Is the Headteacher appointment process flawed? Part 2

Is the Headteacher appointment process flawed? Part 2

09 July 2014

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How to interview...

As discussed in a previous blog, keeping an open heart and mind when reading application forms is perhaps one of the greatest contributions governors can make in ensuring the successful recruitment of a Headteacher. However, this is certainly not their only contribution and I believe that there are several other steps that, if taken, will drastically improve both the quality of applicants and the likelihood of a successful appointment.

Firstly, I would suggest that a shift of focus from the recruitment process to its purpose is, more often than not, long overdue. Time and time again I am struck by how much time and effort is invested in the planning of the interview days and activities, yet how little thought is given as to how to attract candidates and communicate the school's values and the uniqueness of the opportunity.

This is understandable considering that most governors themselves would be the first to admit that they are by no means recruitment experts! However, the danger is that in the absence of recruitment expertise, not only is little thought given as to how to attract the right applicants, but then subsequently a reliance on "sound bites" develops during the interview stage.

By this I mean that a lack of confidence on behalf of interviewers can often lead to an overly critical analysis of phraseology and a disproportionate focus on what was not said (or how it was said) rather than credit being given to what was. As such, the fear of getting it wrong can all too often lead to a distorted analysis of a candidate's character and abilities that lacks both balance and perspective.

As any experienced interviewer will testify, no candidate ticks all the boxes – if they do something is invariably wrong! What is required is both an open mind and awareness that the initial question is far less important than the follow up. Indeed, a readiness to pull apart initial answers, get beneath sound bites and ‘education speak’ and drill down to seek out clarification is the mark of a good interviewer and vital in ensuring that a candidate really is as good as they sound, or, alternatively not as bad as they might initially appear given a throw away comment.

Here at Emmaus, we appreciate that the recruitment of a Headteacher can be a daunting task. However, we are committed to getting alongside governors and supporting you throughout the recruitment process; from advertisement to appointment.

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