Turn your hiring process into a hiring experience.

Your hiring process itself is a form of marketing. Here's how to optimize the experience for your candidates.

You’re not just evaluating your applicants; they’re evaluating you. And more likely than not, your dream candidate is considering several options.

The good news is that you have an opportunity here to really wow your candidates. Adding a few creative touches at this stage can elevate your hiring process and turn it into a hiring experience.

Treat the job posting as your first touchpoint.

Any touchpoint with a potential recruit is an opportunity to share the district’s brand. In many cases, the job posting itself is the very first touchpoint: your initial chance to impress a potential candidate. It’s not enough to post an opening without including a job description (as many districts we researched did), but even using a run-of-the-mill, traditional list of responsibilities won’t separate you from the competition.

The best job descriptions don’t just explain what duties teachers are expected to perform on a daily basis; they also describe a district’s unique culture, including the particular traits a recruit should possess in order to thrive in that environment.

Lever, a leading recruiting software company, recommends writing “impact descriptions.” These detail the impact employees will make on the job, along with a list of the ins and outs of the position. Impact descriptions not only provide a more concrete breakdown of the job, but also set expectations for success and provide a sense of purpose—which is key for millennial candidates. They’re also a great place to outline available professional growth opportunities and the types of support potential teachers can expect to receive from a district.

Get creative with the application process.

Your prospective teachers are more than likely filling out several applications at a time—most of which look more or less the same. That uniformity gives your district a great opportunity to stray from the pack.

Instead of focusing purely on their resumes, leave space in your application to let candidates show their personalities. In our applications, we ask questions like, “How have you become a better version of yourself in the past year?” or “In 150 words or less, tell us what makes you unique.” You could even include a creative assignment, ask candidates to submit a mock lesson plan, or record themselves presenting a lecture.

An application to work in your district should go beyond formality and get to the memorable, unique qualities your candidates have to offer. This approach won’t just bring ease to the hiring process and point you to stand-out candidates, it will also make your prospects remember you—and want to work for you.

Give interviews a personal touch.

Interviews are a great opportunity for applicants to experience your school’s culture. During this process, your candidates should understand, instinctively, that this is a district that will value their contributions.

This realization has changed the way interviews work in many schools. One good example is Medford Public Schools in Massachusetts. “We used to do it in batches, and principals would sit on those committees. Now it’s personalized interviews,” Medford Superintendent Brian Shumate tells SchoolCEO. “We want them to feel more of a personal touch when they interview with our district.”

Crafting that personal touch goes beyond one-on-one interviews. Michelle Hart, former VP of People Operations at media company Whisper, recommends giving candidates a short tour as part of a first interview. Walking through the halls of their potential school will help teachers “envision what their day-to-day would look like,” Hart says. It would also give them a chance to interact with other teachers in their potential departments.

Some districts even bring actual students into the hiring process, giving candidates a feel for the real, everyday work. Kelly Middleton, superintendent of Kentucky’s Newport Independent Schools, recommends recruiting students to simulate a class period, or even to walk around campus with the prospective teacher. “Generally, when students are excited about the candidate, they end up being a great hire,” Middleton writes in his book Competing for Kids. After all, your students have a better sense of your district’s culture than just about anyone else.

If a candidate really seems like a winner, Melissa Trahan at Thread suggests you set up time for them to meet informally with their potential boss. Trahan is Head of Talent at the online style brand. “This is a great time for them to surface questions and build rapport,” she adds. “Often, it can be the turning point meeting that drives your candidate to say yes.”

Make the job offer a celebration.

When you find the perfect candidate, the way you offer a position can sometimes mean the difference between acceptance or rejection. Remember, it’s likely your dream teacher is getting other offers—so how can you set yours apart?

Little touches can make a huge difference. Lever suggests mailing your would-be hire branded gear—a T-shirt emblazoned with your mascot or a pennant in your school colors. If you want to add a more personal touch, send a jersey with the teacher’s last name on the back. By doing this, “you’re relaying the message that you really want them to be a team member,” Lever says. “In fact, you clearly already see them as one.”

Hart recommends sending a personalized video to any candidate who receives an offer, featuring their new team excited to welcome them. “First of all, this makes them feel special,” Hart says. “And secondly, you can increase acceptance rates—and promote your brand even if the candidate turns down your offer.” The more personal details you can include, the better. Hiring a new choir teacher?  Have your current employees sing a welcome song! You can’t celebrate your new hires too much, after all.

Ramping up your recruitment by creating hiring experiences doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Like any marketing strategy, it just means prioritizing the needs of your customers—in this case, your prospective teachers. Both through your marketing and the experiences you create, you can send teachers (especially millennials) exactly the message they want to hear— and recruit great talent for your district.


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