Teacher Preparation

At One Houston School, Teaching Job Candidates Must ‘Escape the Interview’

By Madeline Will — June 22, 2017 2 min read

Imagine heading into the room for your teaching job interview—and hearing it lock behind you.

At Furr High School in Houston, job candidates were asked to solve clues to “escape the room,” mimicking the popular adventure game, reports Houston Public Media. The principal and other educators on the hiring committee watched on a live feed as the candidates solved puzzles and completed challenges (like a blindfolded beanbag toss), all to “find the master key” to exit the room.

“It’s going to show us whether you can work as a team. It’s going to show us whether you’re creative. It’s going to show us whether you persevere,” said Principal Bertie Simmons. The candidates were applying for a variety of positions in the school, including teaching spots and the assistant principalship.

Houston Public Media reports that this is all part of Furr High School’s grant-funded plan to create a “new model for high school.” The school received $10 million from the XQ Institute to make learning personalized for students, and amid all the reforms, administrators wanted to shake up their hiring process for teachers as well. The school was looking for candidates who could collaborate, who were creative, and who took initiative during the challenge.

The candidates quoted by Houston Public Media seemed to enjoy the unique interview (which was followed by more traditional interviews at a later date), but surely some prospective teachers would find this game a nightmare. And the radio station spoke to a career expert who also expressed doubts about the value of this activity for job interviews, saying that case interviews might be better.

Last year, Ed Week reported on another unique type of job interview: At Rocketship Education charter schools, parents also interview the teaching candidates. “It’s a good idea to see and get a feel of who your child is going to be working with and what kind of personality they have,” one parent told the Washington Post.

For more traditional job interview tips, see Education Week Teacher blogger Ariel Sacks’ series of posts of advice and insights on the interview process. She covered the importance of being specific and how to handle negative questions, all while remaining positive. Sadly, no tips yet on solving a complicated puzzle while the clock is ticking.

What do you think about an “escape the room” type of job interview? Have you had any strange job interview stories? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Source: Image by Flickr user paurlan, licensed under Creative Commons

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.