Hiring Teachers for Next Fall: Incorporating Behavioral Interviewing into the Hiring Process

Apr 28, 2015

Hiring Teachers for Next Fall

As students anxiously await summer break in just a few months, school administrators are already planning for next fall. Of all the factors that schools control, teacher quality is the one that most affects student achievement. Some studies have found that the difference in annual student achievement growth between a student taught by an effective teacher and one taught by an ineffective teacher can be as much as one grade-level equivalent.

Schools have the responsibility of teacher recruitment—distinguishing between effective teachers and ineffective teachers. Fortunately, great teachers share many of the same characteristics: they are fully certified, have in-depth subject knowledge and several years of teaching experience, and they know how to motivate, manage, and assess students with diverse needs. However, applications and interviews are not so black and white.

School administrators must engage in a focused teacher selection process. They need to recruit extensively but hire teachers selectively based on preemployment assessments.

Behavioral interviewing, a technique borrowed from the business world, is similarly useful for schools for interviewing and hiring teachers.

Based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, behavioral interviewing uses specific questions based on candidates' skills, background, and experience to determine if they can do the job successfully.

Behavioral interviewing is:

  • A process to identify a candidate's actual behaviors and choices
  • A strategy to uncover behavioral indicators in important situations
  • A means to access a candidate's competencies and skills against job-related qualifications

In adhering to hiring best practices, school administrators must define positions and decide on specific skills and experiences that a new hire would need in order to be successful. Once specific performance skills are identified (knowledge of curriculum, methods and planning, classroom organization and management, homework and grading, etc.), the interviewer can prepare questions that will determine whether the candidate has those skills and the experience in applying them. A master list of interview questions should be asked of each candidate, in the same order and with the same wording. The interviewer needs to decide in advance what answers are sought and develop a numeric scale for assessing the thoroughness of each answer.

Behavioral interviewing questions require the candidate to discuss past situations or problems and how they were resolved. Open-ended questions should be asked. Choose phrases like, "Can you describe a situation…?" or "Tell me about a time when…."

A person who can describe previous experiences with a particular issue is better prepared to deal with that particular issue again, compared to someone who cannot even talk about his or her teaching experiences.

Implement a proven and effective strategy to guide the behavioral interview. The STAR technique (situation, task, action, and result) guides both the questions and the assessment of candidates' answers.

Consider the question, "How do you write a daily lesson plan and what do you include?"

A strong answer would begin with a description of having created lesson plans in the past and what components were included. A candidate lacking experience with lesson plans would probably not know where to begin. However, a candidate who can discuss how he or she has created lesson plans before should be able to explain tasks, actions, and results.

At ZERORISK HR, we specialize in hiring and retention. If you are a school administrator and believe that your school may benefit from our proprietary thinking preemployment assessments, consider the ZERORISK Hiring System.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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