03/19/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Virtual Hiring Best Practices from Taipei American School

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Taipei American School is one of Asia's top college preparatory independent schools offering an American-based education. Its campus, located in a northern suburb of Taipei called Tianmu, houses all three divisions – Lower, Middle, and Upper School – with a total enrollment of more than 2,300 students.

Dr. Sharon Hennessy has been Head of School at Taipei American since 2006 and leads the school's hiring process. We asked Sharon to share her experience with virtual hiring, specifically related to demo lessons and creating an authentic impression of the school for candidates virtually.

Generally, what does the hiring process look like when a candidate cannot interview in person?

We use some type of video call program, like Skype or Zoom. The first interview is usually the whole hiring committee (myself, principals, and department chairs). As candidates move forward in the process, interviews are usually one-on-one or two-on-one with key leaders. We also do scrupulous reference checking and a deep social media dive into the candidate.

How are sample or demo lessons handled? What alternatives to a normal in-person demo lesson do you use?

We still ask candidates to give a demo lesson. Preferably, we arrange to watch one of their classes in real-time via Zoom or Skype. If a live lesson is tricky because of a time difference or other matter, we ask them to record a lesson and send to us. In a situation like we are experiencing now where schools are closed, we might ask the candidate to present a lesson just to our hiring committee.

One method we also use is asking for student feedback on teachers. Normally we have a feedback form that is sent in sealed envelopes, either to a student (for older students) or to a fellow teacher. After the students fill the forms out, the responses go into an envelope and are mailed back to us without the candidate seeing them. We will transition this to a digital review form moving forward as schools are closed.

How do you ensure you are giving candidates an authentic impression of the school community and feel? How can you ensure fit – for both the school and the candidate?

Giving a feel for the school is something we take seriously. We have found that video clips of school assemblies, ceremonies, and even inside the classroom help to give a sense of our community. I also ask a few selected teachers or administrators to have conversations with candidates, not as an interview but instead as an informal opportunity for conversation. I try to find colleagues here who not only share professional similarities (i.e. teach the same grade, work in the same department) with the candidate, but also might have children of the same age or share similar interests.

Do you still give “campus tours”?

Yes we do! We have such magnificent spaces that we want to show off, like our Tech Cube and performing arts spaces. Often we'll walk around with an iPad or smaller device to show candidates the spaces, but we also have virtual tours created for when virtual walking tours are not possible, like right now.


These examples are meant to give schools and job seekers a frame of reference for virtual hiring. Practices and procedures may vary from school to school.

Does your school have experience in virtual hiring? Let us know in the comments!

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