George Lucas Educational Foundation

Interviewing Strategies to Hire Only the Best Teachers

Interviewing Strategies to Hire Only the Best Teachers

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As we move into interviewing and hiring for the next school year, I need help! I don't seem to be able to find out enough information, or ask the right questions in order to hire only the best. I just bought Todd Whitaker's book Six Types of Teachers to help me out, but any other strategies for interviews and/or checking references that you have to share would be most helpful!

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R. Janet Walraven's picture
R. Janet Walraven
Mentor for teachers, students, parents, and administrators

Lori--You have the right question. How does an administrator choose the best teachers? Since research shows that education reform rests with the classroom teacher, that will happen only if an administrator/hiring committee knows how to make that choice. Then, and this is equally important, that administrator needs to know how to support that teacher, especially if the teacher is new to the profession. That's where I come in. Every teacher needs a mentor. I go further in saying that students, parents, AND administrators also need a mentor. We all need to learn how to connect with each other to give every child the quality education they deserve, and to bring joy to the classroom for every student and teacher. Classroom learning needs to be pleasure-centered. To get the horse in front of the cart where it belongs, my question is: Who is doing the hiring? A committee? Made up of whom? Who writes the interview questions? Are those involved well-versed in relevancy regarding matching the questions with the position? In addition, are references/recommendations being checked carefully? Once the hiring has taken place, is a qualified mentor matched to the teacher? Hiring the best teacher for the position is the crucial step in quality education. I'd like to see question openers such as: Do you like kids? How patient are you? How do you propose helping students feel comfortable in their own identity? Set up scenarios: What would you do in the following situation.... I'd love to continue the discussion. Feel free to email me at or Best regards in your search.

Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

I've been on numerous interview committees using a set of questions and a rubric for scoring responses. In addition to some of the ideas above, I think some of the most revealing questions have been along the lines of:

Describe how you develop a lesson plan from start to finish. (I am often amazed how poorly candidates answer this. Do they mention standards/objects or beginning with the end in mind? Do they mention classroom assessments? Do they mention differentiation or accommodations or knowing the students?)

How would you describe your approach to classroom management? (Are they pro-active or reactive? Do they talk about consequences or progressive discipline without mentioning the importance of rapport, fostering a caring environment, or utilizing engaging curriculum and instruction to minimize possible management issues?)

One that we haven't used, but for which I would advocate: To which professional associations do you belong? Discuss something you've read recently from one of their publications. (I believe this would reveal whether the candidate pays attention to the current literature regarding best practices, and whether they are the type of professional that seeks new ideas from respected sources?)

Come to think of it, check this link:

Sally Ryan's picture
Sally Ryan
Adjunct professor, Education, Mount Saint Mary's University, Emmitsburg, MD

I will share your comments with my teacher candidate interns. Great ideas for all of us to consider. How would we answer these questions?

nirajpunjani's picture

It is always difficult to find the right person for the job. I mean, just looking at the resume is never going to help. You need to know about the soft skills as well. Asking the right kind of questions is very important. The person you are planning to hire should meet different people in your organization at different times. There are always different kinds of people in an organization. Every body has strong points and weak points. You select people who understands your organization inside out. They will talk with the person whom you want to hire.It is always important to get different view points. In our School when we call a person, first, he/she gives a demo lesson, where we see his body language, voice modulation, connection with students', presentation skills etc. We also have a subject expert who checks his subject knowledge one on one. We also have people who are good at judging people on their soft skills. So that is the next step. We also ask his views on some hypothetical situations. The whole process takes one day. During the whole process continuously one of our team member will be with that person. He would accompany him during and lunch time. Also he will take him around the school. The whole idea is that during these times normally, people are relaxed and their guard is down. That is the time his true views will come out.

Dr. Scott Taylor's picture
Dr. Scott Taylor
Superintendent- Highland Park Public Schools; Adjunct Professor at Rutgers and Montclair Universities; Ironman Triathlon All World Athlete 2015

Lori- I thought I'd share some thoughts based on my failures and successes when making hiring decisions.

There are jobs and there are careers. Jobs happen from nine to five and usually don't require much work beyond the regular day. Careers happen all the time, are part of the thinking, living and doing of the individual, and have few if any boundaries. Jobs are regimented and fixed, whereas careers are flexible, always growing and are part of the life process.

Educators cannot be job-minded. They must be careerists. I look for people who will live and breath the art of learning when I interview teacher or administrator candidates. I want to interact with people who will go home and think about learning. I don't expect that my colleagues will blur the line between home and career; I make a point to be thoroughly involved with my family when I'm with them, and I try to be present in their lives always. But, I do see my career as a valuable part of my life that seeps its way (in a healthy way) into everything I do. Careers and families can live together harmoniously.

An effective career in the educational field is a lifelong career that does not stop at retirement. The best people I know in this profession are still going strong at 80 years plus. When I interview people interested in joining my learning community, I think far ahead into the future and wonder to myself, "will I be learning with this person 20 years down the line?"

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