Recruiting Trends: 2013 & Beyond

acceptposition44033302Like most everything in our lives, the internet is remodeling the way we recruit for overseas teaching positions. Skype, the online video communication web site, has already proven successful for educators striving to interview for overseas positions while avoiding the high-priced recruiting fairs, often referred to as ‘cattle calls’.

Although a viable interview option, Skype just doesn’t transmit the subtle body language, mannerisms & expressions we perceive when actually face-to-face, across the table from a school director, particularly if that school director is not being exactly honest about their school. Of course, ISR School Reviews can compensate for that.

In between the extremes of attending a recruiting fair & Skyping for a job, are the recruiting web sites that invite candidates to submit sound/video recordings to complement their professional files. So far, these venues have shown limited candidate participation. Some theorize the problem is that many teachers lack the technical savvy to record/upload their video. Others say it could it be because most overseas teachers are in areas where a high-speed connection is not available. There may be some truth to both arguments.

Recently in the U.S., the GED (high school equivalency test) switched to a 100% computer-based testing format. Organizations that prepare test takers express that abandoning a paper & pencil based testing procedure unfairly doomed those with limited computer skills, to failure. An opposing view suggests the digital version of the test simultaneously tests for the basic computer proficiency necessary to function in today’s society. Is it possible recruiting agencies may develop their web sites to a degree that would exclude teaching candidates with insufficient computer skills?

International School Services (ISS), a major player in the recruiting world, recently added on-request candidate interviews to their web site. A school interested in a specific candidate may now send an interview request along with three questions. (As an aside, we can’t help but wonder why the process does not permit candidates to send three questions back at the director?) Using a web cam, the candidate records/uploads a video. ISS has simplified the process beyond anything we’ve seen so far, requiring only a rudimentary knowledge of computers. At first glance, it looks like the system will serve best to support the initial weeding-out process.

International Schools Review was recently invited to preview a web site in which candidates & directors participated in a prescheduled, on line recruiting event. The venue was slated for a specific day/time & all participants logged in & interacted in real-time. To our knowledge the idea is under further development.

What does the future of International Teacher recruiting look like? Will candidates be completely vetted for a position on line, making showing up at the recruiting conference a formality? Will recruiting conferences become a thing of the past? Will candidates lacking in technical abilities be excluded ? What level of technical ability is reasonable to expect from teaching candidates in the future? What level of technology do you see already incorporated into the recruiting process?

10 thoughts on “Recruiting Trends: 2013 & Beyond

  1. I traveled to 4 fairs in the last 6 years. At two, the job pickings were so slim I only had 2 interviews each. The last fair was required by the recruiter. Even though we had skyped and telephoned, they required me to meet the head. I was hired the day before the fair and could not change my ticket once there. The cost for recruiting that year was 2 month’s salary. I remember the exhaustion and jet lag. The praying that someone would have put a note in my box. The realization that more than half the jobs I had hoped to interview for were filled before the fair. I much prefer skype, but can say I was never really hired by a skype interview, but have had friends who were. This year, as I recruit, I’m praying I do not have to go through the same very experensive ordeal. As a final note, I felt that jobs were picked over and slim by the February fairs. I would recommend going to an early fair (if you must) for just that reason.


  2. Sadly predictable that people use this as a venue to voice the canard that the recruitment fair game is perpetuated by school heads so that they can binge for weeks on end at someone else’s expense. For this recruiter at least, the hours spent in airports and on planes and packing and re-packing suitcases is a thoroughly unpleasant part of the job. And believe me, I’d much rather spend my nights with my family than in some soulless hotel having stilted conversations with people I don’t necessarily like.
    So why do I attend these fairs? Because recruiting teachers is the most important thing I do. In these days of increasing concern about child protection issues, the last thing I want to be saying to the school community – in the wake of a scandal – is that I hired Teacher X on the basis of a skype conversation and two recommendations from people I have never met. It may be different for other recruiters, but I feel that I get a much better sense of a candidate when I am in the same room and thus able to get a more visceral sense of who that person really is. I think the same is true for candidates. They get an opportunity to determine if this recruiter is a person they would like to work with. The face-to-face interview is a place for mutual decision-making. Couch this in personal terms. Would you embark on a serious relationship with someone you’d only met online? Some people do, but I wouldn’t. Bringing a person several thousands of miles to work with me for a minimum of two years strikes me as embarking on a serious relationship.
    But there is another and just as important reason why I use job fairs. Probably half the people I hire had never thought of going to my school until they received an invitation to meet me at the fair. They have the first interview, come to the presentation, and all of a sudden my school has moved from being completely off their radar to being a top target. I would miss out on all of those candidates if I relied on them to contact me in the first place.
    The fact is that recruitment fairs offer school heads and teacher candidates far more opportunities to see what is out there than a reliance on the more arbitrary skype approach, and they also provide a better basis for both sides to make the decision that is right for them.


    1. Very interesting post, as we don’t always hear about these things from a recruiter’s perspective. I’ll be heading to my third fair in January. Personally, as a candidate I enjoy the fairs. There is no easier way to meet up with so many people in international teaching world in one place. The fairs are definitely an intense experience, but also have a friendly vibe.


    2. The second reason, I get. The first one, however, I think is a complete fallacy. Embarking on a serious relationship is just as risky via Skype than via a half an hour interview (at best). Interviews at fairs are like Speed Dating in many cases…

      Now, if it is about getting a more “visceral” reaction, let’s not forget that many monster human beings have been caught only to have everyone that has known them for years, neighbors and such claim they seemed like nice people and they were shocked to find out their neighbor/coworker/whatever was a pedophile/kidnapper/serial killer/whatever…

      It might make you feel better, but really, you really are taking the same risk hiring based on a Skype interview than on a face to face one…


    3. Good for you if you can get just as a good a sense of a person through an online conversation as you can in a face-to-face discussion. I certainly can’t. I think most candidates and recruiters would feel happier about taking a life-changing decision after a personal meeting.


    4. My interviews on Skype have usually lasted over an hour and have been followed up with further Skype interviews with DP/MYP/PYP Coordinators, HoD’s, etc. This is clearly not possible at a fair due to time restraints and the inability to contact staff back at the school for whatever reason. Heads also seem to be rushed to get things done at fairs. How is this an example of the best approach to hiring a teacher? How does this ensure that you have hired the best candidate? Sometimes heads conduct preliminary interviews prior to the fair via Skype but still require a handshake at the actual fair. How bloody self-important is that?

      My face to face interviews at fairs have involved a 15-20 minute conversation sitting on a head of school’s bed in a hotel room.


      In my experience (3 fairs with job offers and 2 Skype recruitment experiences with offers) is that you get more out of a longer more carefully considered interview process online than in person. A head of school who says that they need the face to face exchange is clearly lying and probably quite lazy.

      Another argument in favour of the Skype interviews is the fact that many teachers simply can’t travel the distances required in order to attend a fair. If you have a family and live in South America it is near impossible to travel to Bangkok to maybe land some interviews. You must also consider the jet lag, the expenses, the time taken off of work, etc.

      The earlier post which posits the example of having to explain things to the school community about some scandal is laughable and actually insulting to anyone with any sense and experience in the international school community.

      I say ‘down with the fairs’! Search and ISS are genuinely screwing teachers out of their money. The only way to stop them from taking advantage of us is to boycott them entirely.


  3. I think that the venue of a job fair is archaic and becoming obsolete in this day and age of the internet. I have been hired for my last two job placements outside of the job fair, through Skype. The Search Associate was only useful to be the go between, to decipher and bank my recommendations/references for the school to view, kind of like having guarantee that I am a good quality teacher.


  4. the answer to the first few questions……. no and no. School directors/administrators love to attend these all inclusive fairs/holidays.

    The truth is the majority of school directors can fill all of their vacancies via online interviews, So why don’t they? Well a trip to Bangkok in January or any other of the desirable fair locations is just to desirable for them to tell their superiors, “we do not need to waste money on a fair this year.”

    There may be some truth to what is mentioned above about body language, mannerisms and expressions. This truth could justify having the early fairs. But my impression of the hiring trends of international school administrators and what probably most of us would do is intentionally keep some vacancies open to justify traveling to multiple fairs……..especially those top tier schools that allocate the budget for this.


    1. I totally agree with the above post. Travelling to recruitment fairs is a real perk for some directors and principals. I worked in a place where the principal came back without hiring anyone. What a waste of money!

      On a more positive note. I think fairs are a great way to find a job and I hope they never disappear. You also get to chat to people about what the school is like before you make a decision.


  5. As a long standing international recruiter in the UK my opinion is that the future of recruitment will incorporate most if not all forms of recruitment that you meniton in your article.

    This is partly due to Education on a whole tending to lag behind most other industries when it comes to the use of technology for recruitment purposes, but it is also down to the falibility of the people doing the recruitment and those interviewing as well, requiring a blend of resources and ways to recruit staff.

    For example the use of Skype interviews seems to have only recently caught on ( comparatively speaking) amongst schools around the world whereas it has been a staple form of communication in many other industries for quite a while, although your point about internet speed being a pre cursor to its success is a valid one , I dont think that inability amongst teachers to use Skype is, as most people will use it to keep in touch with families and friends back home.

    Another example of where education lags behind other industries in using up to date recruitment methodology to attract staff is Linked In .It is clear that this socila media form is fast becoming the way to source and contact potential candidates and employers in a large number of employment fields, however with just short of 9,000 teachers on Linked In it proves that the industry still hasnt caught on to this fact or is still wary or not sure on how to use it

    I think that the same is true about other forms of on line recruitment methodology such as virtual fairs or sites where you can post video answers to pre set questions. Whilst they always seem like a good cost AND time effective way of doing things for both recruiter and candidate they do have their faults and it is here that the question of technology being readily available and up to scratch is really strongest . It is also argued that pre interviewed questions do not truly show the strengths of a teacher as they have time to research and provide best answers, so are fasle respresations of what they are really like

    On top of this as they are not yet mainstream in their use there is a natural amount of suspicion created compared to tried and tested traditional methods that you alude to in your article, and this will self perpetuate until they become the norm .

    That said I also do not believe that the traditional methods of recruitng work for everybody all of the time. Despite giving the recruiter and teacher the opportunity to “look at the whites of each others eyes”,physical recruitment fairs or face to face meeitngs are expensive, time consuming and do not always have the desired outcome for either school or teacher, as this web site has shown time and again.

    Similarly it seems unfortunately that using a third party recruiter does not always work either, despite the need for recruitment firms to realise and understand that the nature of international recruitment , especially in education, is so much more than putitng bums on seats.

    And finally schools directly recruiting do not necessarily understand the subtleties of successful recruitment and retention either. So often they do not take on board or have time to develop a talent pipeline or even have a Talent Pool management philosophy or programme outse normal CPD

    In some respects there is too much short termism involved in their recruitment , often driven by justifiable needs for a Maths teacher now but neglecting to look towards the future as many businesses do now

    As a result the answer to how recruitment will look in the future is a complicated one, requiring a need from schools to get a better understanding of the best ways of recruitment for their specific needs and develop a strategy that is much more than placing an advert in a paper or on line and waiitnng for the ideal teacher to apply for their school, and for teachers to embrace the fact that in an ever expanding market place there is a need to use various forms of finding that job.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.