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Effective Teacher Hiring

by Kenneth D. Peterson

Table of Contents

An ASCD Study Guide for Effective Teacher Hiring: A Guide to Getting the Best

This Study Guide is designed to enhance your understanding and application of the information contained in Effective Teacher Hiring: A Guide to Getting the Best, an ASCD book written by Kenneth D. Peterson and published in October 2002.

You can use the study guide before or after you have read the book, or as you finish each chapter. The study questions provided are not meant to cover all aspects of the book but, rather, to address specific ideas that might warrant further reflection.

Most of the questions contained in this study guide are ones you can think about on your own, but you might consider pairing with a colleague or forming a study group with others who have read (or are reading) Effective Teacher Hiring.


  1. In addition to the obvious need to fill vacancies with high quality teachers, what is the most important reason in your situation to improve your hiring system?
  2. How can you deal with the reality that not everyone who is in a position to hire is good at selecting the best teachers?
  3. Who in your hiring system is responsible for monitoring the legality of the system and its actual use? Who in your district trains others in legal issues?
  4. Where in your long term planning is teacher hiring discussed, emphasized and included with other issues?
  5. What are the two or three most important selling features of your school district or school to top candidates?

Chapter One: Preliminary Procedures

  1. Do a thorough analysis of one or more of the hiring vignettes, using the entire list of the most common teacher hiring mistakes listed in Chapter 1.
  2. Which problems of hiring in the “Most Common Mistakes:” Have happened in your experience? Are current difficulties in your situation? Are you unprepared for?
  3. Which of the guiding principles of a teacher hiring system will require more research and information for full understanding on your part? Where (what) are these sources of information?
  4. What role(s) can classroom teachers play in teacher hiring?
  5. The book advocates forming a “teacher selection task force.” In what ways could such a group improve hiring in a school district?
  6. Describe three recruitment methods in addition to your current practices that show promise for success.
  7. Make a priority list of recruitment strategies for minority teachers--in order of feasibility and cost effectiveness.
  8. List the contents of a recruitment computer CD for mass distribution to prospective applicants.
  9. Describe the reasons and techniques for “fast-track” hiring procedures.

Chapter Two: First-Level Screening

  1. Describe the disadvantages of selecting teachers in one stage, where all are compared with each other on all data sources (e.g., resumes and recommendations)?
  2. Discuss the differences in kinds of information available from an application form compared to a resume.
  3. Discuss your preferences concerning “open” (applicant can view) and “closed” (confidential) letters of recommendation.
  4. What are some ways in which districts can get useful and accurate information about the quality of university teacher education programs from which applicants have graduated?
  5. What is the proper role of teacher test scores in teacher hiring?

Chapter Three: Second and Third Level Screening

  1. What kinds of important information can be gleaned from candidate essays or statements written on subjects supplied from the district? Who should read and analyze these statements?
  2. Discuss the logistics of using applicant portfolios or work samples. Where will the review occur, and who is to be responsible for storage and disposal of candidate documents?
  3. Review the advantages and disadvantages of video-taped lesson segments and demonstration teaching in selecting teachers.
  4. Describe the role of telephone follow up calls. What are the specific needs addressed by follow up calls. Who should make the calls? How should they be documented?
  5. What topics and question techniques (e.g., multiple choice items?) can be included in a district-level standardized test for applicants?
  6. Review the functions and logistics of a Selection Team at all three levels of screening. Compare the work and benefits of a Selection Team to those of individual principals as teacher hirers.

Chapter Four: The Hiring Interview

  1. While interviews are an essential part of teacher hiring, they have definite limitations which are not often recognized, discussed, and accommodated for. Describe at least four disadvantages of the hiring interview and remedies for its shortcoming.
  2. Describe the differences between structured and non-structured interviews. What are the clear benefits of structured interviews?
  3. Review the types of interview questions: hypothetical, behavioral, trait, and opinion. What are the strengths of each type? What is the proper balance among these questions?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of asking identical questions of all candidates?
  5. Describe a good balance between scripted, pre-selected questions and spontaneous, candidate-specific questions.
  6. Discuss kinds of interviewer bias. What steps can be taken to reduce or control bias in the hiring process?
  7. Describe several novel ideas for improving each phase of interviewing: preparation opening listening and questioning note taking documenting and reporting
  8. Discuss the advantages, problems, and logistics of group interviewing for your school or district.
  9. What does it mean to hold interviewer’s accountable for their work? How can this be done?
  10. Describe the content of an effective interviewer training program.

Chapter Five--The Final Decision and Follow-up

  1. Review the immediate follow-up steps for those candidates selected and those not selected.
  2. Describe the elements of a good new teacher induction program. What are the short-term benefits of a good induction program? The long-term payoffs?
  3. The teacher selection process itself should be evaluated. What are the ways to judge the quality of your teacher hiring?
  4. What steps should be taken after a hiring to improve the process for the next openings?
  5. What information, forms, accounts, statistics, and other records ought to be kept in a district teacher hiring resource note book?
  6. What are four key principles of effective teacher hiring?

Appendix Questions

  1. Who in your district is in the best position to maintain information about teacher hiring (e.g., web sites, reference books, district hiring notebook)?
  2. Describe the conflicts that exist in the rights of the three parties to a teacher hiring (applicants, district, stakeholders of the decision [e.g., parents]).
  3. State and describe six problem areas for legal hiring.
  4. Describe major principles of a legal hiring system.
  5. What kinds of record keeping and archiving are needed for an effective and lawful hiring system?
  6. What is your strategy for selecting questions to use in interview?

Effective Teacher Hiring: A Guide to Getting the Best was written by Kenneth D. Peterson. This 112-page, 6" x 9" book (Stock #102047; ISBN 0-87120-675-7) is available from ASCD for $18.95 (ASCD member) and $22.95 (nonmember). Copyright 2002 by ASCD. To order a copy, call ASCD at 1-800-933-2723 (in Virginia 1-703-578-9600) and press 2 for the Service Center. Or buy the book from ASCD's Online Store.


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