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Teacher recruitment – A brief guide to choosing the right candidate

When it comes to putting the best teachers in front of your classes, it pays to keep in mind some key basic principles, says Adam Riches...

  • Teacher recruitment – A brief guide to choosing the right candidate

Recruiting teachers is a craft plagued with archaic traditions. This can result in processes that are often clumpy, not hugely insightful, and which can present major barriers to finding the right candidate.

Getting your recruitment process right is key to school improvement and students being able to progress. From the moment you advertise the job, be specific about what you’re looking for. A generic job advert for your school won’t necessarily reel in the big fish – it’s all about standing out and pricking up the right ears.

Don’t be afraid to point out when candidates aren’t suited to the role. Be ruthless when shortlisting so that you don’t waste any time at the interview stage.

Some individuals may impress more at interviews, and every school will have its own contextual needs, but don’t be afraid to say when nobody meets the threshold. It’s far better to cast your net again than appoint the wrong candidate.

COVID restrictions have made securing teaching time classes more of a challenge, but there’s still plenty of scope for simulation. Presenting candidates with real-life scenarios and different problems to solve, in line with the role that they’re applying for, can be an effective way of seeing how they might cope in your context.

You can gain lots of insight about a person from how they react to situations outside of the classroom. More often than not, I’ve found it’s these tasks above everything else that really show who will fit best into the school.

Leaders will likely be overseeing the process, but they’re not always best placed to see the true fabric of an individual. Don’t underestimate how much those informal moments during the day can reveal about candidates.

Similarly, considering the opinions of students can be a great way of getting some alternative insight – though don’t pick your students at random. If trained first and deployed effectively, they can be shrewd judges of character…


Adam Riches is a senior leader for teaching and learning; follow him at @teachmrriches.

This piece originally appeared in ‘Learning Lab’ section of Teach Secondary magazine

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