Can we Change the Interview Process?

A very interesting idea came up on the Education Posts forum yesterday and it really made me think about how we apply for jobs in primary schools in Ireland, particularly in the current climate where there’s so few jobs.  The thread gave some recommendations:

“first of all there should be a standard application forms for ETNS, gaelscoil, resource etc and just pick the information off your CV to slot in. This has the benefit that an application involves more then a stamp a few pages that are tweaked, plus information that school are specifically looking for can be found. Ideally an open day in school that will have posts; to give teachers a chance to look around schools (staff can see who made a jolly impression, and applicant can see if he/she would like school and things to say at interview e.g. when I was walking around I noticed all the awards, wall display etc). Next you sent in application with cover letter and if called are asked to teach about a 20min lesson” (Poster on Education Posts Forum)

Now, I’m not sure I agree with the idea of open days in schools because Ireland is WAY too small and parochial but I liked the idea of a standard application.  Being the geek that I am, I always like to see how technology could help any standard process.
I was chatting to the teachers that I hired this year and they mentioned that applying for jobs is a really expensive process.  I remember when I was applying for jobs when I came out of college – still a sore point – I sent about 80 CVs to 79 schools in the west of Ireland and 1 CV to a school in Co. Kildare.  However, most of the people coming out of college this year are sendingat least 200 CVs.  Because most schools are insisting on SAEs, it probably costs at least €2 per application.
We all know that lots of jobs in schools in Ireland are sown up and there’s no way to find out whether a school is genuine or not.  Therefore, it’s even more frustrating to spend €2 on an application then find out that the principal’s nephew’s dog’s cousin’s owner has already been offered the job.
Essentially, there’s nothing to stop the parochial who-you-know attitude in Ireland:  Better the devil you know and all that.  In fact, I don’t think schools really want to waste people’s money either.  Rightly or wrongly (well wrongly) if they want to hire their next door neighbour’s daughter, they still have to interview at least another two people as a formailty.
We also cannot change the system because there are laws and there are silly people in charge of the country.  What we can do is create a system where people can apply for jobs online using a standard web form.
My idea to change the system is to create an online application system.   Here is how it would work:

  • A web site is created with a blurb and an online application form
  • Individual schools sign themselves up to the site much like on the current Education Posts
  • Instead of applicants taking these details down and sending large amounts of paper to the schools, they fill in all the details on the online application form and choose the school (or schools) they wish to send the CV off to
  • The selection group choose who they want to hire based on the applications received.  There should be some sort of system which allows shortlisting, etc.
  • When shortlisting is completed, the selection group tick the names of the people they wish to interview and fill in some other form which would organise interview times, directions, criteria, etc. and this is sent by email to the lucky candidates
  • The people who aren’t ticked automatically get a rejection email.
  • Done.

For me, this system has a lot of advantages.

  • It is free for applicants.  That is, no stamps or envelopes or photocopying must be done
  • If a candidate is not successful, they get their rejection letter much more quickly
  • It saves the interviewers a lot of time opening envelopes
  • It allows interviewers to search for keywords that they would like to see in applications
  • There is a decent paper trail
  • Applicants could possibly send one application to several schools saving them time (I don’t like this but thought I’d add it as an advantage for lazy people!  I think you should always tailor your application to the school)

Disadvantages

  • It could encourage laziness – e.g. – someone could simply cut and paste their application and send it to every school offering a job in the country. However, this could be avoided with clever web programming
  • This system does not allow for very much creativity, e.g. fancy CVs, showy-off handwriting, etc.

Other ideas may include limiting a person to a certain number of applications, which is controversial but would really make people think about where they wanted to work.  How about a system where  one could make a statement about why they wanted to work in this specific school?
Overall, although this system would not change the “who-you-know” problems of the Irish education system, at least applicants won’t be out of pocket on those occasions.
If there’s anybody who would like to work with me to develop a system like this, I would be happy to assist.  I think it is something that the IPPN or INTO or any other agency may wish to consider.

1 thought on “Can we Change the Interview Process?”

  1. Genius. Pure Genius. Sent off 13 applications today at the cost of €19.50, A4 envelopes now cost 95c (not to mind the the paper and ink)
    It would save us all alot of hassel!

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