Monday, December 18, 2017

Hiring and Referencing

Teachers and principals can make or break a school, their hiring plays the biggest part in the future success or failure of a school.  Because of this it is important to find and hire the right people.  This can be a challenge if you are not prepared and understand where you are, what you currently need and where you want to go in the future. 

Understand Your Needs

Every school is unique when it comes to hiring the perfect teacher or administrator.  You must know the environment, the best fit for that individual and the school community.  Specific needs might include certification, experience, personality, flexibility, and individual philosophy of teaching.  Don’t begin the process until you know the answer to these questions.  They will help shape not only the understanding of the type of individual you’re looking for but also the type of questions that would be most important to ask potential candidates.

Post the Position

NAD Education has a central location to post all openings in the NAD on the Adventist Education website.  The larger the pool of potential applicants the better.  Be as detailed in your description as possible, make sure to list contact information, the deadline for submission and qualifications.

Initial Sorting

After the deadline has passed scan each resume specifically for key words, skills and experiences that match your needs.  Note how the resumes and letters are constructed, are they organized, do they have gaps in the information, was this a generic interest or does the candidate exhibit a specific interest in your school.  Use this process to narrow the field and then look for individuals on their references that you or someone you trust may know.  Consider links to individuals that might not be listed and reach out beyond the list of references.  Your goal is to get as much information as possible about the individual before they are even considered for an actual interview.  All of these things will help narrow your list.

Deep Background and Reading Between the Lines

An interview is a snapshot of an individual and can be unreliable as a reference for how the person will actually fit in the position.  Interviews are too short a time to become familiar with how someone will perform long term.  The goal of spending time doing deeper background is to get clear understanding of the individual’s performance from people who interacted with them long term.  It’s important to understand that official references typically stay brief and often superficial.  Your successful discussion with a reference is based on what they said and what was conferred “in between the lines.”  Always ask these two questions; “Would you hire this person for a similar position?” and “Who else should I speak with about this candidate?”

Something else to add to your deep background is a search of social media website for the individuals being considered.  You won’t be the only one looking them up on these websites and you will be much better off checking them before you hire someone than finding out afterward through a constituent.

The First Interviews
An initial phone or teleconference is recommended to further narrow your candidates.  In this initial phone conversation, your goal is to establish how strong their interest is in the position, fill in any gaps or answer basic questions you need clarification on.  Try to get a feel for the candidate’s personality and comfort level.  Don’t rush this conversation, spend time to get to know them a little with small talk, ask them to share.  Take notes as you go through their resume.  Add your thoughts, impressions and any further questions you might research. 

The Second Interviews

At this point you should have a good idea who the top 2-3 candidates are.  It’s time to broaden the scope of understanding with your committee, chairperson or board.  Let them add their thoughts on the resumes, deep background and connections to the candidate to the discussion.  Let them share their impressions before you share your thoughts.  Let them formulate their own opinions for each candidate.  Some Conferences prefer at this point to bring only one candidate in, while others will bring in their top 2-3 for interviews.

Interview Questions

While you want to learn as much as possible about a candidate there are some things you should not ask.  While Title VII doesn’t have a list of questions that can’t be asked, anti-discrimination agencies use these types of questions to show bias and discrimination.

1.     Are you pregnant?
2.     What is your political affiliation?
3.     What is your race, color or ethnicity?
4.     How old are you?
5.     Are you disabled?
6.     Are you married?
7.     Do you have children?
8.     Are you in debt?

Here’s what you should do:
1.     Questions are easy, use scenarios instead to get a deeper understanding.
2.     Throw a trick question in for example: “You’re working with a group of students at a table when one of them throws up on the manipulatives. What do you do?”  Pay attention to the candidate’s response, body language and thoughts.  The best candidates will not only focus on the cleanup, but the sick student AND how they will handle their student’s response to the sick child to limit embarrassment.
3.     Relax, remember that this individual will become an integral part of your team, use the opportunity to find out their interests, hobbies and books.  Look for opportunities to laugh!
4.     Ask your candidates what they know about your school, the area and the Conference.  The amount of research they did can tell you a lot about how likely they are to succeed.
5.     Be specific when asking about the gaps or red flags on their resume. 

6.     Take a tour and make sure to note how the candidate interacts with students, teachers and parents.