St. Michael’s International School, Kobe, Japan

Paul Grisewood, Head of School at St. Michael’s International School in Kobe speaks to TIC about recruiting.

St. Michael's International School, Kobe

St. Michael's International School, Kobe

“A school is only as good as its staff and we needed to do something to generate reliable results in a stream-lined way,” says Paul. He had worked with Teachers International Consultancy during his own recruitment to headship so was familiar with the organisation’s vetting process and the personal and supportive approach TIC takes with candidates. “It’s the approach we wanted our own candidates to go through,” says Paul. “Plus we knew that working with TIC would release a huge amount of time for the school.”

Matching school and candidates

Paul says that selecting a recruitment company to represent your school requires some careful selection. “It’s not the same as recruiting teachers for national schools,” he says. “International teachers are unique and if you’re selecting from teachers who have never worked abroad before you need to be able to recognise the crucial qualities. A lot of teachers think they can do it, but to really fit in to an international school you have to be emotionally intelligent, culturally sensitive, culturally aware, a team player, and be able to pack up everything you own, put it in a box and join us. That’s tough. It’s just as tough to work out who can actually fit those criteria.”

Making recruitment count

Having a Service Contract with Teachers International Consultancy helped St. Michael’s take a more strategic, results-oriented approach to its recruitment. “Andrew Wigford at TIC gave us some excellent advice to improve our recruitment procedure to make it more efficient and more effective,” says Paul. After a thorough selection process, a short-list of 15 candidates participated in a three-day interview in London which was vastly more cost and time-efficient than flying them to Japan.  “TIC recommended that we use some of this time to paint a clear picture of the school,” says Paul. “Being a small school it is hard for us to keep up with the big schools on salaries and packages. We’re not underpaying; we’re in the middle but we are still managing to attract good quality teachers because of the lifestyle in Japan and the reputation of the school, which really is vital to our long-term recruitment success. As well as a detailed document of the school, we had video footage of the school including a number of staff talking about working at St. Michael’s and living in Kobe. Not to do a sales job on the candidates, but to make each one of them stop and think ‘why am I doing this?’ The approach helped to ensure that no one was under any illusions about making the move.”

Finding the right people

The rigorous three-day interview process directed by TIC also included candidates being presented with a range of scenarios to test their teaching and interpersonal skills. “It was through this route that we did find a few candidates who were not suitable including a couple with something to hide,” says Paul. “The right questioning was key to digging deep. You can’t afford to take a risk with your recruitment. The process we took with the help of TIC was very demanding but very thorough, very good.”

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