Amelia HerringAmelia Herring

Filling Your Teaching Positions: Choosing the Best Candidate for an Interview

Filling Your Teaching Positions: Choosing the Best Candidate for an Interview
Amelia HerringAmelia Herring
Hiring the right people to educate students is the most important job HR professionals have in public education today.

As the teacher recruitment season begins, school districts begin looking to fill teaching position vacancies created by retirements and resignations.

This process is one that takes up much of the spring and continues into the summer months. Finding the right candidate is particularly important because teachers work with children and shape their lives. Within larger school districts, literally hundreds of applicants can be applying for the same teaching position. Determining not just who gets hired but who to interview is one of the greatest challenges of human resources departments.

From the onset, reviewing applications is a tedious and time consuming task. It can also be fraught with bias and inconsistency. As a result, it is important to have some objective criteria for selecting applicants. When reviewing applicants for teaching positions, there are a number of things that one can use to determine who will be chosen for an interview.

First: The application must be complete. One way to weed out applicants is to only select those that have completely filled out the application. Often applicants begin the online process and do not finish the task. Missing information does more than just leave a gap; it gives the appearance of a lack of concern and attention to detail.

Second: Supporting documents must be present. Many application systems provide the applicant the ability to upload their resume and cover letter. If these documents have not been uploaded, then the applicant can be disqualified from moving to the interview stage because not enough information is present.

Third: Spelling and grammar must be correct. Grammar and spelling are important in all industries but it is difficult to support the hiring of a teacher when there are errors in spelling and/or grammar on a resume, cover letter or online application.

Fourth: The application should be memorable. When screening for teaching position interviews, hundreds of applications can be reviewed. Remembering why one candidate was selected for an interview over another can be difficult. For those applicants that can find a way to be remembered for something, they are more likely to be considered again. These attributes include information in the resume that tells the reviewer about them as a person. Involvement in organizations that demonstrate teamwork, dedication and passion can help put the resume on the top of the stack.

Finally: Check the scoreboard. Our school district uses several Wonderlic assessments in the pre-interview stage, including the Personal Characteristics Inventory® (PCI). This information is linked directly to our applicant tracking system and provides us with objective data that we use to determine who gets an interview. Is the only source we use? No. Is it valuable in screening? Absolutely. It provides information on the applicant’s agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, stability and openness. All of these are important factors when selecting a teacher. This information is easy to understand and even provides specific questions to ask an applicant to clarify responses.

The stakes are particularly high in K-12 education, and without a doubt, hiring the right people to educate students is the most important job human resources professionals have in public education today.

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