The Academy for International School Heads (AISH)
Original Work by Clark Kirkpatrick
Updated by Edward Greene
Revised January 2007
1- AISH Position Paper on Responsible Practices 3
2- AISH Best Practices for Teacher Recruitment and Hiring 4-5
3- Interview Questions for Teachers and Administrators 6-9
4- Situations to Ask Candidates About 10
Appendix I - Candidate Summary Sheet 11
Appendix II – Checklist for School Recruiters 12 - 14
Appendix III – Feedback from Candidates to Recruiting Agencies 15 - 16
Appendix IV – How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers 17
Academy for International School Heads 2
AISH POSITION PAPER
International School Recruitment Practices
The integrity of the recruitment process is a crucial aspect to the development of a
relationship between a school and candidates--a relationship that is conducive to high levels
of performance and satisfaction, the Academy of International School Heads endorses the
following recruitment practices:
1. All information necessary for the candidate to make a well-informed decision will be
provided at the time a contract offer is made. This will include information regarding
compensation, working and living conditions.
2. A candidate will be allowed a minimum of 24 hours to respond to a job offer, but a
period of seven days is preferable.
3. An offer for the same position will not be made simultaneously to multiple candidates.
4. No offer will be made to a candidate who has already accepted, verbally or in writing, a
position in another school.
5. No offer of employment or invitation to apply for a position will be made to an individual
who is under contract to another school without first informing the head of said school.
6. All pertinent information, where legally permissible, will be disclosed to other heads of
school who make inquiries about candidates about whom they have first-hand
7. Under no circumstances will confidential reference information be shared with a
8. The recruiter will inform all candidates under consideration about the school’s hiring
schedule. The recruiter will also inform candidates in a timely manner when they are no
longer under consideration for a position.
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AISH Best Practices: Teacher Recruitment and Hiring
(See checklist in Appendix I)
1. Call at least two references for each finalist. Give the referee the context of the position
and expectations. Ask the fundamental question "Would you hire this person again?”
2. When possible go beyond the list of provided references if you can be certain that the
information that you receive from such contacts will be free of prejudice.
3. Provide absolute clarity to candidates about:
• position responsibilities and school culture
• profile of a typical teacher’s day
• school calendar
• detailed geographic specifics-risk, health, politics
• supervision and evaluation process
• curriculum and instructional expectations
• school profile
• complete salary and benefits information including cost-of-living estimates
• percentage of salary that the applicant could expect to save
• consequences for breaking contract
• professional development opportunities
4. Make maximum use of your school website both for soliciting applications and providing
candidates with the transparent information they need to make informed decisions.
5. Arrange for current teachers to be accessible via phone or email so prospective teachers
can ask candid questions prior to accepting a contract.
6. Develop a list of standard interview questions for each candidate to answer. AISH has a
list to work from. Write the questions out on a form, with space for a brief summary of
the candidates’ responses.
7. Design interview questions that elicit specific personal and professional attitudes and
behaviors. Have a small number of standard questions for use with all candidates. These
will allow more objective assessment of candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. For
• Why do you want to work and live in _________?
• What are your basic personal needs to balance your life outside of the classroom?
• Give specific examples of your ability to work effectively in a team
• Elicit information about a candidate’s interest in students and parents.
• Share with me a time when your common sense saved you from disaster.
• Teacher perceiver questions developed by the Gallup Organization are also a great
source with norms for evaluating responses.
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8. Whenever possible use a team approach to interviewing and reference checking. This will
improve decision-making and can help expedite the process. For example, current faculty
might conduct telephone interviews with candidates or department chairs can review the
resumes of finalists. Teacher hiring decisions are among the most important ones we
make as heads. This justifies the additional cost and time required. When time is taken to
involve others, such as department chairs and key faculty, the likelihood of making the
right decision—and attracting the candidate of choice—can increase greatly.
9. Consider the match between a candidate’s current school and yours. Teachers coming
from substantially different schools, for example schools without ESL students or with
limited parent involvement, may take longer to perform well in your school.
10. Avoid applying pressure to candidates. Respect the needs of the candidate. Hiring
decisions should be good for the school, its students and the teachers.
11. To avoid miscommunication, require a signed statement as to the position, salary, dates,
visa needs and so on at the time a teacher accepts an offer.
12. Know that teacher hiring is a 12-month, cyclical process. Have a calendar of recruitment-
related activities to share with the Board and the administrative team.
13. Seek access to candidates outside the job fairs:
• job websites such as UNI, COIS, ISS, Search, TIE
• your school website
• advertisements in major dailies, educational periodicals, and local papers before fairs
14. Try to meet potentially excellent future candidates at conferences throughout the year and
take the time to stay in touch.
15. Have a system for dealing with unsolicited applicants.
16. Trust your gut feeling regarding candidates. Someone may meet all the criteria
objectively but you may feel uncertain that they will fit in. Don’t hire them.
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AISH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
For Teachers and Administrators
One approach is to develop your own list of 10-15 standard questions for your initial
interviews as a quick scan then customize your questions to the specific needs of the
positions for the second round.
The following is a list of possible questions for you to consider when interviewing
candidates. Most can be used for both teaching and administrative positions, but some may
1. What is your philosophy of education?
2. What is your philosophy of classroom management? How do you establish/create
3. Describe the process you use to plan for instruction. What do you do to create a unit
plan? A lesson plan?
4. How do you assess student learning in your classroom?
5. Describe an effective leader/teacher--give several examples.
6. Describe how you have taken advantage of the local environment/host country culture
to augment your curriculum?
7. How do you determine short-range targets for student learning?
8. How do you determine long-range goals for student learning?
9. How do you determine goals for your own professional growth?
10. How do you ensure that different styles are addressed in your classroom?
11. What strategies have you used to successfully meet the learning needs of students
whose English-language skills are significantly below those of native English
speakers in the same classroom?
12. Why are you leaving your current position?
13. What can you do for us that someone else may not be able to do? How long would it
take you to make a positive contribution to our school?
14. Why should we hire you?
15. Give an example of when you have worked under pressure with deadlines.
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16. What are your three best accomplishments in your current position?
17. What are your strengths and areas that need improvement?
18. How long would you expect to stay with us? Why?
19. If you could start your career again, what would you do differently? Why?
20. What are the specific standards against which you rate yourself as a professional
educator? A leader?
21. What is the most important thing you are working on now?
22. What has been the most important accomplishment in your career?
23. What position do you expect to have in five years?
24. What do you think of your current school? What are its greatest assets? Where would
you want to see it improve?
25. Why have you chosen education as your career?
26. Who are you?
27. As an educator, you are…?
28. Why do you think that you want to work for us?
29. Describe yourself in one word.
30. How would your students describe you? Your colleagues?
31. What aspects of your current position do you enjoy? What do you most dislike?
32. What are the characteristics of effective professional development?
33. Describe a current situation in which your work has been criticized. What did you do
34. Have you ever had to fire someone? Describe how you handled it?
35. What process would you use to evaluate your current school?
36. What does success mean to you?
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37. What is the best book you have read in the past year?
38. What is an international school? An international curriculum?
39. What interests you most about the position at our school?
40. Are you creative? Please give an example
41. Are you analytical? Please give an example
42. How have you raised student achievement in your school? Class? How do you know
student achievement has improved?
43. How have you been involved in helping your school be more efficient and effective?
44. What are the three things that should be done in your current school to make it more
45. Should students be grouped by their ability level – why or why not?
46. What do you look for in hiring staff?
Interview Questions from ISS News Links
Why are you looking overseas for a position? Why are you interested in our school?
What strengths and/or unique qualifications/experiences do you have that distinguish you
from other candidates? (Why should we hire you?)
What are your future plans? What do you hope to be doing three years from now? Five
years from now?
What distinguishes a good teacher from a bad one? What makes you feel you have had a
successful day, week, or month at school?
What are the key developmental issues facing the children in the grade that you are
teaching or the position for which you are applying?
What are the most important attributes of a principal with whom you would want to
If you could design your own in-service program, what would it entail?
What do you find are the most difficult and most enjoyable aspects of being a teacher?
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If I were to walk into your classroom tomorrow, what would I see?
What are your personal and professional strengths?
In what areas would you still like to grow professionally?
Please describe for me a time when you experienced a difficult situation between yourself
and a (choice: student, parent, colleague, administrator, or board member) and how you
handled that situation.
What interests do you have outside of school?
Why do you want to teach in an international school?
What are your partner’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? (With this question watch the
interaction of a teaching couple.)
Describe the qualities of the best Principal (Superintendent) you ever worked for.
Describe the best teacher you ever had.
How do you create a purposeful and orderly learning environment?
What are your hobbies and how do they contribute to your skill as a teacher?
How do you stay current in your field (teaching area)?
What do you like best about your present position?
If your administrator gave you a task or instruction you thought was inappropriate for
your students, what would you do?
If you could change one thing about your present job what would it be?
What is the most interesting thing you have ever done in your life?
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Situations to ask Candidates about in an Interview
The following are a few situations that staff might meet in their work at your school. It makes
some sense to find out what they say they would do (or what they have done in the past) when
confronted with such situations. You probably need to ask a candidate only 3-5.
Substitute the word student, staff, parent, administrator, board or community as is most
A student you don’t know is crying in the hallway. What do you do? Why?
A board member asks you in confidence about the faculty’s perception of the head of school.
The parent of a gifted student pressures you several times in person and by e-mail to add a specific
activity to an instructional unit so that the student will be more challenged in your classroom. How do you
A student is having difficulty--but only in your classroom. The parents want to know how this could be
happening and what you will do about it.
A staff member is using his position in the school for private personal gain/special advantage.
A parent is upset with you because of several comments that you made in class and has told the principal
that they want you to apologize to the class.
You discover a student cheating in your class.
A parent complains to the principal that when you grade her son’s work you are discriminating against him
A parent demands that you tell them what you know about a particular situation in which their child was
A student loses the election for student council and comes to you talk about it. What do you do?
A parent asks you about the teaching qualifications/skills of a colleague, an individual who you know is
A student says she was treated unfairly in your class.
A parent says that you did not take reasonable action to protect students and staff from conditions harmful
to health and safety on the recent school trip
A staff member is intentionally not participating appropriately in a team project, how do you deal with
this staff member?
While walking down the hallway, you happen to overhear a teacher talking negatively about another
teacher’s teaching methods to a parent. What do you do? Why?
A board member asks you about the effectiveness of the school’s new reading program.
A staff member is found to be disclosing highly confidential personal information about another teacher
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Appendix I – Candidate Summary Sheet
The following grid may be useful as you interview people--this can be used in several ways
but is probably best used prior to an interview. The participant fills it out before hand (if
possible) and gives it to you at the interview ( 1st or 2nd ). Then you may use the answers as
the basis of part of the interview.
It should be modified to meet your needs--do not use it as is!!
Heard about it Some Knowledge More Knowledge Sign. Know Leadership/
Limited Knowledge Limited application Some application + application training role
1 2 3 4 5
Your specific list - here
1- Learning styles 1 2 3 4 5
2- Cooperative learning 1 2 3 4 5
3- Classroom Technology 1 2 3 4 5
4- Critical thinking skills 1 2 3 4 5
5- Gifted + talented 1 2 3 4 5
6- Special Needs 1 2 3 4 5
7- Differentiated Instruction 1 2 3 4 5
8- English Second Lang Learners 1 2 3 4 5
9- Information literacy 1 2 3 4 5
10- Learning centers 1 2 3 4 5
11- Team teaching 1 2 3 4 5
12- Rubric Assessment 1 2 3 4 5
13- Writing Across the Curriculum 1 2 3 4 5
14- Learning to Learn 1 2 3 4 5
15- Standards-based-curriculum 1 2 3 4 5
16-Assessment of Student Learning 1 2 3 4 5
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AISH Checklist for Recruiting Overseas Hire Teachers – December 2006
1. School website is current with clear instructions about the application process, time lines and openings- either
confirmed or tentative
2. Someone is designated as contact person - deals with all the clerical work - should be someone who knows the
school and teaching needs
3. Consider a part time short term assignment for contact person - non working spouse of a teacher may be a good
4. Contact person should update openings regularly on school website and other advertising websites - also update
5. If planning on attending fairs, research carefully where your school can best compete and monitor deadlines to
ensure available space.
6. Schools need to decide on all the pro/con arguments for recruiting singles or couples
7. Sign up with TIE and appropriate search agencies so you can access data bases
8. Maintain your own data base of all inquiries and make sure all receive a response - use a form letter to save time
9. Consider non traditional applicants - interns, non certified candidates, student teachers, new graduates, etc.
10. Develop alternate contacts - sister school relationships, teacher exchanges, schools of education, your alma mater
11. Contact person is regularly checking various websites and candidate databases for new applicants
12. Retired former international administrators may be a source of help for screening and interviewing candidates
13. Be of the mindset that this process will require a large amount of your time and energy - but it is one of the most
important things you do
For Currently Employed Staff
1. Check with current staff as a source of possible candidates. Send out regular job opening notifications
2. Get commitments ASAP as to whether current staff is staying or leaving - consider bonuses for early notification
3. Provide support to current staff for their own recruiting needs - they are a good PR source
4. Get feedback from previous year's new group of teachers - help write a guide for incoming new teachers and/or a
group statement about coming to your school
5. If attending fairs and current staff are also in attendance, use them as contacts for those who are being interviewed
6. Know where current staff have worked in the past - they can be good sources of reference checks on applicants
from various schools
7. Develop a database of teachers recommended by current staff members
1. Make sure school contact person has criteria to determine what type of response is sent
2. Contact person has criteria for determining who needs to be red flagged for attention of school head
3. Data base is kept current for school head to review - includes name, teaching area, fairs to attend and other
4. School head and/or principals should review data base regularly - file sharing, paper/electronic copies
5. Principals to confer with each other on suitable teaching couples
Before attending a fair
1. Facilitate a fair/recruitment planning session to ensure logistics/process are all agreed (if multiple admin.
attending fair), e.g. interview questions, reference check approach
2. Consider hiring in advance of fairs - a ticket to your school may be less expensive than a placement fee - check
agencies and other sources to make sure the candidate does not have a checkered past
3. Consider interview by video conference, Skype and/or phone if technology permits
4. Consider using colleagues in other countries to interview applicants
5. Consider having at least two people attend the fair or fairs - increased efficiency may offset costs - taking a
knowledgeable spouse saves on room costs
6. Using your data base, identify the candidates that will be at each fair you are attending
7. Take advantage of various search agency websites to pre screen
8. Determine if there is a candidate profile that is particularly successful in your school - singles, couples, those with
children, age, etc.
9. Contact candidates that look good to try to ascertain level of interest in your school
10. When contacting applicants, refer to points they emphasize in their resumes - make it personal
11. Do reference checks in advance of fair if you think there is a good match
12. Do whatever background checks you can - beyond the normal references
13. Print form messages to cover most situations - have blank ones for exceptional situations
14. Prepare a staff list with phone numbers/email addresses so you can refer candidates to particular people - i.e the
couple with young children may wish to contact a similar couple at your school.
15. Prepare a list of former staff members who are willing to communicate with applicants - include email addresses
and phone numbers
16. Consult with principals to get profile of what they are seeking for each position
17. Prepare scenarios for what to do as you hire candidates - overseas hire quotas, available housing, couples vs.
singles, numbers of dependents, etc.
18. Prepare a set of interview questions - especially for initial interview - have preprinted on forms for more efficiency
19. Develop a ranking system to quickly classify those interviewed
20. Prepare attractive and informative materials about your school - saves interview time and presents a good image -
can be paper and/or digital
21. School materials should include Q & A format on essential questions like housing, health care, home leave,
retirement allowances, transportation, etc
22. Prepare a DVD for presenting your school at the information sessions - maximum of 10 minutes - need time for Q&A
23. Ensure all recruitment materials are comprehensive and up to date
24. Ensure that all materials, questions, and processes are 'legal'
25. Make sure you completely understand all the visa requirements for your host country - they may sometimes be in
conflict with the laws of the country where the fair is located
26. Ensure that you know length of contracts to be offered and whether or not extension is possible
At a Fair
1. Arrive early - check to see if pre screened candidates are attending
2. Recheck attendance list to make sure you have not missed someone
3. Check for late registrants
4. Send messages (mail box and email) to all who are of interest - ask them to contact you for an appointment –
include material (brief and attractive) about your school
5. Make list of all your pre screened individuals
6. At sign up table, have pre screened list - can use it to say no to those not on the list
7. Be flexible - you may have missed a good candidate in your pre screening - one strategy - ask them to come back
near the end of sign up - only a few do
8. Do not fill all your interview times - you will need time for follow up interviews, physical and mental comfort breaks,
and for reflecting on the candidates interviewed
9. Carefully consider your school needs - one year you may need some high energy innovators and another year
10. Initial interviews are brief - use prepared questions
11. Do follow up interviews - use the phone to connect principals with applicants if you are alone - teaching couples
need to be contacted by all relevant principals
12. You will have no shows - follow up with a note or phone call if the candidate does not contact you - there may be a
13. Ask questions - let the candidates speak - assume they already know about your school - allow time for them to
ask questions - you are trying to learn about them - don't waste time with general information about your school
14. Referring to #13 - do not spend excessive time "selling" your school - you want to learn about the person you may
15. Find time to look at candidate portfolios - they will appreciate your interest
16. Stay in contact with all interviewees - phone or pre printed cards - they are anxious and may jump at first offer
17. When ready, make an offer - give candidate ample time to respond - a minimum of 24 hours is a guideline
18. Notify other candidates as soon as an offer is accepted
19. Have a contract (provide a sample if signed contract to be done later) or letter of intent to be signed by those who
accept offers - make it clear that this is a binding agreement and what are the implications if they do not honor it
20. Remember that candidates talk a great deal among themselves - have a well designed interview planned and
treat all with respect - "the word" will spread
21. Think ahead - if you have some open time, use it to interview candidates who look good, but who may not be a
good fit this year - could be in future years
22. Inform agency of candidates you have hired
Academy for International School Heads 13
23. Return all candidate papers to the agency for them to destroy - do not leave in your hotel room
24. Always follow AISH recruiting ethics
After the fair
1. Ensure contract packages are sent out promptly and efficiently
2. Maintain frequent contact with new hires - have a series of communications that can go out periodically
3. In addition to frequent contacts, have a website location where new hires can access essential information
4. Put all new hires in contact with one another - start the process of building a new team
5. Appoint "buddies/sponsors" for new hires - consider both social and academic buddies
6. Make sure buddies have a "job description" - consider some kind of reward for serving as buddies
7. Put new hires in touch with former staff members who can also answer questions about life in your country and at
8. If time permits, send another message to all you interviewed to say thank you.
9. Plan a meaningful orientation period for new staff and pay close attention to things like housing, air fares, etc.
10. Consider a retreat or some special activity for new hires upon arrival - those first days are critical
11. Formulate strategies to integrate new staff with existing staff when they are all together
12. Make sure you include adequate new staff orientation time in your calendar - some suggest up to two weeks
before classes begin
13. Do an evaluation of the entire recruiting process in order to get feedback as to how it can be improved
Academy for International School Heads 14
Appendix III: Feedback from Candidates to Recruiting Agencies
In preparing this latest version of the Recruiting Handbook, we contacted the various
recruiting agencies and asked them to send us information as to the things that candidates
most report they wish schools would do or that schools would quit doing. We felt this would
provide recruiters with a candidate view as to what was important in this process in terms of
schools presenting themselves in the most positive light possible.
Mary Hardinge of COIS and Tracey Godon responded to these contacts. We are grateful to
them for their cooperation. Below is a compilation of the responses the sent. Some editing
was done to be able to include suggestions that were similar.
A. In advance of a recruitment event:
A1. It is very important to all candidates to be able to access data on schools prior to a
recruiting event. This comes in the form of fact sheets, web sites, (and other data forms
about the school a recruiting agency may want the school to complete). Candidates want
accurate, complete, quality data about the school. Candidates are immediately turned-off by
schools that do not submit this data, do not have it readily available, or provide incomplete
or outdated information.
A2. This "thirst" for data is also tied directly to school web sites. The quality of a school
web site has now become a critical tool in the recruitment process. Candidates expect to see
a section of the school web site specifically related to employment
opportunities/recruitment. Again, updated information on a web site is very important - old
vacancy listings, outdated application forms and the like do not impress a potential
candidate. Schools should make it clear where they will recruit each year, and make sure
that data is updated yearly. In addition, candidates want to hear from other teachers in the
school about what it is like to work there. Testimonials of this nature are a powerful
recruitment tool. Making some teachers available to talk to and/or email with potential
candidates is one of the best strategies a school can use in the process.
A3. Candidates frequently complain about lack of email responses from schools.
Candidates do understand that schools typically cannot respond to each email personally,
but they ask that at the very least automated responses are used – and that automated
responses give some detailed, helpful information to the candidate.
A4. Candidates also want a picture of what vacancies will be open at a school. Again, they
rely heavily on updated vacancies posted on web sites. Candidates have often expressed
frustration that this information is not provided by schools when it becomes known.
A5. Schools should notify recruitment organizations, ASAP, of those vacancies that have
been filled prior to recruitment fairs in order that the organizations can remove the
vacancies from their website lists.
B. During a recruitment event:
B1. At the recruitment fairs, recruiters should respond to all written correspondence from
candidates requesting an appointment for an interview
B2. Teachers want to see presentations about schools. Again, the quality
of these presentations really is key and can get a teacher thinking about a school they may
not have considered previously.
B3. Some candidates have expressed frustration/concerns with communication
efforts by some schools during an event as related to follow-through, one-on-one
conversations and the like.
B4. Schools should refrain from putting pressure on candidates to accept offers within
24-48 hours at a recruitment fair.
B5. Many teachers accept jobs at schools they may never have given thought
to prior to a recruiting event. Overwhelming, they report it is the "personal interaction
with a school representative" during the event that prompted them to consider the school
and ultimately accept employment there.
B6. Personal interactions with school representatives is the number one
factor reported by our "first-timer candidates" as the determining factor if they will
become a part of international education. This applies for those who accept employment,
and for those who do not.
C. Post- Recruitment event follow-up:
C1. Top of the list: Recruiters who tell candidates that 'they will hear from them after the
recruitment fair' should follow-up and confirm if the candidate is going to receive an
offer of a position or not. Candidates do not appreciate being left in limbo.
C2. Candidates who accept employment want to hear from schools as soon as
possible after the recruiting season ends as to what to plan for and expect in terms of
Academy for International School Heads 16
Appendix IV – How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers
Increasing the Odds - How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers
by National Council on Teacher Quality
-advanced degrees do not make teachers more effective
-a few years of experience makes a teacher more effective: after that it’s unclear
-education courses taken before teaching have little impact on teacher effectiveness
-traditional routes into teaching do not appear to yield more effective teachers than alternative
-matching a teacher’s race with a student’s race may be advisable-provided race does not
override other important considerations
-strong preparation in a secondary teacher’s intended subject area adds significant value. Less
is know about the breadth and depth of subject matter training, needed for teaching elementary
-more effective teachers will score relatively higher on tests of literacy
-colleges that are more selective in their admissions produce more effective teachers
-the teacher attributes that matter the most are the hardest to measure
Seven Critical Attributes
1. High-Achieving: The individual has a history of success no matter what the endeavor.
2. Responsible: Instead of blaming others or circumstances, the individual assumes full
responsibility for achieving a positive outcome.
3. Critical Thinker: The individual reflects about the linkages because and effect instead reacting
simply to the effect.
4. Organized: The individual is able to juggle multiple projects and tasks successfully.
5. Motivating: The individual is able to influence and motivate others to action, as evidenced by
effective leadership in extra-curricular activities such as student-run organizations or athletic
6. Respectful: The individual assumes the best about people, especially people in low-income
7.Shares the goals of the organization: The individual wants to work toward TFA’s mission of
eliminating educational inequities.
Academy for International School Heads 17