As school leaders prepare for the possibility of resuming classes virtually this fall, another process going virtual is hiring. In this climate of uncertainty, recruiting, interviewing and hiring candidates virtually will be the path forward for now for school districts. There are some things a district hiring team can keep in mind to create successful virtual interviewing and hiring experiences.


1. Nail down your system

Decide on the technology your team will use to interview candidates. What it will take to transfer your hiring process to a virtual platform? Consider how you’ll tap into your application system so that it doesn’t create barriers for members of your team while screening applicants.

As you plan and prepare, keep in mind the various positions at the district that may need to be filled—from operations to academics. Think about making the process as seamless as possible for the full range of people you may need to interview.

2. Plan for building relationships early

Consider the kind of experience you want to create for the candidates you’ll interview. How can you make it a memorable and personal one? Think past the physical barrier between you and your candidate. Consider how you might introduce him or her to the organization. Are there photos or videos of the district you can show before or during the interview? Our partners at Franklin Public Schools have found success in kicking off interviews by sharing short videos of the district and the team, which also capture the values of the district. Valley Elliehausen, director of human resources for the district, says it has been worthwhile to spend a little more time making the candidate comfortable, as the virtual setting isn’t comfortable for everyone.

Instead of jumping right into the questions, consider first sharing a little about your organization. Openly discuss your organization’s values and the types of commitments made to the team. “[This builds] that capacity of hope and that promise so that you’re painting the picture of what it’s like on a normal day—and really, your sense of resilience. If you can do this well, you’re demonstrating that sense of resilience and that you can weather any storm that may come with the people on that team,” explains Studer Education Coach Dr. Pat Greco.

3. Bring other team members into the process

Because you want the right person, consider getting members of your team involved. Engaging them in the process can help you find a candidate who is a good match for your mission, vision and direction. You can have one or several team members at a time meet the candidate for an interview via video conference, using a tool such as Zoom. While it’s a time of disruption for your teachers, Dr. Greco advises against letting the urgency of a pandemic get in the way of the importance of selecting great candidates. Remember to tend to your process in this way.

Plus, getting members of your team involved in the interview process is also beneficial to the candidate. “What you can’t see in the physical environment, you’re going to be able to feel in the relationships among the team members,” says Greco.

After the interviews, you may also want to consider scheduling a video conference call to discuss the candidates. If your district normally uses a rating form during interviews, consider establishing and communicating the virtual process for turning in ratings after the interview.

4. Ask for feedback

Once you’ve hired your candidates, ask for feedback about their experiences. Your new hires can share their thoughts about the process. This will help you see from the interviewee’s perspective any adjustments that might be needed. How did you feel as you went through the process? Did you feel welcomed? Elliehausen says asking new hires questions like these has helped shed light for the district on what’s working in remote interviews.

Some specific positive feedback the district Franklin Public Schools has received:

“Hands down, we keep hearing the principals did an awesome job— they told stories, they told jokes, they showed the school. [The candidates] appreciated they had time to settle in before they had to be in the hot seat,” says Elliehausen.

5. Consider the future

As you interview and hire candidates virtually, pay attention to what’s working that your team may want to continue doing even after returning to face-to-face hiring. Perhaps virtual hiring, itself, is a process you’ll want to continue to offer for candidates who live in a different state. The team might decide virtual interviews are more efficient. Keep an eye out for opportunities and note lessons you’re learning that could be beneficial to the hiring process into the future.

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