Aquatics Blog

Job Placement/Recruiting

Do you find yourself understaffed and experiencing high turnover every summer?  Do you hire then fire consistently?  Evaluating your hiring practices can assist in reducing the amount of time, and ultimately, the impact of human resources on your bottom line.

Lifeguard Shortage?

There is a misconception in the industry that there are not enough qualified lifeguards to work in our facilities.  Are you simply posting your job openings on the internet and hoping for the best?  100_7344For the current generation of lifeguards and aquatic facility staff, applying for a summer job does not occur to them until they are in finals week, which is far too late to get them hired and trained in time for your Memorial weekend opening.  Develop a relationship with your local high schools and community colleges. Schedule times to set up a table during the lunch hour where you can distribute information on how to apply, get certified, or attend your hiring events.  Bringing the information to the potential applicants can make the difference between picking from the best and hoping for the best.

Evaluate Your Application Process

Is your application online? If not, it should be.  This generation of seasonal staff are constantly connected, and asking them to print out and submit a paper application can drive them to apply at another business with a more millennial-friendly application process.  If possible, make the application as short as possible and refrain from asking applicants to submit a resume, as this can alienate applicants whDSCN1474 (480x640)o have no work history.

Skills Testing

Once you have a list of interested applicants, schedule a physical skills test to determine whether they are physically fit and skilled enough to work as a lifeguard.  This portion of the process should be pass or fail.  Many applicants are unwilling to enroll in the certification class until they have a better understanding of whether or not they will have the endurance and skills to pass.  The physical skills test should reflect, at a minimum, the pre-requisite requirements of your lifeguard certification agency.


There are several different interview formats that have proven successful at aquatic facilities.  One on one or panel interviews give the opportunity to showcase a single employee, however, they are very time consuming, especially when hiring 30+ employees each season. Group interviews, where 3-6 applicants sit with the panelists in a circle and ask several different questions are a great way to evaluate their social skills and initiative.  Be careful when conducting group interviews that the more introverted applicants are not overpowered by the livelier applicants and are given the opportunity to answer questions as well.  In addition, it is more difficult to be objective in scoring applicants since they are not all asked the same set of questions.

When selecting interview questions, make a concentrated effort to steer away from scenario-based questions that lead the applicant to give cookie cutter answers.  These types of questions do not give you insight into what the applicant has done or will do.  Rather, ask them to describe situations they have dealt with to better understand their thought process.


If a customer approached you and was upset about the pool being closed due to a fecal accident, what would you do?

A better question would be….

Describe a difficult customer service situation you have encountered and how you dealt with it.

For the second question, you will better understand their work experience, experience dealing with upset customers, their thought process, how they feel about customers, and their loyalty to the program.  You can gain so much more insight just by re-phrasing the question!

The Last, But Most Important Step

Many people would offer a position after the interview, but what do you really know about them at this point?  You know they can pass a skills test, they can socialize well with others, and can answer some questions.  Putting applicants through a “bootcamp” type event will give you even more insight into how they will truly thrive or fail when employed at your facility.  Whether they are a lifeguard, cashier, swim instructor, or concessions applicant, creating a real-life situation that tests their job skills, teamwork, and ability to be coached and trained is easier than you may think.  For example with lifeguard applicants, break them into teams and test their skills over the course of a day.  In between skills, complete team building activities to make the day more fun.  Applicants can only remain on their best behavior for about 30 minutes, and then their real personalities come out.  You can fully assess their skill level, whether they respond well to the culture of your facility, how they take direction, and who steps up as a leader.  There have been many times where using the “bootcamp” style hiring event has saved a hiring manager from hiring a great interviewer with no skills and a bad attitude.

Use some of these tools or all of them to recruit and hire the best employees for your facility.  Each facility will have different requirements and preferences and designing a hiring process to fully evaluate applicants will ensure that you spend your valuable time developing and building your staff instead of searching for more each year.

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