Why you should be conducting Exit Interviews


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 259.

Hey builders,

Before we begin, I have a quick question for you. Are We Connected on social media? The reason I'm asking is because as much as I love giving you the podcast episode every single week, I'd love to take our relationship deeper. So if we're not connected on on social media, let's connect. I'm on LinkedIn at Robyn underscore mind steps. I'm on Twitter at Robyn underscore mind step someone's on Facebook and Robyn Jackson, please, let's connect so we can keep the conversation going now on with the show. How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers strategies, and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. 

I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And it's interview season right now, if you are a principal, you are probably looking for great teachers and interviewing a lot of teachers and trying to make a good decision. And if you are a teacher, or an AP, or even a principal, you're probably out there interviewing. And so today what I thought I would do is share with you one of our most popular episodes about how to conduct teacher interviews so that you can hire some of the best teachers out there. In this episode, I am sharing with you the four questions I always ask in a teacher interview, I'm talking to you about the psychology behind the questions, what kinds of things you need to listen for the answers. By the time you are done listening to this episode, you will be empowered and equipped to conduct interviews that go beyond. So tell me about your experience. So give me an example of a lesson. And you know, we've all done that. And then we end up hiring a teacher that looks great on paper, but doesn't fit our culture that a teacher who looks great on paper, but doesn't work with where we're trying to go with our vision, mission and core values. If you want to avoid that, then you need to listen to this rewind episode because I'm going to share with you the four questions that I use when I'm doing teacher interviews that helps reveal to me who the teacher really is that helps me see whether or not that teacher is going to be a good fit for the culture that helps me to be able to tell get beyond kind of the the niceties of an interview to really tell who this person is in front of me and whether or not this person is going to be a good fit for our vision, mission and core values. I think this is really important before you do any interviews to listen to this episode, even if you've listened to it before, listen to it again. And just get back to that space so that you can make sure that you are hiring teachers who are a good fit for your culture, and who are going to help you grow and achieve your vision, mission and core values. All right now on to the episode. Hello there.

And Welcome back to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host Robyn Jackson. And today, we're talking about four battle tested interview questions to help you find and hire the best teachers this year. You see, I keep getting asked this question a lot lately. People want to know, how do you attract and hire the best teachers? What secrets do you have for interviewing teachers? And that's a hard question to answer. Because of this, you know, something I say to people all the time is this. People hire for skill, or they fire for will. And what I mean by that is that when we're recruiting and interviewing teachers, we typically paying a lot of attention to their qualifications to their certifications, to their experiences, and almost no attention to their attitude to their values to to how they're going to fit inside of our culture. And yet, once they're on the job, the thing that drives us the craziest is typically not their skill level, which drives us crazy. What makes us want to want to ultimately get rid of some of the teachers that we hired is their attitude or what I call their will. So it kind of baffles me that the way we typically conduct job interviews is that we spend a ton of time asking all these bland generic questions like you know, what is your teaching philosophy or or how do you incorporate technology into your lessons? When when frankly, the answer to those questions will tell us very little about whether the teacher is going to be good to work. Kids, whether that teacher is going to be a joy to work with whether or not that teacher is going to fit inside of our culture. 

So in this episode, I'm going to share with you before interview questions I always ask, and I'm going to break down why I ask these interview questions and what they reveal about the teacher. And then once you master these four types of questions, you're going to be able to tease out who are the potential master teachers, and who's going to be a right fit for your school. And more importantly, you'll be able to weed out those people who are not going to be a good fit before they come into your school and before they destroy your culture. And I also have a great freebie for you today. It's a list of 20 sample interview questions that you can use in your next teacher interview. These 20 questions are variations of the four key questions that I'm going to be talking about today in this episode, but I wanted to give you several different examples so that you can adjust them to your school to your style of interviewing. And so what you can do is you can get today's freebie by going to school leadership reimagined.com/episode 10. Now, before we jump into these four questions, I want you to know that today's episode is sponsored by my book, never underestimate your teachers. Because if you really want to get every teacher in your building, moving consistently towards mastery, and you need this book, because it shows you how to develop a teacher skill and their will, so that you can help every teacher even though resistant teachers, even the ones who will, who you think have there's no hope for that teacher, there, you can move that teacher, all of your teachers towards mastery. So you can find the book and all sorts of great wills skill resources by going to mind step sync.com/lead. Le ad, that's mindset sync.com/lead. Okay, let's dive in. Now, the first type of question that I always ask in interviews is what I call the experience question. Now experienced questions are not about having the candidate list their past jobs or their duties. You know, I did this I did that in my other school. This type of question is so much more than that. 

You see, there's a really important reason that I asked experience questions. 

One of my mentors, any Hyman Pratt, this is what she says, I'm going to read it to you. She says humans can accurately share what they did and how they behaved in the past. But humans are terrible at predicting what they do, or how they behave in a future situation. So what that means is that you're going to get much more accurate and revealing answers from job candidates by asking them to tell you about a real situation that happened to them in the path than you would by asking them to tell you what they might do in the future once they're working inside of your school. And I can tell you from experience that people are going to tell you a lot about whether they're going to be a good fit for your school with this kind of question. They don't know they're telling you that, but that's what they're doing. In fact, I believe if you listen carefully to people's answers to this question, they're actually going to tell you how and why you're going to fire them. Let me tell you what I mean. So one of the last job interviews that I conducted, I was interviewing someone to be an office manager here at mine steps. Anyway, I asked her to tell me, tell me about a time when you had a conflict with your supervisor, what happened? And how did you resolve it? Well, she told me about how her last job she wanted to change her hours and how that created this this conflict with her manager. And she said that, first she tried to negotiate with your supervisor, but ultimately, she realized that her supervisor was being unreasonable. So she decided to part ways with that employer. And at the time, that didn't raise any red flags, but it should have. Because what I did is I ended up hiring her, she seemed like a great candidate. And after she had worked for us for about two weeks, she came to me with a request, guess what the request was for? That's right. She wanted to change her hours. Well, I told her she couldn't change her hours. And at first she tried to change them anyway, on her own. 

Now, I can't make this stuff up. Here's what she did. She sent me an email and basically said, effective immediately. These are my new hours. Are you kidding me? Right? So I've met with her and I told her that she was very welcome to work those specific hours. She just couldn't do them at mine steps. Well, needless to say, she no longer works here. But do you see what I mean? I mean, if I had been listening carefully, I would have caught that and realize that she wasn't going to be a good fit. Before I hired her. She told me exactly why I would fire her. And guess what I ended up firing her for that very reason. So now I listen very carefully to the answers of the experience question because those answers tell me whether or not someone's going to be a good fit for the school. And they tell me exactly where I might have have challenges with that person down the road. So, here are a couple of experience questions that you might want to ask. I'm going to read them to you. Here's one. Tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult student. What was the situation? How did you resolve it? And what did you learn? Here's another one. Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback from a supervisor, what was the feedback? How did you respond? And what did you learn from the experience? All right, one more, here we go. Tell me about a time when you had to meet the needs of multiple learners at multiple levels in the same classroom? What strategy did you use? How did it work out? And what would you do differently next time? 

Now don't forget, I have all these questions in a list of potential questions that you can download and today's freebie, but you get the idea, right? The basic framework for the experience question is, tell me about a time when and then create, you know, insert a relevant experience area? And then what did you do? And what did you learn? And the reason that this question is structured this way is so that you can hear from the person you're interviewing about a real life experience, and you can see how they learn from their past experiences. So this is going to tell you how reflective they are. And because they're sharing actual experiences, you're going to get really keen insight into who they are, how they handle situations, and how they will fit or not fit into your school culture. So that's experienced question. That's the first type of question that I ask. So the second type of question that I asked is, I always ask a core values question. Now, if you remember last time, from episode nine, I talked about how you could use your core values to screen potential candidates. And if you missed that episode, I'll link to it in today's show notes. But basically, in that episode, I said that your real core values are your non negotiables. These are the lines over which you will not cross. So if you have a set of core values in your school or in your organization, if there are certain things that are non negotiable, then what you need to do is you make you need to make sure that the person that you're interviewing share similar core values before you hire them. Because if you wait until after they're working in your school, and then discover that they are consistently violating your non negotiables. It's almost too late. So that means the core values question is really about sussing out the job candidates core values, and then seeing if their core values aligned with your organizational core values. 

So let me tell you why this is so important. 

So remember, when I said earlier that people hire for skill, but they fire for will? Well, if a person you're interviewing doesn't share your core values, I guarantee at some point, you're gonna face a serious world problem. And that's because if they don't believe in the core values of your school, if they have a different set of core values, then at some point, you're going to ask them to do something that aligns with your core values, but violates theirs. And when that happens, you always have a little problem. So the challenge with the core values question is that you can't just come out and ask them, Hey, what are your core values? Or here are our core values? Do you agree with them? I mean, you're not going to get the real answer when you do that. So instead of telling them your core values, you need to find out what their core values are. And then you can determine whether there's an alignment or a fit. So a basic core values, questions sounds something like this, I'll read it to you. What is one of your core values? And how do you live out that core value in your classroom, kind of generic, right. But if you really want to get ninja, instead of asking them about their core values, and in this generic way, you can get really granular. And I'll give you an example to show you what I mean, I'm going to I'm going to tell one of my secrets here. But you know, this is a trusted space, I trust that you're not going to go out and tell other people my secret, because this is a ninja move that I use when I'm interviewing people here at mine steps. So at mine steps, one of our core values is that we believe that we should always be learning. So when I'm interviewing people to work at mine steps, one of the questions that I ask is, tell me about the last book you read. And the reason I ask that question is, if they can't tell me about the last book, they read it or if they give me this, you know, really cursory summary of the book that shows me that they didn't really read it that they just kind of making it up. Well, that's a sign that this is not a person who's always learning. Another one that I'll ask is I'll say, you know, what, what podcasts Do you listen to regularly? 

And again, I'm looking for the same thing. If they're not listening to podcasts, if they're not reading, it's a sign that this is not a person is going to share our core values about always learning. So like I said, I'm telling all my secrets today. But it's important because that is a key core value here. You won't be happy here. If you're not always learning, that's how we run our business. We're always coming in and saying, Hey, I just read this book. yesterday and I think we should be doing this, or, Hey, I just listened to this great podcast this morning. So we should be doing that. So if they're not listening to podcasts, if they're not reading books, they're not going to fit in with our culture. Now, I hear you, I hear some of you out there right now who are protesting that people can learn without reading books and listening to podcasts. And you're absolutely right. But that's how we learn here at mindset. And I'm looking for someone who's going to be a good cultural fit for mindset and share our core values. So the question is intentionally specific to the way that we do things here at mind steps, a person who reads a person who listens to podcasts, they're going to be a good fit, because that's how we operate. A person who learns in other ways, may not be such a good fit. Now, I know that sounds mean, but trust me, it isn't. You have the right in an interview to look for someone who's going to fit in your organization, you have the right to be picky.

Hey, it's Robyn here real quick, I just want to interrupt this episode for just a second. Because if you are enjoying what you're hearing, then would you mind sharing this episode with somebody else. So all you need to do is just go to your phone, if you're listening to it on your phone, or your podcast player, and then click the three dots next to this episode. And I'll give you the option to share the episode that if you do that, three things are going to happen first, the person that you shared with is going to think you're a hero, especially if they're struggling with what we're talking about right now. They're going to love you. Secondly, you're going to feel good, because you're gonna get the word out about builder ship, and start building this builder ship nation. And third, you will get my eternal gratitude because I really want to get this out to the world. And you'd be helping me out, you'd be doing me a huge favor. So please share this episode with someone right now who's dealing with this same issue, someone you think would really benefit. And now back to the show. I mean, not only do you have the right, you have a responsibility to be picky, because if you aren't, if you let the wrong person into your organization, it can not only mean that you've hired someone who isn't the right fit, it can also mean that they're not happy, because everybody else has one set of core values, they come with a different set of core values. And if they're not happy, they're not going to do their best. And it's going to be a bigger headache for you. And more importantly, the wrong person can threaten your entire culture. 

So be picky. 

Find someone who shares your core values. Now, another example of a core values question might be something like, what was the last thing you did for your own professional development that was not required by your school? your district? So that's how you can use my kind of ninja question to suss out someone who is always learning in a school setting, rather than in an office setting. But you get my idea, right? You want to ask questions that that people have in order to answer them, they reveal whether or not they share the core values of your organization without coming right out and saying, hey, here are our core values, do you share those core values? I mean, that's not going to get you anywhere. So I'll give you a couple of other core values, questions, examples in today's freebie, but you get the point. Okay, so let's move on to the third type of question that I always ask. And that's the scenario question. Now, usually, during a job interview with teachers, we ask them questions like, how do you normally handle differentiation? Or what does rigor mean to you or whatever? And, or, like how do you help students take ownership of their own learning? You know, those questions are easy to prepare for. And more importantly, they're easy to fake. So instead, I like to ask specific scenarios, scenario questions, or when you give teachers a situation, and then you ask them how they would respond. And I find that when teachers have to respond to a specific scenario, rather than a generic question about their teaching philosophy, then their real teaching philosophy surfaces, and what I'm looking for their answers is to understand their teaching philosophy. But I also want to see how they apply their philosophy to their actual teaching. You see, someone can say, I believe all students can learn, or I believe all students should have access to rigorous instruction or I believe in student ownership. But there are always a whole bunch of if ands or buts behind that statement. So I use the scenario based question to tease out all those ifs, and all those buts. So here's how the question works. I give them a scenario that's typical for a school and then I asked them to tell me how would they handle that scenario? 

For instance, I may say something like this. Suppose you have a student who wants to take an honors course next year, but he's currently earning a solid C in your class. Would you recommend a for honors? Please also explain your reasoning behind your decision. You see, the teacher's answer to that question is going to tell me whether or not she believes all students should have access to honors or not. Here's another one. Suppose you have a student in your classroom who was reading to great levels below grade level, what will you do to get the student at grade level by the end of the year? Or let me give you another version of that question that combines the scenario question with the experience question. So you might say something like this? Have you ever had a student in your classroom? Who was at least two grade levels below grade level in reading? What did you do to support that student and get him or her on grade level? And what were your results? Now, either way the teacher is the answer is going to tell you whether the teacher was willing to take responsibility for the student in this classroom. And it's going to give you insight about how he's going to support students. So see how that works.

So I want you to do is I want you to think of typical scenarios that happen on a daily basis at your school. And then I want you to ask your potential candidates, how they would handle that scenario. And listen carefully. Remember, a lot of times, it's not what they say, it's what they don't say, that's almost as important. So want you to listen for both listen to what they say. And then listen for the gaps, what they leave out, because all of that's going to tell you what their real teaching philosophy is, and how they're going to apply it to your students. All right, before type of question that I always ask in interviews is the decision making question? Now this one is the sneakiest? And the most ninja question of all. So when you listen carefully, you see, before I hire someone, I want to understand how they make decisions. And the reason that I want to understand how they make decisions is because I can't be in their classrooms looking over their shoulders 24/7. I want to know if I can do if I can trust their decisions, even when I'm not looking. Plus, school is unpredictable, crazy stuff happens all the time. And what I need to know is, can I trust the person I'm hiring, to make the decisions in moments of crisis or moments of craziness? Because some of the biggest headaches that I've ever had, as an administrator were times when teachers made unfortunate decisions in moments of crisis or craziness. 

And I bet it's the same with you. 

So I want a good decision maker on my team. Okay, so here's how the decision question works. It's going to feel a lot like the scenario question, but it has two big differences. First of all, the scenario question is about a teaching decision that happens inside of the classroom. But the decision questions are about what happens in the margins of the teacher's day outside of the lesson in the hallways, in the lunchroom, on the playground, at bus duty, etc. And then the second thing is that decision questions usually have a twist. Okay, so the first part is that you need to think of a typical scenario that happens in the margins of the day, parent issues, playground issues, lunchroom issues, boss issues, those type of things. Now try to think of scenarios that are typical for your school, because again, you're looking for someone who is going to be a good fit in your school culture. So that's the first part. Now second, you need a twist. And the twist is what tells you who a person really is. Remember, you're looking for a person's decision making in a tough situation. And all tough situations have a twist. And that twist is what makes people make really bad decisions. So when you include a twist, you can see how people handle tough situations, and how they make decisions in tough situations. So let me give you an example of what I mean. 

Here's a question that seems really, really innocent. Suppose you give a quiz and the entire class fails the quiz, what do you do? But here's the twist. You see, the teacher I'm looking for might answer the question and share her recovery plan. But then she's also going to say something like, look, frankly, this is a hard question for me, because I believe that if I've prepared my class properly, this should never happen. That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for someone who's gonna say, that should never happen. I should never have an entire class will have my students fail a quiz. If I did, then that's on me. I didn't do something right. That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for someone who recognizes that if every child fails a quiz something seriously wrong. I want the candidate to take issue with a question, because the scenario should have never happened to begin with. See how that works. See how how ninja that is? Alright, let me give you another one. Here's a question. Sounds innocent, right? A student sends you a text that you find a little inappropriate and makes you uncomfortable. How do you handle it? Now again, this is just me. But I'm looking for someone who says, Look, I don't believe in giving high school students my personal cell number so that would never happen. Again, see how the twist works? See how, if you're not comfortable with creating a twist, you don't have to remember I said that's a ninja tactic that's like interviewing 201401 graduate level interviewing. And if you're not ready for that, you can still use this question. Even without the twist, just make sure to focus on scenarios that happen outside of the classroom, that inside of the classroom. For instance, you could ask something like, suppose you refer students to the office for cutting you out in class, the student returns from suspension? How do you handle the student once he returns to your class? Or here's another one. Suppose you have two students who get into a fight at recess, you weren't there for the beginning of the fight, so you aren't sure what happened? How would you investigate to get to the truth? And then what consequences would you recommend for students? How do you deal with the other students who witnessed the fight? So again, see how that works? 

The idea is to think of common situations at your school and use them to construct questions that ask your potential job candidates to think through the situation and decide how they would act. Now, word of warning here. As I said, In the beginning, people are a lot better at telling you what they did, when they are telling you what they would do. So their answers to these questions, the scenario question or the decision making question, they're not going to be as accurate as their answers to the experience question. But the scenario and the decision making questions are important because they give you a glimpse into how your potential candidate thinks you want to know how they think. And you want to know if they can think on their feet. Often, when answering these questions, they'll actually even start to refer to something that happened to them in the past and experience that they have and how they handled it. And that can be very, very insightful. Or other times they're gonna give you an answer that is so off the wall, that it immediately raises a red flag. And that's also good. In fact, you should be intentionally pushing to see where the red flags are, so that you know that before you hire someone, the idea here is to really listen beyond their answers, to look for clues to how they make decisions to how they think to what they really believe and how that's going to play out in their classroom. And that way, you can find someone who's not only good in the classroom, but it's going to be an asset to your culture, in the hallways on the playgrounds, at the bus duty working with parents in the community, you want someone who's going to be an asset all the way around. Don't forget, people hire for skill, but they fire for will. And if you don't tease out the will part using these kinds of questions, then you might hire somebody who's perfectly qualified, but it was a horrible fit for your culture, and that can wreck your culture. 

So before we close today, I want to recap some of the most important points in today's episode. 

The first thing is, once again, most people hire for skill, and they fire for will. And that means that you should be using your interview process not just to determine a teacher skill, the resume can tell you that the more powerful way to use the interviewer is to really figure out where's the teacher on the world spectrum? What's the teachers will is that teacher going to be a good fit for her culture? The second thing is that most interview questions not only don't tell you much about how a person is going to function in your school, most interview questions can be easily faked. So if you really want to find people who are going to be the right fit for your school, you need better interview questions. And there are for battle tested interview questions that I've been using for years that I've taught other people how to use. And these questions are amazing, because they can help you determine teacher will and teacher skill. Those questions are once again, the experience question, the core values question, the scenario question and the decision making question. So those are the four questions that I always ask whenever I'm interviewing, whether it's for a teaching position, whether it's for position in the main office, whether it's a custodial position, I even use those questions when I'm interviewing people here at mindset. Now, sometimes I might do several variations of the same question, because those variations are going to help me tease out who the teacher is a little bit more carefully. But I tend to focus on these four questions over and over and over again. The only other question that I might ask is, you know, do you have any questions for me, and that's pretty standard. And that tells me whether the person is curious whether they've done research about the school. So listen to those as well, because that can tell you a lot too sometimes when you ask people do you have any other questions for me? And the the first question they ask is, how big is my classroom going to be? That that that's that may be a red flag, so I pay attention to the questions they asked me as well. But when you use these for interview questions, the ones that I've talked about in this episode today I bet you're going to be amazed at how much more insight you learn for about your potential candidates. 

I mean, if you do this, right, these four interview questions can help you find someone who's a really great fit for your school. And more importantly, these interview questions are going to help you screen out people who aren't going to be a good fit at all. And that way you don't make the mistake of of hiring someone who's going to potentially wreck your culture. Instead, you can use the interview process to find other builders who are going to work with you to build an amazing school, you're going to find people you're going to just love working with, we're going to be great for your kids. And that's what I want for you. So before we go, I want to remind you about today's freebie, and that's a list of 20 interview questions that you can use or adapt for your next teacher interview. All these questions are variations on the forming questions that I talked about in today's episode, so that you can get an idea how you can take those four types of questions and use them adjust them so that they work for you for your school in your next interview. And they were going to help you interview like a builder. So you can download the freebie at school leadership reimagined.com/episode 10. And then once you've taken a look, if you have any suggestions for other questions, or if you have questions about my questions, just hit me up on LinkedIn, send me your questions, I'll be happy to answer them. Now speaking of LinkedIn, that's where I'm hanging out these days. So if you are on LinkedIn, and we are not connected yet, then you need to stop whatever you're doing right now. Let's go ahead, let's get connected on LinkedIn. So that we can stay connected and continue the conversation after the podcast is over.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle, and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship university.com and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robyn here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. And if you have a question about today's episode, you just want to keep the conversation going. Did you know that we had a school leadership reimagined Facebook group, all you need to do is go to Facebook, join the school leadership reimagined Facebook group now they're going to be a couple of questions that we asked at the beginning because we want to protect this group and make sure that we don't have any trolls come in and that it really is for people who are principals, assistant principals, district administrators. So make sure you answer this question so you won't get in. But then we can keep the conversation going. Plus we do a lot of great bonus content. I'm in there every single weekday so if you have a question or comment above the episode, let's continue the conversation. Join us at the school leadership reimagined Facebook group and I'll talk to you next time.

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