Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District

Episode 41 - Joining the SV Team with Mr. Bob Ceh

June 22, 2021 Seneca Valley School District Season 1 Episode 41
Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District
Episode 41 - Joining the SV Team with Mr. Bob Ceh
Show Notes Transcript

Joining the SV Team with Mr. Bob Ceh

Mr. Bob Ceh, Seneca Valley Senior High School Principal 

Bob Ceh is finishing his 28th year in public education, all at Seneca Valley.  He has served as a teacher and dean of students for the first 20 years of his career in the middle and high schools.  For the past seven years, he has served as a principal in the district, four years in  Ryan Gloyer Middle School and three years in the Senior High School.


  • What the process is and how it's decided who gets interviewed and hired
  •  The qualities we are looking for in candidates
  •  The evolution of the hiring system that is currently being used
  •  The results of our system and the candidates that it provides


File Name: Voices E41 Bob Ceh.mp3

File Length: 00:17:48

FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)


00:00:02:23 - 00:00:07:25

Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District. 


00:00:10:26 - 00:00:18:21

Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff, I'm with Bob Ceh, who is principal of the senior high school. Thanks for joining us today. 


00:00:20:02 - 00:00:20:28

Bob Ceh: Thanks for having me. 


00:00:21:02 - 00:00:36:06

Jeff Krakoff: So we're ending the school year. Lots of things are happening. Graduation, closing down one year, starting to prepare for the next year. Tell me a little bit about the hiring needs of the school district and what the process is. 


00:00:38:04 - 00:01:14:02

Bob Ceh: Well, every year at about this time, we have a tremendous turnover for one reason or another, our our employees, you know, sometimes that's retirement, sometimes that's people that are taking a new path and we need to replace them. Sometimes we just have growth. We've got a lot of that and different needs within in the district. And so all of that equates to we probably end up hiring somewhere between 30 to 50 people depending on the year every year. 


00:01:14:04 - 00:01:35:03

Bob Ceh: And, you know, we often think of education as a pretty stable career once you get into it. You pretty much stay in it for a long time, but what we found is that there is a little bit more turnover than than you might think on the surface. Like I said, you know, we're hiring 


00:01:36:29 - 00:01:40:05

Bob Ceh: we're hiring a lot of people every year for a number of reasons. 


00:01:40:11 - 00:01:50:27

Jeff Krakoff: OK, so you said you're hiring somewhere between 30 and 50. Is that consistent or a typical year? Is it higher or lower than past years? 


00:01:51:19 - 00:02:33:07

Bob Ceh: Well, this is probably where it's it's leveled off. You know, when we were between 1995 and 2010, the district was growing at a higher rate. So maybe we were talking 30 to 30 teachers a year. We were hiring. Yeah. And we're not you know, our start our growth has leveled off a little bit, so we're not having as many additional new hires every year, most of them are replacements, but we still have some of those and we still have a lot of needs, even with our paraprofessionals and secretaries and support staff that we have to account for. 


00:02:33:18 - 00:02:45:13

Bob Ceh: So it has leveled off. And I think right now that that is probably a pretty steady number going forth unless we see a huge jump in population 


00:02:46:10 - 00:02:54:19

Jeff Krakoff: Walk me through the process. You have a candidate or candidates for position from start to finish. What is the hiring process? 


00:02:56:05 - 00:02:56:24

Bob Ceh: So. 


00:02:58:16 - 00:03:28:29

Bob Ceh: Seneca Valley uses pretty unique hiring process, and I think prior to Dr. Vitale getting here, our superintendent, we basically got a folder of here's people that have applied for the job and it's the principal or director of that department, whatever it may be. You look through your resume, see who you wanted to, what resumes caught your eye, who do you want to interview? You interviewed them. And if you liked them, then you said, OK, this is the person I'm going to hire. 


00:03:29:12 - 00:03:36:25

Bob Ceh: And there weren't a lot of protocols or procedures in place to make sure that we were vetting and properly giving. 


00:03:38:21 - 00:04:12:06

Bob Ceh: Looking at all the candidates, so Dr. Vitale, when she became human resources director, which was her job prior to superintendent, she brought in a system of that. We are going to interview three step process. So what we do is once you apply for a position here, you receive a screening interview. And that's basically a quick opportunity. It's a five question interview or five question process. We're really they're just surface level questions about you as a person. 


00:04:12:19 - 00:04:28:15

Bob Ceh: Why did you get into this field or why are you interested in this position? And and maybe one question that gives us a little bit of depth as to what what they may offer us as far as performance in the job. And 


00:04:30:00 - 00:05:00:18

Bob Ceh: so what we do is everything is then score based. So they receive a score. Every answer gets a three or four outstanding and then a two, one or zero as you go down the scale. And typically, depending on where the score is fall, we take the top score. So if there was a lot of top performers, maybe that's we're going to take any 21, 20 and 19 candidates that score that we will move them on to the second round. 


00:05:00:20 - 00:05:07:11

Bob Ceh: Sometimes we will go to an 18. It just depends on the number of candidates we have. We always want a healthy pool of candidates 


00:05:09:01 - 00:05:41:10

Bob Ceh: to interview. So once those that score the top, what we call the screening room, they then move to the second round. And the second round is usually with at least two people, usually the principal and the assistant principal or a director and the principal, depending, again, on what the job is. So once we get into that interview, that's about 13, 14 questions and we've maneuvered that over time based upon the questions. 


00:05:42:06 - 00:06:16:10

Bob Ceh: That's a more in-depth process of, OK, we know you belong in this this job in this category now, do you belong at Seneca Valley and so we will get into a more, more depth of questioning as far as education and in some of your processes, in the classroom or if you're a paraprofessional, how you would support different situations in that role. So we get into those questions and then once again, we score that. 


00:06:17:11 - 00:06:39:27

Bob Ceh: And everybody from that round that I believe is about a 36, I think is a top scorer, you can get so they may say anyone with a 30 or above, is now going to go to the final round. And so with that, you average your scores. So I may really like someone, but whoever I'm interviewing with, they may see something or vice versa. 


00:06:41:28 - 00:07:24:23

Bob Ceh: So we really try to get a lot of different perspectives on a candidate and and so by the time they've interviewed, they may have interviewed with four or five different people have heard their answers. So the top scores in the second round then go to the third round and then that third round, you either have a director like the director of special education or an assistant superintendent of either secondary or elementary, depending on your level, or possibly the superintendent, depending on the job. So once that occurs, we have another interview which goes in into either an even greater depth of now we're looking for some specific examples in a number of specific situations that you may be in on that job. 


00:07:24:25 - 00:07:29:11

Bob Ceh: How would you react to this? What would you do here with philosophy on this? 


00:07:30:27 - 00:08:07:18

Bob Ceh: What sets you apart from some of the other candidates as far as that execution part of the job? So it's a very thorough process. And in some of the questions, there may be a question or two that repeats throughout because different people are in the interviews, but the majority of questions are layered so that that candidate has gone through a depth of questions the entire time that really allow us to get to know the candidate, because it's it's it's a tricky business of, you know. 


00:08:08:18 - 00:08:12:08

Bob Ceh: Trying to hire someone without seeing a performance, 


00:08:12:10 - 00:08:12:25

Jeff Krakoff: Right.


00:08:12:27 - 00:08:23:03

Bob Ceh: just based upon how they answer. So we're hoping that through that process, it's thorough enough that we know what we're getting at the end. 


00:08:24:04 - 00:08:39:02

Jeff Krakoff: Well not only can you not see them perform in the job, but with COVID-19 sometimes, you know, over the past year, you're not even being able to see them in person. How how has that changed your process and what technology are you relying on? 


00:08:40:10 - 00:09:02:01

Bob Ceh: So, yeah, that's a great question, and we came upon this last spring as we were ending the school year and typically we begin to start the hiring process in late April and May by identifying what we need in buildings. And we do try to start that early because we know. 


00:09:03:21 - 00:09:39:09

Bob Ceh: We don't want to wait till the end of August to hire everybody because maybe some of the better ones have been picked over, they've already accepted a job somewhere else. So we start this very early. So last year as we started, we said, how are we going to interview when we don't you can't even come into buildings. And we weren't sure how safe that was. So we went to an entirely virtually format last year, a virtual format last year. Everything happened either a lot of the screenings that we did the first round, which is typically a 15-minute interview, a lot of those happened over phone. 


00:09:40:24 - 00:09:50:18

Bob Ceh: You can still get a pretty good feel for someone over a phone conversation and and then the other two, the building level and the 


00:09:53:01 - 00:10:07:12

Bob Ceh: the final central office level interview. All of those happened over Zoom. So and what we found is that that was somewhat convenient for our candidates because especially 


00:10:08:27 - 00:10:39:13

Bob Ceh: some candidates are still finishing a school year at the end of May, early June, when we're starting to interview. And it's not always practical to leave a half a day or to drive to Seneca Valley. They may be from out of state. We have a lot of people that still request employment here from Virginia, Maryland. And so a lot of so that's sometimes it's difficult for them to attend to. So what we found was this is really convenient for a lot of ways. 


00:10:39:15 - 00:10:42:26

Bob Ceh: And we did not feel that the interview was compromised 


00:10:44:14 - 00:11:04:00

Bob Ceh: and that it worked. I do think going forward, what we've decided is we're going to continue to do that first round, either over the phone or through Zoom. And then the second round is depending on a situation, it may be virtual, but then we're going to go back to face-to-face for third round. 


00:11:06:09 - 00:11:37:09

Bob Ceh: And I don't think it wasn't because it didn't work. I think people are still more comfortable with a face to face. And but if we can't do that, then, you know, we can certainly still use a Zoom format. And I know in the past, prior to the pandemic, I think we've used a Zoom format for one candidate who's now an assistant principal that got the job and we never saw or saw him live. And that made everyone nervous because that was the first time that had ever happened. 


00:11:38:00 - 00:11:53:17

Bob Ceh: But now, if we had to do that again, it's just a tool in our box that we can use because we want to make sure we're getting the best candidates. And if if the best candidate is Maryland and can't get here on a Thursday because of some reason or another, we don't want to lose a candidate for that reason. 


00:11:54:10 - 00:11:54:25

Jeff Krakoff: Got it. 


00:11:54:27 - 00:11:57:27

Bob Ceh: So that's that's how that has changed. 


00:11:58:09 - 00:12:16:27

Jeff Krakoff: So I'm sure you're even post-pandemic. You have some lessons learned from to another technology that that they still have a place to always have a place. So if I'm a candidate and I want to see what's available and when and what I need to do, where would you point me? 


00:12:18:05 - 00:12:50:26

Bob Ceh: So if you go to the district website and our human resources page, we use a program called TalentEd and every candidate that wants to. Possibly be employed at Seneca Valley must fill out an application on TalentEd, and that goes through all of your personal information that we would need because for the jobs that you're looking for. It is a place where you load all the documents as we know, and education. 


00:12:51:10 - 00:13:22:03

Bob Ceh: You've got to have a lot of clearances before you can work in a school. There's there's a number of them now that you need, including your traditional traditional documents, such as a resume and a cover letter, letters of recommendation. All of those can be uploaded to TalentEd. And so that at dealing with a lot of paper files anymore, it used to be, you know, candidates would come in and they would hand you a cover letter, a resume or a portfolio. 


00:13:22:05 - 00:13:41:24

Bob Ceh: All that is done electronically now. So we don't have 15 minutes before an interview. I can pull their file. I can look at everything right there and figure out a little bit of a context to this interview and where they're coming from. So, you know, certainly we have to go back and check transcripts and 


00:13:43:10 - 00:14:16:15

Bob Ceh: certificates to make sure that, you know, we're getting someone that is qualified for the job and we're going to offer. But all of that is done through TalentEd, and then our human resources department. What they do is even for us to interview candidates, they will go through and organize it for us. OK, here, 25 people have applied for this position and here's who you need to screen. And then we resubmit everything back to human resources and all of that goes through TalentEd. 


00:14:16:17 - 00:14:27:14

Bob Ceh: And all the scores are recorded in TalentEd. It's actually the interview templates are written in TalentEd, and that's how we get everything you need. Candidates are talking. 


00:14:29:08 - 00:14:48:18

Bob Ceh: Candidates are talking to us. We are typing normally so that we're recording all the answers at the end. We know exactly ok they said this here, they said this. This is why we're giving them the score that we have. And again, there's multiple people in every interview except the screening so that, 


00:14:50:22 - 00:14:59:14

Bob Ceh: you know, you've got you've got to play to the audience. And it's a strenuous process for our candidates. But what they would do go to TalentEd. 


00:14:59:22 - 00:15:25:01

Jeff Krakoff: OK, that's great. So last question. A year ago, it was not a good time for anybody in any industry to be looking for a job. But here we are. What are you hearing? What are you anticipating from a supply demand? So many industries are saying we can't find people. What's the talent pool out there for teachers and administrative folks and paraprofessionals? 


00:15:27:08 - 00:15:28:15

Bob Ceh: It is. 


00:15:31:11 - 00:15:39:27

Bob Ceh: That's it's a it's a tough question because there are candidates and I would like to say Seneca Valley. 


00:15:42:00 - 00:16:13:19

Bob Ceh: really wants the best candidates for these jobs, they want the best people serving the kids of our community. And so there are times where we may have interviewed 15 people and for a particular job and we just don't find, we may not find a suitable candidate for that job. And that doesn't mean, meanwhile, we just take the best of the of that group that was average. We will reopen the position and go back and start screening more people. So we've had to do that a lot over the course of the year. 


00:16:13:21 - 00:16:29:21

Bob Ceh: It's not a you know, sometimes you find a great candidate or sometimes you have three great candidates. You know, I know we we still struggle getting math candidates. We struggle with tech ed candidates. You know, those that are in the industrial arts, 


00:16:31:15 - 00:16:58:15

Bob Ceh: family and consumer science, paraprofessionals. You know, we still struggle to find all them. And luckily, so far, we've been able to fulfill our jobs and all the opportunities. But it is it's getting more difficult. And we've seen even with special education, the number of applicants isn't as great anymore. It's about seven or eight years ago, even the state of Pennsylvania, 


00:17:00:13 - 00:17:23:08

Bob Ceh: they furloughed a lot of teachers and a lot of districts quit hiring and so high school graduates at the time didn't go into education. So I think a lot of school of educations and colleges are numbers, so I don't think it's going to get any easier in the near future. I think it's going to be difficult to hire. 


00:17:23:23 - 00:17:38:24

Jeff Krakoff: All right. Well, thanks for all the great information. And if anyone's interested, obviously go to the Seneca Valley School District website. Bob Ceh. Thanks so much. And you have a busy summer and I'm sure good luck finding those great candidates. 


00:17:40:00 - 00:17:41:28

Bob Ceh: All right, thank you, Jeff, I appreciate your time. 


00:17:42:06 - 00:17:43:07

Jeff Krakoff: All right, take care.