7 Red Flags

So we’re in the season of wanting– Spring is the hiring season for schools. 

Last year around this time, I found myself wanting to hire a certain teacher candidate after I saw his resume. He was dual-certified in two subjects that we needed, and he coached track, which we also needed. He spoke French, Spanish. A glorious combo in a school for English Language Learners. I did notice his resume was long, and wordy, but . . . 

I called him for a short phone interview, which we do to vet people before an in-person interview. I talked about the school, and I kept speaking and speaking, and — this is usually a warning sign that I feel the need to please someone. But, I thought, maybe I was just out of practice interviewing . . . 

A few minutes into our conversation, he said, “OK, now I can talk. I’m in my driveway.” What? He had been driving this whole time? Why had he agreed to take an interview while driving? Maybe I had scheduled it too early and should have made sure. . .

“One of the reasons I want to work at your school,” he continued, “is that I moved nearby. My current commute is 1.5 hours.” 

“Wow,” I said, “Both ways?” 

“No, in total. It can take me up to 45 minutes to drive to school.” 

Again . . . OK. That sounds like a normal commute.. So- – he wanted to work at our school for convenience? 

But the certifications, and coaching, and languages . . . 

He described a student who struggled to read: “She was deficient, like so many of our students, but I helped her, despite my administration.” He somehow managed to diminish both the student, and his school leaders. I was done– but he wasn’t, and proceeded to ask me a series of questions about whether I was trustworthy as a leader. By the end of the 15 minute interview that was now 30 minutes, I felt like I was being interviewed. 

It was a useful 30 minutes, though– 7, or 10, or a million red flags that had been obvious since the beginning. It just took me a minute to want to see them. And to remember what I always forget, even in the abundant green time that is Spring– that even while searching, we already have what we need, and scarcity is an illusion.

Photo credit: “Green Spring Tree” in the the NY Botanical Gardens by Stanley Zimmy, Creative Commons License

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