Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview

I'm spending some quality time with my wife on Hilton Head Island this week (yes it is appropriate to be jealous).  Please enjoy these guest posts while I'm away.  

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview
How do you identify the best candidates from a bunch of paper? As an assistant superintendent in charge of personnel, I review and process hundreds of resumes and applications each year, yet one of the biggest challenges I face is determining how the applicant’s paperwork compares to the person. Making this determination becomes essential when interviewing for administrative vacancies because often the interview process involves a stakeholder committee as part of the process and candidates that get to that level must be of the highest quality.
My experience with administrative interviews involved a paper screening of resume, cover letter, references, certifications, and application. Those who make it through the paper screening go on to the committee round with stakeholders, and ultimately finalists go to the last round with the assistant superintendents and superintendent. The key is to get high quality candidates into the committee round so this group can effectively and efficiently identify those candidates qualified to move on through the process. The problem is the “paper view” of a candidate can sometimes be dramatically different than the in person interview. 
To deal with this issue my district has instituted a speed round of interviews between the paper screening and committee interviews. Candidates identified as qualified through paper screening are invited to this new round of interviews. The speed round includes:
  1. Each candidate is scheduled in 5 to 10 minute intervals with a 5 minute break periodically built into the schedule as a catch up period. Candidates are specifically told the structure and purpose of these interviews so that they are ready for the process. 
  2. Up to 20 candidates to be interviewed. You can increase or decrease depending on the number of people that meet your paper screening qualifications.
  3. Each candidate is scheduled to interview with two assistant superintendents and the superintendent separately. Every five to ten minutes the candidate moves on to the next administrator.
  4. Each of the three interviewers asks questions in his/her area of responsibility. The same questions are asked to all of the candidates.
  5. Each candidate completes 15 to 30 minutes of interview time by the end of the process.
What has been so beneficial in this process is the ability of the interview team to interview more candidates than has been traditionally possible in the old model of going from a paper screening to a committee interview. The speed round opens the door to about 20 candidates, which if interviewed at a committee level would take approximately 4 days to complete. It also clearly identifies how the candidate’s qualifications match with their interview abilities. This is vital when the next round of interviews is at a committee level and you want to assure high quality candidates at that level. But most importantly, it hyper-focuses the interviewer and interviewee during the process. This focus keeps the attention on aligning the candidates paper qualifications with his/her interview responses. As a result the interviewers are able to identify the highest quality candidates to move forward.
Scott Rocco is an Assistant Superintendent for Personnel in  a large suburban school district in New Jersey, adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, instructor in the NJEXCEL program, presenter, and co-founder/co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter. Scott presents on the use of social media for educators, school safety, marketing yourself, and various leadership topics. He is dedicated to positively and productively engaging educators in a dialogue that improves student learning, enhances instruction, and creates effective learning environments for all who attend and work in schools. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRRocco or contact him at scottrocco@gmail.com.

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