Hiring a Teacher to a 35 Year Contract Makes Me Nervous.


As a school administrator I have lots of challenges.

Which tie to wear.

How to keep lunch off my tie.

Getting the stain off my tie after lunch.

It never ends.

Tomorrow is another day and I will need another tie (today’s has something on it). 

And if history tells us anything, it’s very likely I’ll be eating lunch.

It’s a vicious cycle.

But you will be glad to know this isn’t my biggest challenge.

There’s one thing that makes me more nervous than eating spaghetti in the cafeteria wearing a white tie while sitting between two 5th graders with sharp elbows and attention problems.

It’s hiring people.

Any time you have an opening within your staff, it’s an opportunity for your school to get better.

This isn’t to say whoever is leaving the position is bad, but as an administrator, the goal is to find someone who is at least a little better.

Because if you think about it, none of us are looking to take a giant step backward (if you are… you might be in the wrong profession).

But this is where it gets tricky.

Interviewing isn’t a science, it’s an art.

Which is a nice way of saying, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t (feel free to quote me on this).

This isn’t what makes me nervous.  I know I’m not going to hit a home run on every new hire (I think I just invented a baseball analogy).

The mediocre hires don’t worry me as much as the pretty good hires. 

This is because a brand new pretty good teacher may be employed by the district for the next 35 years (a mediocre one hopefully won’t).

35 years.

That’s three and a half decades.

That’s 8.75 Presidents.

Or think of it this way.  In 35 years, I will be 73 (if I’m lucky).

Even more disturbing, 35 years ago it was 1976.  I was in the 4th grade (for the first and only time… as far as you know).

This means a teacher who was hired during my 4th grade year is still teaching.

Meanwhile the world has changed ever so slightly (you’ve probably heard of the internet… since you are on it right now).

But have they?

I would say most have changed, but the ability to be progressive in your career is a hard thing to project in a 30 minute interview.

To sum up, a new teacher who is hired this year could be with the school district for a very long time (check my math… but I’m guessing until approximately 2046).

And that makes me nervous.

Not nervous enough to skip lunch, but nervous.

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Interview With Chambanamoms.com.

I don’t do interviews.It's a Real Website Written By Real Moms.

I’m the Howard Hughes of school administrators.

Of course, without the money or the pilot’s license.

And the OCD.

Actually, the real reason I don’t do more press is because I have a condition.

It’s not something I like to talk about.  Especially on weekends.

It’s called a job.

And it gets in the way of my other life.

The one where I stay home with  Buddy the Dog and blog for approximately 12 minutes each day.

This is my dream.

This is Buddy’s dream.

This should be your dream (because quite frankly, if it’s good enough for Buddy, it’s good enough for you).

I really want a full-time job that’s neither full-time nor a job.

And blogging fits that bill just about perfectly.

I don’t really know any other bloggers, but I’m assuming they are very good golfers.

If I had a job that didn’t require me to work, I could get my handicap down and still have plenty of time for other stuff.  Like interviews (I’m not sure, but this might require people asking to speak to me… details, details).

Since I have to work to pay for Buddy’s enormous appetite, I don’t have time for all the extra things that real bloggers do.


… actually, I don’t know what real bloggers do.

Again, I’ve never met one.

I’ve always assumed they brainstormed, did some research, read a lot, and other writing type of stuff.

This was all  true until about a week ago.

That’s when I agreed to be interviewed (weak moment).  I’m not sure what came over me, but I returned an email from Chambanamoms.com.  Evidently, they had gotten so desperate for material they needed to interview me.

It makes my stomach gurgle just thinking about it (on second thought, this could be the Mexican food I ate last night). 

I still don’t have a clue why I answered the email because I can’t think of anyone I would like less to talk about than me.

Just the thought makes me want to shove a letter opener right in the back of my worst enemy (no need to hurt myself, after all).

For reasons I can’t explain, I agreed to speak to this young lady. 

And you know what?

It was as painful as I imagined.  Sure she acted interested, but I was on to her from the very beginning (me=boring).

I don’t care how many questions someone asks, I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing with this blogging thing.

To her credit, she wrote a very nice article (amazing what someone who got A’s in English class can do).  She also took less than a horrible picture of me (this takes TALENT and lots of it… most of my school pictures have been destroyed at the request of the Kindergarten teachers… something about me frightening the children).

But none of this interested me.

What did was the fact that she is me.  Except she’s female.

And has a journalism degree.

And probably a bunch of other stuff, but I don’t want to get weird on you (too late???…. sorry).

She’s started her own website and blog.

In the four years I’ve been blogging, I’ve never run across anyone who does this (by the way, my blogging anniversary was this week… thanks for the cards…).

During this time, I’ve typed my goofy thoughts on my little computer at my kitchen table all by myself (except for my faithful sidekick Buddy).

So while I found the interview awkward and uncomfortable, talking to her was terribly fascinating (if I could just have been involved without being involved).

She does what I do, but better.

She has a staff.  A business plan.  Goals.  Web people.  Advertisers. 

And she goes to blog conferences and meets other people like us.

I didn’t even know there were people like us, let alone Blog Conferences.

So the interview was worth it.  Simply because it’s nice to know there are real people out there who are trying to accomplish the exact same thing as me.

Which is…

… actually, I have no idea what they are trying to accomplish.

But my plan is crystal clear.

I’m just a school administrator who is trying to find a high-paying job that requires little or no work with absolutely no supervision and doesn’t involve interacting with other humans.  And good benefits.

It’s the American Dream.

Or maybe it’s just my dream.

Check out Chambanamoms.com.  Personally, I’m hooked on the Househunting Mom.

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Interviewing Makes Me Smarter.

In my profession, I get the opportunity to interview a lot of people.

This could mean a couple of things.

One, people hate me with such a passion that after a very short period of being around me on a daily basis, they quit.

Or two (and my much prefered theory), while I’m not a genius (this is constantly reinforced by the people who live in my house) I’ve been able to hire good/great people who sometimes have opportunities to take other/better jobs.

Either way, I get to interview lots and lots of people.Truth Be Told... I Wasn't That SMART to Begin With.

On a slow year, I would say I have 5 openings in various positions.

That means I interview about 25-40 different candidates every 12 months.

In a more hectic time, this number could easily triple.

And that’s a lot of interviews.

This brings me to a new theory.

Interviewing isn’t a science.

It’s an art (no, this isn’t my theory… someone already had this brainstorm…).

When interviewing you find yourself looking for certain things:  a good work ethic, passion, leadership, an ability to get along with others, organization, forward-thinking, etc.

These are what we call no-brainers (welcome to behind the curtain of school administration).

When you think about it, no one is looking for:  a bad work ethic,  little or no passion, an inability to lead, someone who can’t get along with others, disorganization, and backward-thinking.

My theory (which isn’t completely crazy… despite the thoughts of these same people who eat my food and are entertained by the 1,000 TV stations I provide them) is there’s one attribute you have to look for
in all interview candidates.

They must be smarter than you.Yes, this theory finds its genius in its simplicity (as do all good theories).

Don’t just hire smart people, hire smarter people.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  The key to success:  be the dumbest person in the room.

Even more interesting (to me) than what happens at the conclusion of an interview is what happens during an interview.

The smart ones make me smarter (not that difficult of an accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless).

And this is the part of the interview process I really enjoy.

It’s an opportunity to talk to people who have knowledge and experiences I don’t.

Even though I can’t hire every person I interview, it always works out for me.

Because while they may not get the job, I always get smarter.

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Interviews Are Like a Game Show.

It’s getting closer to that special time of the school year.

No, not summer (because that is beyond special… and there are days when I feel it will never get here).

It’s almost Interview Season.

Teachers retire, quit, or move on to bigger and better things.It's Gene Rayburn from the Match Game.

This also means I will have a dull headache for the next 6 months.  It’s the exact same feeling I get when I eat too much sugar.

Openings to fill.  Resumes to sort through by the hundreds (please stop telling me there’s a teacher shortage).  And reference checks to be made.

Work, work, work.

Which isn’t a bad thing.  Actually it’s job security.

Even so, Interview Season = Dull Headache just Cookies in the Lounge = Dull Headache.

I enjoy meeting new teachers during interviews.

They are so young.  So enthusiastic.  So upbeat and positive.  So desperate for a job that pays them actual money.

There’s just so many of them.

After about interview #47, I start to show my age.

I get confused and disoriented.

There comes a time when I can’t remember if I’ve asked a question or even for the candidate’s name.

Who am I kidding?  At a certain point I can’t remember my own name (sadly this happens way before interview #47).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind interviewing (see:  job security).  I just wish I had a special huge red button to push the second I know it’s not going to work out.

Sort of a “Thanks for playing our game… now GET OUT!” button.

This isn’t true.  Or nice.

What I need is a giant lever to pull.

If this sounds unduly harsh, it’s because it is.

In my defense, interviews are like first dates.  You know within 2 minutes if it’s a match.

I don’t want to embarrass the person interviewing, I just want to pull the lever and have them fall into a giant abyss (just to prove I’m not mean, I want the abyss to be deep enough that I don’t hear their crying and screaming as they fight for a final breathe… because there’s no need to make things worse).

Think about it.  Within 120 seconds you know if you want to hire this person, but yet you feel like it’s only fair to spend at least 30 minutes interviewing them.

Actually, now that I think about it this may be worse than pulling the lever.

Maybe, interviews should be shorter.

Maybe, it’s a disservice to drag them out when they aren’t going well.

Maybe, I would be doing everyone a favor by pulling the lever.

Or maybe not.

Interviews remind me of a game show.

Think about it.  A school gets 100 resumes.

We pick out 5 to play the game.

They are then brought up on stage (the interview) and asked a series of secret questions.

No one knows the correct answer, so the candidates do their best to guess what the school/interviewer wants to hear.

At the end of the game a winner is chosen and the losers (not really “losers”) have no idea why they didn’t win.

It’s a game show without the lovely parting gifts.

People are so excited to get chosen to play the game and so disappointed when they don’t win.

No job.  No car.  No boat.  No vacation package.

It’s a game show without any of the good parts.

And of course, I don’t have a lovely sidekick, a bad suit, big hair, or a long microphone.

Alex, I would like “Student Discipline” for $100.

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Why Do Schools Always Hire the Opposite of What They Just Had?

Summer is here.

If I could sing I would. If I could dance I would.

Since my only marginal talent is rambling ill-conceived blogs, I am going to stick with what I know.

School is out which means it is time to find some new teachers. Which reminds me, interviewing is exhausting.

The process seems simple enough.

Step 1: advertise the open position.

Step 2: get 12 bazillion resumes on 87 different shades of white paper (who knew there were so many shades of white??).

Step 3: open the applications while constantly wondering… how much do these people spend on fancy paper, envelopes, and fancy folders?

This question always leads me to the same conclusion. The applicants really should have put as much time and effort into their college classes as they did applying for this position.

Step 4: schedule the interviews by emailing. No phone calls. It’s 2009.

Tag is fun. Phone tag is not.

I can remember when I was looking for my first job and the time and effort it took to check the answering machine 8,000 times a day.

When schools didn’t call back, I assumed the phone was broken. Turns out the phone was working just fine, the schools just didn’t want me.

There was a time when I was afraid to go out in the backyard because I might miss a call. If I did venture out, I almost always heard the phone ring (in my head) and would run back into the house to find…

… a phone that hadn’t rang and wasn’t broken. It was exhausting not getting hired.

Email seems simpler and less painful.

Which is why candidates shouldn’t hide their email address on their resume. It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo” with some of these people.

Put your email address on the front page of your resume in at least a 12 point font. I am begging you. I am old, which means the only thing that is worse than my eyesight is my patience.

I can barely find my car in the school parking lot. how do you expect me to find your email address if it is hidden on page 3 right next to the fact that you were in show choir your sophomore year of high school?

If I need a psychic, police dog, or a magnifying glass to locate your email address, I am not going to lie to you… the odds of you getting an interview aren’t good.

But I am venting (actually it feels good and could be considered somewhat healthy).

By the way I have another new pet peeve. The emailer who always has to have the last word (it’s like I am married to them).

If you are sending an email with 2 or less words take my advice and don’t. I won’t be confused or offended.

Examples of these emails include: Thanks, OK, Will do, Sure thing, and Got it. Email is not a new technology. It works.

If I have sent you an email, I am 99.9999999999999% sure that you have received it.

Please don’t feel like you have to respond to my email that was sent to confirm your last email. OK?

Got it?


The fun really starts during the actual interviews.

I think schools and administrators make a colossal mistake when interviewing.

They attempt to hire people who are the exact opposite of the person they are replacing.

And by exact opposite, I mean they are completely different in one area.

You see this all the time.

If the last person was older, the new hire must be younger.

If a retiring teacher was quiet, the replacement must be outgoing (this is good news for you show choir person!!)

If the last teacher thought his or her computer was evil and watching them as they moved around the classroom, the school will look for someone with a ton of computer skills (and no history of mental illness).

If the last coach was considered strict, the school will want someone that is kinder and gentler (then two years from now, this person will get fired because they are too kind and way too gentle).

When hiring an administrator, if the last one wasn’t strict, the school looks for a former Marine with anger issues and a crazy eye.

This happens over and over.

Even bad employees have good qualities. It’s a mistake to just focus in on their faults when looking for their replacements.

Having tunnel vision is not always the best way to find a good replacement.

You may hire a new employee who is better in a specific area, but what about the other 27 qualities in which they need to be successful?

Focusing in on one particular trait can lead schools to hiring people who aren’t complete educators, coaches, or administrators.

A year from now the same school will be looking for yet another new employee because this year’s version was lacking in a totally different area.

Which means, if you don’t get an interview this year you have twelve months to pick out some new white resume paper (or off-white… or ivory… or bone… or …).

And find out about the person you are replacing. You don’t have to be better than them, just different.

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Is Your Email Address Keeping You From Getting an Interview?

email_iconCould someone please tell me what’s going on with colleges and universities? But please, not too many details, I may want to send my daughter there one day (although I am anticipating her attending some sort of truck driving school).

My concern is who is guiding our teachers of the future?

Who is showing them the ins and outs of what it takes to be an educator?

How can these schools be handing out diplomas and yet not talking about something that may be keeping their graduates from getting hired.

Email addresses. Sounds simple. In theory.

It makes me wonder if I should be worried about these institutions of higher education. Are their standards high enough?

I should have known something was up when they gave me a diploma. Or three (by the way, that was before email… and indoor plumbing).

Professors of Education spend months teaching their students about lesson plans, yet they don’t have five seconds to share advice on the proper selection of an email address.

How can people spend 4 years in college (or 5, 6, or 7… and if you have been in college longer, I hope they call you Dr.) and then send out an application letter (or preferably email) with something so heinous and inappropriate on it.

I was under the impression that signing up for an email address was simple. I thought Gmail and Hotmail were giving them away like candy. The kids these days, with their knowledge of technology should be able to handle this.

Evidently, I must be wrong.

A candidate mails (or again… preferably emails) a resume. The interviewee looks it over. Everything is in order. GPA looks impressive. References are excellent. Degree is perfect for the open position.

And there it is.

The cool guy/cool girl email address.

The address that was so very funny only days before. Funny to the person who thought of it. Funny when the person wasn’t completely sober.

Funny on Facebook.

Turns out a prospective employer might not be as amused as your roommate who thinks everything is funny.

Examples include drunkenpartygod@email.com… or hotsororitygirl@email.com.

I am sure these addresses served an important purpose at one time in a college student’s life. Probably a highly illegal purpose, but as always I am not here to judge.

Since colleges are evidently not teaching this invaluable lesson and the drunkenpartygod and the hotsororitygirl lack a certain degree of common sense, I feel it is my obligation to pass on this advice (plus, I get a pet peeve off my chest).

When you move towards the end of your college experience… find a new email address (you know you can have more than one…).

Prospective employers are looking for someone who is structured, trustworthy, and good with kids.

Not a wingman. Or a date.

Candidates spend time choosing which information to include on a resume, what font to use, and what color of fancy paper on which to print it.

Can’t they spend 10 seconds signing up for an employer appropriate email address?

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Interview Season.

interviewThe flood of unsolicited resumes is a telltale sign that interview season is upon us. And by us, I mean me.

Unless of course, you are unemployed. And if that it is the case, consider us in this together.

Filling a teaching position is sad, interesting, disappointing, and rewarding.

It’s sad and disappointing because you hate for your school district to lose good staff members. Although if other schools want to hire your teachers, that is a sign that you made a wise choice once upon a time.

If no one wants your teachers, that is what we in the education world call… bad.

Interviewing is interesting. Sometimes too interesting. It occasionally borders on scary.

As in, “it is scary that this person may be allowed to work with young people” or animals, or anything with a pulse.

The best part of conducting interviews is its ability to be a fulfilling experience.

Finding just the right person. Searching through the mountain of resumes to come up with that perfect candidate. Hiring someone for their very first job.

That is exciting.

There are a lot of upsides to interviews, even when it is sad that a good teacher is leaving.

But, as always, with the good comes the bad.

And the downside is the interviews themselves.

Talking to 5 or 10 or sometimes 20 people is tiring. Not tiring like a coal miner, but exhausting none the less.

It is even worse when the interviewee is bad.

That is why I have gone to the trouble to compile a list of 5 things not to do on an interview. Actually, it wasn’t that much trouble because all of these things are true. As far as you know.

In an ode to Casey Kasem, I will countdown backwards. Odds are, if you are being interviewed this spring, you don’t get the Casey Kasem countdown reference, but as always… this blog is written for my own amusement.

#5 Don’t Have Your Mom Drive You to the Interview and Wait in the Office.

I have seen this twice. You can’t make this stuff up.

Having your mom drive you to an interview is not a sign of love, convenience, or even supportive. It is sad and creepy.

Don’t do it, even if you have to walk to the interview.

#4 Don’t Dress Like a Hitchhiker.

You are interviewing at a school, not a 7-Eleven. It isn’t my problem if you have to go straight from the interview to your part-time job at the convenience store.

This is an interview where you are hoping to land a job that will pay thousands of dollars. Don’t show up looking like you are on your way to a frat party.

That doesn’t mean you have to wear a $1,200 suit, but it does mean you need to look as nice as possible.

It also means you need to take a shower and get a haircut. Covering your 18 tattoos that seemed like a good idea your freshman year is also recommended.

School administrators are hiring teachers, not prison guards (although from time to time, this job description can become blurry).

#3 Cruise the Internet for Something Appropriate for Once.

Schools have websites. Visit them.

I am not saying you need to memorize state test scores for the last decade, but you should know the principal’s name.

And the school size, and whether or not they have a football team, and what classes are offered.

College students spend an average of 107 hours per week on the internet (I made this up… and my guess is probably a little low), surely you can take 5 minutes to Google the school district.

Research goes hand in hand with having an intelligent question, or questions, to ask at the end of the interview.

Where is the lounge? … is not an intelligent question.

#2 Don’t Tell the Whole Truth.

The people who interview you want to get to know you. But, they don’t need to know everything.

I am not saying lie, but please remember I am not a psychiatrist or pastor.


Don’t tell them your sad story about just breaking up with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other (we are not here to judge).

Don’t say you really need this job because your credit cards are maxed out.

Don’t share that you are tired because you aren’t used to being up this early. And it’s 1:00 pm.

Don’t announce that you got your degree in education because it was “easy”.

Don’t say that in five years you hope to be on tenure, so you can get to school late and leave early.

Don’t ask if there will be a break halfway through the interview, so you can go outside to smoke.

#1 Be Yourself.

When I am asked for advice on interviewing, I am struck by 2 thoughts.

The first is why are you asking me? I have made a career on being “accidently successful”. But that is for another blog.

And two, interviewing isn’t brain surgery. The secret is to just be yourself.

Answer the questions honestly (not too honestly), be straightforward, and don’t try to fool the people conducting the interview.

Don’t try to give them the answer you think they want to hear. After all, you just met them and you have no idea what they want to hear.

They are trying to find a good fit for their school and for you.

If you aren’t yourself and then they hire you… eventually (in the two hours of employment) they are going to see the real you.

And they won’t like it because they hired the fake you.

You want to work at a school that wants and appreciates you. The only way to find that perfect job is to be yourself during the interview process.

And in case you missed it earlier, leave mom at home.

Comments: 10

Enough with the Resumes.

resume-papers-smaller-versionOnce again, it’s that special time of the year. It’s a good news/bad news situation.

First , the bad news.

My desk is covered with resumes.

What’s the good news? They aren’t mine (and as always, if you have heard something that would indicate I need to update my resume, please let me know ASAP).

The school year is coming to a close (settle down, summer is still a couple months away… and keep in mind, there are a lot of class parties, parent phone calls, and field trips between now and then).

It is exciting to know that most of us will survive another year.

Spring brings out the best in all of us. It also brings warmer weather (if you are on my side of the equator), flowers, wind, and the start of soccer (you don’t even want me to get started on this).

It also brings resumes. Lots of them.

So many, that I think my mailman may end up taking disability because of a bad back.

When I receive the first 100 resumes, I know interview season is right around the corner.

This economy hasn’t helped. My desk is covered with transcripts and letters of recommendation.

It is so bad, that I don’t even have room for the crumbs from my lunches and dinners (yes, administrators eat at their desks… if you are new to the profession please consider this a “job perk”… it will keep you from getting angry and burning out any sooner than necessary).

These resumes are like visits from family. Unasked for and too long (I kid… because I care).

It is a mystery to me why unemployed teachers think schools keep teaching openings a secret.

It’s like they don’t believe we will advertise the position.

Do they think cold calling works? They remind me of window and siding salesman. If I need them, I will let them know.

They can’t honestly believe school administrators just sit at our desks and ponder… I really wish an elementary teacher would mail me a 45 page portfolio so I could hire him/her to teach the 3rd graders.
The classroom seems so empty.

Then it happens.

The mail is delivered and wahoo… finally, a teacher to hire.

How would I have ever found this wonderful educator without my trusted friend, the mail guy (side note: I am jealous of him because he gets to wear shorts all summer long).

As a reminder, for those of you who are new to this blog…everything you have read up to this point is what we call “sarcasm”.

As will most likely be the rest of this blog and every other.

Of course sarcasm is a form of ironic speech or writing which is bitter or cutting, being intended to taunt its target (thank you Wikipedia).

I recently read a study online (so you know its true) that only 30% of humans get sarcasm (I have no idea if this is the right number… and I am way too lazy to Google it).

But this does explain why 70% of the population gives me a dirty look when I speak.

My point is…resumes are overrated.

The fancy paper. The matching envelopes. The lying.

And I haven’t even mentioned the references. Who in their right mind would put someone down as a reference, who didn’t think they were the greatest person ever?

You have to admit, no one ever looks better than they do on their resume. It is sort of like your wedding picture. The day that is taken, you have peaked (personally, I can’t believe that I was ever that skinny… my wife on the other hand gets thinner and more beautiful every day… for my own safety and well-being… this is not sarcasm).

Enough with the resumes. It is 2009.

Don’t unemployed people have internet? Can’t they just email me their information?

Do we have to keep killing trees? Most of which seem to be a lovely shade of yellow or gray. And I might add, come with beautiful watermarks.

Long sarcastic story short. Stop sending me your resumes. I am not a collector.

I am asking everyone to join me in this cause!

Unemployed teachers need to stop mailing and start emailing.

On some level, I think colleges keep pushing resumes so they can sell more transcripts (but, I have no proof… and I don’t want to get sued… again…).

Actually, you don’t even have to email your information.

All I need is your full name and college(s) you attended/dropped out of/ or were asked to leave.

If I have that, I can simply Google you. Then I will check out your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Plurk pages.

That should tell me if you’re fit to be with 3rd graders.

And as an added bonus, it may save a tree.

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When Hiring Employees, Avoid This Mistake.

Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein.

In the last year, I have had this conversation with at least 612 people. You may question my ability to remember every person I have talked to in the last 12 months, but that would be a mistake.

I have just a hint of Raymond Babbitt in me (Google it… and if you haven’t seen the movie, rent it). This compulsiveness may explain my need to iron my shirts after I get them back from the drycleaners, but that is a whole different blog.

This same conversation seems to come up over and over. For reasons that I don’t understand, people are dumbfounded by this issue.

It’s like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, covered in a conundrum.

This question always comes from principals or superintendents (or from the best job in education… “the assistant superintendent”… after all, who hates this person… or even knows who they are?). While I work in K-12 education, I think my ideas on this topic will apply to all businesses.

The million dollar (and beat to death) question is… What type of employee should I hire?

This question comes in all different forms.

Should I hire someone based solely on education? (like requiring at least a Master’s Degree?)

Should I hire local people or candidates from outside of the area?

Should I be searching for applicants fresh out of college, or look for more experienced individuals?

Should I be looking for a certain type of personality trait (see how I deftly avoid a controversy by not touching on the subject of hiring males vs. females?)?

And even, should I weed out candidates if they weren’t straight A students in high school and college?

While these questions are helpful in narrowing down a search, an interviewer’s sixth sense may be more important.

Like lots of skills, this can be learned. But the great leaders (bosses) are born with it (feel free to make your own joke here about great bosses being non-existent).

So many employee problems could be reduced if the people in charge just made better hiring decisions.

Someone who is adept at the interviewing process can instantly recognize the qualities necessary in becoming great employees.

The biggest mistake employers make is not treating the hiring process with the respect it deserves. They just don’t put the time and effort in to finding great employees.

They fall into the “Just Get This Position Filled” trap…or the even sadder offshoot of “Just Get This Position Filled Today Because My Vacation Starts Tomorrow.”

Hiring takes time. Hiring great long-term employees takes even more time. But the good news is the time you spend now will save you an enormous amount of headaches in the future.

I believe you should always hire based on what is best for the people already in-house.

In the case of a school, that includes the students, but it also involves the other staff members.

If you can find a new employee that is a team player and a hard worker, your life will not only be better in the short term but much easier in the long term.

Another thing to look for when hiring people is finding candidates who are not exactly like you (1 you per school is plenty). Since students come in all shapes, sizes, and types, so should their teachers.

This may mean hiring people that you “don’t get”. But I guarantee you there will be students who get them.

If you constantly hire people like yourself, you are watering down the gene pool of your school.

These are good guidelines to get you started, but there is one thing you should always keep in mind when hiring new staff.

It is the Golden Rule of Interviewing. Pay attention because a lot of people mess-up this simple concept.

Like most things in education, it just isn’t that difficult. But this is the one mistake you must avoid.

Hire and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Too often, the people in charge want (and need) to be the smartest person in school.

I myself, prefer to be the dumbest.


Because a school district where I am the most intelligent employee is average at best. A district where I am the least intelligent employee has a real chance to be great.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.