Recruiting during COVID-19 and beyond
In this feature, Resourcing Solutions reveal how they are supporting schools to recruit high calibre teaching talent during lockdown using innovative methods and ideas.
During the school closures and lockdown as a result of COVID-19, headteachers have had to adapt their approaches to recruiting for September 2020. Timing couldn’t have been worse as the closures happened mid spring term, right in the run up to the summer resignation window, with many schools having just started their September recruitment planning. Our advice from the outset was to carry on with recruitment where possible, to consider innovative and dynamic ways to recruit talent by using virtual platforms. This, along with supporting checks, and in depth probing interview techniques helped secure September’s talent ahead of the curve and has been invaluable for schools.
We offered advice to schools around utilising “virtual” interview methods to help identify their teaching talent.
Some of the methods and ideas we used below;
- Skype, Zoom, or MS teams as visual platforms to meet candidates informally and complete structured interviews to formally assess candidates.
- Requesting copies of most recent teaching assessment in current school, or placement feedback (if NQT)- providing a more detailed picture of past performance.
- Requesting references early in the process to provide a full picture
- Arranging virtual zoom tours of the school to prospective
Task/assessment ideas we have practiced:
- Ask candidates to prepare a presentation
- Outline a lesson plan, curriculum planning or marking task
- Demonstrate their approach to promoting the school/MATs ethos and values.
- Evidencing their ability to deliver against priorities; “please identify 2 key priorities – one for children’s emotional and mental help - for each area please tell us the priority, the rationale and what steps you would take to address this priority”.
- Deliver a practical session: deliver a lesson, assembly or act of worship to the panel (as if the panel were students) or deliver a leadership briefing to the panel (as if the panel were staff)
- Complete a short lesson with a small group of students using Google Virtual Classroom, MS Teams or Webinar related technology
- Panel Interviews: Hold panel interviews with other staff members or partners to assess themes/topics, wider skills and knowledge, such as leadership, curriculum, continuous professional development, teaching and learning.
During COVID we have supported several schools using varying methods from the above enabling Headteachers to really “get to know the candidates” during these sessions, and make appointments with confidence.
We believe that the schools that have recruited during COVID have had an advantage as the number of applicants was high, and the field of candidates was particularly strong.
There were pitfalls and challenges along the way, technology is brilliant when it works (which gladly it did most of the time) – but not so great when it fails us (and it did on occasion, thankfully it was rare). We experienced loss of connection, poor sound quality and the occasional time lag, these were expected and a plan in place to deal with them. These were minimised with trial runs, well designed timetables, high levels of support for candidates and panels, on the day support and provision of technical advice. Candidates displayed their tenacity during these challenges, and they persevered and got through it despite the odd set back.
So post–covid lockdown is there a place for the use for technology enabled recruitment in the future?
Most people believe that there is no replacement for the feel of an individual that you get in a face to face interview, and when we are hiring Education Practitioners there is no better way for them to shine, than to see them interact with our children. We do however think that post COVID schools could certainly reduce time and workload by using Skype (or similar) for first stage interviews for example – to help narrow/reduce the field. This could also potentially increase the number of candidates (especially passive) applying for positions as they would be more likely to attend an interview that would take 45 minutes as opposed to a whole day assessment at first stage. We have experienced virtually no withdrawals, therefore the convenience of remote assessment helps keep busy and scarce talent in the process.
We have also seen an increase in engagement when using virtual tours of the school at application stage. Feedback from school leaders and candidates have been positive and they would highly recommend remote recruitment methods to others.
Feedback from a school leader
The thought of recruitment during the curent Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent school closure, filled me with dread. With two maternity covers required, we needed a strong field.
Heather assisted throughout the process and her expertise was invaluable.
Her support included:
- Amending our advert, advising on appropriate wording and tone to ensure the advert attracts the most suitable candidates for our ethos
- Support with short listing – how to focus short listing to ensure the right candidates were selected for interview
- Advice preparing for virtual interviews and interview tasks: suggestions for activities for candidates to complete and how best to collect them; ideas for suitable interview questions (in line with safer recruitment practices and tailored to our school’s need; practical support for candidates (and us!) on using the technology before interview; reassurance for candidates at the start of each interview regarding the technology
- On-going support throughout the process – a reassuring, listening ear during the challenge.
We managed to attract 40 applications and successfully recruit three teachers last week– which we were absolutely over the moon with.
Carolyn Buckley, Head Teacher, Travis St Lawrence CE Primary School
If you’d like to discuss how you can complete effective remote recruitment during COVID lockdown and beyond, get in touch with our Education Recruitment Specialists from Resourcing Solutions:
James Annetts firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Christmas email@example.com