2017, Interviews, and Creating our Community

By Anne Mead

It’s hard to believe that we are already two weeks into 2017. The countdown is on. We are 4.5 months away from summer!

As we jump into January, Avery and I are in the throes of interviewing staff for the upcoming summer. This part of the job is always fun for me. Talking with people, getting to know them, and trying to figure out if they are the right fit for Green River Preserve.

We start taking applications for staff in October and mainly interview any return staff prior to the holidays. Once the New Year begins, however, we jump forward at full speed doing approximately 10 interviews a week. (We hire about 70 seasonal staff and get roughly 250 applicants each year.)

So- you might wonder- How do we pick our amazing staff? Well, it’s a pretty thorough interview process. First, the applicant must fill out an online application, submit references, and previous job experience. All applicants must be at least 19 years of age by the summer, and have completed a year of college or an equivalent gap year experience.

Once we have received all of these pieces, Avery sets up a virtual interview that is conducted with myself, him, and the candidate. During this initial interview we ask a lot of “getting to know you” type questions as well as their experience working with children.

If it seems like the person is qualified, we move on to the next step. For counselors, this means writing a mock letter home to a parent. You may know that all of our counselors write letters to moms and dads during the summer. In preparation for this, we like to make sure our staff have good writing skills before we hire them. For mentors, activity coordinators, and expedition leaders, we ask them to write and submit a lesson plan.

Once the written piece is completed, we schedule a second interview. During this interview we focus on scenarios and what the candidate believes it takes to build community. We also ask them a lot of behavior based questions like “tell me about a time when you had to think on the fly because things did not go as planned.”

Typically, after this interview we are able to make a hiring decision. We have thought about if this person is a good fit or not, if they can handle the job requirements, if they have a level head and are a good decision maker, if they will be fun and safe while working with children. These are just a few of the things we talk about and debate while piecing our team together.

One of my favorite parts of the interview process is seeing what questions candidates have for us. You might think, why? You are interviewing them? But the candidates questions gives some different insight. It also shares a perspective of how much they have really investigated our program.

Recently, I was really impressed by a interviewee’s questions. She asked, “If I were a parent, why would I pick GRP for my child?” As well as, “Why do you work for GRP and what keeps you coming back year after year?” The second one is a question that I feel like we get asked every now and then, but the first question, from the parent’s perspective, that was new to me. I will give you a short explanation of what we said in response and I look forward to talking more about both of these in future posts.

So, in short it comes down to community. The community at GRP is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been and or worked for. It is a unique group of (for lack of a better phrase) bright, curious, and creative people. It’s a group of people excited and willing to not only explore nature and see all that she has to offer but to have fun and play with her. All the while, this group of people is choosing to unplug from technology, something that is rare in todays world. We are a community that values kindness and respect. We are community that values learning and teaching one another. We are a community that gets excited about seeing wild animals, not having food waste, and sleeping outside amongst the stars. We are a community that cares and loves one another. Doesn’t that sound like an incredible group to live and work with for a summer? I sure think so.

We are still accepting applications for our 2017 summer staff. If you are interested, please apply online and we will be in touch.