5 interview questions to find equity warriors

It’s hiring season in schools and getting the right people on the bus is a leader’s most important task.

All aboard.

But first, you have to ask the right questions.

Nowadays, with lower salaries, a lack of national respect for education, and the increasing difficulty of the job, it is HARD to find good folks. Therefore, we have to make the best decision. And, the fate of humanityrests on you being able to find the best people.

So, how in the name of Paulo Freire, do you find them?

Most interviews start with, “so tell me about yourself.”

One of my students might demand, “Who is you!?

However, what you really want to know is what’s at their core, what potential do they have, and where do they stand on some hot-button education issues.

  • tracking
  • state testing
  • 0 tolerance discipline
  • culturally responsive teaching
  • standards

In general, you want to know their philosophy of education. And, If you are a follower of critical pedagogy then you are looking for like minds or open minds. Further, you are looking for radical minds. You want people to have an equity purpose.

You hope they have read a few books off your list. Hopefully, they’ve at least heard of them.

These are the people who will inspire and prepare your students for social reproduction or social transformation.

Which type of person are you looking for? How explicit you are can determine your ability to find a change agent. It can also determine your students learning outcomes and future opportunities.

Choose wisely.

Here are 5 equity-focused questions that can lead to some good conversation:

5 Interview Questions to ask

  1. What is your definition of social justice and what place does it have in education?
  2. Why do you want to work here, in this city, in the inner city, with students of color?
  3. What do you think is wrong with traditional education and how can it be corrected?
  4. Why do you think the dropout rate for students of color is so high?
  5. What do you do when a student puts up a barrier or gives you a hard time every day?

Expand the hiring committee

It is always a good idea to involve your larger staff in hiring. It “takes teamwork to make the dream work”, so let everyone share their dreams.

Get coverage for teachers to be a part of the process.

If you really have the time and can coordinate, involve parents, students, and staff. Generate rubrics that are accessible to all groups and find similarities in the data.

Lessons learned

  • Ask candidates to bring lesson plans, student work, or anything they would like to show. Have a conversation about what they learned from the process.
  • I have learned the true value of a teacher with a credential. There were times when I was searching too hard for the right mindset and I neglected to foresee the consequences of credentialing issues.
  • Let candidates know the type of adult culture you are building and what gauge their comfort. Do you talk about race, class, microaggressions, or sexual identity? Do people call out issues of oppression openly? Is it natural for the world white supremacy to be used? Let them know.
  • Share your educational values and the direction of your school.
  • Don’t skip the demo lesson. If you have the time to set up a demo, granted that it’s not summer or the day before school starts (been there) put the person in front of real-live students. Then see what the youngsters say.


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