Finding, hiring, and keeping the right staff
Finding the right staff who can help you realize your vision is arguably the most important - and perhaps most challenging - aspect of opening (and running) a school.
In this section we look at common staffing requirements for new schools, places where you might start recruitment efforts, and best practices for interviewing and hiring.
Empower your new school
Attract students, satisfy parents & grow your school
Teachers are your school’s most important resource, and so choosing the best to help you start your school will make a big difference in getting your school started on the right foot. When looking to bring teachers onboard, there are a couple big things to consider:
Does your state or county require that private school teachers hold the same certifications as public-school teachers?
Outside of mandatory requirements, what kind of background or experience are you looking for when hiring your teachers? This may be something you’ll want to discuss with your board in order to establish a set of criteria that will act as a guide throughout your hiring process.
You may very well intend on being the school’s top administrator and, depending on the size of your school, you may be able to handle that on your own. If you’re aiming to jump into a very large private school, you may need other administrators to help you out.
The specific hiring needs of your school are going to depend on – you guessed it! – the size of your school and what other services you’re hoping to provide to students. If you’re going to serve lunches, you’ll need kitchen staff. If you’re going to have sports teams, you’ll need coaches. As you work to outline the various aspects of your school, the support staff positions will become clearer. And, as you school grows, your needs will too!
Finding and hiring the right staff is perhaps the single most important key to the long-term success of your school. While interviewing and hiring is considered by many to be an art, there are proven methods you can use, backed by years of experience and research, to improve your chances of finding the right people for your school. A structured process and consistent approach will help you to identify applicants who are the best fit and will help you to stay out of trouble with questions that may not be permitted. (Yes, there are questions that can get you into legal trouble if asked during an interview!)
Interview best practices
Even when hiring based on word-of-mouth and personal referrals, a structured job interview can be critical to ensuring a candidate is the right match and has the values, skills and experience you need.
A great resource for how to plan and conduct interviews is Topgrading, by Brad Smart. While his recommended interview process can be lengthy it is also highly effective, and his book does a great job of setting out how to build job descriptions, how to identify the skills and values you need, and how to structure questions that will find candidates with alignment in these areas. Another highly respected primer on hiring is Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.
And last, remember that the best candidates will be interviewing you just as you are interviewing them. The best way to attract quality talent is to ensure you are presenting your school in the best light. Prior to advertising openings, we strongly recommend that you have a professional website that candidates can browse to learn about who you are, what you stand for, and to see why they might want to come work for you rather than one of your competitors.
Hiring for core values
Remember those core values we talked about in the school identity section? Here’s one of your first - and most important - opportunities to use those. Procedures and skills can be learned, but alignment with your core values will differentiate the prospects who will come in with enthusiasm and help you realize your vision from those who may be competent but will be less valuable over time.
When preparing your interview process and questions, be sure to include questions that will demonstrate whether candidates share your core values.
Things to look for in employees
Sure, you can find staff, but how do you find employees that are really great? Forbes writer Alan Hall has 7Cs that he looks for when hiring that are great characteristics to keep in mind:
Competent – Do they have the skills and/or education to do the job?
Capable – Is there a potential for growth and willingness to take on more?
Compatible – Does this person get along with the existing staff?
Commitment – Will this person stick around?
Character – What are this person’s values and morals?
Culture – How does this candidate fit with the culture of the organization?
Compensation – Can you afford to pay this person appropriately and/or are they looking for a reasonable compensation package?
If you can find someone that meets all of these criteria, they are probably going to be more than just a person filling a position – they are going to be an asset to your school.