Being an editor is the best, most stressful, wonderful, weirdest thing that has ever happened to me. It’s one of those jobs you will know nothing about until you are actually in the position. I manage a staff of 15 college students, including myself. It’s a lot of people to organize and it’s not always an easy thing. But, with some candy and determination, I make it work every day.
Finding a time for our staff to meet as an entire group can really be a challenge. And no matter how crazy my staff drives me to be, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They are my best friends, my smile, my tears and overall, my teammates. They remind me to breathe. They remind me what yearbook is all about. They might be crazy, but that’s all part of the fun.
I could not have chosen better staff members to include on staff. Not just because they are extremely talented, but because they are overall great people. They get their work done, they have fun with it, they do their school work, they find time for friends and they always put a smile on my face. They are well rounded and I think our yearbook reflects that.
However, the hiring process is not always so fun for editors. Choosing students to be on staff can be challenging and sometimes downright irritating. Here is my advice for going about choosing the rockstar yearbook staff every editor wants and needs:
Interview everyone who turns in an application.
Giving everyone a chance is key to having a successful staff. People will surprise you.
Give everyone a chance.
No one should be turned down without a chance — even students who aren’t media/journalism majors, even people that have never picked up a camera in their lives, even someone that has no experience in yearbook. You never know who you will discover.
Don’t eliminate anyone because you heard things about them or have known them in the past.
There are staff members today who I never dreamed in a million years would work for me. Just because some says, “This person isn’t reliable” or “This person would not be good for you” does not mean it is true. When I was hiring, I had people telling me things and heard so much gossip. Stick to what you think is best. Your gut is usually right.
Do an in-person interview for everyone if possible.
This is the only way to tell if a student will be a good fit for you and your staff. Yearbook is about working as a team. You cannot tell who someone is from a phone conversation. Meet them in person if possible. This also shows that you care about them and it will make them feel valued when going through the interview process.
Have someone with you during the interview for a second opinion (managing editor or someone in a leadership role.)
Without my managing editor (Liz) there to help me with decisions, I may have made the wrong choices. It’s good to talk about candidates out loud and voice your opinions to someone else. It’s also good to have a second opinion to see if you misjudged someone or their potential.
Give yourself some time to process the interview.
Sleep on it. Trust me. After a few days, you will know if they are right for your staff. Once a few days go by and you are still thinking about someone, invite them on board.
Think about what they will provide for your staff.
Certain people work better together than others. Think about who you have already recruited and see if their personalities and work ethic would blend. It’s good to have variety on staff. We definitely do. We have Chemistry majors, dance team members, journalism students, pageant queens, art majors, nerds, sorority girls. And for the most part, we all work together as one yearbook-creating machine.
Show them you are serious about work, but also show your personality during an interview.
They need to see if they can work with you as well. It’s a two-sided experience. Be serious when asking them questions, but also complement them, ask them personal questions, crack a joke and just be yourself. Staff members will appreciate it when you show your true colors while being the boss. You set the example.
Always ask for samples of their work.
This is so important. It will show you what you are working with. It will give you an idea of what everyone is capable of. More than likely, you will be working with staff members on all different skill levels and that’s OK! It’s a learning experience.
This is a given when it comes to yearbook. But really, this is a fun time during the year. As an editor, you are in control. Create a fun, loving and optimistic environment right from the beginning. Trust me, it will be worth it.
Northwest Missouri State University, MO
My name is Haley Vickers. I am a Mass Media: Multimedia Journalism major at Northwest Missouri State University. My passion is writing and connecting with people. Yearbook is obviously my biggest hobby, but I also enjoy reading, hanging out with friends and spending time with my family.