“T’is the season” ~ No, not the celebratory season of Christmas with the giving and receiving of gifts, but the season of staffing, with the giving and receiving of resumes.
I must admit, that I truly enjoy the opportunity to meet so many educators who are willing to put themselves through the process of interviewing for a new position. A colleague, who was doing a wonderful job of putting a candidate at ease said it well, when she said, “In our jobs, we are not used to interviewing, we are used to interacting”. How very true! And I believe that it is incumbent upon us as a learning organization to expand our strategies for selecting candidates for teaching positions. Within some of our portfolios, we have explored the effectiveness of group interviews ~ especially if the job description involves working closely with other educators (such as an Instructional Coach). It is challenging to see how potential candidates interact with others when they are placed at a table and asked to answer questions.
I also believe strongly that creating the conditions for candidates to feel comfortable and confident allows us (as the interview team) to truly see them shine. To that end, we are now incorporating a new aspect of the process wherein candidates are asked to select an artifact that represents their work with students and take the first few minutes of their interview time to explain why they chose it, what did they learn about their students and about themselves as educators. This process allows the candidate time to prepare and to own the first part of the interview. In some cases we have pushed the envelope even further and had the candidates create an electronic artifact to share. Feedback so far has been positive.
The other aspect of staffing season that I love is that it provides leaders with the opportunity to purposefully make positive changes in their departments and in their schools. One of our Director’s favourite phrases comes from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great where he says “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” It is through our staffing process that we get to make those intentional, purposeful decisions as to who sits where on our bus. We need to know the direction that our team is going and know which potential candidates will help us get there. And sometimes it’s not the candidate with the greatest depth of knowledge on the content area. Sometimes it is the candidate who will be able to inspire others, who understands vision and who is willing to learn the content.
Staffing is complex, time consuming, exciting, exhausting, frustrating (as we work within the confines of contracts) and worth every minute of it. I guess in that way, it does resemble the Christmas season.
All the best to those educators who are taking on the challenge of interviewing for another position.
To leaders who have the opportunity to interview candidates, this is our time to get our bus chugging in the right direction!