Written By Guest Blogger: Rochelle Harris, Principal
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Confucius
So the hiring season is upon us and it is time to fill vacant positions with effective, caring, passionate, dedicated individuals. Now that we are in the crux of a pandemic, how in the world do you prepare for virtual interviews? This was the very question that went through my mind as I realized my “normal” had drastically changed and I would have to explore the virtual world. Yes, I have conducted virtual interviews in the past, but they were few and far between. Even then, I had the luxury of conducting the interviews while at my school with the other panel members sitting with me around a conference table. So now having to do all the interviews virtually would be a new area to explore.
My mind began to race as I thought about how I would pull it all together. You see, I hate to admit it, but I’m still a paper/pencil kind of principal. I know it’s hard to believe in this day and age where technology reigns supreme. So, this was going to be a challenge, but one I was willing to face. In my office, conducting interviews would not be a challenge at all. I would have all my color coded folders and each document sitting nicely inside. Markers on hand to label each folder for the various candidates. Using my printer to produce more copies than one could ever want. I was the queen of interview preparation, so I thought. How could a person this organized and prepared now feel stress and anxiety over something I’ve done a million times? Simple, I hadn’t made the shift, the shift to relying heavily on technology. This was going to be my chance to finally transfer all my hard copies into digital documents stored neatly in Google folders and easily accessible.
Let’s fast forward a bit and detail what this looked like for me as I transitioned and turned things around quickly. I realized I was not digitally organized at all. I had to search every folder on my computer and track down old emails to locate the items I needed. This had to change. I was driving myself crazy and I hadn’t scheduled not one interview. So, I decide to get myself together and conquer this new challenge. I did the following things and I must say, I have been transformed:
- Organize/prepare interview questions. Determine the questions you will ask and for which positions. Standardized questions work best so you can see how each candidate’s response compares to the others.
- Create folders that will house the documents that you need and clearly label them. I happen to use my Google drive for this. My main folder is labeled Standardized Interview Questions. Within that folder, I created additional folders for the various positions. Of course I have them color coded too.
- Select your interview panel and share the process with them prior to the interviews being conducted. Provide them with a digital copy of the interview questions and determine which panel member will ask which question.
- Select a place in your home in which you will set up your technology. Ensure the background is not distracting and gives a professional look.
- Test your technology. Make sure your camera is in working condition and the sound quality is good.
- Communicate to others in the home when and where you will conduct the virtual interviews. This cuts down on distractions.
- Schedule the interviews and be sure to communicate the time zone. This is essential, trust me…LOL.
- I use my Google calendar to see if panel members are available. This cuts down on the back and forth of seeing when others are available for the interview.
- If you are feeling really fancy, create a short video to showcase your school. This is important since candidates will not be able to physically come to the building until a later date. This can be shared with the candidate prior to the interview.
- Set a time limit for the interview.
- Keep paper/pencil nearby to jot down responses or type them on the document during the interview. I’m still working on typing the responses while conducting the interview.
- Lastly, be yourself and enjoy the process!
This in no way is all inclusive. I only wanted to provide a few tips that were helpful to me as I made the transition to conducting virtual interviews. Take what you need from the post and feel free to make it your own. There is no one way of doing things. During challenging times, we must continue to rely on others and support each other as needed. It may seem like a simple task, but it has a great impact. Find what brings you joy and embrace all that is good. Enjoy the process and I wish you the best as you seek effective, caring, passionate, dedicated individuals to join your TEAM!
Rochelle D. Harris, Principal Clayton County Public Schools
Rochelle Harris is an elementary school principal in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Mrs. Harris has served as an educator for over 26 years and held a plethora of positions. Rochelle has been a classroom teacher, Early Intervention Specialist, literacy coach, and school level administrator. Education is her passion and she looks forward to serving in the education field for many years to come.