About The Author
Jane has considerable experience in the world of international education. She first became involved in teacher and educational leader recruitment while working in Abu Dhabi. Over eight years, Jane worked with colleagues and agencies organizing extensive recruitment campaigns around the globe. Today, Jane uses her knowledge and experience to support schools and organizations in the design and fulfilment of their recruitment goals.
A few years ago, a colleague and respected international education consultant, advised me “When your recruitment goals are clear, and your processes are objective and fair, you have a good chance of getting the right people; if not, you will find that you are always mopping up afterward.” Looking back, I realize that there is truth in his assertion.
Today, the question is, how do recruitment leaders and their teams ensure that their recruitment processes are equitable and transparent and that they attract the best possible pool of professional candidates? The tips below may give novice and experienced teams a place to start and offer a few reminders for recruiting for inclusive school cultures.
- Make Informed Decisions. Teachers are well-versed in using data to inform their professional practice, and the premise works equally well when planning for successful recruitment. When planning the campaign, recruitment leaders can work with school leadership to collect and analyze data, identify gaps and potential and/or troublesome areas, and make recruitment goals or targets accordingly. A number of recent research reports suggest that teams begin by studying:
Your current teacher team. Look at demographic data such as gender, nationality, qualifications, experience (overall and in your school), etc. What does the data tell you? For example, if there is a wealth of experience among the school’s primary literacy team, you might want to look for a teacher with less experience yet who would be a good candidate for a mentoring opportunity. Similarly, if the data tells you that the current team’s education and experience predominantly represent a certain geographical area, perhaps you might want to consider expanding the field of expertise.
Your school’s or organization’s vision for an inclusive and representative staff. What policies articulate current and future goals and commitments to an inclusive school community? For example, if the data indicates that the school leadership is primarily male as compared to other schools and organizations, perhaps it is time to consider setting a target to diversify the leadership team over time.
- Choose Your Criteria. Knowing your school’s targets enables you to clearly articulate the professional you are seeking. Work with your recruitment advisors to ensure that the job description has clear and objective criteria for the successful candidate. The recruitment team may also introduce you to software that ensures that job descriptions use neutral, inclusive, and jargon-free language. Some recruiters recommend avoiding “overstuffing” job descriptions with nice-to-have criteria such as understanding of relevant developments in international education or energetic and outgoing.
- Plan the Interview. When assessing a candidate’s potential fit with your school’s goals for an inclusive culture, the challenge is to get beyond the rhetoric. Whether in a video or face-to-face format, recruiters must pay close attention to verbal and non-verbal cues when asking for specific and detailed evidence of the candidate’s experience with diverse professional teams and school cultures. A recent report from Forbes, an international media company known for its contributions to innovation and leadership, suggests that having teams of at least three diverse evaluators attuned to their personal bias blind spots can effectively ensure a transparent and standardized recruitment process.
The report mentioned above recommends consistently using structured interviews rather than a more informal or off-the-cuff series of interactions. Many teams use scripted questions directly related to the job criteria and a rubric or matrix to rate candidate responses. This process enables them to objectively reflect (and revisit if necessary) and evaluate the potential fit of each candidate for the specific position. In addition, many teams can attest that reviewing and accessing each candidate’s performance immediately after the interview prevents information overload, especially when confronted with a full day of interviews.
- Track Your Progress. Many recruiting agencies already do this, recognizing the value of having a database of successes over time. Some use exit interviews to explore details about the candidate’s perceptions of the interview experience (e.g., relevancy of questions, degree of recruiter attention and listening, etc.) while others work with the recruitment team to review the team’s perceptions of how they’ve done in terms of identified diversity targets in addition to highlighting successes and challenges during the interview process. Truth be known, when examining data collected over time, many recruitment teams are often surprised by the truths they reveal.
The bottom line is that attracting and selecting good teachers and other educational professionals demands inclusive, equitable, and defensible recruitment practices that can ensure a broad sweep of best-qualified and best-possible candidates. Recruitment teams, charged with the responsibility of the recruitment process, must work closely with school and organizational leadership teams, collecting and analyzing data, sharing goals, setting priorities, and making decisions. Working together facilitates shared commitment and accountability and hopefully results in having the right people in the right place at the right time. The good news is that this also means there is very little mopping up to do!
Be sure to download the new International Education Recruitment Report 2023 for more recruitment tips and strategies.