Dance Advice

Studio Owners: How to Hire the Right Employees

By Angela D’Valda Sirico of DanceTeacherWeb.com and Dance Teacher Web LIVE Conference & Expo.

Are you looking to take on a new employee in the New Year? Having talented and motivated people on board can be one of your dance studios greatest assets. It is, however, important to make sure you know how to go about hiring the right person for the job.

What qualities are you looking for?

This question may require more analysis than you initially think. Consider the particular job at hand and what specific skills and qualities are necessary. If it involves fairly administrative tasks such as data entry and filing, you may not want a creative go-getter who is looking for challenges, but rather a meticulous and methodical worker. Similarly, if the job requires answering the phone, you will want a pleasant phone manner and people skills near the top of your list.

Some small business experts suggest evaluating your own skills first, and then hiring someone who will complement your work style. For example, if you always forget to return clients’ phone calls, taking on an extremely focused, conscientious employee could benefit your customer service and, in turn, your bottom line.

Write an accurate job description

To attract suitable candidates for the role, you should craft an accurate, detailed job description. Spell out what tasks are involved in the position, what tools and methods are used, the general responsibilities of the job, and any qualifications needed. If you want someone to be at the front desk, write out all of the duties that they will be required to do and this will help you avoid things falling through the cracks.

So, what constitutes a good job description?

  1. Job title and objective. This will tell prospective employees what the broad purpose and scope of the role is.
  2. Tasks and duties. Spell out the regular tasks and responsibilities of the job, from most significant to least important. There is no need to be exhaustive, but make sure all typical duties are mentioned.
  3. Roles and relationships. Discuss how the employee will report to you, whom they will work with, and if they will have responsibility for any other staff members.
  4. Qualifications. Spell out the educational level you are seeking, plus any other qualities necessary to perform the job that you have already determined.
  5. Location and equipment. Mention what type of equipment will be used to perform it, including computer systems.
  6. Salary. You may also choose to include a pay range in your job description, so people know what to expect.

Interviewing

Your approach to interviewing may vary depending on your personal preferences and the requirements of the job. But before inviting candidates in, consider having an initial chat over the phone to discuss the position and ask some basic screening questions.

You could conduct in-office interviews on your own, or you could invite a colleague or trusted employee to assist you and offer a second opinion. Make sure you thoroughly review each candidate’s resume ahead of time.

Prepare a set of questions you plan to ask each applicant, including those meant to give insight into their behavior, opinions and experience. As often as possible, ask the candidate to supply specific evidence to back up any claims, such as good communication skills or a strong work ethic. Don’t forget to take notes during the interview process.

Testing

Some business owners may also want to administer a test for certain positions. For example, if the position involves typing up reports, you could assess the candidates’ typing speed, as well as grammar and spelling. Some employers ask applicants to perform a typical task they would encounter on the job to demonstrate proficiency.

Background checks

Although some small businesses may consider background checks to be unnecessary, most experts recommend them as a way for owners to protect themselves from legal liability-particularly if your business involves a high level of customer service. If a worker employed by you steals from or harms a client and they have a previous criminal history, you could be sued.

The type of background checks you conduct before hiring may vary from simply speaking with an individual’s previous employer to ensuring they do not have a criminal record. Certain employers choose to check a candidate’s driving record or credit.

Some owners may choose to hire an outside company to complete checks. But if you are gathering this information yourself, make sure you look into the laws governing background checks.

Take your time

After you have completed interviewing, testing and checking references, return to your list of desirable qualities. How does each applicant compare to this outline of an ideal employee?

Finding the right person for a job is not an automatic guarantee, so be prepared to take some time with the hiring process until you are reasonably confident you have found someone who meets your criteria. Although the search may seem time-consuming, the benefits reaped from choosing the right individual are invaluable. 

Dance Teacher Web directors Steve Sirico and Angela D'Valda SiricoAngela D’Valda Sirico and Steve Sirico

Angela D’Valda Sirico and Steve Sirico have been teaching, choreographing and producing shows for over thirty years. In 1979 they formed the Adagio team of D’Valda & Sirico after performing in shows and on television worldwide as individual dancers. Their performing credits include “Scala” Barcelona, Spain, Casino Estoril, Portugal, Theatre Royal, Oxford, England, Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Hotel Tequendama, Bogota, Columbia, Teatro Nacional, Buenos Aires, Argentina,and as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep’s smash hit “Dash”, Dominium Theatre, London.

They were featured artists in Royal Command performances in Spain and had the privilege of performing for Princess Diana of Wales. D’Valda & Sirico’s many television credits include “David Letterman”, “Star Search”, and “Tarde Para Todos” as well as variety shows in the U.S.A, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Portugal , Italy and Argentina. Their combination of explosive choreography and exciting partner work has been given rave reviews both nationally and internationally. Their choreography for the acclaimed “Brother Can you Spare A Dime” was commissioned by Boston Ballet II and performed by the company. Angela and Steve have owned and directed a very successful dance studio in Fairfield, Connecticut since 1987. Their students have received scholarships and contracts to American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Hartford Ballet as well as the National tours of “Fosse”, “Fame” and “We Will Rock You” and on Broadway in “Chorus Line”.

Angela and Steve have been on the faculty of Dance Educator’s of America’s Teacher Training program. Steve is the author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and together they authored their Partner syllabus both used for Teacher Training worldwide. Angela served as Chairperson for the tri state panel of the Royal Academy of Dancing and they have taught as guest faculty for Mt. Holyoke College, Michigan State University, The University of Arkansas, Yale University and Fairfield University. They teach Master Classes in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical Jazz and Partner work all over the world including residencies in England, Spain, Costa Rica and Mexico. From 2003-2005 they were presenting faculty for Dance Teacher Magazine’s Summer Teacher’s Conference in NYC.

They continue to be active as adjudicators for major dance competitions and recently choreographed the opening production number for the National Speaker’s Association at their annual convention on Broadway in New York City. In 2007 Steve and Angela launched Dance Teacher Web, an online creative and business resource for teachers and dance studio owners worldwide and each year they produce Dance Teacher Web LIVE Conference and Expo. Described by attendees as “the one and only conference truly for dance teachers and studio owners,” LIVE brings to life everything that is unique about Dance Teacher Web. Three full days are packed with interactive sessions, expo resources and special events all with the goal of providing you with the very best in teaching tools and products to enhance your business, career and life.

Photo: © Zimmytws | Dreamstime.com

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