Hiring the Best

For School Districts

Top Tips for Hiring

the Best Teachers

  1. Leave no stone unturned. Use multiple sources to recruit from the Internet to local colleges and your professional networks.

  2. Start your recruitment drive early. Competition to hire the best teachers is stiff.

  3. Nurture collaboration. We advocate forming search committees to involve teachers and possibly parents in the process.

  4. Identify school needs. In an exercise with the search committee, draft a list of your school's short and long term needs.

  5. Match candidate strengths to school needs. Consider the school's needs while reading resumes and crafting interview questions.

  6. Use research to guide your search. How does research inform us about the characteristics of effective teachers?

  7. Read cover letters and resumes between the lines. Outstanding candidates apprise the reader how they teach, not just what they teach.

  8. Ask open ended questions. As in a classroom, most questions should be open-ended, not "yes or no."

  9. Use multiple and alternative sources of data. Writing samples, "walk and talk" school tour, role play exercises, etc. reduce the chance of hiring someone who is a good actor in an interview.

  10. Initiate retention strategies immediately. Schools waste money and talent by failing to adequately support new staff.

New Teacher Survival Kit

  1. A photo of your family and friends so you remember what they look like. You'll be keeping long hours.

  2. Plenty of carrots (and a few sticks) to implement a behavior management plan. Classroom management is challenging for a first year teacher.

  3. Bookmark professional association and professional development websites to continue learning on-the-job.

  4. Download calendar and reminder apps to stay organized. Mark Parents Night and the staff holiday party on your calendar - these events are important to your success.

  5. Lump of clay to remind you that children's brains can be molded, the central tenet of growth mindset.

  6. Network of colleagues to share ideas and led support. They'll become your professional learning network.

  7. Bottle of wine is not for you. It's to thank your mentor for answering your calls all hours of the day and night. The relationship with your mentor can determine your success.

  8. A map of the school showing the way to the principal's office because studies correlate the principal to a new teacher's success. While you're there, say hello to another school VIP, the principal's secretary.

  9. A gift coupon for spa treatment or a movie or anything that gives you joy, relaxation and balance.

  10. Keep a photograph nearby of your own teacher role model. When you encounter the child who is the square peg not fitting in the round hole, ask what the exemplary teacher who influenced you most would have done. Seth pinned a photograph of Mr. Dioszeghy by his desk.

For Aspiring Teachers

What is the job outlook for teachers?

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (a branch of the Department of Labor) forecasts 7% growth in kindergarten and elementary teaching jobs 2020-20230. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm

Also from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, they forecast 8% increase in high school teaching jobs. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm

From EdWeek April 7, 2021: "Jobs for New Teachers: What the Market Looks Like Right Now. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/jobs-for-new-teachers-what-the-market-looks-like-right-now/2021/04

Most common

interview questions

Published in Job Search Handbook (American Association for Employment in Education) By Robert Feirsen and Seth Weitzman

Congratulations! You just received a message that your job search efforts have paid off: you’ve been scheduled for an interview. You should be elated but instead, anxiety begins to rise. You start to worry about the interview day, with serious doubts that you will create the positive impression needed to get the job.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you’ve got plenty of company. Interviews are usually the most difficult part of the job search process, capable of turning the most competent of candidates into a bundle of nerves at precisely the moment they need poise and self-confidence most.

But the interview jitters can be conquered. As with most things, knowledge is power; the more you know, the more you will be able to put your best foot forward during an interview and take advantage of the opportunity it offers to showcase your knowledge, skills, and commitment to teaching. To help you prepare, we offer the following preview of questions you are likely to encounter in one form or another once you set foot in the interview room.

To identify our “Top Ten,” we surveyed fellow school administrators, asking them to submit the most frequently asked interview questions. But before we divulge our list , consider these two all-purpose tips from our book, How to Get the Teaching Job You Want.

First, whether you are an athlete, a musician, or an aspiring teacher facing a nerve-racking interview, preparation is key. Learn as much as you can about the school before the interview. Browse the school’s website online, study School Report Card data, maybe question neighborhood parents. Research will help you anticipate questions. For example, if you learn the school adopted a one-to-one computer initiative, you can bet you will be asked about using technology in the classroom. Or, if you discover the PTA sponsored an informational meeting about the Common Core, interviewers are likely to ask how you would implement the standards in your classroom.

Second, your responses to interview questions should be approximately two to three minutes long. In an interview scheduled to last 30 minutes consisting of ten carefully planned questions, we’ve seen candidates talk themselves out of the job by droning on for 15 minutes while answering the first question. If you practice interviewing with a timer, you’ll learn to pace yourself. Remember that two to three minutes is actually quite a long time to make a statement: if you are well prepared for the interview based upon your research and the practice you’ve had answering anticipated questions, your responses will be clear, well informed, and well received.

Here are the Top Ten Interview Questions from our poll of school administrators:

1. Tell us about yourself. By starting the interview with this fairly easy question, we’re helping raise the candidate’s confidence. First impressions often last, so be sure you are well practiced answering this first and most common question. Focus on your educational background and your work experiences, and highlight your strengths. If there is something of which you are particularly proud, this can be a good time to mention it.

2. What is your philosophy of teaching? The interview committee will be evaluating whether you are a reflective practitioner, the most important characteristic that distinguishes a future master teacher. What professional books, pedagogical theories or education gurus have shaped your practice? Summarize how these principles will be implemented in your classroom.

3. Describe an effective lesson. Since this question is so comprehensive and critical, this is the one response that can go beyond 2-3 minutes. Begin with an explanation of the objective and your primary considerations in planning the lesson. Moving ahead, describe what students will be doing during the lesson and your role. How will you differentiate to meet the diverse needs of all learners? How will you assess whether students are learning? If you have a portfolio, you can open to a page displaying photographs of the actual lesson in progress.

4. How do you differentiate instruction? You may encounter various forms of this question including, “How do you address the needs of students with disabilities?”, “How do you group students for instruction?”, and “How do you work with gifted learners?” In each response, it’s best to try to integrate what we know about best practice with specific strategies and activities you have implemented, or can implement, in the classroom. The school wants to know that you can work effectively with students from all points along the achievement continuum.

5. Be ready to address questions specific to the grade or discipline you would be teaching. Elementary and middle school teachers can count on questions about the Common and/or any standards the state or district has adopted. Science and social studies teachers have new standards too, developed by their professional associations. If you’ve carefully researched the school, you can take an educated guess about what will be asked. For example, you might notice references on the school website to literacy blocks, middle school philosophy, or college and career readiness.

6. What is the role of assessment? How do you use both formative and summative assessment to monitor student learning and inform instructional decisions? What tools do you use, for example, rubrics or analytic reports? You’ve taught it, but how do you know that they’ve learned it? Once again, a portfolio will come in handy to share an example or two. Many schools will inquire how you will prepare students to take high stakes standardized tests.

7. Tell us about a challenging student you taught. After a brief summary of behavior and learning concerns, discuss your action plan and the impact of the intervention. The interviewers will expect to hear multiple strategies. In addition, it can be very impressive to add to your response new strategies you’ve learned since the situation transpired because this shows continuing professional development.

8. How do you partner with parents? In forming a partnership, demonstrate you are both proactive and reactive. Proactive teachers keep parents informed of what is being taught and how individual children are progressing. The committee also wants to know how you would react to challenging situations by involving parents. You may cite a genuine success story.

9. What do you know about our community and our school? Once again, researching the school before the interview will pay off. There are several motivations underlying this question. Interviewers want to know you’ve done your homework. They want you to recognize their school is a special place before you are invited to join the faculty. There is always a connection between a classroom and the community just beyond the school walls. In a diverse community, for example, curriculum must honor all cultures.

10. Tell us about your involvement outside the classroom. It is best to give actual examples if you were a coach, initiated a student club, chaperoned school dances and concerts, joined faculty committees, attended professional conferences, or made a point of cheering on a troubled student playing a sport after school. If you have are just starting out, express your enthusiasm for working with students before or after school, and cite relevant experiences, interests, and training that align with these activities.

Last, we offer this “bonus” question, which is really not a query directed toward you, but an opportunity for you to ask for information

What questions do you have for us? Congratulations. When you hear this question, you know you’re almost finished! You might have one or two questions in mind, but by the time you reach the end of the interview, candidates have an understandable tendency to forget. That’s why it’s a good idea to jot these questions on a legal pad and bring them with you to the interview; take out the pad when you first enter the room and place it in front of you. Don’t ask a question if the answer is readily available on the school’s website, for example, “How big is the school?” Posing questions about salary and benefits during the initial interview is also bad form. Ask a genuine, essential question you really want to know. Some candidates turn around questions they were asked earlier in the interview. “What qualities are you looking for in a teacher?” “What do you believe is the proper role of test prep?” These questions will help you decide whether the school is right for you.

Keep in mind that many questions are now asked in situational form: they start with, “Tell us about a time when….” No matter what the format, being well prepared is the best strategy for any interview. It’s a proven formula for success.