Hiring is one of the MOST important things an administrator can do. These are the faces and philosophies that will spend the most time with those who are most important, our students. I tell everysingleperson that I am about to hire that my goal is that our building should reflect more of them, rather than have them conform to our building. Each person is a part of the overall machine, the overall puzzle of what we present to our students and their families. They each represent me in a way, and it is so, so important that we hire those who we will be the very best they can be.
I can’t think of two better people to answers this important question then, than Dr. Joe Sanfelippo and Dr. Tony Sinanis. In addition to being former principals, they are both now forward thinking superintendents. Both are incredible friends and are on the short list of people I can trust whole-heartedly to call when I panic, 🙂 They’ve co-authored a couple of books, most recently “Hacking Leadership“, which is a great one to add to your leadership collection if you haven’t already.
#askanadmin Q9: How do you know who to hire?
Although I am generally looking for several things when hiring a new staff member (aka a SUPERSTAR), like someone with passion, knowledge and a drive to continue learning, the main thing I am looking for is someone who will make us better as an organization. This idea of looking for an educator who makes us better, as opposed to just looking for someone who will fit in, was something I learned from reading Todd Whitaker’s work. Thanks to Todd, I am always looking for someone unique who helps raise the entire organization and helps push us on our journey towards excellence.
It is simply the most important thing we do. We can talk about all the leadership attributes and creating a culture where people want to be part of the school. We can talk about building relationships and creating a process where all learners can achieve. We can talk about how we set the tone for the building with our actions. The bottom line is this…if we don’t hire the right people to inspire those curious minds that walk into our building everyday, the school will not move forward. As leaders it is imperative that we find a way to get the right people connected to our students. The right people connected to our staff. The right people connected to our community. The culture of a school is largely based on trust, and hiring the right people who can enhance the environment of the building breeds trust with every interaction. Here are a few things to ensure you have the right people in the organization…
Who to bring to the table
Many districts have a set of prescreen criteria that eliminate a large group of people before the process even gets started. Though I understand why we have these processes in place, I can’t help but think we are missing a tremendous opportunity to add a high quality person, even if they didn’t meet a criteria that could be outdated. Honestly, the GPA means less to me than what you have done beyond the required workload. Were you invested in the community? Did you vounteer working with kids beyond the required number of hours? Did you do anything to set yourself apart in the application process? Do you have a blog? Do you have a website? Do you have some testimonials from teachers, parents, students, and community members? We want people to start thinking about BEYOND REQUIREMENT before they even apply to be part of our district.
Owning the room
Our team wants to know that you are a self starter. They want to know that you are going to bring something new to our group. We don’t hire who we are…we hire who we want to be. Our group is very intent on how the candidate carries themselves throughout the process. We want people that can own the room. We want people that can perform on their own, but knowing they will never have to do so. They are confident and talk specifically about how they are going to contribute to the team. We don’t want to know that they will bring new ideas to the team…we want to know what they are. When you can make that connection with a group of people you met minutes before the first question, you are someone we want wearing green.
We want you to be part of who we are and who we will become. We want you to take whatever time you have and inspire us, because we need to know that when given the opportunity, you will do the same for kids. We love the day that we bring you into a conference room and tell you that we have a few more questions we would like you to answer. We love the look on your face when the team that has been put together to make us better offers you the job after those questions have been asked. We love the tear in your eye when we give you the Go Crickets shirt and say you are the one. We love the thought that you are going to make a kid feel like they are the only person in the room. We love knowing that it’s the most important thing we do. Go Crickets.
Sigh. Aren’t they great? Literally, two of my favorite people on the planet. Secret: When I got “the” call about being named principal, my first call was to my husband, and my second? To these two people. They make me a better leader and my world is better with them in it…
What are your big look for’s/must think abouts when you are hiring?
Dream team buildN,