Recruiting Teachers Remotely

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Online Interviews


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can schools recruit new teachers during COVID-19 lockdown?

Not only do we have a recruitment crisis, but with the Coronavirus pandemic, the difficulty for schools to interview teachers will be more challenging. Coupled with financial constraints, as well as the logistics asscoiated with face-to-face interviews in schools, school leaders will need to adapt quickly…

How to plan a proactive recruitment strategy?

For a number of years, rather than the January, April and September window, the recruitment season has become an all-year-round task for a number of years. As a consequence, schools have had to rethink how they can recruit and retain teachers for at least a decade. Pupil numbers are on the rise and despite £750 million spent by the government on recruiting and training each year, teacher training targets have been missed for the last 7 years!

It will come as no surprise that immediately after schools were placed into Coronavirus lockdown, teacher recruitment fell off a cliff-edge as school priorities shifted to providing online, home learning activities for pupils. Today, as the initial impact settles and online curricula programmes evolve, the education sector reaches its peak period for vacancies: How school leaders recruit new teachers for September 2020 will pose a significant (and new) challenge for everyone.

How to use social media to attract more teachers?

As far back as I can remember, supply agencies, independent and international schools have been recruiting teachers from overseas, via phone call or video link, but this has not always been common practice in most schools. At the beginning of the recruitment crisis when austerity cuts started to be implemented, in 2011 and then again in 2014, I first used video interviews to recruit potential teachers. I also turned to Twitter to bypass extortionate sums of advertising costs, securing teachers from other sides of the UK at the click of a button!

Equally, I have accepted Teach First candidates since 2008 (albeit the methodology was slightly different to the traditional recruitment process) with a ‘Yes or No’ decision requested within 24 hours (based on a three-page letter of application) was an interesting period in my leadership life. On the whole, nine times out of 10, the decision paid off!

How to market your ‘employer brand’?

As the UK currently resides in lockdown, every teacher across the country will be using some form of video technology to communicate with colleagues or pupils. Many school leaders, with a raft of challenges, will also be seeking potential candidates and working out how they can do this online. Apart from being unable to complete traditional face-to-face interviews or sitting in a classroom watching a lesson observation, there should not be anything significantly different from what schools have done in the past.

For all of us during the pandemic,  whether job seeker or recruiter, the challenge will be with social distancing and lockdown rules. Teachers cannot visit potential schools for an interview, nor can teachers who may be facing furlough, redundancy or income challenges. Who would want to consider moving schools at this uncertain time? We have no idea when we will be allowed to travel and visit a school. Therefore, schools must actively market their school and create a hub of talent, reducing the need to call on agencies.

Conducting interviews in all scenarios…

In my 17 years as a school leader, I have conducted and experienced every possible scenario at interview, learning how to adapt at any given moment to fire alarms or violence, to accusations, tears and heartbreaking stories or video-observations offering a glimpse into a teacher’s capability. I’ve been writing as far back as 2013 that I envisage that one day, the likes of the Chartered College of Teaching and companies like IRIS will join forces and develop an online portfolio for teachers, to help teachers showcase their best and worst classroom moments, a smorgasbord of professional development, reading lists and certificates, as well as a forum where dialogue, contributions and reflections can be stored. This portal would work similarly to a secure Twitter or Facebook profile, allow certain people to access information as and when the user grants permission. This platform would also allow the person recruiting, to see a true, overall picture of the teacher. Until that happens, we have to keep dreaming that it will…

How to recruit teachers via video?

With COVID-19 now impacting on all schools, what can schools do to simplify their recruitment? And
with time being so tight, if you’re responsible for recruitment in your school, you will know that these issues have a real and tangible effect on your budget. The high costs of re-advertising for posts, urgent recruitment needs and costly recruitment agencies mean ‘fire-fighting’ is a reality for some schools. Below are some simple tips to consider when using video for interview.

Tips for online interviews

  1. Share the agenda with other colleagues if conducting the interview online, and remotely. Talk through who will ask what question and when.
  2. Check the camera and microphone are working prior to the interview. Learn how to use the technology, for example, screen sharing and mute
  3. Find a quiet space and make sure the background is tidy. Look the part – the interview may be taking place outside of normal conditions.

Schools who wish to protect themselves will put contractual terms in place, with ‘probationary periods’, timelines and performance stipulated in writing to safeguard online appointments.

The most important thing for schools to mitigate for the ‘September rush’ is to proactively plan a recruitment strategy and build a talent pool now, and over time.

6 thoughts on “Recruiting Teachers Remotely

  1. Ross, Many of us have conducted remote appointment interviews over the years. The issue for me is however good the interview experience is, and its not the same as face to face, the prime driver for new teachers is the ability to see them interact with children and teach a class. This may be hard in this new online setting and schools I have been working with have suggested they might hold off on substantive appointments until they can see individuals teach. This effectively means leaving permanent appointments until October 2020 and using agency staff until Christmas 2020.
    I fully understand this perspective as the actual quality experience of seeing someone engage in the key employment role is high on the required list!
    Having appointed many foreign nationals through agencies over the years the online experience is fine and all the advice you suggest is good. I would add the types of questions you may ask will be different from a face-to-face experience. I have used a “describe to me the best lesson you have taught in your current experience and how would you illustrate the impact of the lesson” was a great place to start. The converse of asking “Describe your worst lesson and why did it go wrong” and the follow-up “And what would you do differently now you have had a chance to reflect on the experience” gives you a measure of the quality of the teacher you are talking to.
    I have also found that the formality of the normal interview experience may better be relaxed a little that it becomes a little more a discussion than a question and answer session. In the remote environment it is more productive in my experience.

    Just some thoughts having done this many times.

      1. I would agree with you Ross about the probationary period. Given some teaching quality issues that some face I would suggest it as standard practice. I know that many Trusts and schools have put in place over recent years and believe it to be best practice.
        I have heard this afternoon that some local authorities are advising schools to make teacher appointments but not senior/SLT post appointments. I am not convinced this is sage advice. I would suggest the opposite may be worth considering. Senior posts are more about leadership and capacity to engage staff, this can be done through remote means, teaching is another matter. You have to get to it with groups of children, my experience tells me the opposite to the advice is more likely to be successful, but I’m open to debate on the matter!

  2. Using technologies such as zoom would not only enable panel interviews, but if parents were willing, surely selection processes may also include pupils ? Moreover, seeing how prospective teachers are able to adapt and embrace new EdTech solutions to deliver teaching and learning might set candidates apart from one another!

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