If you’ve reached Level 3 in the last two parts of this blog series, you should now have a clear list of priorities and your application process should be a pleasure to experience.

But what happens when you have candidates in your school? You need to know which of them is going to be suitable.

As in the last two parts, here are three options for handling the interview process. Which of these best describes yours?

You start by observing the candidate’s teaching and make a judgement by gut feel – you’ve seen enough teachers before to know whether someone can teach or not.

When it comes to the interview, you ask questions like:

  • Tell us what unique qualities you would bring to the school.
  • How do you handle stress?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • If we visited your classroom in six months time, what would we expect to see?
  • What are your views on discipline?

These all seem like perfectly reasonable questions – but they’re surprisingly ineffective. Why?

They’re all hypothetical, and hypothetical questions give the interviewee the opportunity to tell you what you want to hear.

You might figure out who the best salesperson is, but you’ll learn almost nothing about who they are as a teacher and how they’ll be as a member of staff.

If you’re using a Level 2 process, you might have designed a teaching observation that allows you to assess the specific deliverables and behaviours you are looking for.

You understand that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. As a result, your interview questions take the form of:

  • ‘Tell me about a time when you… …’
  • ‘Give me an example of… …’
  • ‘Describe a time when… …’

Your follow-up questions dig deeper by asking about something the candidate just said (e.g. ‘Tell me more about how your manager handled that.’

In short, your questions are specifically chosen around the deliverables and behaviours you’re looking for.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, here’s a list organised by behaviours to get you started.

Finally, you take notes and benchmark the interview and teaching observation against your ideal candidate description.

We all have biases which cause mistakes when we make decisions.

We’re especially prone to preferring people who remind us of ourselves or someone we’re close to in some way. We tend to ignore the flaws and exaggerate their strengths.

Whilst this was great for keeping us safe in hunter gatherer days, it’s not necessarily the best strategy for building your team – which requires a certain level of diversity to thrive.

The best way of minimising this risk is to have a trusted colleague on the interview panel – preferably someone who has a slightly different worldview and is comfortable challenging you.

You should both take your own notes and discuss them afterwards, with a focus on remaining objective and choosing candidates based on your prioritised deliverables and behaviours.

It won’t guarantee that your chosen candidate turns out to be the right person, but it will increase your chances significantly. It also means that you can give fair and objective feedback to any candidates that didn’t make it through.

Time to Work on Your Recruitment Process?

We’ve now looked at the three major parts of your recruitment process. The question now is: how does yours stack up?

Perhaps you’re strong in all three areas, or maybe your interview process needs some work.

Whatever your process, it’s always worth putting the effort into improving it. After all this is the only way you can be sure that you are attracting and hiring the very best teachers.

That’s a wrap on this blog series about recruiting the right teachers for your school. Want to comment or start a discussion around any of these points? Tweet @letsfinded #schoolrecruitment