Running an online school - Part 4

The last time I covered the first steps in recruitment. Now I will take you through the practical steps to make sure you give yourself a chance to get the right personnel.

The Job Ad

Your job ad should cover your requirements as discovered in your job analysis which was covered in my last blog to make sure that unqualified candidates don’t clog up your system. There are plenty of teachers out there but as with everything in life, like dating, the best ones are usually already snapped up. You need to figure what the best offer you can make is, based on a true cost analysis of your expenses and you may need professional help with this. You cannot afford to pay someone more than you will make and there are many hidden costs in employment. I will be covering this in detail in the next section but with your indulgence I will continue with the hiring process for now.

You do need to word your ad attractively but do remember there are lots of teachers and wannabees out there. Clearly list the minimum qualifications you need and what they will be required to do. If you need them to work at specific yet strange hours they need to be informed as they may not be able to work at those hours even if all other conditions suit them and you. The biggest market for English teaching is China but you have to respect their time zones if you wish to gain work there. You want only people who are suitable. So concentrate on having enough information in your ad to stop being swamped with applications.

Take full control of, and responsibility for the hiring process

Here I want to emphasize a point. You must take control of the hiring process. You alone are responsible for ensuring that the right people apply and that you recognise them in their applications. You must make sure that the interview process sifts the right staff and not just those that breeze through interviews. You must make them comfortable to answer questions without getting so stressed that they create a bad impression. They must be clear what you want from the start and in order for that to happen you must be clear. This is why the job analysis is so important.

You should read as much advice as you can because hiring is like everything, the more you do, the better you get. But the first step is recognizing that you are the crucial person in all this. My experience is that you will get lots of applications.

Create an application checklist

Once you get applications, you should have a checklist to go through them systematically. Put them into needs and desirables. Any failure to go into needs means the application is rejected and you stop reading. The ones with the most desired qualities go to the top of the list. These will form the basis of your interview list.

Make sure the interview process is geared towards selecting the best candidate

The interview process is the most daunting. Think deeply about how you create the right impression and conditions to make the process work smoothly. If you are using Vedamo Virtual Classroom, and I strongly believe it is a great choice, then why not use it to conduct the interview? You get to look professional, as you have your own branded platform, and you can show how easy and intuitive the software they will be using is. It allows you to conduct live tests and see how they react to online teaching.

Interviewing, if done properly, is mostly, like teaching itself, all about the preparation. Write down your questions and the order you will present them. Write down your small talk at the start as well. Try to help them relax. I have conducted countless interviews and yet have rarely been on the other side. I get extremely nervous and I don’t think I ever gave my best as an interviewee. I also rarely got the job despite sometimes being pretty certain that I was the best candidate presented because of other information I had gleaned from sources. I probably let myself down. But this is my point. If I truly was the best candidate they didn’t recognize that by failing to create the right conditions to allow me to relax and show my true capacity.

I am far more confident as an interviewer. If you want to get the best person for the job, you must ensure that they can give of their best. Put yourself in the shoes of those, like me, who get extremely nervous, and try to figure what will make them relax and reveal their true selves. Don’t be blinded by a confident interviewee. Of course, being confident shouldn’t disbar you but it should not really be a criteria. Ending up with the best person for the job is your goal. And getting things wrong brings you back to square one and the whole process has to start again.

Make up your mind after doing all interviews

During the interviews, never make up your mind. Wait till all candidates have finished to do so. I have been offered jobs whilst doing an interview and thought this was very unfair on the rest of the candidates. Take your time, wait till the next day at least and go through all pros and cons first. I cannot emphasise enough that this is one thing you must get right as often as possible. Hiring people is expensive, difficult and time-consuming.

Next time I will go through the post interview process and start on paying staff.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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