If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that school districts must be able to adapt to change. Across the nation, universities have cancelled job fairs, teachers have shifted to remote instruction, and schools have faced shutdowns during their peak hiring season.
Not to mention, this is all happening on top of a critical teacher shortage. Before we entered the pandemic, districts were already having to get creative to fill their positions — now, the competition is only becoming more fierce.
To win the war for top teachers during the pandemic (and even to just to find substitutes to fill the short term vacancies), school districts must adapt to our new environment, using fully virtual recruitment techniques like video interviews, over in-person interviews or live job fairs.
Having infused on-demand video interviews, virtual job fairs, and a video resume creation portal into our talent acquisition process about five years ago, my school district in suburban Chicago was well-positioned to attract a deep applicant pool during the pandemic.
In fact, since implementing on-demand interviews as our first-level screener, my district has realized an 11% increase in our applicant pool while posting 9% fewer positions as compared to the five years prior to implementing our video interviewing system. We were able to continue our recruitment and selection processes pretty much unaffected by the shutdowns that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During April, when the coronavirus was reaching its peak in Illinois, my district conducted over 2,000 on-demand screening interviews for the twenty-two administrative and teaching positions we had posted. During a pandemic that shut down schools nationwide, our district interviewed, on average, more than 100 applicants for each open position!
So, how did a remote interviewing platform increase the number of applicants? These are the major benefits that my school district has experienced since incorporating video interviewing strategies into our recruitment and selection processes:
More applicants can be invited to complete standardized job interviews using an on-demand (or pre-recorded) video interview. Instead of attempting to schedule and complete back-to-back interviews, administrators can easily review 75 or more video interviews in one day.
When job seekers know that all qualified applicants will be granted an interview, more will apply because they feel they have a better chance at being hired. Plus, more stakeholders can review and assess the responses from applicants. Whether working from the office, checking emails at home, or attending a workshop, our hiring team members have constant access to the applicant interviews from anywhere in the world (not that there’s much international-travel happening at the moment).
The nationwide teacher shortage has forced districts to search out-of-state and overseas to recruit teachers, especially from Spanish-speaking places like Puerto Rico. Using video interviewing software to create virtual job fairs that recruit 24/7/365, along with sending on-demand interviews to teachers in other states and countries, school districts can expand their recruiting territory to attract the best talent.
For example, when we needed a Spanish and French teacher, why thought, “ why not interview a native Spanish-speaking teacher who was teaching in France?” Using both on-demand and live video interviews, our district was able to include this applicant in our selection process and she was offered the job while still overseas!
Job seekers who are confident in their interviewing abilities will spend the time necessary to complete your application process because they know they’ll have the opportunity to interview in some capacity, even if it’s just one-way.
This is particularly true for racially and ethnically diverse applicants, as research from Hiemstra shows that “despite discriminatory concerns, ethnic minority applicants perceived the fairness of video interviews equally or more positively when compared to ethnic majority applicants, and when compared to paper resumes.”
We hired a teacher who was hesitant to show her given name on her resume for fear that her command of the English language would be questioned and she would not get an interview. She was grateful for the opportunity to answer our interview questions and demonstrate her fluent speaking skills that she felt hindered her ability to get an interview in other school districts.
Convenience and consideration are very important to teachers in today’s competitive market. Educators are more likely to apply for positions if they know they’ll be granted an interview, will not incur expenses traveling to the interview site, and don’t have to take time away from work or student teaching.
Video interviewing researcher Joy Redmond collected survey data from nearly 100,000 respondents from 50 countries that showed 93% of education-field job seekers had a positive experience with employers that utilized video interviewing software as part of their selection process. From personal experience, I’ve had new teachers tell me that they only applied to our district in the Chicago area because they couldn’t afford the travel expenses they would incur if they were invited to interview with a district that did not use on-demand video interviews.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a job seeker than to spend 1-2 hours on an application only to never hear back about a possible interview. Showing your applicants that they’re more than simply words on a resume and that you care enough to learn more about each individual through a structured interview will help your district sway talent away from your competitors.
Not to mention, having a representative group of diverse students, who are staged in various facilities within your school buildings (computer labs, fitness centers, teacher work stations, etc.), delivering the interview questions helps the candidates relax prior to recording their responses. The video clips of students gives candidates a glimpse of what life is like teaching those students and having access to world-class facilities. I’ve had several new hires inform me that they were nervous about interviewing with my district, but after seeing and hearing students “asking” them their interview questions they said it brought a smile to their face and helped them relax before responding to the questions.
It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Given the disruptive impact that the coronavirus pandemic and the teacher shortage have had on schools, now is the time to think outside the interview room and incorporate video interviewing strategies into your talent acquisition process. If for no other reason, your students deserve to be taught by high-quality educators, so embrace the advantages that tech provides to search further and deeper for the best teaching talent available.
Greg is the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at Maine Township High School District #207 in Park Ridge, Illinois. You may have previously seen Greg on our fireside chat, “The Current State of HR in K12.”