Field Notes: Hiring in the Registrar’s Office

July 23, 2018
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"Field Notes" is an occasional Connect column covering practical and philosophical issues facing admissions and registrar professionals. The columns are authored by various AACRAO members. If you have an idea for a column and would like to contribute, please send an email to the editor at connect@aacrao.org.

by Aimee Vitangcol Regoso, Registrar, Andrews University

In a recent feature in AACRAO Connect, the question was posed: “Is this the end of the registrar as we know it?” The article referenced the four stages tracing the registrar’s historical rules based on the metaphor of the industrial revolution. In short, these stages have moved us from the pre-1960s of paper and filing cabinets to data entry and transactional record-keeping through 1990; to self-service and centralization in the 1990s followed by our current stage of ERP/integration, cloud computing and multi-tenant platforms.

With the stark contrast depicted in these stages, one would expect that the Registrar’s job should have changed, as should the qualifications of the job. On the other hand, the process of hiring may or may not have changed. Has your Registrar’s office experienced these stages? How has this impacted your hiring practices? What has changed or not changed regarding your hiring practices?

Best practices in Human Resources would dictate the hiring process as follows:

  • Review the job description and update as necessary
  • Complete HR’s job posting process
  • Develop prescreen questions
  • Compile a list of interview questions
  • Develop assessment tools to rate the candidates based on the specific job expectations, qualifications, values and skills
  • Select a search committee
  • Review resumes and profiles to ensure basic qualifications are met
  • Complete the prescreening and interview process; include a skills test if applicable
  • Check a minimum of two to three references
  • Confidently select a candidate and put them through an orientation process

From the list above, the following five questions are key in the hiring process and stand the test of time:

1. How do I make the hiring process more efficient and effective in the long run?
Efficient does not mean lowering standards, nor does it mean hiring the first candidate that walks through the door.

To be effective, due process should still be followed to find the candidate with the right fit. That includes the following steps:

  • Review the job description on a regular basis. The ideal would be each year and in conjunction with an internal review and the office’s strategic plan.
  • Create a standard template for a job description not only based on HR recommendations, but on what is important within a Registrar’s office.
  • Establish a core set of values in advance. Refer to AACRAO’s Core Competencies.
  • Generate a standard set of prescreen and interview questions that can be used for all positions within the department leaving room for flexibility. Ideal questions should catch the candidate off-guard or require them to provide a real-life example.

2. How do I assess whether an individual is the right fit?
Identify questions for the interview that reveal the values of the candidate to compare to the values of the organization and department, and ensure that interview questions reveal answers to complete the assessment tool.  Avoid asking questions for the sake of asking.

In addition, link the assessment tool back to the job description, responsibilities and qualifications. The assessment tool allows for a more objective evaluation and allows for a comparison between candidates. Does the position require a specific set of skills that can be evaluated? If so, utilize tests or other assessments for such skills (communication, design, data analysts, etc.)

And trust your gut. Does the information you have gathered support your assessment of the candidate? Is the candidate “too perfect”? Are there “red flags”?

3. How important are references and what should they offer?
References should confirm your assessment of the interview and verify information the candidate has provided. Take the opportunity to address any “red flags” and discover the perspectives of others in real-life examples.

4. What is the value of job orientation?
Orientation is the means to introduce and acclimate the candidate to the mission, vision, values and culture of the organization while at the same time building a good, strong foundation on the “how-to’s” of the job.

5. What has changed in the job as a result of the changing environment?
There has been a shift from simply entering data to “owning” data requiring a more sophisticated use and understanding of technology and systems. Assigned duties and responsibilities in job descriptions should reflect this shift. In addition, qualifications and skills of candidates must meet the more sophisticated role. Accuracy while still important should be expanded to include a robust skill set to manipulate and audit large amounts of data. This suggests the importance of intangible traits such as 

  • understanding the “why”, not just the “what.”
  • seeing the big picture yet recognizing small details.
  • establishing relationships with colleagues across campus to provide and receive useful feedback.

In summary, although hiring processes have not changed, there are best practices that should be incorporated to improve the likelihood of selecting the right candidate.  More importantly, acknowledging how the role of the registrar has changed by being mindful of trends will help find the right candidate for higher education’s changing environment.