A webinar for municipal officials showcased timely hiring strategies to help communities succeed in a tight labor market. Speakers included (clockwise from top left) Jen Breaker, assistant town manager and communications director in Danvers, Caitlyn Julius, assistant human resources director in Springfield and Michelle Pizzi O’Brien, human resources director in Newton.

The MMA today hosted the second in a series of webinars for municipal officials to showcase timely hiring strategies to help communities succeed in a tight labor market.

Today’s webinar was focused on the interview process, sharing tips for reviewing applications, building an interview panel, and selecting the best questions for prospective candidates.

The session was led by Jen Breaker, the assistant town manager and communications director in Danvers, and Caitlyn Julius, the assistant human resources director in Springfield, along with Michelle Pizzi O’Brien, the human resources director in Newton.

Julius opened the session by discussing how to transition from advertising vacancies (the topic of last month’s webinar) to selecting candidates. She detailed the city of Springfield’s process, both for leveraging its application portal and for selecting supplemental questions and screening prospects.

Breaker and O’Brien said they both use a “Yes, No, Maybe,” approach to reviewing applications, which allows hiring departments to quickly identify candidates that could be a good fit for the open position. Breaker said Danvers redacts all personal information from resumes to eliminate the potential for bias and ensure that candidates are being assessed based only on skills and experience.

O’Brien discussed how interviewing has evolved from a traditional panel interview style. She said municipalities must rethink how they can foster a positive experience for the candidate through every stage of the process. She suggested restructuring seating arrangements to make candidates feel welcomed, rather than interrogated.

Breaker and Julius discussed the importance of transparent communication during the interview process. Information about the location of the interview, parking instructions, the anticipated timeframe of the meeting, and who will participate should be shared with the candidate beforehand.

Each panelist shared her favorite “out of the box” questions to ask during an interview, which can help the hiring team better understand a candidate’s personality and how best to support them in the workplace. They also clarified how to approach the process in a holistic way, leverage existing resources, and analyze what makes your community competitive.

During a 15-minute question and answer period, attendees asked about redacting information from resumes, interviewing internal hires, and prioritizing diversity throughout the process.

The remaining Reframing Recruitment webinars are:
Reframing Recruitment: What Happens After the Offer – May 17
Reframing Recruitment: Key Takeaways from Vacancy to Post-Recruitment – June 14

Reframing Recruitment: The Interview Process presentation (17M PDF)


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