The process of interviewing potential candidates is a significant part of Human Resource Selection. Interviews vary depending on specifics of the job, but their main purpose remains to evaluate applicants’ abilities according to the same criteria. For this objective it is important to prepare a set of question, the can examine the candidates’ abilities the most profoundly. This paper will review and assess the interview questions used by the Southwood School District.
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However, a number of additional factors, other than the conversation itself, influences interviews conducted face-to-face. It is not only the candidate, who is supposed to get prepared for the interview but also the interviewing team. Studies show that the outcome of an interview can be affected by the fact that ‘many applicant characteristics and situational factors can affect the perception, shape expectations, biases and behavior of an interviewer’ (Snell et al., 2015, p. 231).
It is the reason it is important that the interview is conducted not by one person because a variety of opinions in the interviewing team ensures minimizing human factor or personal bias. Furthermore, interviews themselves differ by the structure of the conversation. The informal type of interviews allows an applicant to contribute more the course of the conversation (Smith, 2013). However, the structured interview is supposed to contain a set of question for each member of the interviewing team to ask.
Questions asked by the principal and members of the management team
The principal and the managerial team are mostly interested in the potential employee’s work at the level of the school, in general, the contributions the candidate could make and overall abilities. However, the formulation of the question ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ puts an interviewee in a disadvantaged position. The negative connotation of the word ‘weaknesses’ can in no way help the candidate be open about even the smallest issues in his or her work.
Although, it is important for the school management to know what help the potential employee might need in future, it is best to paraphrase this question in a non-aggressive and less negative way. For example, ‘As a teacher, is there anything that you are working on, and if you were hired, what kind of assistance could we provide?’. Such formulation of this question ensures that the applicant does not feel threatened by the negative connotation, and strategically allows to know more about what kind of assistance he or she may need in their work (Smith, 2013).
The question about the applicant’s strength and the question ‘How do you think your present colleagues and managers would describe you?’ encourage the candidate to give a quite an optimistic self-description. For the applicants be more constructive and realistic about his or her abilities, it is suggested to imply that the interviewer has contacted someone from the candidate’s former workplace. The question can be reformulated in the following way: ‘If we were to call your co-workers and managers, how would they describe your work?’ etc. (Smith, 2013). It helps the interviewee to think in a more realistic perspective and be more honest.
Questions asked by teachers on an interview panel
The teachers are mostly interested in the methods of works of the potential candidate, in whether they approve those methods or not, and what they can learn from him or her. The question ‘Which subjects do you enjoy teaching
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falsely persuade the applicant either to be negative about some of the subject or to avoid the question. Therefore, none of the answers would make a positive impression on the interview panel.
The possible way to paraphrase the question, preserving its meaning is to use motivation question (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). For example, ‘What difficulties have you overcome and in teaching what subject?’ It would allow not only to see what subject the applicant did not like, but also how he or she coped with it.
On the plus side, this sub-block of questions contains a situational question ‘How would you deal with disruptive students in the classroom?’ Such questions give the opportunity to prove their professional knowledge for college graduates or those candidates who have less experience to relate to (Snell et al., 2015). In the case of the candidates who do not have wok experience as teachers more situational questions is recommended.
Questions asked by the HR manager
The HR manager may not be aware of all the professional nuances about everyday work on particular position. However, his or her duty is to ensure that as a new teacher the applicant would make a good member of the team, is ready for the professional development and is confident about his or her career plans.
However, another important point to be accurately assessed is the motivation to develop professionally (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). The questions asked by the HR manager provided by the Southwood School District, in general, serve for the purpose of recognizing career expectations of the candidate. The only improvement may be suggested to the identification of the candidate’s motivation for the job, with the questions like ‘Are you planning on professional training and development in future?
Questions asked by students
If the candidate is hired, students will interact with him or her much more than other interviewers. Therefore, it is important that they ask questions like ‘How would you support students who find your subject difficult?’ Such situational approach helps to evaluate interpersonal and collaborative skills (Smith, 2013). The question about afterschool activities also provides a ground for collaboration and tests the applicants’ motivation to engage with the school life and students. On the basis of this type of questions, the interviewers can find out, whether the candidate is motivated enough to pursue his ideas (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).
Five additional questions
- ‘How did you achieve something that you are most proud of?’ The key to this question is not only to find out about the achievement itself but about the level of motivation of the applicant (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).
- ‘What area would you like to work on in yourself and what are your strategies for self-improvement?’ This question allows assessing the applicants’ ability to detect their needs and points to work on (Smith, 2013).
- ‘Could you name a few things you enjoy the most working as a teacher?’ This question enables to recognize how well the candidate understands his or her own objectives (Smith, 2013).
- ‘What is your most recent professional development and how did you achieve it?’ Due to this question the interviewing panel would not only know about the applicant’s strengths and goals but also identify the motivation and means to achieve them (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).
- ‘What do you consider a priority in teaching at Southwood School?’ The answer to this question will illustrate the applicant’s ability for thinking strategically (Snell et al., 2015). It also helps to recognize, whether the candidate understands the general objectives of the school.
The profoundly thought through set of structured questions ensures that all the candidates are assessed in accord with the same criteria. The interview questions used by Southwood School District mostly serve the purpose of identifying the applicants’ abilities and strong points. However, there is room for improvement by paraphrasing the questions to avoid negative connotations and focusing on the candidates’ objectives.
Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S. (2014). Armstrong’s Handbook of human resource management practice. 14th ed. London: Kogan Page.
Smith, R. (2013). Human Resources Administration. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Snell, S., Morris, S. and Bohlander, G. (2015). Managing Human Resources. Boston: Cengage Learning.