right away if an applicant has a clue about what he's talking about or not." Brian Weisinger, director of transportation at Spring Independent School District (ISD) in Houston, forms interview committees with staff members who would work closely with the candidate. In recent interviews for a parts technician position, the committee included the shop foreman, parts man- ager, shop clerk, and one of the lead technicians. The interviews, he notes, actually begin when the applicant enters the building and interacts with the receptionist. Between interviews, the recep- tionist will give the committee a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on each appli- cant based on friendliness and timeliness. Prepare criteria, questions. Who you select for your interviewing team can help form your questions. Weisinger says that to help ensure choosing the right candi- date, prepare by closely reviewing the job descrip- tion, determine the best interview questions to capture that information, and review them with your team before the in- terviews start, so everybody understands the criteria. Everyone on Weisinger's interview committee asks the applicants questions and uses a number scoring system to grade the applicants on appearance, poise, assertiveness and responses. Conversely, any committee members who aren't able to attend an interview have their input removed because they didn't get the most accurate picture of the candidate. 1. 3. 2. When selecting a new driver, including a lead driver or driver trainer can help in conduct- ing a more conversational-style interview. Pictured here: Don Smith, training supervisor at Orange Unifed School District, conducts training for applicants,

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