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Personnel Selection and Ensuring Right Fit for the Position

By Dr. Darrell G. Floyd on October 06, 2021 hst Print

The teacher shortage is real, and it is not limited to just one part of the country. The number of higher education students choosing education as a major continues to dwindle. Therefore, there are not enough new teachers in the pipeline to replace the ones who are retiring.

So, it becomes even more paramount that school districts place a high priority on effective personnel selection of teachers, coaches, directors and sponsors. As most human resource departments can attest, a bad hire can become a nightmare, but a good hire is worth one’s weight in gold.

Hiring, however, is just one piece of the success puzzle. The organization must also put forth time, effort, energy and money to make sure all new hires are in the appropriate places and are a good “fit” for the particular campus or department they are assigned.

A successful personnel selection process begins with an effective job description. Candidates need to know what the job entails, what the certification requirements are for that particular job, and what will be expected of them if hired.

An effective interview process is next, which will hopefully eliminate those candidates not qualified for the position and prevent the school district from making a mistake for which it might be hard to recover in a short period of time. Some entities are even using “talent rediscovery” solutions to enhance their human resources capabilities. This process helps comb through previously reviewed candidates to see if any of them would remotely be qualified for another position – and who may have been inadvertently overlooked the first time.

Once employees are hired, it is important to provide them with all the help they will need to succeed. This almost always entails providing effective and beneficial professional development training for new hires. In other situations, it might be making sure that teachers, coaches and directors have the proper supplies, teaching tools, instruments, facilities and technology that they need to successfully perform their duties.

“Fit” has often been described as the congruence of a candidate’s own beliefs and values with the mission, vision, values and ethics of the organization. The “culture” of an organization sometimes encompasses all of that rolled together. A common catchphrase these days is that “culture trumps strategy,” which is true.

Educators and administrators must ensure that a very positive climate and morale is created on high school campuses and throughout the school district. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by effectively implementing the following acronym: POSCE. Positive climate/morale is often created by all stakeholders coming together to effectively Plan, Organize, Stimulate, Coordinate and Evaluate. Each one of those strategies pertains to how schools should effectively conduct their personnel selection process to ensure that every new hire is a proper “fit,” whether the new hire is a classroom teacher, performing arts educator, coach or athletic director.

Without the right “fit,” an employee will never experience as much happiness and as much success as they deserve – and as their students deserve. It is incumbent upon administrators to find a way to utilize the candidate’s potential contributions to the organization’s full benefit. Job fit is the intersection between an employee’s strengths, needs and experience, and the requirements of a particular job and work environment. When all the stars align, it becomes a match made in heaven; however, not every hire is an actual fit for the particular assignment.

As an example, taking a successful Offensive Coordinator/ Football Assistant Coach and thrusting that individual into the Head Football Coach position does not always work. That coach might have been excellent at drawing up plays and confusing defenses but might not have the skillset to run the overall football organization effectively.

Likewise, a highly successful elementary principal might have all of the tools to help the school achieve a Blue Ribbon accountability status. However, thrusting that same principal into the role of running a high school campus of 2,000 students, 200 employees and hundreds of different student activities on a yearly basis might or might not work – just like a highly successful percussion instructor may or may not be ready to become the Head Band Director.

Sometimes, the successful skills and abilities an individual achieves in one position does not necessarily translate into success in the next position that brings with it much more responsibility and pressure. At the same time, administrators should always be grooming highly talented individuals for the opportunity to take on a promotion when they are fully prepared. In this environment of employee shortages, it becomes even more important to “grow our own leaders.” Administrators must make sure these future leaders are fully prepared and have been provided all of the tools necessary to enable them to succeed at the next level.

In their book titled “First Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman recommend that employers should first hire the best talent possible, then figure out where to assign them. The analogy they use is that when you have the right people on the bus, you can then begin to worry about what seat to put them in (job fit). One of the ways highly successful HR departments do this is to follow these simple meticulous steps (pausing often to re-assess and re-evaluate the process):

  • Recruit both internally and externally.
  • Establish a successful referral network.
  • Create opportunities for internship and apprenticeships for up-and-comers.
  • Don’t forget about retirees. They might want to entertain being rehired.
  • Properly assess the candidate’s cognitive abilities.
  • Evaluate their learning agility.
  • Appropriately judge their situational leadership capabilities.
  • Find a way to assess their integrity.
  • Test their job knowledge.
  • Give them a test work assignment.
  • Properly structure the interview process.
  • Be timely in your responses to candidates.
  • Spend time effectively checking references (not only the ones they provide), and then
  • Successfully onboard new hires by appropriately transitioning them into the positive culture of their workplace.