Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Recruitment & Retention

Coronavirus Is Pushing Teacher Hiring Online. Here’s What That Means

By Elizabeth Heubeck — March 30, 2020 | Corrected: April 01, 2020 4 min read
news hiring IMG

Corrected: This article has been updated to correct the length of time that interviewstream will offer new users free usage of its product.

John A. Mirra has confronted his share of teacher shortages. Last year, the chief human resources officer of Virginia Beach City Public Schools hired approximately 750 teachers to fill vacancies. This year, he expects that number will be roughly the same.

Despite Virginia closing schools for the remainder of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s not worried about being able to hire hundreds of qualified teachers in time for next school year. “I believe that, if everything goes as planned, we should be fine for the start of next year,” Mirra said.

The confidence Mirra exudes comes from experience—with technology-based communication platforms. For several years, his district has used them to screen and, in some instances, interview teacher applicants.

Amid the unprecedented and widespread school closures due to the virus pandemic, districts that are accustomed to using technology-driven virtual methods to screen and interview teacher candidates appear to have a distinct advantage during this year’s teacher hiring season, which generally peaks in April and May. For school districts with less experience interfacing with job applicants electronically, teacher hiring appears to be slowed or at a standstill.

Overall Hiring Outlook Uncertain

At the same time, the economic fallout from the virus is complicating fiscal planning and hiring strategies in many places.

See Also: With Schools Shut Down, What Happens to Hiring?

In a March 23 survey of district leaders, the Education Week Research Center found that 48 percent of respondents who are superintendents or other senior-level administrators said they had made “no decisions yet” about hiring for the fall, while 22 percent said that coronavirus has not impacted their plans for hiring at all.

At Vancouver Public Schools, in Washington state, where the coronavirus outbreak has hit hard, only hiring deemed “essential” is happening right now, according to district spokesperson Patricia Nuzzo.

She says that staff members are using phone, video conferencing, and in-person social distancing methods (with fewer than six people in a room) to fill vacant positions for principals, associate principals, and an executive director position. “All other hiring is on hold until more direction is given by the Office of the Superintendent,” Nuzzo said.

But at other school districts, prior experience with virtual communication platforms is enabling hiring to continue as planned. Greg Dietz, who oversees human resources at Illinois’ Maine Township High School District 27, says that hiring in his district has experienced no slowdown—despite the district’s closure since March 20.

“We’ve been using video interviewing technology for about four years,” Dietz said. “It has really come in handy and been key for us during this period.”

It’s even allowed the district to get students involved in the hiring process. Student volunteers, most of whom are involved in the district’s drama department, pose pre-recorded questions to applicants during the asynchronous, virtual-based screening portion of the hiring process. This gives applicants some exposure to the district’s students before they see them on campus.

Applicants also get a glimpse of the district’s facilities during this screening process. Student interviewers pose their questions against the backdrop of various key locations throughout the district’s three high schools: in a computer lab, a fitness center, and an auditorium. Even before applicants access the initial screening portion of the process, they watch a video introducing the school district. “It’s all about branding and promoting our school district through our interviewing process,” Dietz said.

The Illinois school district uses a video interviewing platform from Chicago-based company interviewstream to accomplish this blend of showcasing its brand to job applicants while screening them and, in circumstances such as the current shutdown, interviewing those selected by the district’s hiring committee.

Ron Wilson, CEO of the small, but growing video-interviewing company, says it currently has about 125 education-based customers who choose to pay for its services largely because of the platform’s greater complexity over other, free ones. interviewstream allows users to pre-record virtual interviews asynchronously, to send out branding messages, and customize user options. The company The company is offering new users free usage through April 30. “We’re trying to service industries that are in a bind,” interviewstream’s Wilson said.

Expanding Online Platforms

Other school districts, drawing from past experience with video conferencing, have expanded their use of such platforms to ensure relatively seamless hiring for the upcoming year.

For the past few years, Virginia Beach City Public Schools have been using a virtual platform provided by interviewstream as a means to screen and track candidates. The virtual asynchronous screening interview, in which teaching candidates answer a few questions online, gets about a 50 percent response rate, Mirra estimates.

Now the district is expanding the use of that platform. Normally, the district holds an annual “meet and greet” for its existing teachers seeking transfers. Originally scheduled for March 16, the in-person event was canceled.

Instead, teachers wanting to transfer within the district can respond virtually to a two-question digital interview, powered by the same video conferencing system it uses to screen external candidates. Principals then reach out to candidates they want to interview and schedule digital meetings using whatever video platform they prefer: Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or another video format.

Mirra says he’s not sure what his district would have done if it hadn’t already put in place the technology infrastructure to digitally screen and track job candidates. He is certain of one thing, however.

“With the teacher shortage,” he said, “we have to hire as soon as possible.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Human Resources Manager
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Communications Officer
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hamilton County Department of Education

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention The Scramble to Find Substitute Teachers
Some districts are paying bonuses, some are lowering qualifications, and one is assigning central office staff to substitute at least one day per week.
5 min read
tsj substitute 13
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Recruitment & Retention Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Teacher Shortages?
Quiz yourself: How are districts responding to existing and expected teacher shortages, and what factors influence teacher shortages?
Hayley Hardison
1 min read
Recruitment & Retention Teacher Morale and Student Enrollment Declining Under COVID-19, Survey Shows
A new EdWeek Research Center survey examines what educators are thinking on a host of issues as they begin the 2020-21 academic year.
9 min read
Recruitment & Retention How Districts Can Show They Are Committed to Building a More Racially Diverse Workforce
Here are some ways for districts and schools to demonstrate that they value and support teachers of color.
5 min read
TSJ article Diverse Workplace 3 IMG
Guzaliia Filimonova/Getty