Will Skype.com Replace Recruiting Fairs?

The word we’re getting is the tide may be turning on how international schools find and hire teachers. Many teachers report they avoided the fairs this year and relied on Skype.com to interview and land positions in advance of the fairs. Consequently, other teachers report schools with a number of openings had already filled most of their positions before the start of the fairs. What was your recruiting experience like this year? How do you see the future of recruiting fairs in light of established advances in technology?

18 thoughts on “Will Skype.com Replace Recruiting Fairs?

  1. Just back from two fairs (got one offer), and I value the face-to-face interaction, the jostle of the marketplace, and the serendipity of meeting friends. Sure, the internet is the way of the future: Everyone will communicate via Facebook…No need for teachers in a classroom, either?
    Humans are built for social interaction, and can best judge the emotional component by all the aspects of physical presentation — a hiring-manager must decide if I have the emotional stamina to thrive in their patently exotic environment…not to mention whether I have basic people skills that will have to be demonstrated daily in the classroom. And I must decide if the HR person, as the school’s “best foot forward,” is slimy or straightforward.
    Skype-Video can well be used to “meet” other staff at the school — it is excellent for existing staff to “meet” new hires beforehand, particularly if existing staff can feel that they are part of the decision. It can also serve as a basic initial filter.
    The jobfairs carry value for both directors and teachers, if only in real social networking! (note to teachers: you don’t have to stay at the expensive hotel. But the hotel facilities are great for this purpose. Much better than a university gymnasium.)

    P.S. I also just came back from the cinema: “Up in the Air” , though a lightweight film, deals directly with the topic (but as the inverse of hiring!), so I’m a bit sensitive on the subject.


  2. I would love for one of the administrators to expound on the things that can be learned about a candidate only in a face to face interview (vs. Skype). I can think of a few things like bad breath or B.O. but cannot think of much beyond that.

    I’ve had successful Skype interviews that I felt gave both parties a good sense of the other. I can see that many schools feel the job fairs provide a valuable source of quality teachers, but I do question the motivation of some schools that seem to go on an endless world tour of job fairs to actually hire anyone.


  3. I have attended the ISS (Bangkok)and AASSA (Atlanta) fair and have to say that I was very pleased with both.
    The ISS in Bangkok is a larger fair and definitely more opportunities were available, for more countries. The AASSA fair is a lot smaller- just for south and central america fair. My two points are:
    1) The larger fairs are very informal, it relies on you, having a greater understanding of what you want before you get there and making some contacts before you arrive.
    2) The smaller fair is a lot more informal, this allows for more personal interaction with heads of school and less need to have contact prior to the fair.
    I am currently employed overseas and actually got my job through Skype and phone calls, this process was far cheaper, but I do think I lost some of the experience that can be gained by attending a fair, not to mention the social networking, which is so important overseas.


  4. I have been to Search, ISS, ECIS fairs. They are cash grabs for sure. I think their days are numbered. Let’s also not forget the impact on the environment of everyone flying all over the place and staying at hotels washing towels, sheets hourly it seems, and the list goes on and on.


  5. No one should confuse Search, ISS, et al., with the Salvation Army. The teacher recruiting services are businesses, albeit businesses with as bright a future as 8-track tapes. That the recruiting fairs continue despite the technologies of the telephone, Skype, the Internet, is an embarrassing indictment of international schools. Admins who take pride in espousing 21st century world class educations can’t seem to let loose of the horse and buggy recruiting fairs. Perhaps they hang on tight because technology levels the field and empowers teachers. The fairs are all about teachers genuflecting to schools. Technology is all about teachers taking charge. There isn’t a single shred of a reason why fairs ought to continue: no economic reason, no technological reason, no educational reason. The ONLY reason to perpetuate fairs is to keep the power in the hands of the schools and to keep the money flowing into the pockets of the so-called recruiting services.


  6. I frankly disagree with YoYoMe’s assertion that the Headship model be used for teacher recruitment. There may be some schools out there that would be forthright about the number of candidates that they asked to visit the school for a personal interview (following the skype/phone interview), but there are enough unscrupulous schools in the mix that would request a far too high a number of personal visits. It is no loss to the school if 5 or 10 candidates (plus spouses if relevant) visit for a face-to-face, since the bill for a visit is being paid by the interviewee. Can you imagine spending US$3,000 to fly yourself and your spouse somewhere (plus other expenses), for a single interview, then being told “you didn’t get the positions? Are people then supposed to spend another US$3,000 to fly somewhere else for another single interview? Lots of time and money lost in such a process. It would be worse than flying to one locale for 5-10 interviews (Search, ISS, etc.).

    Better to do your homework ahead of time, know what schools are of the caliber you would work at, and be happy to live near. A skype interview is fine, but the added trouble of flying multiple locales for interviews, and the uncertainty that exits regarding the integrity of interviewing schools is enough to make me suggest this isn’t the way.


  7. Interesting comments about the job fairs and Skype!

    I wonder however, about finding possible job openings to apply for without the databases of ISS and SEARCH.

    It seems to me that the point of ISS and SEARCH was to provide a single location for both job seekers and schools. For the job seekers the databases allow for a worldwide perusal of openings which then provides an opportunity for schools and locations to be considered that probably would never have been considered. Having to search individual schools websites looking for job openings isn’t very efficient. What other ways to do this are available?


  8. Oftentimes, when a large school is looking for a new director, they (the school board) will conference with candidates a few times, narrow down the list of potentials, and then have them come to the school for a face-to-face interview. Sometimes they even allow the staff to ask questions of the candidates and be involved in the decision-making. I’ve been involved in this and think that this is a real benefit, seeing who will direct the school and be your boss for an upcoming school year.

    I feel that this would be a better solution to hiring teachers, as well. For example, a school utilize Skype for the initial interviews, narrow down the field to one or two, and then, if face-to-face is necessary, ask the candidates to come to the school at their own expense, with the understanding that if a person is hired, they will be reimbursed their flight costs. This allows several things:

    1. The candidate can also see for themselves what they are getting into — the school environment, the housing offered, the personnel of the school, the efficiency of the school, the materials/classrooms on hand, the community including the school board, etc.
    2. Truthfully, if a candidate cannot get it together enough to fly to a locale for a serious interview, then they probably couldn’t get it together for coming for the job.
    3. For the unsuccessful candidate, the ones not chosen for a job, they will have this expense, but while in the area they can also scope out other possibilities in the area. Where there’s one school, there’s always other opportunities.

    However, it IS reasonable to think that a flight to just about anywhere in the world would be less than the room/board/flight/conference costs of attending a fair. And, consider that this is only a plan for a school who absolutely, for some reason, requires that one-on-one, oxygen-sharing interview.

    This has worked twice for us — once, I went to Colombia to check out a job offer for my husband & self (they allowed just me represent us as a couple), and realized on day two that there was no way in hell I wanted to live in this part of the country, no matter how much they wanted to pay us, and wouldn’t have taken our two children there if it was the end of days, period. After I realized this I had a nice, but short beach vacation. And, the second time, we went as a couple & liked what we saw, took the job, & were glad we did. Both times I/we were treated like royalty, staying with families and/or other teachers (who really filled me in on the ‘scoop’ at the 1st school), and had no expenses whatsoever past the flight.

    I have to agree that to rely on ISS and Search, et al blindingly, thinking that they are representing our best interests is like trusting GM or AIG or Enron or any of the other conglomerates in today’s time who are only out to make their top-rank rich, rich, rich.

    As seen time and again on ISR reviews and articles, the big recruiting fairs are only out for the money, only support the decisions of the recruiters (their big money accounts), and don’t, in any way work for the ‘little guy’, the teachers who are trying to get jobs internationally. Why do they allow good teachers to be ‘blackballed’ by lousy schools? Why does anyone need them anymore when Skype is free? Why do they have to have these fairs in the huge, mega hotels which are always the most expensive venues they can find? Why can some fairs (Iowa) have its fairs in a ‘free’ local with reasonable housing & registration costs, yet ISS blasts us all with over-the-top fees and 5-Star hotel costs?

    Snarky?? Perhaps.
    But realistic?? Definitely!! Video conferencing is the future, and I’m still glad to be part of it!


  9. I got my current job via Skype and the the new one for next year involved a phone interview. I just don’t see spending money to fly to a fair, pay a high premium and taking days off from my students.


  10. I only did Skype interviews this year. Got a great job at an excellent school. Personal interviews are a crap shoot at best. What an administrator can learn about an applicant at a 25 minute job fair interview I can only guess. I will never again spend three thousand dollars to fly half way round the world for a 40k a year job. I personally feel that “services” like ISS and Search are nothing more than a cash grab for the company and do too little to protect teachers from second rate schools. Here’s hoping they go the way of GM and Chrysler. It’s about time.


  11. We have been using telephone versions of skype for some years now to interview our substitute teachers. We are slowly moving to video skype as more teachers have access to faster internet connections and webcams. If you are looking for short term ( one month to a year) substitute work, do look up our webpage : http://www.teachersonthemove.com. We need experienced international teachers!


  12. Huggy Bear,
    Good luck with that. Hopefully Skype will make it easier than it would have been otherwise. There is a teacher at my school in a very similar situation; she planned on returning to the States to teach in her school district, but, like much of the country, the city put on a hiring freeze. Now she’s scrambling around trying to find a job internationally and not having a whole lot of luck.


  13. I am one of the unfortunate teachers who was expelled from Damascus, Syria and I was shocked at how different the landscape of hiring was this year. We taught online for a few weeks, until the permanent closure of DCS was called. During this time, we did not actively search for anything because we still maintained the hope that DCS would not be closed forever. When January came around, we again did not really actively search because our past experiences led us to the job fairs, where we had always been successful.

    Once we got to the job fair in Cambridge, the rug was swept out from under our feet. There were so little schools there, and so few jobs. We had done everything right professionally, I have been working on my MEd, we jumped on every PD opportunity we could, we met the right people and said the right things but the reality was, there were simply no jobs out there. Everyone did their hiring back in November, December and January, times we weren’t even trying to find jobs.

    So here we sit, with no jobs for next year, money running out and miserable. We have been actively trying to find new positions through Skype and have actually had more interviews online than we did at the job fair. Now, we just hope and pray something comes of all these interviews. Will Skype take the place of fairs? I sure do hope so! And I wish we had known this was happening sooner, so we wouldn’t be in the position in which we now find ourselves.


  14. REd Teachers uses a video system already. Teachers can do a short 2 – 5 minute presentation of themselves, email it to us we then send the link to schools in an area that the person wants to work.It is used as a screening tool and then a Skype interview or telephone interview is used. Sometimes schools still want a face-to-face interview. The whole process is to cut down on unnecessary travelling costs to hire teachers


  15. YoYoMe is a bit snarky, particularly about the role of the search agencies. We won’t know whether Video-interviewing is successful until we have some years of experience with the follow-up results. The face-to-face meeting holds much much more information than a fuzzy and slow Skype-cam. And for my part, as a teacher in a remote school, our internet connection is so slow we cannot use Skype for audio, let alone video. This certainly increases the advantage for a job-seeker with a fast internet connection! And I think it appropriately advantages a job-seeker with good tech skills.


  16. YoYoMe doesn’t have to make those accusations about admin hiring practices and their ability to use technology. I mean, let’s be fair.

    Having interviewed hundreds of people for positions at my company, I can tell you there are certain things you learn in a face to face interview. That being said, I don’t think it’s an absolute and the money saved from flying admin teams all over the world would certainly benefit schools.

    Even though we’ve been successful at recruiting fairs (ISS), I would love to avoid the process. It’s expensive, time consuming and not always necessary. We’re currently employed and didn’t attend a fair. We just flew from our old school to this one and interviewed. Less than a week later, we had an offer.
    I like Skype. It’d be great to interview with schools on your own. You just need to be prepared to do the legwork.


  17. Finally, it’s payback time for all those recruiting agencies like CIS and SEARCH who have had their hands in others’ pockets instead of on their hearts!


  18. One can certainly HOPE that the modern technology available today will allow teachers to interview via video conferencing. Hey – if Oprah, the queen of ALL that is forward thinking, progressive, and generously open-hearted can utilize Skype, who, realistically, would ever feel it necessary to meet in person anymore?

    Why should candidate teachers be subjected to weather (think: Iowa in February), time off of work, plus huge costs of room/board/airfare just so they can sit in a tiny hotel room to interview, breathing in the same oxygen, as a recruiter? Really? How archaic!

    In truth, I believe that the administrators who only prefer the recruiting fairs to video conferencing are adamant about attending fairs for one of these reasons:

    1. They LOVE the free ‘vacation’ of staying in a major city in a high-class hotel (and the shopping / dining / cocktail hours /relaxing / smoozing w/ their buddies, OR
    2. They are somewhat lazy, allowing ISS, Search, et al do the initial legwork for them on collecting information/background on potential candidates for hire consideration, OR
    3. They are not technologically competent enough to figure out how to adequately interview ANYone via SKYPE.com. Hell, some directors can barely even write and send a decent email!
    I say SKYPE.com is the future of interview, and I, for one, cannot wait!!


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