The Ultimate Guide to Attracting, Interviewing, and Onboarding Your Next AP


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 262.

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 Robin, underscore mind steps. I'm on Twitter at Robin underscore mind step someone's on Facebook and Robin Jackson, please, let's connect so we can keep the conversation going. Now on with the show, you're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast episode 262. How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How can 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, Robin Jackson. And today we're going to talk about step by step the ultimate guide to hiring your next AP. So if you are a principal, and you are looking to hire an AP, or anybody who's in more of a leadership position in your school, you're going to want to listen up, I'm going to walk you step by step through the process. And if you are an AP or an aspiring leader, I want you to listen to this episode carefully because I'm taking you through an entire hiring process. And you can use it to kind of compare the hiring processes that you're dealing with right now. If you want to find the builder to work for, then you're going to need to listen to this episode here about the hiring process so that you can recognize a builder even in the way that they use their process to hire.

Alright, are we ready? So we're gonna dive in now if you want to see this on camera, see all the things that I'm sketching out and even download a workbook, then I want you to go to our YouTube channel. And you can see the whole thing sketched out on video. But listen up, if you're just listening in your car and your podcast, because you will still get a lot of value from this episode. Okay, are we ready to dive in. So the first thing is that when you are hiring an AP, you want to make sure that you are looking at three different things. And this is really true for hiring anybody. But particularly if you want to get a great AP, the first thing you need to do is you have to think about the hiring process in three sections. The first section is the Attract section. And it's really the Attract session is how do I how do I attract the right people for the job. And so you want to think about not just kind of putting up a job opening and hoping the right people apply, you have to be really, really specific about how you create the job description about how you advertise the job, so that you attract the right people.

And this is really important is that you also want to repel the wrong people. 

Okay. So recently, I was looking at a principal Facebook group that I'm a part of, and someone in the Facebook group said that she was really or he had, I don't know who was but this person was really struggling with an interview question about why do you want to work at this school? And they were saying the reason that they were struggling is because it's not about the school, it's about the position for them. Okay? Well, listen, if it's just about I want to be an AP somewhere and not about I really want to serve these students in this population, you're probably not going to be the right fit for a builder. So the first thing you want to do is in the way that you advertise the job in the way that you announce the job opening. You want to write that in a way that attracts the right people, but also repels people who are just there because they just want any AP position. Okay, we'll talk about that a little bit more in a second. So the next thing is then how do you screen right? How do you sift through all the people who kind of come in to you know, your, your world? And then how do you screen them so that you get the right person here? What do you need to do so that you can quickly sift through all the applications? How do you help conduct the interview in a way that helps you know that you have the right person? Okay. 

And then the third thing is that how do you onboard How do you You make the person, how do you set them up for success. And that process is a specific process that you're going to use. Now, I'm going to do a whole episode on the onboarding piece in detail with, you know, graphics and everything else. So look out for that. But we do need to think about that and be very intentional, because what we do a lot of times is we hire an AP, we, you know, we give them like the first day tour, here's the copy machine, here's your office, you know, here's some, you know, here's some things about our school. And then we kind of throw them in the deep end, and we're not onboarding them properly, and we're not setting them up for success. So you have to do that. If you do these three things, if you are careful about how you attract people, if you're careful about how you screen people, and then careful about how you onboard people, this will guarantee that not only do you get the right person, but that that person thrives in your building. So let's break them down each one.

Now to do that, I'm going to use the builder ship model, right? Because the one of the reasons I love the builder ship model so much, is that the answer to most questions that I have around how to do something in a school, if I don't know the answer to it, I just go back to the builder ship model, and it has the answer. And so for those of you who are unfamiliar with the builder ship model, the first thing that you need to know is that inside the builder Ship Model, at the center of it is your school success story, your 100% vision, you're achieving that, right? That's the heart of why we do this work. And in order to do that, there are four things that you need, the first thing that you need, if you're going to achieve your vision is you need a compelling purpose, you need a purpose, so compelling that people are committed to the purpose. And the purpose drives the work. And if you're if you don't have that, then you're not going to make it. And that's usually identified by core values, the vision and the mission. The next thing you need is unique, committed people, right? So if you have a compelling purpose, but people aren't committed to it, and they don't have the will and skill they need to do that. They're not going to move your school forward. And then the third thing you need is you need a clear pathway. I have a great purpose. I know where I want to go, I have people committed to it. But now how are we going to get there? What's the right pathway for our school, if you don't have that you're not going to achieve your vision. And then the last thing is you need a concrete plan, how am I going to stick to that pathway going forward. So if you want an AP, who is going to move you to your school towards that 100% vision, then then they need to be they need to be a part of that compelling purpose. They need to be equipped to help you encourage that commitment. And your people, they need to be good at thinking about a pathway and good at sticking with a plan.

So you might as well screen for that. 

So let me show you how that works. Okay, so let's talk about attract first. Again, if you want the workbook, go to the YouTube page, we'll also put a link to a page where you can get this workbook in the show notes at school leadership Okay. So when you're thinking about attracting, the first thing you have to do is you have to think about purpose. And this is really about how you can sell your school, why would somebody want to work with you. And the end, the big selling points for your school, after you go through, here's a little bit about us who we are as a school, here are our demographics, this is going to be the thing that attracts and repels your people, your vision, your mission and your core values. So in the job description, you're gonna put, you know, like where this school, we, you know, we're located here, this is kind of the student population we serve, we're an elementary school, we have 250, kids, whatever, okay, that stuff is there. But then you're gonna say, and our vision is that 100% of our students, blah, blah, blah.

Now, immediately, there gonna be some people who see them be like, 100%, y'all crazy, and they're going to move on to the next thing. You want that because you don't want anybody coming into your school who doesn't believe in that. There's some people who, when you look at it, they're gonna say, oh, you know what mission core values, that the vision that just that speaks to me, and those people are going to want to work for you. So put that in your job announcement. Put that all over the place, this is who you are. And if they're doing research about you, they should see it on your website, you want to put your vision mission core values everywhere, because those are going to attract the right people and repel the wrong people. They're going to attract the people who share your purpose, they're going to repel the people who don't. Okay, the next thing is, then you want to put a section in your job description that says about you. And you're going to describe who is the ideal person and you're going to describe that person in two ways. First of all, you're going to describe what is the will what is their will and then what is their skill that you're looking for. So you want for well, you want to be somebody who feels passionate about helping every child succeed, someone who feels who is willing to roll up their sleeves and and support someone who believes and teachers you know, like, those are the things who are they in turn into their beliefs, who are they in terms of what drives and motivates them, that's gonna, you're going to put that in a job description. And then the second thing you're going to do is you're going to describe the skills, someone who is really good at giving teachers feedback, someone who has experience designing professional development for teachers, someone who is adept at being accountable and helping others be accountable to the work, someone who is really good at building a strong culture.

Now, again, where am I getting those things? Right here, the builders Ship Model, feedback, support, accountability and culture. Those are the big skills that I need in order to help me achieve this committed people in my staff. So those are the skills you're going to put in the job interview, I mean, in the job description. All right, when it comes to pathway, we're looking at what's the entire interview process look like. So you're going to put this in the description as well. So you'll say about the process, that'll be a section, and then you'll put, we're going to be interviewing for the next two weeks. If and after we interview, then we're going to call some people in or we're going to be screening resumes for the next two weeks. And then we're going to it will give you a call if we're if we are interested in interviewing you, you'll come to an interview, you're going to interview with a principal and then if you have a second interview, you're going to interview with a team, whatever you know, whatever your process is, you're going to lay it out so people know what to expect for you. And this is the pathway to getting a job at your school. And then finally, the plan. What do you want them to do if they're interested? So you'll say what's next? If you're interested, send your resume. electronically, do you want a cover letter? Do you want them to fill out a form online? What are your things that you're going to do steps 123. Okay, so your job description is going to have an About Us section is going to have an About Us section is going to have an about the process section. And then what's next section, you can do the short and a paragraph, you can do it in a longer job description.

But you need these things. 

When you write your job description this way it attracts the right people, and it repels the wrong people. And so then you have a better pool of people who are applying to your school. Plus, it makes your school stand out. It's your job description should convey should express who you are as a school so that you can attract the right people to your school. Okay, so that's the first thing. Now when it comes to screening, again, you're going to follow the same format purpose people pathway plan. So when you're screening in the interview, first, you're going to have some purpose questions. Now, I need to give a shout out to Ashley Edwards, who is a builder inside of BU, she has mastered this. And she says that when she conducts an interview this way she gets she has people who are crying in the interview, they're saying I've never been interviewed this way before they want to work with our school that connect. She's getting better candidates she feels more confident going in. It's just been amazing. So I'm telling you, this can transform the interview process. So the first thing is you want to ask purpose questions. You don't want to ask questions like what's your vision? What is your mission? What are your core values, but you do want to structure questions that help get at their vision so that you can see what you're looking for here is you're looking for alignment. Okay, so does their vision aligned with yours?

So if you have 100% vision, you want to ask them questions about Alright, we have 100% vision at this school. What does that mean to you? What does it look like? What would it this? These are the things that you're going to be doing? How can How did these things help get to the 100% vision? What can you do to help us get you know, things like that? So you want to ask vision questions, then the mission is about the why right? So you're asking them about their why why do they do this work to see if it aligns with your big why, in the in your vision in your mission? And then the last thing is the core values question you want to ask questions that get at their core values. What you don't want to do is say here are our core values. Do these feel non negotiable to you? Because I mean, if somebody really wants a job, they can lie. They can say, Yeah, but you want to talk about what's non negotiable for you, and see if there are non negotiables contradict your non negotiables they're not a fit, or do they align? Okay, so those are the purpose questions. Hey, it's Robin 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 between 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 going to 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 too. of 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 who's dealing with this same issue, someone you think would really benefit. And now back to the show.

The next set of questions you're gonna do, these are people questions, and this is really getting at their will and their skill. 

So the questions that you want to ask around will are going to be questions that are really about, you know, you can ask questions like, Okay, what's their ideal day? How do they like to work? What motivates them so that you can get at their will driver? And then the skill questions are going to be asking deeper questions about Tell me a time when you do this, they have certain skills, that you have certain skills that you want, you know, how do you give feedback? How do you offer support? How do you provide accountability? And how do you build culture? You want to ask questions, give me an example of a time when the culture was starting to lag, what would what did you do that shifted the culture so experienced questions that see what is their skill level around those four things, feedback, support, accountability culture, which are critical to an administrative role? Okay, the next thing we're gonna do is you're going to ask pathway questions. And the pathway questions are questions that we often don't ask. And then we're, you know, we're mad later on, because I always say people hire for skill and fire for well. And so these pathway questions help you go a little bit deeper on the will side. So you're going to ask questions that check to see how in alignment, are they with your goals, the goals that you have for your school? Right? So you might say, in the next year, we're trying to increase the number of our seventh graders who are reading at grade level right now we're at 64%. And in order to get to 100%, of all of our kids reading at or above grade level, seventh graders were really stuck. So that's something that as an AP in this school you will be working on. in great detail.

Can you give me a sense of how you might go about solving that problem? Okay. So those are ways you're trying to see how do they think about the goals that you have in your school? This is so important, a lot of people ask, like, hypothetical scenario questions. And you know, I mean, I've taught that before. And certainly you want to do that. But what I love now more than ever, is to ask questions that are specific about how will you solve a problem? So I take a problem that I'm currently dealing with that if they were in that position, they would have to deal with as well. And I asked them, how would they solve that problem? And my thing is, if I asked that question during the interview, and they teach me something that I hadn't thought about, they have a perspective that I like, that actually helps me solve a problem, then that's a good sign that that is going to be a good person to work with, on a long term basis, because I'm learning from this person, this person is teaching me something. So after you do this, when you ask this question, enough, you're going to it's going to not just help you screen candidates, but it can actually help you start thinking about your problems differently, getting other people's opinions on problems you're actually solving. So the interview becomes like a win win.

So I love this question. And I think that you, we don't do enough, we do all these scenario based questions on hypothetical questions. Quite frankly, we don't really care about the answer in the same way that we do when it's something we're actually dealing with. So the best way to tell whether somebody is going to be a good fit for your school, is to give them a problem that your school is currently dealing with, that's getting in the way of your goals, and ask them to grapple with it, ask them to try to figure it out. Because then you can see, in reality, how well they're going to be working towards helping your school. Okay. So that's the your goals problem. And then you also want to talk about their goals. Okay? So this is really important, because you need to figure out, where are they headed? What are their goals, and how and whether or not working in your school makes sense for where they want to go? I see this a lot where, you know, especially when you're interviewing with APS, there's some people who want to be APS for life. There's some people who are just trying out administration, not sure if they're gonna like it. There's some people who want to be APS, because they're on track to being they they're on a pathway. They're aspiring principals. There's some people who are interviewing for your job, because they hate where they work now. And I want to get to that, right. Like, I want to know that like, what is what is something that you want to do? Where is where is it that you want to go? And is that something that I can support? Is that something I can help them? Or is it something you're going to be at for two years, and then you're leaving? And that's not a bad thing, but I need to know that going in? Especially so that we can both set our expectations.

And then the last one, speaking of expectations, a process question. 

So what are your expectations? So I talked about here's my expectation for the position, and does that jive with you? And then you ask them, What are your expectations? So I'd like to ask people, How do you like to work? What's your ideal workday? How do you like getting feedback? How do you what how do you prefer to give feedback, what communication rhythm works for you, it's really important to make sure that we're good fit, and that they're going to be a good fit for our culture. We don't spend enough time talking about expectations during the interview process, and we get people hired, and then we start talking about expectations, when it's too late, you should be doing that in the interview process. Okay, so that's the screening purpose people pathway plan. Now, once you do that, now it's time to onboard people. And again, purpose people pathway plan. So when you're onboarding people, you have to first thing you have to do is you have to make sure that very early on once they are there, they have the job that you are getting them connected to and committed to your vision, your mission and your core values. And so what are you doing in the onboarding process, to reinforce it to help them understand what that looks like? And to make sure that they get recommitted to those and see the connection between the work that they're doing, and your bigger vision, mission and core values. The second thing is that what are going to be their success measures, see what we don't do often as we say, we get a P and we say, All right, now that you're here, these are your duties, you're going to be doing lunch duty, you're going to be doing the duty schedule for teachers, you'll do some observations and write ups for the seventh grade team, you need to be a team meetings, you're in charge of special ed and the math department. But we don't tell them what does success look like in those roles. This is so important, those of you and bu you know this we write success measures. Level four is where you can find all that information for those of you and BU, where we do the team architecture, and you create success measures for everybody on your team, and sitting down with people and going through what success looks like can really set them up to be successful in their job. And then for pathway, what are the onboarding steps? First day, we should have a plan for how we're going to onboard them.

And I like to look at first day, the first week, what can they expect the first month and the first quarter? It takes a quarter to get somebody on board it properly. And so again, I'm gonna do a whole podcast about this, look out for that. But in the meantime, what do you need to do to onboard people? And what's that pathway look like? You need a plan for that. Okay, man pathway for that. And then for the plan. This is the process? How are you going to follow up? How what's our meeting cadence going to look like? What's our communication cadence going to look like? How will you be checking? How often will you be checking in on them, giving people clarity around that really important? Again, I'll talk you all through it in the onboarding episode. Okay.

So here's the big thing that I want you to do now, before you hire your next AP or anybody in a leadership position, you need to have plans for the three phases of the process. 

Think through carefully, how are you going to attract people think through how are you going to screen and interview people to figure out the right people for the job? And then how are you going to onboard people. And I'm telling you, if you do this, and you have this process planned out ahead of time, it helps you attract the right people to your organization and repel the wrong people. It helps you use the interview process so that both of you walk away feeling like that time was really valuable. And it also helps you use the interview process to find the right candidate, the person not just who looks good on paper, or who can interview well, but who's going to be the right fit for your school. And then the onboarding process helps you set people up for success. So attract screen and onboard. And then the way you figure out what to do for each of those purpose, people pathway plan. If you fill this out, and you have the plan you plan this out before you begin to start recruiting for APs are anybody in a leadership position, I promise you that you will find the right person because you approach the process like a builder. I'll talk to you next time.

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. The new need to join bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today. Hey, it's Robin here. And I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. If you have a question about today's episode, or 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 there are 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 those questions 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 about 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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