Last week, we talked about how to find good prospects for teacher hires. Today, we’ll look at some key interview dos and don’ts:
DON’T interview anyone who didn’t follow your application instructions. I mentioned this last week, but it bears repeating. If you asked for a cover letter, resume, and 3 references, don’t bother following up with the person who sent only a resume.
Job applications are kind of like first dates: At this early stage of the game, everyone is trying their best to make a good impression. If disregarding your explicit instructions is the best they can do, that’s the kind of talent your center can do without – sort of like the guy on that first date who can’t stop picking his teeth and making bitter comments about his ex-wife.
DO pay close attention to applicants’ cover letters. Cover letters are often far more revealing than resumes. Always request them of your applicants, and read them carefully.
DON’T interview everyone who seems promising. Instead, set up a short (15 minutes or so) phone call first to gather additional info and decide if a second, in-person interview is warranted. Always have the applicant call you rather than the other way around. That way, you can weed out anyone who calls you late – or not at all.
DO give the interview your full attention. If it’s impossible to guarantee calm and privacy at your office, schedule the interview for a different location – at a nearby coffee shop, for example. You can then bring the applicant back to your center for a tour at the conclusion of the interview if it’s gone well.
DON’T stray into illegal territory. Sometimes “just making conversation” can lead to legally treacherous territory in terms of an applicant’s marital status, religion, age, ethnicity, disability, or other protected characteristic. Avoid questions of a personal nature, such as “Do you have kids?” or “Are you married?”
If what you’re concerned about is, say, the applicant’s ability to work certain days or hours, go directly there: “Are you available to work on Sunday mornings?” instead of “Do you attend church regularly?”
DO listen carefully to what the applicant has to say. The best applicants are those who focus on what they can bring to you and your center, rather than why the job would be a good thing for them.
DON’T ignore red flags. If the applicant has gaps on her resume that she can’t satisfactorily explain, or is unable to provide references upon request, these are generally very bad signs. And it goes without saying that you should always check an applicant’s references.
DO ask the million-dollar question. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” There is no single right or wrong answer to this one, but the answer is always highly revealing. If you’re looking for someone who will be at your center for a long time to come, “I’ve always wanted to work at a bank” is not the answer you’re looking for. (“I dunno” is, of course, also bad.)
DON’T expect the interview to be a one-way street. Good applicants will always have questions for you about your center and/or the specific position they’re interviewing for. Beware the applicant who does a lot of nodding but little else.