Hiring teachers: what questions would you ask?
I've luckily never had to sit on an interview panel to offer someone else a job but have been on the receiving end of plenty of hard questions. On leaving university I managed to get down to the last dozen for eight hour job interviews with some of the big investment banks, The Bank of England and spent 12 months going through interviews, challenges and physical tests at the Royal Commissioning Board of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. What all this taught me is that good interviewers tend to get the best out of candidates, not just in the interview but for the rest of that candidate's time with the organisation.
It got me thinking, though, about some of the job interviews I have had in schools and how undemanding the questions have been. Most questions were of such a general nature that I could have prepared them in advance and recited to much aplomb: "What would you bring to the school as a whole? What would you do if...?" [hypothetical questions are such a waste of time. Why not ask about things that have actually happened?]. The job interview for my current job was, in fact, the most demanding I have been through, with the entire thing based in what I had actually managed to achieve, not what I would like to achieve if blah, blah, blah. It also helped me set out an agenda of things that I would need to do should I get the job making an even more potentially independent learner/worker.
Then, reading David Warlick's summary of this month's Smart Learning Interactive Educator I saw some of the questions I would love to hear asked in interview panels in East Lothian and beyond:
- Tell me how you think the future you are preparing children for will be different.
- What is your favorite gadget and why?
- Describe the last new technology that you used and how you used it — and how you learned it.
- Describe the last thing you learned related to your work, that you didn’t learn in a classroom or from a book, and describe how you learned it.
These aren't just about getting geeky teachers into classrooms. The answers could, in fact, be incredibly low-tech, ungeeky in their nature provided they showed that the individual seeking to lead others or work with our digital native kids was not prepared simply to stand still once tenure is offered.
These questions do help us spot those who make an effort to dip into the unknown, who learn organically from others, who know how to find out information for themselves.
That is, they help us find successful, independent learners.