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Flip the (phone) Script!

June 6, 2018

As you are closing out your school year and firming up your staffing plans for the upcoming year, we wrap up our hiring series by taking a deep dive into the phone screen piece of our selection process. If you missed our previous blog posts around hiring, you can check them out here. Conducting a quality phone screen process enables school leaders to work smarter instead of harder and ensures that the overall selection process is efficient, leadership teams aren’t using precious on-site time to vet candidates, and ultimately candidates are eager to teach at the school they’ve interviewed for because they’ve actively chosen the mission. How can we make this promise? We build this promise on a foundational philosophy that critical to vetting candidates is that they choose their future campus as much as the campus chooses them. The process we’ve outlined here provides an opportunity for school leaders to be transparent about the mission and core values of their schools; what specifically it looks and sounds like, what it is, and what it is not.

Before we dive into the steps and specific components of the phone screen, let’s discuss the power of full transparency with potential candidates. In the typical hiring process, the school attempts to sell the candidate, particularly those they believe to be strong, on the idea that they should work for the school and, in turn, the candidate is trying to persuade the school that they should hire them for the position.  Success typically means that the candidate convinced the school to hire them by exceeding in performance on its various hiring tests (e.g. phone screens, questionnaires, interviews, performance tasks, etc.).  Or, in the case of particularly strong candidates, the school was able to sell the desirable candidate on coming to work for the school.

We believe this process has fundamental flaws.  Why?  Because one party is always working to sell or convince someone else of something and this can often lead us astray, despite our best intentions.  In the attempt to “sell” ourselves, whether we are conscious of it or not, implicit bias comes to the table, we omit certain information, and/or we don’t cultivate an environment that allows us to present the most accurate representation of ourselves.  In short, the process incentivizes us to present who we are to fit the school or candidate, rather than choosing a professional fit aligned to who we already are and our true future aspirations.

The following summarizes the uniqueness of our approach:

Typical Approach BRES Approach
SCHOOL SELLS: “This is why you should work here or why our school is different from all the rest.” SCHOOL TRANSPARENTLY COMMUNICATES: “This is exactly what this school and the position is about, what is expected of you and what you can expect from us.”
TEST OF SCHOOL BEST FIT: school phone screens, questionnaires, interviews, performance tasks, etc. TEST OF MUTUAL BEST FIT: candidate phone screen, role plays, real-time shadowing, performance tasks with feedback and re-do (to mutually test for core values), etc.
CANDIDATE CONVINCES SCHOOL: “This is why I am the best person for the job and why you should hire me.” CANDIDATE CONVINCES HIM/HERSELF: “After going through the hiring process, it is obvious this school and this position (IS/IS NOT) the right match for what I am looking for and (IS/IS NOT) aligned to my personal and professional core values.”

We’ve agreed a more impactful process involves mutually testing for a core value fit, so what does this look like in practice?

  1. First, introduce the process to the candidate. You might say something like, “this phone screen will be broken down into three parts. First, I am going to be providing you with some information about our campus, our mission, what we do, and our core values. Next, I will talk to you a bit about the specifics of the position.  Finally, I will give you a chance to ask some general questions about our campus and/or the position.”
  2. Next, communicate to the candidate the school mission, core values, working environment, and overall work performed at your campus. Clarify exactly what the mission looks like as transparently as possible so that the candidate walks away knowing exactly what the school is and is not. For example, you might say:

“Our school is a school where you will be provided with constant feedback and support.  If you like receiving feedback, are constantly looking to make your teaching better, and are comfortable and embrace someone in your classroom one to three times a week this might be a great fit for you. Likewise, our school is not a school where you close your door and do things exactly the way you did at your previous school.    If you want to teach mostly the way you did before and are not willing to integrate some of our campus whole school and classroom practices we all use throughout the day into your teaching practices, this may not be a great fit for you.“

  1. Next, share specifics about the role. Be explicit and exact. For example, you might list actions as precise as those below. If you have video of teaching practices the candidate can review, even better.
  • All lesson plans are written on a prescribed template.
  • You will meet with your grade level team 2 to 3 times a week to co-plan lessons, create common bi-weekly interim assessments aligned to the school scope and sequence, and have grade level data analysis meetings.
  • You will execute certain school-wide and classroom routines universally throughout the school.
  1. Lastly, provide an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions and gain clarity about the information given and outline next steps. You should give the candidate an out at this point. You may say, for example, “I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me about our campus. The next step is for you to process the information I presented about the position and what this position is and is not.  If you think it may match what you are looking for in a school, email me back within 24 to 48 hours and say you would like to continue the process.  If not, then email me and say you would not like to continue the process and we will part with no hard feelings, sound good?”  Then, clarify expectations and next steps about the model lesson and formal interview process.

As you vet candidates in this way, you’ll notice that your candidates are more mission and core value aligned and your time during on-site interviews will be more focused and productive. Best of luck as you build your army of educators, ready to dig in and do the best work on behalf of kids.