Issue: Interviewing

February 23, 2010

The first interview you do as DoS is a nerve-wracking experience. You stride down the corridor with confidence, grasp the interviewee’s hand with vigour and all the time you suspect this is it–  this is the moment you’ll be found out. A few weeks ago you were laminating photos of zebras for your beginner group and now you have someone’s future in your fresh managerial paws.

It gets better with time, but the interview process will always be an art form rather than a science. There is so much to weigh up when assessing a candidate and it’s incredibly difficult to work out just how this person is going to perform in the school – week in, week out. Instinct and psychology both have an important role to play.

I’ve spoken to other Doses and attended talks about recruitment and what people are looking for when they interview candidates – I often hear things about experience, knowledge, qualifications. It’s surprisingly rare for people to mention talent as a key factor in deciding whether to employ someone or not. Is talent just too hard to assess? Do we feel that it’s not our place to decide if someone is talented or not? Maybe it’s just simpler to look at a CV and think  ‘Ah, they have the DELTA…that’ll do.’ Would it not be better to have an inexperienced but talented teacher over a well-qualified teacher who doesn’t have the same natural ability?

I really like what Jack Welch has to say about recruitment. In his book Winning he states that ‘hiring great people is brutally hard…I’d say as a young manager, I picked the right people about 50 per cent of the time. Thirty years later, I had improved to about 80 per cent.’

So if it’s difficult for Jack Welch…

Jack has some great advice to offer with his 4-E (and 1p) formula. He suggests that we should be looking for

  • Positive Energy
  • The ability to Energize others
  • Edge (the ability to make decisions)
  • Execute (the ability to get the job done)
  • Passion

They may not all be equally relevant to someone recruiting English language teachers, but energy, the ability to energize others and passion should surely be near the top of our recruiting criteria.

It’s easy to get swamped by details when assessing CVs and interviewees. In the end we can simplify things by asking two questions –

  • Am I going to be able to work with this person for the next x years?
  • Would I be excited about having this person as my teacher?

Let me know what you think…

Should we talk more about talent when recruiting EFL teachers?

Is the 4E (and 1p) formula any use to us?–and-Right.aspx