It was midnight when Elaine Pierre got the notification she had been accepted to work as an EFY counselor this summer. She immediately started crying tears of joy and called her bishop, despite the late hour, who suggested the job months earlier.
“He was very excited, and my whole ward was excited because they knew that I would be a good counselor,” Pierre said.
Pierre is originally from Jacksonville, Florida, and has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for just under three years. She said she decided to become an EFY counselor because she’s always wanted to share the gospel in some way.
“It’s a really great experience. I’ve loved every second so far,” Pierre said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I’m so glad I’m here.”
Before becoming an EFY counselor, Pierre had to go through an extensive application process, which included an application, social media checks, background checks, a video interview, providing references and flying to Utah for an in-person interview. EFY Program Administrator Phyllis Nielsen said the process is rigorous to ensure the EFY program has the best counselors.
Nielsen, who acts as the program’s hiring manager, said the committee looks for teachable applicants with a professional presence.
“They’re guides for the youth, and they make sure that the youth are in a group of people who are supportive and loving of one another,” Nielsen said. “Those counselors are really impactful in the experience.”
According to Nielsen, EFY hires 600 to 800 people each year out of about 2,000 applicants for four different positions: counselors, health counselors, building counselors and coordinators.
According to Nielsen, counselor applications, the first step of the application process, generally open in October or early November.
After applications are received, Nielsen and her committee process their applications through a series of screening mechanisms.
“Even though there’s a spiritual aspect to the job, we definitely look at it as a professional job,” Nielsen said. “We look through resumes, and we look through social media. … We want to make sure that the people who we are considering would fit the bill of being a good mentor and role model for the youth.”
Applicants who pass the initial screenings then do a one-way video interview through a program called Hire View. According to Nielsen, Hire View is a company BYU has contracted to ask applicants a series of questions on video. Applicants can complete the interview on their own schedule.
“We certainly wouldn’t want anyone to have incurred any unusual amount of expense to come for an in-person interview if they really aren’t going to be considered,” Nielsen said. “So at least we’ve had an observation of who they are and whether they seem to exhibit the qualities that we’re looking for without incurring any cost on their own.”
After applicants make it past the video interview, Nielsen and her committee contact the applicants’ references through a Qualtrics survey. The final step of the process is an in-person group interview in Utah, regardless of where an applicant plans to work for EFY.
The 30-minute group interview includes three applicants at a time and focuses on their teaching skills.
“By teach, really what we mean is facilitate,” Nielsen. “We’re looking for their ability to ask effective questions that really will get the youth to engage in the conversation.”
Nielsen acknowledged the rigorous application process and said the hiring committee wants to make sure applicants are qualified. She said many EFY participants and their families sacrifice to make the experience possible, and EFY wants to make sure the youth get the quality counselor they’ve paid for.
“If we wouldn’t want our own child or our own niece or our own sibling to be with a certain applicant, then they’re not good enough for anyone else’s child or niece,” Nielsen said. “We want the very best.”
Current EFY counselor and chemical engineering student Joshua Frei said the application process helped him take the job seriously.
“You take the safety of the youth really seriously. You take their well-being very seriously. And you realize that EFY only wants to hire counselors that are really going to bless the youth,” Frei said. “It’s an honor to be an EFY counselor because they really took their time considering who they wanted to hire.”
Want to hear more EFY stories? Check out the interview below to hear about a day in the life of an EFY counselor and more. (Joseph Carson)