Hiring for School Leaders

1. Develop systematic hiring procedures that create a strong school leader-school-LEA fit.

2. Ensure that ample time is available for a high-quality hiring process.

3. Align hiring tools with the school and district mission and goals, with the materials, resources


1. Develop systematic hiring procedures that create a strong school leader-school-LEA fit.

    Why It Is Important
    Carefully designed human resources policies can reduce subjectivity in the hiring process and select appropriate candidates in a timely and efficient manner.

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    Establish clear, research-based criteria for screening candidates for competency and fit between the candidate and school and district needs.
    • Review the Ohio Standards for Principals; consider using the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council's online building leader self-assessment tool.
    • Search committees also should set their own selection criteria to ensure fit between high-quality school leaders and the specific school context.
    • Conduct initial screening blindly (e.g., names and other identifiers should be omitted from application material) to avoid bias.
    • Document, formalize, and systematize each step of the process in the event that questions should arise about the final decision.

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    Develop scoring rubrics, and train the individuals involved in the hiring process in interviewing and selection skills.
    • Consider utilizing OLAC's building leader self-assessment tool.
    • Focus on reducing subjectivity by emphasizing the skills, abilities, and experiences of the ideal candidate.
    • Ask aspiring school leaders about their concerns regarding LEA hiring procedures (e.g., are they viewed as overly subjective?).
    • Create a transparent and objective process that reduces the chances of an image of a “good old boys club” emerging among other stakeholders who are sensitive to the school leader selection process.
    • Increase the efficiency and fairness of the selection process by requiring candidates to complete written applications and having trained screeners blindly review and score the applications.
    • Minimize the burden on the hiring committee's time.
    • Provide follow-up training as well.

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    Involve all relevant stakeholders in the search committee or hiring process.
    • Establish a search committee of 5–7 unbiased members spanning a range of positions within the school and district, including teachers and parents.
    • Invite others with whom the school leader will work, such as community members and business people, to meet finalists and provide input into the final hiring decisions.
    • Meet with the school board to discuss the search and hiring processes and how much of available resources to devote to the process.

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    Communicate school strengths and challenges with potential candidates through job descriptions and throughout the interview process.
    • Constantly try to gauge if the candidate's characteristics will meet the school's specific needs or if there might be a better fit.
    • Focus on communicating the realities in the school.
    • Share school leader evaluation criteria with the applicant as well as teacher evaluation expectations during the hiring process.

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    Evaluate the school's strengths and challenges and, to the extent possible, engage stakeholder groups in jointly articulating shared priorities for hiring a new school leader.
    Seek input from teachers, parents, and other stakeholders throughout the hiring process.

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    Evaluate hiring policies and procedures on a regular basis to determine if they are resulting in good hiring decisions.
    • Solicit input from a range of individuals involved in the hiring process.
    • Act on the evaluations to ensure that hiring policies are achieving their intended results.

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2. Ensure that ample time is available for a high-quality hiring process.

    Why It Is Important
    This course of action allows for best practice to be adopted at each stage of the hiring process.

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    Identify existing disincentives for early notification of leaving, and replace these with incentives for doing so.
    • Learn what the strong disincentives, such as loss of health benefits, are in the LEA.
    • Experiment with different incentives for early notification.

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    Engage in succession planning with current leadership.
    • Converse with current leadership about their plans and leadership transitions.
    • Collect data to determine which school leaders are likely to be retiring soon.

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    Leave time for finalists to visit the school.
    • Actively discourage applicants from making quick, emotional decisions based on first impressions only.
    • Use this time to further consider the match between the school and its leader, for both the employer and prospective employee's benefit.

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3. Align hiring tools with the school and district mission and goals, with the materials, resources

    Why It Is Important
    • Clearly communicating the desired skills and qualifications, the job responsibilities, and the school and district's overall vision, mission, and goals can attract more highly effective candidates with a greater potential for meeting the essential leadership practices set forth in the Ohio Leadership Development Framework and the Ohio Standards for Principals.
    • New principals report more positive and successful experiences in their placements when their personal vision is in line with that of the school.
    • Aligning tools used for school leader recruiting, hiring, evaluation, and performance management streamlines and reinforces each aspect of human resources management and creates shared understandings of what effective performance entails.
    • Hiring tools (such as job descriptions, applications, interview questions, and scoring rubrics) will cover topics about teacher effectiveness similar to those in the tools used in other educator talent management areas, and so can reduce time wasted reinventing the wheel.

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Last Modified: 4/9/2013 4:02:43 PM