The hardest question…

As a school leader I have the opportunity to make a lot of hiring decisions. There are some who despise the HR process, the countless hours paper screening and interviewing associated with bringing in new talent, but I love it! I love meeting new people, learning from them, and being tasked with deciding who gets the opportunity to serve my students every day for the next thirty years. I don’t see hiring as an opportunity to bring someone in for a year on a trial run basis, as some do today, but as an opportunity to form a new relationship of growth and symbiosis. Hiring great teachers is probably the single most important job a school or district leader has.

I am not going to spend a lot of time discussing the process I use, how I select the interview team, what qualifications and certifications I look for, other than to state that paperwork and experience will earn a person an interview, their personality and mindset will get them the job. Nobody has ever earned a job as a teacher with me because at an interview they shared background and experience that their paperwork already told me. They get the job because of what their future holds not what their past exposed.

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I am infamous for going “off script” during interviews, asking candidates about personal successes, their motivations and passions, about what makes them tick, but one question has risen to the top as not only the most often discussed and celebrated, but also the most difficult to answer and probably the most important in determining a candidate’s fit. It may seem simple, but the answers given show so much.

“How do you know if it has been a good day or a bad day?” That’s it. That’s the question. As you read it, do you have an answer? Is your response one that focuses on culture or learning? Does your response focus on adult interactions or student behaviors? Do you focus on isolated incidents or a collection of events? Do you have a way to measure your success in meeting the day’s goals? Do you have daily goals and objectives?

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This question has so much power as it helps a candidate articulate what is important, what they see as valuable, and how they respond. As teachers we all have moments of defeat and moments of victory, but we don’t all see those moments the same way and we definitely don’t all respond the same way.

Whether you ever decide to interview with me or not, today I challenge you to answer, the question. Do you know what drives you? Do you know what makes you tick? At the end of the day, do you know, has it been a good day or not? That is THE QUESTION.

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