Hiring Top Teachers: 5 Ways to Improve Your Teacher Interview Process

5 min read
Oct 20, 2022 8:00:00 AM

What can you do to make your teacher interviews more successful? Here are five quick and easy tips.

With the growing teacher shortage, your school recruitment team is likely feeling the pressure to fill jobs quickly. But you still need to make sure you’re hiring the best candidate for the job — so how do you do both?

Improving your teacher interview process is a great place to start.

Take a page from the books of long-time professional recruiters and apply these tried-and-true tips to your interview process.

teacher sitting at desk and drinking coffee

1. Schedule Interviews ASAP 

If there’s a teacher or paraprofessional role you need to be filled, don’t wait if you see a résumé come in that might fit what you are looking for.

Don’t wait on scheduling an interview with a “good” candidate in hopes that the “perfect” candidate might apply tomorrow. If you wait, you not only risk the candidate losing interest in your position but also risk that they’ve interviewed and accepted another position.

Adrienne Maxwell, recruiting manager at staffing firm Experis, shares:

“The phrase ‘time kills all deals’ is never more true than in recruiting, if you’re waiting on three people to review a résumé and aligning schedules for two weeks out, the chances of that candidate being available when you eventually are ready to make them an offer is close to zero. The most qualified candidates can be interviewed and hired in days, sometimes even hours, not weeks.”

2. Interview In-Person ONLY ONCE 

In years past, you might have been able to get a candidate to agree to three rounds of in-person interviews, but that will not happen in today’s market.

If you want to be competitive, you need to make it easy for your interviewees to interview.

As any teacher will tell you, it has become near impossible to get a PTO day approved, and if your only option is to interview on-site, during the school day, you really need to make it worth their while.

If you have the flexibility in your schedule, consider an evening or early morning interview. This way you reduce scheduling barriers and the stress that missing a day of work can place on a teacher. Sub plans don’t just write themselves!

If you MUST have interviews during school hours, try to schedule them over lunch or a teacher’s prep period to reduce the burden on their schedule, and do your best to keep it to an hour or less.

An hour should be plenty of time to decide whether a candidate is a good fit, and if it isn’t quite enough, you can always schedule a follow-up video or phone interview to demonstrate that you value your candidate’s time.

hr-manager-trying-to-increase-employee-motivation

3. Plan Out Your Teacher Interview Questions Ahead of Time 

If you aren’t doing this already, you’ve opened yourself up to many issues, including (but not limited to) inequitable interview practices, inability to compare candidates’ answers adequately, discrimination complaints, and a haphazard or chaotic interview experience.

All candidates for a single role should have a similar interview experience.

This means that you’ve thoughtfully planned out your questions in advance and given each candidate the opportunity to answer each question, with a few exceptions.

The interview questions should serve as a guiding outline, not necessarily a script.

If a candidate doesn’t have teaching experience, asking them about their teaching experience would be uncomfortable. Instead, you might ask them about their experience working with elementary-aged students or ask them about a time they taught someone something.

The theme and tone of the questions should align, but you can tailor them to the interviewee.

teacher in an interview

Avoid asking questions that are too personal or might create the impression of bias or discrimination.

For example, all of these topics should be absolutely off the table:

  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Family planning status
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Sexuality and/or gender identity

Even if you believe your school would never discriminate against a candidate, you want to avoid even the opportunity for someone to think you might have.

4. Close the Interview 

In this market, an employee is interviewing you just as stringently as you are interviewing them. 

Make sure to put your best foot forward by making a good impression and closing the interview well.

Leave time for a short tour, and encourage your interviewee to ask any questions they may have about the school culture, working conditions, admin support, or anything else that might be on their mind.

If you’ve done a good job during your interview, you’ve likely uncovered some information about WHY they are considering making a change in their career. You can use that information to close your tour well.

teacher candidate and school principal after interview

For example, if you know they lack strong admin support in their role now and that their class sizes are too big, now’s your chance to share your philosophy toward supporting teachers in a holistic way and that your student-to-teacher ratio is the lowest in the district! 

At the end of the interview, even if you know that candidate isn’t a great fit, always thank them for their time and promise a follow-up within a reasonable time frame. 

5. Offer Soon — or Prepare to Lose Them to Another School

According to Katie Blume, the managing director of the Experis staffing firm, “The competitive landscape across all industries has increased dramatically over the past several years. Employers who take decisive action are the ones who will secure the top talent in the market.”

While it’s an unsophisticated saying, “you snooze, you lose” captures the market climate well right now.

Teachers are reporting a conditional offer of employment within hours or days — not weeks — and paraprofessionals have been offered a job, pending background checks, on the spot. 

If you aren’t ready to make a conditional offer on the position within the next few days, you shouldn’t be interviewing candidates.

Ultimately, by the time a few weeks go by, your candidate has likely already accepted another position or has long since dismissed your school as an option.

Your time is valuable — so don’t waste it on an interview unless you’re ready to make the offer right away! 

By turning your interview experience into a “selling experience,” you’ll increase the likelihood of snagging top teacher and paraprofessional candidates in the marketplace and filling your open positions that much quicker.

In order to out-recruit the other schools, you’ve got to think less like an educator and more like a recruiter. So schedule those interviews quickly, interview well, and get your offers out before someone else can!

Additional Reading

Learn more about hiring teachers and giving strong interviews in my previous articles on this topic:

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