Candidates: Are you interviewing and need support?
It’s no secret that most American school districts face a severe talent shortage. From 2014 to 2016, the number of applications received for each teacher posting decreased by 20% - the largest decrease of any position type.
Traditionally, teacher recruitment is highly localized. Nearby colleges are expected create a healthy pipeline of newly-minted teachers for local school districts. Of course, when fewer teachers graduate from nearby colleges, the effects are particularly acute - and this is what we’re seeing today.
To run a successful and competitive teacher recruiting campaign, school districts are finding they need to adopt recruiting strategies mirroring those of the most successful corporations. One school district pioneering this more competitive, data-driven approach is Atlanta Public Schools.
With 51,000 students spread through 100+ schools, Atlanta Public Schools is a quintessential urban American school district. They hire over 500 teachers every year, and last year filled every single vacancy before the start of the school year (two years prior, they averaged 50-100).
These are five teacher recruiting best practices they leverage to fill their talent pool with the best candidates, and start the school year off on the right footing.
As mentioned above, many school districts are still recruiting exclusively in their immediate area to fill teacher vacancies. The viability of these districts is inextricably tied to the success of nearby colleges’ teaching programs.
Atlanta Public Schools leverages OnDemand video interviewing to remove this limitation from their recruiting campaigns. OnDemand video interviews are asynchronous: candidates record themselves answering questions specific to that district, and chosen by each school’s principal.
A video interview recorded this way gives principals significantly more insight into a teacher’s aptitude and teaching style than a traditional application. This means APS can realistically consider candidates for teacher roles from anywhere in the world, so long as they are willing to relocate.
You don’t get second chances when hiring teachers. Once they’re hired, a teacher is usually contracted for the entire year. Excepting instances of gross misconduct, this means a bad hire stays with their class for the whole school year. While obviously not a great situation for students, a bad hire also negatively impacts other teachers, since students were not adequately taught and prepared for the next grade.
While OnDemand interviews are great at giving insight into “soft” skills like teaching style, they can also be used to evaluate a candidate’s “hard” skills, like math and writing, through skill challenges.
Atlanta Public Schools’ “soft” interview questions revolve around topics like:
When evaluating candidates hard skills, APS focuses on two question types:
This winning combination of skill challenges gives APS’ recruiter (they only have one), evaluators, and principals the visibility they need to properly rate candidates from around the world - and fast-track the best teachers into the lowest performing schools.
Since Atlanta Public Schools can identify the best candidates in their hiring pipeline on an on-demand basis, they are in a great position to actively improve their lowest performing schools.
By segmenting principals’ access to candidates based on school performance, principals of lower performing schools get the opportunity to hire the highest-rated teachers into their faculty. In other words, APS puts their highest quality candidates in front of the schools that need it the most.
Teacher hiring tends to get back loaded between February and April, when vacancies become more apparent. Unfortunately, since everyone is hiring teachers during this time, it can be difficult to build a reliable talent pipeline.
Atlanta Public Schools tackled this problem in two different ways:
Since APS’ OnDemand interviews can be completed and rated at any time, they create a database of interested candidates for Atlanta Public Schools to pull from. Candidates for teaching roles are rated on a scale of 0-5: when it’s time to hire, APS can jump to the front of the pack and get the best candidates (those with an average rating of 3.5+) in for final interviews while other school districts are still processing applications.
If Atlanta Public Schools identifies a particularly stellar teacher, but does not have an open position available yet, they let them sign an “open contract”. Open contracts give candidates the opportunity to sign a contract knowing that their assignment will come later. While great for the candidate’s peace-of-mind, open contracts also help APS secure the best teachers for their district.
While school districts like Atlanta Public Schools can learn a lot from their counterparts in the corporate world, there are three major differences between recruiting in academia and recruiting in the private sector. Namely:
All in all, this means a school district’s recruiting tools need to work harder and smarter than those in the private sector. When evaluating a new hiring tool, school districts should ask themselves:
Properly equipped, school districts can gain a competitive advantage by fundamentally reimagining the way they hire teachers, drawing inspiration from the private sector to reach a global talent base on more flexible terms.