I really liked this article on students participating in the teacher hiring process. Whilst the author identifies the problems of asking 10 year olds to interview and question teachers, she cites the example of her 8-year-old participating in a demonstration lesson. This allowed current teachers to observe how the candidate taught, as well as being able to interview students on what it was like being taught by this teacher.
If only more job interviews were like this. These are the main points:
- Why ask someone if they can do the job when you can ask them to show you?
- Why stop at the manager for hiring decisions? They won’t have to work with this person, so ask those who will. Don’t just guess if they will be a cultural fit, find out
Similarities with the Lean Startup
In customer development our goal is to get out of the building and find out what works, instead of staying inside and guessing what might work. Where the normal product development approach has us develop market analysis, financial forecasts and develop a launch product BEFORE we start talking to customers, the customer development approach starts by talking to customers, and then iteratively defines the product and associated business plan until we have something that our customers want.
In the case of our practice lesson teacher interview, we used a crude mock-up lesson to see if the teacher can teach. We don’t need to develop complex lesson plans, or work out class numbers, we just need to test our hypothesis that this person can communicate. In Lean Startup terms this is the Minimum Viable Product. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done, and allows us to find out if our product (the teacher) meets the needs of our customer (the students).
In product development terms, the old style ‘what examples can you tell us about in which you have handled classroom stress’ Q&A job interview is a bit like the business plan. We do some analysis, come up with some scripted questions and responses, and then take a guess about whether or not this hiring decision will work. We only find out AFTER our candidate has started, by which time it is too late to change.