03/18/2020 by CS&A Guest |

Do Not Fear Virtual Hiring

by Diego Merino, Director of Talent Acquisition at Avenues: The World School

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As many of our schools close their doors over coronavirus concerns, we are also in the middle of the teacher hiring period. As every school leader knows, hiring decisions are crucial: the right new hire can make a huge positive difference.

Many of us are wondering: How can we hire well without meeting candidates in person?

It can be done – and done well. My organization, Avenues: The World School, has built a lot of experience hiring excellent teachers without meeting in person, especially at our campuses in São Paulo, Brazil and Shenzhen, China. We're far from the only school accustomed to this; virtual hiring is commonplace among international schools as well. But it's much less common among independent schools in the U.S.

First: Let's talk about why the prospect of virtual hiring probably makes you nervous.

The reasons why hiring without an in-person meeting can feel suspect, or just plain wrong, are rooted in our psychology. When we interact with another person, our brains rely on powerful, unconscious decision-making shortcuts – in other words, biases. For example: Someone walks in, you have a great first reaction, and then your brain spends the rest of the interview seeking information that confirms your impression and discounting information that doesn't. Or the reverse. That's called confirmation bias, and it's one of many cognitive biases that impact our hiring decisions [1].

How many times have you heard: “I just need to get a feel for them in person, to know whether they'll be a good fit at our school?” That need to get an ineffable feeling – that's your subconscious mind clamoring to be included on the hiring team.

At Avenues, we believe – and research backs this up – that better hiring should be grounded in evidence. We want to understand what a candidate has actually done, how they did it, in what contexts they did it, and with who they did it. We use multiple kinds of assessments to assemble, jigsaw-puzzle-like, a clear picture of the candidate's capabilities and behaviors. Then we compare that picture to our understanding of what's really needed in a particular role, and make a judgment based on the “preponderance of evidence.”

So here's the punchline: Always approach interviewing in a systematic, evidence-based way. Then you can make great hiring decisions regardless of whether the candidate's sitting across the table, or across the globe.

In future posts, I will share Avenue's approach to interviewing, interview stages, and exactly how we put together a full picture – the puzzle – of a candidate.

I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback!


[1] To learn more about unconscious bias and what to do about it, I recommend Google's Re:Work site.

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