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How to improve your outreach and land more interviews

I’m Sara. I’m an Education Partnerships Executive here at Teach Away, which means that every day, I talk to leaders, administrators, and hiring managers at schools around the globe. My job is to help them improve their recruitment and hiring processes through a partnership with Teach Away.

In my role – assisting schools and organizations, each with idiosyncratic challenges to overcome in their recruitment journeys – there are a few analogies for the solutions I recommend (on a basic level, of course):

You can’t catch a fish without a line in the water.

The more lines in the water, the more fish you’re likely to catch.

If you don’t fish where the fish are, you catch zilch.

What I want to focus on today, though, is this one:

Just because you can see a fish doesn’t mean you can catch it.

Here’s a scenario I commonly encounter when working with schools:

  • The school has set up a website to market their school (great!)

  • They’re targeting teaching professionals by posting their vacancies on education-specific job boards (perfect!)

  • Applications are flooding in!

Great news, right?

Not quite. There’s still another piece to the puzzle. Often, the candidates applying to these schools aren’t as responsive as the school would hope beyond the initial application. Highlighting this is the fact that the school’s application-to-interview ratio is nowhere near where it could be.  

The root of the problem lies in the outreach – not in the quantity or quality of the candidates involved.

While conventional wisdom suggests that the more applicants you’re able to attract the better your chances of filling your vacancies, the real key to hiring amazing new employees is how you nurture applicants through the recruitment process. Let’s take a look at some best practices for applicant outreach and communication.

1. Timeliness is imperative

Once you’ve received an application, the next step may be the most important of all. You need to reach out to your candidates to acknowledge their application, and you need to do it quickly. Our research shows that candidates who are contacted within 3 days of submitting a job application are 27% more likely to accept a job offer and are 22% less likely to drop out of the hiring process.

To simplify this process on your end, try using an applicant tracking system or marketing automation software to automatically respond to new applicants.

Pro tip: While contacting your candidates quickly is vital, timing is important as well. Consider your candidates’ timezones and other factors that might impact the best time to be in touch.

2. Make a good first impression

Ah, time for another age-old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

As an international school leader, you are busy, but taking (or making) the time to build rapport and a create a relationship with prospective candidates starting with your very first contact is well worth the time and effort.

While you may be trying to get through the recruitment process as quickly and painlessly as possible, a positive candidate experience is everything. As much as you’re evaluating candidates, they’re evaluating your school as a prospective employer as well. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot and lose out on a promising candidate due to a poor first impression.

3. Humanize the process

Each individual in your recruitment pipeline has their own unique set of circumstances, whether they’re considering teaching abroad for the first time or working full time at another international school and considering a move.

To provide the best experience, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Minor considerations to accommodate candidates – being flexible around interview timing, choosing convenient methods of communication, or being understanding of existing obligations – will go a long way towards creating a positive predilection toward your school.

4. Sell your school

Your job of selling your school doesn’t end when a candidate clicks submit on their application; you need to continue selling your school throughout the duration of the recruitment process.

Every touchpoint with a candidate is an opportunity to keep candidates engaged, build excitement about working at your school, and further convince them that your school is the right fit for them. Perhaps you can share video highlights from the school year when you reach out to schedule an interview, or follow up with interviewees using a virtual campus tour to show off your facilities. To really allow candidates to get a good feel for your school, consider conducting interviews with current staff to share what life is really like at your school.   

5. Provide a 360° view of your opportunity

An important consideration when recruiting international educators is that what matters to one person may not matter to another, and what’s important to you may not resonate with your candidates.

The image below shows the most in-demand job benefits, in order, among candidates for your teaching vacancies:

To combat this, be sure to provide candidates with a well-rounded description of what life is like at your school and the benefits and opportunities available to them. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to tailor your pitch to each individual candidate so you’ll want to consider the multitude of factors that matter to international educators and address them as best you can. You don’t want to miss out on a great candidate who’s looking for growth in their next role because you neglected to mention the robust professional development calendar at your school.

6. The devil is in the details

Teach Away candidates, on average, submit more than five job applications to teach abroad per year, often within the same month. This means that, right off the bat you’ve got 4+ competitors vying for the services of the same teacher you are. With that in mind, think about these questions:

  • Are you going above and beyond to woo your candidates? If not, do you like your chances?

  • Are there things your competitors may be doing that you’re not?

  • Are there things you could be doing that would set you apart?

Aim to surprise and delight your candidates. Any edge you can give yourself helps – it could make the difference between a top teacher choosing your school over the one down the road.


Just going through the motions won’t translate to success in your recruitment efforts. But by being thoughtful and purposeful with your outreach you have an opportunity to make a positive first impression, build a relationship with prospective candidates, and reinforce why your school should be your candidates’ first choice.

Don’t let your efforts in attracting applicants go to waste. They’ve already taken the bait; set the hook and reel in a big one!

Do you know what really matters to your teaching candidates?