With a caring culture of trust and collaboration, every student will graduate ready for college and career – Atlanta Public Schools’ mission is both bold and ambitious. At the core of ensuring young students are prepared for higher education are the teachers and faculty who engage with them throughout the school year.
“We need teachers to be self-motivated and have the ability to ensure student success through differentiated instruction,” said Pamela Hall, Chief Human Resources Officer for Atlanta Public Schools. “They must be able to create a climate that promotes respect, tolerance, and peaceful problem solving for all students.
“Being in a large city with an urban setting, we have unique challenges, among them are finding top teachers to address the needs of all students,” Hall said. “This requires a national approach to finding the best talent. In addition, being publicly funded, we have very limited resources for staff and technology. Atlanta Public Schools has a recruiting staff of one.
“Another challenge we face is the impact of making a mistake when it comes to hiring a teacher,” Skye Duckett, Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer, added. “We don’t get a second chance to hire the right teacher, making quality of our candidates critical.” A few years ago, Atlanta Public Schools also had no centralized candidate screening for its more than 300 annual teacher hires. Every candidate was included in their applicant pool. Current technology wasn’t being utilized, and the burden on principals to select talent was overwhelming.
Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent, through the HR team introduced HireVue video interviewing for hiring teachers to the district in 2015 and within a year made HireVue standard practice in all 80 schools for teaching and administrative positions. In an effort to be proactive with upcoming principal vacancies, they used HireVue to build a talent pool.
“We knew we’d need about 20 principals, we just didn’t know where and when,” Duckett said. “Using HireVue’s OnDemand interview technology, we sourced and screened potential candidates. Last year, ALL of our assistant principals and principals came through this pool.”
“Now HireVue is fully integrated with our teacher selection model. We cannot hire a candidate without going through the HireVue interview,” she said. “We’ve incorporated performance tasks into interviews. Using video, candidates can provide feedback on a recorded classroom setting on what’s working and where there is room for improvement. We’ve taken this performance data to build our assessments model and hope to be live next year.”
Atlanta Public Schools recently began using HireVue beyond teachers and administrative roles. Nicole Lawson, Executive Director of Talent Management, and her team use video submissions for summer school teachers and the Teacher-of-the-Year award. In addition, they made the shift to hire their own police officers versus city officers and used HireVue to screen and select them.
“We wanted to hire our own officers and train them in what we know to be best practices in working with youth,” said Lawson. “We train them on being counselors and advisors. We built that team of 53 officers in five months, and we’ve seen a 90% retention rate. What’s more impressive is that in the year prior to having our own officers, there were 600 student criminal offenses, and this past year it was reduced to 150.”
“We get phenomenal feedback on our process,” said Hall. “HireVue is convenient for both candidates and hiring teams while at the same time, saving Atlanta Public Schools more than $200k in just one year by reducing travel and recruiting costs. Ultimately, this benefits our students as we’re able to serve our lowest performing schools with the best candidates first and having teacher vacancies filled and ready to meet their students on the very first day of school.”