Teacher Interview Process for Your Learning Pod

September 15, 2020

The uncertainty of school reopening in the Fall has led many families seeking in-home teachers to provide instructional support for their (mostly younger) children. Whether you consider yourself a pro at hiring, or this is your first time sourcing candidates, the tips below will help you determine the best ways to structure and conduct teacher interviews. Remember, time spent at the forefront will lead to a better hire, and ultimately, a better experience for your child(ren).

And as it comes to helping all families during the pandemic, we realize the new trend of families hiring in-home teachers is sure to exacerbate the many educational equity and access issues our country already faces. We are working hard to help solve the problem and provide solutions for families regardless of socioeconomic status. If you’d like to be a part of the solution, please reach out to alexandra@getselected.com for more information.

Step 1: Define the Need

Before you begin the process of finding a teacher, you need to be clear on what it is you need this person to do. You can do this by creating an ideal candidate profile for the role, which once completed, will allow you to more accurately assess how well a candidate's qualifications and experience aligns with your needs.

First, scope out the parameters of the role:

  • How many hours per day? Per week? Part-time? Full-time?
  • What timeframe commitment can I make to the teacher up front regardless of when full-time in-person school comes back?
  • What hourly/annualized salary can I afford to pay?
  • What is your ideal daily structure?
  • What additional duties beyond instruction would I like someone to do (trips to local parks, after school enrichment, etc.)?

Next, clearly define the outcomes this person must accomplish to be successful in the role. This is not just a list of activities. You’ll also want to consider the specific goals you need them to accomplish as it pertains to your child(ren). Aim for at least three measurable goals. Here are some prompts:

  • What kind of growth would you like to see from your child(ren) in reading and math? 
  • What will you use to measure academic progress?
  • Will the teacher have access to the school’s curriculum or will they be asked to create/adapt their own?

Lastly, think about what competencies are most important for your child. Do you need someone that speaks a specific language? Detail-oriented? Creative? Good communicator? Again, aim to define at least three.

And remember, teachers go to school for 4-6 years to earn a teaching degree and/or certification. This background and understanding is ideal when it comes to facilitating the complexities of a mixed age group pod. If you’re worried finding a certified teacher is simply out of your price range, consider other qualifications such as:

  • Youth work - particularly with the age group of your children
  • Experience as a teaching assistant or paraprofessional
  • Tutoring experience
  • Childcare experience

Step 2: Source for Candidates

Now that you have scoped your role and outlined outcomes and desired competencies, you can begin sourcing candidates. You can use your ideal candidate profile (ICP) developed above to write a short job description for sharing with your networks. The most effective way (always) is to seek referrals from a reputable organization, or your personal and professional networks. The clearer your ICP, the better referrals you will receive.

If your network is limited, you may try traditional and general job boards such as Indeed. While you may see a significant volume of applicants, remember that oftentimes, candidates may not be certified teachers or teachers at all, thereby lacking the qualifications to meet your standards. It will rest on you to filter through the noise and identify quality teaching candidates.

In addition to referrals, you can proactively source for candidates in other ways. Our Selected for Families service allows families to directly connect with teachers who are a match with your family’s needs and are actively looking for in-home teaching positions. Additionally, nearly 80% of the candidates on Selected for Families are certified or on the path to state certification. All at minimum have a bachelor’s degree, as well as at least one of the following: education degree, teaching certification, and/or teaching experience. You can create a profile for your family or learning pod, filter candidates by your preferences to reach out directly, and add a job description which you can use to share more broadly.

Step 3: Interview Your Potential Hires

At this point, you should have 3-5 qualified candidates for which you are reasonably interested in. You now need to design an interview process that will help you identify the best fit for the role.

First, focus on past outcomes:

Learning what someone has accomplished in previous roles is far more helpful than hearing them speculate on what they might be able to accomplish in the future. Focus your interview questions on the candidate’s objective’s for each position they have held, what went well, and what didn’t. It is important to start with their most relevant experience. Be sure to ask the same questions to each candidate so you can compare responses. Here’s a recommended question sequence:

  • What were you responsible for accomplishing in X role?
  • What were the results? What happened? 
  • What could have gone better?
  • Why did you leave that role?

Secondly, remain curious and take good notes:

Use these questions as a baseline, but feel free to probe further if you want more details or something the candidate says piques your interest. Use curiosity questions like:

  • Can you tell me more? 
  • Can you explain how X worked? 

Be sure to take copious notes that you can come back to in order to compare candidates. If your ICP is well done, it will become increasingly clear based on candidate responses who is and isn’t aligned with what you are looking for.

Step 4: Observe a (short) Demo Lesson

Ask the teacher to conduct a short lesson for your child(ren) while you observe. The lesson should be relevant to a key preference or non-negotiable that you desire in your teacher. For example, if Math is a critical area of growth for your child, ask for a demo lesson in Math. If you do ask for a demo lesson, you should make sure your teacher knows a demo lesson will be asked of them so they can prepare in advance.

  • How does your child(ren) respond or engage with the teacher?
  • Does the teacher quickly establish rapport with your child(ren)? Does the teacher maintain the child's attention?
  • If there are multiple children in the pod, how well does the teacher manage the classroom if their attention is divided?
  • How adaptive or understanding is the teacher to the child's needs? If the teacher isn't a hit it the first few minutes, does he/she adapt or change?
  • Did your child(ren) learn anything? Can they repeat what they learned (hopefully something new)?

We know that for many, this isn’t the most familiar process when it comes to your child(ren)’s schooling, and we also know their education is a top priority. If you need help with the interview process, reach out to families@getselected.com.

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