How to Recruit a New Leader

The process of recruiting a new Head can be a daunting prospect. Senior management teams and Boards often have little experience in recruitment as it’s not a job they do every day. For many years TIC has been involved in recruiting leaders for international schools. Here we share some advice to help your school successfully recruit a new leader:

A realistic timeline

Throughout the recruitment selection and interview process, keeping all school stakeholders on task can be a challenge; school life goes on regardless. Establishing a realistic timeline and sticking to deadlines can help.

A sensitive communication strategy

Within a highly competitive recruitment market, finding the right person is a big enough challenge. Losing that right person because of broken promises as a result of late or insufficient communication is something no school wants. Setting a recruitment communication strategy in place from the start, that takes into consideration the needs of the candidates to know where they stand, helps to alleviate such an eventuality. Assigning this responsibility to one person within your school team ensures accountability and projects the importance of recruitment communication as a reflection of your school ethos.

Planning interview panels

The job of hiring a new leader shouldn’t only be down to the Board. To ensure maximum buy-in to the new appointment, all school stakeholders should have some involvement. This can come in the form of interview panels. These can be 20 minute sessions led by different stakeholder groups: from staff, to students, to parents. Questions and evaluation procedures need to be established for each interview to ensure a fair chance to compare candidates.

Coaching for the interview panel

Many people have never had the chance to participate in an interview panel and need coaching and mentoring to know what is required of them in order to appreciate the types of questions to ask, and to learn how to evaluate candidates equally. It’s also essential to set expectations for all panelists. While their input will be considered and valued, the final choice will be down to the Board, which may not correspond with the preference of a panel. Establishing an understanding early on about the ultimate decision can avert internal conflict later on and help stakeholders know that their opinion counts.

Adjusting your mindset

Too often, schools approach the final candidate interviews from the mindset of ‘us choosing you’. Because the market is increasingly competitive, the choice is invariably down to the candidates. When it comes to international school recruitment, rarely does a senior candidate limit themselves to a city or country; most consider schools far and wide. Encouraging your recruitment team to adjust their mindset can help change the way your school approaches the candidate interviews.

Preparing for a candidate’s visit

A candidate’s visit to the school is a major influence in their final decision about a job. Therefore, it’s crucial that the Board, senior leadership team, administrators, and welcoming teams are all prepared. Many factors should be considered in making the visit run smoothly; airport pickup, overnight accommodation, school tour, welcome of other family members, viewing of accommodation, dinner or a social activity with a selection of school representatives, a tour of the city or locality, and after-visit communication. All these experiences will impact your candidates and how they compare your school to others they are considering, in addition to the interview process itself.

External expertise

Consultancy is crucial to help guide all these recruitment strategies as well as giving you access to pre-vetted candidates, market information and opinion. A recruitment consultant will also be your trusted third party; with no vested interest towards either party they can act as a valuable and sometimes essential go-between for both the school and the applicants.

Paying less may cost more

There is no such thing as an affordable solution when recruiting a Head. The most affordable is what might appear to be most costly upfront. Invest in skilled, experienced, specialist support through the entire recruitment process to strategically, knowingly find the best possible Head your school can find – one who will meet your exact needs, contribute in many ways to the success of the school, and successfully complete their contract.

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