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3 Strategies for Hiring New Teachers

by Barbara R. Blackburn and Ronald Williamson

Hiring and retaining the right personnel is one of the most important parts of a principal’s job. When you have quality staff, your job as a leader is easier. When you have staff members who are uncooperative or ineffective, working with them can drain your time and energy. We’re going to look at three strategies for finding the right people for your school.

Strategy One: Understand New Teachers

Baby Boomer teachers, who dominated American society for a generation are rapidly retiring and being replaced by members of a new generation, referred to as Generation Y, one that holds very different beliefs about work, and about the workplace and the way principals work with them (Coggins, 2008). You’ll want to consider these characteristics as you interview and hire teachers from Generation Y.

Characteristics of Gen Y Employees

Strategy Two: Understand and Apply the Basics

Hiring staff is often guided by district policy. The first thing you want to do is to check with your Human Resource Department about any procedures you must follow. This often includes developing a job description and list of duties.

As you hire, it’s important to standardize the hiring process. Following a standard process ensures that you will treat everyone who applies in a uniform manner. Your district may have some of these procedures in place. If not, you will need to create them for your school.

First, develop your selection criteria. Each criterion should be relevant to the work to be performed and should be free of bias so that everyone is treated the same throughout the process. If you need someone who is bilingual, include that on your list. However, as you plan, differentiate between those skills or characteristics that are required and those that are simply desirable. All criteria must be relevant to the work, but you are likely to have some non-negotiable items and some that you would like to have. Make sure you have addressed relevant employment discrimination laws and that you always document thoroughly. All criteria should be available for review.

Employment Discrimination Laws
Strategy Three: Interview Correctly

Finally, create and use a protocol for interviews. The questions should be linked to your selection criteria, and they should be open-ended so as to provide in-depth information about the candidate. You might consider questions such as, “What do you see as your strengths related to this position?” “As you think about your past work experience, what has been your biggest challenge?” “Imagine you were offered the position and accepted it, and it is one year later. What was the best part of your first year, and what was your biggest challenge?” After you draft your questions, assess them to be sure you avoid any questions that are unlawful.

Remember, follow your process. In some cases, you may realize early in the interview that a person is not the best fit for the job. However, respect the candidate and the process and finish the interview. After you hire someone, be sure to send a written follow-up note to all candidates, notifying them that they did not get the job and thanking them for their interest in the position. A little courtesy goes a long way at this point; it never hurts to be nice, even to those you aren’t hiring.

A Final Note

Hiring teachers is a critical part of a principal’s job. You want to find the right people—ones that fit into the mission and vision of your school. Understanding new Generation Y teachers, the basics of hiring, and the aspects of interviewing will ensure you are successful.

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