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Choosing staff leaders and recruiting staff


During the second half of the school year, students and advisers must devote attention to choosing staff leaders and recruiting new members for the following year. This lesson will help students decide the criteria by which they choose their leaders and help walk them through the process of selecting their next leadership team. It will also help them consider the methods they use to recruit new staff members.


  • Students will analyze what qualities and skills they need from leaders and fellow staff members of their media program.
  • Students will develop criteria by which they will choose their leadership team and a recruitment plan to find additional staff members.
  • Students will conduct mock interviews and/or actual interviews of leadership candidates.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings and supporting evidence clearly, concisely and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance and style are appropriate to purpose, audience and task.


Depending on the resources chosen, this activity could take anywhere from one block to multiple blocks throughout the course of the second semester of the school year.


Handout: Tips for recruiting staff members

Whiteboard or document camera

Index cards

Presentation rubric

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10-20 minutes

As a warm-up, ask students to share one key characteristic of a good leader. Consider going around the room to allow each student a one-phrase response or distribute notecards or sticky notes in order to get a response from each student. After hearing students’ ideas, explain that today they will begin determining what they want/need in a leader for their media staff and will develop a set of criteria for choosing their leaders for the following year. They will also look at ways to grow their staff and recruit more members.

Lead a class discussion that focuses on the following starter questions (list responses on document camera or whiteboard). The teacher can write or appoint some students to take notes based on these guiding questions:

  1. What kinds of people do we need on our staff to improve our publications?
  2. What are we doing now to recruit new members?
  3. What qualities do we need/should we look for in our leaders?
  4. When we do interviews with leadership applicants, what questions do we need to know the answers to in order to make the best choices for our staff?

2. Individualized work — 10-15 minutes

For about 15 minutes individually, assign students to read Phillip Caston’s tips for recruiting staff. While reading, students should take notes on three things they agree or disagree with in each of the five areas. Assign them to write down any ideas that pop us as they read the handout based on the five main areas:

  • Marketing
  • Exclusivity
  • Application
  • Perks and Benefits
  • Swagger

3. Small group work — 30 minutes

Divide students into groups and have them compare their lists. In each group, they should decide on collective strategies for program improvement based on the five areas above. Especially have students focus on the specific questions they would use in an interview. Each group should come up with 10 potential interview questions for an interview with a leadership candidate. Beside each question, the group should make a brief statement about the purpose of that particular question to address why is it important to know the answer.

Each group should create a presentation that describes their plan for recruiting and interviewing staff members and leaders. The plan should include specific details that parallel the five areas included in the handout, but not limited to the ideas presented there; encourage brainstorming and expansion on these ideas that can work in your school. Presentations should also focus specifically on interview questions that students would like to see asked of potential leaders and possibly the development of a rubric that would assist in the scoring/ranking of interviewees, thus hopefully helping in the process of making final decisions. Students should consider the weight of the answers to particular questions as they design a potential rubric. Part of this presentation could include a written paper that outlines either the group’s or each individual’s plan that they bring to the group.

4. Presentation to class/staff — one class period

Students should present their proposals they created in their small groups. After discussion, students will make a collective decision what course of action to adopt for their interviewing and recruiting plan.

5. Assessment

The idea is to encourage students to analyze and modify what is important to the growth of their program and how they can best match members/leaders to the needs of their particular staff, which should be done on an ongoing basis.

The presentation rubric included is one possible assessment tool. Another option is to distribute index cards and have students write their names on this exit card. After the presentations, ask students to list and describe three things they heard from other presentations they could apply to themselves or think might really work for the staff. Collect the index cards as students leave the classroom. This will provide a quick formative assessment to indicate what students learned from these presentations.


Because of their more advanced experience level, current editors could model a mock interview in front of the rest of the staff. They likely have done this in the past and can better anticipate good questions and responses to use in the mock interview.

Students who need extra help or require modifications and accommodations could work to develop potential responses to questions that might better prepare them to participate in an actual interview for a leadership position. Learning to anticipate tougher questions and solid answers might be a task that is very difficult for some students.

Extended learning:

  • Choose members of the editorial board who will participate in the actual interviews for staff leaders for next year. This committee of students could make recommendations to the entire editorial board and/or adviser for final approval of next year’s leadership.
  • Students could also research application forms for other staffs around the country and develop their own application form/rubric for selecting staff leaders and members.
  • Students could use the interview questions they have developed to conduct mock interviews in front of the class or in front of a small team of people.