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Top Four Pitfalls of the Hiring Process

By Jeffrey Shields posted 02-12-2019 08:43 AM


CEO Notebook |

From relying on resumes to ineffective interviews, these common mistakes can be avoided.

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Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Hiring season is upon us. During a recent meeting with independent school leaders, I asked the simple question, “How many of you interview and hire faculty and staff?” Almost every hand in the room went up. I followed up by asking, “How many of you have ever had interview training?” And every hand in the room went down. Knowing what you can ask (and perhaps more importantly, what you can’t) is not always as clear or intuitive as you may think in this increasingly complex human resource environment. So, I went to NBOA’s resident expert, Grace Lee, vice president of legal affairs, to identify the most common mistakes well-intended school staff make during an interview or hiring process. What she shared was helpful to me, as I hope it will be to you as you seek to hire high-quality teachers and effective administrative staff.

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.

Article by Grace H. Lee, J.D.

Not only can an effective hiring process help a school find the best candidate for the position, it is the first line of defense in screening out individuals who may pose a potential risk to the school community. Given the hours and resources poured into recruiting efforts, it is important to review your processes to ensure they avoid these top four pitfalls.

Pitfall #1: Relying on the Resume

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Grace H. Lee, J.D.
NBOA Vice President,
Legal Affairs

A resume is typically a starting point. Rather than relying on an applicant’s resume alone, consider also requiring applicants who will be interviewing on campus to complete and sign the school’s employment application. There are three main reasons for this. First, a standard employment application requires applicants to supply information that the school wants to collect instead of just what the applicant chooses to provide. This can help reveal red flags such as conflicting information, unstable work history, frequent geographic changes and weak references (for instance, if no former supervisors are listed). Second, the application collects the same information for each applicant, providing consistent information and comparison points between applicants. Third, the application can require applicants to sign an acknowledgement attesting to the truthfulness of the information provided, as well as providing permission to contact references.

Pitfall #2: Incomplete Background Check

Consider the background check a baseline of defense to help keep students safe. This approach will likely expand the scope of individuals subject to the check to go beyond faculty and staff. But also consider the depth of the background check. Does it capture all the names the individual may have used and all the states where the individual has resided for the past seven years? An FBI fingerprint check may or may not capture state and local offenses. Is the background check aligned with the job functions? For example, if an employee or volunteer will be driving for the school, obtaining a copy of the motor vehicle records and current insurance policy may be warranted. A complete and thorough background check may also include education verification along with checking Social Security number, references, credit (depending on the position), sex offender registry, and state teaching-license status. Schools are advised to work with a third-party vendor to help with this process.

Pitfall #3: Inadequate Reference Checks

Don’t skimp on conducting reference checks, including a current or former supervisor. Require a signed release permitting the school to obtain and provide thorough reference checks. This will allow for more honest sharing of truthful information while mitigating risks. During reference checks, ask easy yes or no questions that can help reveal red flags, such as “Is the employee eligible for rehire?” or “Has the employee ever been disciplined”? Do not ignore the information you obtain, and document this important due diligence.

Pitfall #4: Ineffective Interview Process

Some schools put themselves at risk by not properly training current employees on what they can and cannot ask before interviewing candidates.

Recruiting and interviewing candidates can be costly and time-consuming, but it also offers a great opportunity to gain valuable insight. Some schools put themselves at risk by not properly training current employees on what they can and cannot ask before interviewing candidates. Prepare questions in advance, and if a candidate is going to meet with several people over the course of a day, plan out which individuals will cover which questions. Be sure to include behavioral questions, such as asking the applicant to describe a time when they had a conflict at work and what they did to resolve it. This insight into past behavior can help get a sense of what they are like to work with and your school’s potential risk exposure.

Based on these pitfalls and member feedback, NBOA has developed an on-demand course, Interviewing and Hiring in Legal Compliance, which may provide you and your staff with additional help, on your time schedule. Here’s to getting the most out of your interviewing process and keeping your school safe at the same time.



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