Monday, June 25, 2012

HR for Principals: Interviewing & Hiring Part 1

Day 322/365 - Kilroy Was Here

It's summer ... which means besides having flashbacks of Will Smith's Summertime, principals are busy staffing their schools.


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Filling open teacher slots can be a headache - scouring through resumes or online applications takes forever.  Interviews can be deadly.  And sometimes it feels as if the entire process is a fruitless exercise so we end up taking what we can get.  This is especially true in hard to fill areas like SPED, math, and science.

Hopefully, this series will make your life a bit easier.  Filling teacher slots is, in my opinion, the most important 'summer time' job of the administrative staff.  Pull in the right person and the sky's the limit.  Pull in the wrong person and you've multiplied your troubles for the rest of the year and maybe for the next several years.

Today we're looking at what happens (or should happen) before you pick up (or click through) resume one.  Here are the steps I take to screen applicants and decide which candidates to interview.  Time is money, so I only want to interview high quality applicants. 

Pre-step.  In this economy it seems that everyone is applying for every available job.  So before I even start to look at resumes I eliminate those applicants that are not qualified for the position.  For instance, no teaching certificate? Off the list.  Wrong teaching certificate? Off the list.  Six felony drug convictions? Off the list.  Luckily my employer has a computer-based applicant tracking system so I can make these eliminations fairly quickly. 

1) Review the job description and teaching assignment.   Look at specifics.  Do you need a math teacher or an Algebra teacher?  Do you need an inclusion cluster primary teacher or a gifted cluster primary teacher?  The more specific you are in identifying the need the better you'll be able to identify high quality candidates.  Avoid listing things like, 'we need a young teacher' or 'we need an older teacher.'  Of for god sakes, 'we need a man.'  Look for and list your desired skills and competencies - stay away from listing things that could later be classified as discriminatory. 

2) Identify strengths and weakness of the grade level or department to which the candidate will be assigned.  Does the team lack communication skills? Then you know you need to identify candidates that are strong communicators.  Does the team lack edtech abilities?  Then you need to identify candidates that are not only strong with technology but who are tech evangelists.  Conversely, if the team has someone who writes award winning parent communications and is a Twitter expert to boot - you probably do not need a second expert on that team.  Look to fill gaps - first on the team, then in the school at large.  Avoid listing things like 'need someone who is a good fit.'  The term, 'good fit' is impossible to define and has a high likelihood of being challenged.  Inlcude the team needs in the list you'll develop in step 3.

3) After you've completed steps one and two, sit down and develop a list of qualities that your ideal candidate will have.  For instance, 'must be strong in reading instruction,' 'must effectively use SM to communicate with parents,' and so on.  Use your list to develop a scoring rubric* then score and screen each applicant based on the information contained in their application packet.

4) Include your highest scoring candidates on your interview list.  I tend to pick the top 5 or 6 to interview ... that way if someone is unavailable I'll still have multiple candidates to choose from.  

Next time we'll look at conducting the interview.


 * Just an aside - I always create a written record of the selection process from start to finish.  This would include lists of all applicants and the steps that were used to eliminate candidates from the list.  This important because you never know when you'll have to justify a decision later.  If you can show that Ms. Ziegler was eliminated from your list because she couldn't demonstrate ability in reading instruction as opposed to she was eliminated because she was _______ (fill in a protected category here), any challenges to your hiring practices will be much more defensible. 

Photo Credit - (CC) Kevin Harbor

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