Saturday, December 27, 2008

Has your school done its "hiring self-study" yet?

The hiring season is about to begin, and there is no better time than the first weeks after the holiday break is over for schools to undertake what I call the "hiring self-study." This is a chance for the principal actors in the school's hiring process to sit down and do a bit of big-picture pre-reflection on the season to come.

Rather than concentrating on the individual positions to be filled, the hiring self-study should address "essential questions," such as "What kinds of teachers have succeeded here?" and "What are some of the needs of the school community that the hiring season gives us an opportunity to address?" If the school has undertaken exit interviews with departing faculty in the past few years, this is a great time to pull out the data from these and ponder aspects of school culture that have come up in those interviews. (It is to be hoped that this data has been looked at previously, in the broader context of examining school culture.) It's a great time to do some "blue sky" imagining around possibilities that are congruent with strategic aims but not necessarily on the immediate radar--global studies or green initiatives, perhaps, or ramping up a service program. Like curriculum work, hiring is very much about mission and values, and now is the time to consider who these might play out or be furthered by the cohort of new teachers.

It's almost always a good idea to include issues of diversity in this process; the best time to make an internal commitment to certain goals in the process is before the actual recruiting begins. The "self-study" might also include a thoughtful critique of past recruiting campaigns and some brainstorming on better approaches.

It might not be a bad time to review the materials the school uses to recruit, from its "employment at" webpages to the boilerplate text that accompanies print ads to any kind of printed material that relates to working at the school. The idea is to give prospective candidates as accurate and positive a picture as possible of what it is like to be a member of the school community. Perhaps the school could invite its contacts at teacher placement agencies to come to the campus for a sit-down and a tour, as agency workers with a good knowledge of the school can give candidates the most thoughtful and focused guidance as well as understanding key factors in a making a great match.

Similarly, this is the time to determine how the school will handle internal candidacies--timing of postings, whether or not to offer "courtesy interviews," or how to handle any tricky political issues that can be anticipated.

The last thing that should be included in the hiring self-study is a review of the internal process by which candidates will be contacted and brought in for interviews. How will the paperwork flow, who will be making initial contacts, who will be involved in interviews, and what conditions must be met before an offer can be made? I'm a big fan of centralizing the starting point of the process with a single contact person to whom resumes will be sent from agencies or random applicants and who will be the nominal addressee for inquiries based on advertisements or postings; this reduces the chance that good candidates will be lost in the shuffle or otherwise overlooked.

A couple of years back I presented on "Managing the Hiring Process" at the NAIS Annual Conference. Here is the slideshow from that presentation, which covers the whole process from hiring self-study through induction:

Hope this is useful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good advice. Good thinking. Thanks