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BFTP: Twenty (five) interview questions

A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post May 24, 2007. 

Running across this post was serendipitous since we are hiring again for this same position. Steve, Sue's replacement, is retiring this year. Much of what I wrote about Sue's and my relationship held true for the relationship Steve and I enjoyed as well. (I first worked with Steve in 1989!)

And no, I don't like hiring new people anymore now than I did five years ago.


The best indicator of future performance is past performance.

It is, hands-down, the least favorite part of my job - hiring a new person. Especially when one is replacing an old (figuratively speaking) person. Your chances of getting a bozo are real high if you aren't careful.

Sue, our Computer Coordinator, is retiring this year. I recruited and hired her the second year I was in my current position - 1992. My relationship with Sue has been one of the best and longest lasting ones I've enjoyed in my life. In a lot of ways, I suppose we are like an old married couple, knowing, accommodating and accepting each other's little idiosyncrasies. And boy, does she have a lot of them. ;-) We seem to complement each other in the department. For example, Sue really likes to work and I don't. It works out pretty well.

The job description has been revised. The candidate applications and resumes screened. The interviews scheduled. The interview team selected. Additional antacid purchased for my stomach. Did I mention this is the least favorite part of my job?

These are the qualifications I am looking for. Walking on water and turning water into wine are desired, but not required. 

  1. Does the candidate have a master’s degree in library science or educational technology?
  2. Does the candidate have a Minnesota teaching license license?
  3. Does the candidate have three years successful teaching experience?
  4. Does the candidate have school district-level job experience?
  5. Does the candidate have a record of successful technology staff development experiences in K12 schools?
  6. Does the candidate show knowledge of current best practices in staff development and knowledge of current technologies including Web 2.0 resources?
  7. Has the candidate used technology and media resources in his/her own teaching?
  8. Can the candidate articulate a vision and/or philosophy of how technology is best used in schools?
  9. Does the candidate express passion/excitement about education and educational technology?
  10. Is the candidate an active member of any professional educational organizations?
  11. Does the candidate have a background in instructional design?
  12. Has the candidate held a position in education that has required…?
  •     planning
  •     budgeting
  •     supervisory responsibilities
  •     team-building skills
  •     interpersonal skills
  •     communication skills
  •     conflict management skills
  •     working to deadline
  •     initiative

In my dotage, I've come to value initiative more than any other qualification as a department manager. And in education, it seems in far too short a supply.

So that narrows the candidate field. How do we find out if our candidates have any of these qualifications? Ah, the interview questions. How do these look?

  1. What do you see happening in educational technology in the next 2, 5 and 10 years?
  2. How do you see your role fitting into the NCLB goals? With district goals? With building goals? With departmental goals?
  3. What do you think is the most important technology tool available right now to aid teachers in improving student achievement?
  4. Looking at the previous question, if you did not have this tool what process would you use to convince the school/district to obtain this tool?
  5. How would you work with librarians, teachers and curriculum leaders to create a K-12 articulated information literacy curriculum that meets ISTE and MEMO standards?
  6. What are the most important components to consider when evaluating a software program, app or online resource that you are considering?
  7. Describe your ideal relationship with the network managers and technicians in the district.
  8. Teachers need flexibility in use of computer technology.  What is your thinking on what should be readily available to teachers? How “locked down” should systems be?
  9. Have you been involved in writing any grants to obtain hardware or educational software?
  10. How would you to respond to in terms of solving the problems? A teacher requests that YouTube be blocked by the district filter. A teacher asks that ARD (Apple Remote Desktop) be removed from her computer. A teacher wants to use an email client other than Gmail for his e-mail. A teacher skips a required inservice. A department chair asks for new online resource that has a considerable cost.
  11. What experience have you had with: MacOS, WindowsOS, Moodle/Blackboard, Interactive whiteboards, student information systems, Web 2.0 tools, iPad and other tablets, gradebook programs, datamining/data analysis systems, and web page creation tools?
  12. What formal training have you had in technology applications?
  13. What you do use to keep current in you area?
  14. What would you like to teach teachers to do to cut down on “duh” kinds of calls? 
  15. What kind of processes do you think is best in doing in-services for instructional technology?
  16. Describe a technology inservice you have done recently. What things made it successful?
  17. How do you deal with teachers who dislike or fear technology?
  18. How does a school best determine whether is teacher is technology literate?
  19. What process is most helpful to you in evaluating how well you are doing your job?
  20. What do you see as your role in addressing the problem of the ethical use of instructional technology, i.e., plagiarism, copyright issues, cheating problems?
  21. What ideas would you have for involving parents in the new ways students are required to do assignments?  How would you help inform parents about their student’s safety when it comes to blogging, e-mail, etc.?
  22. What process would you use to keep in touch with building administrators in the area of educational technology?
  23. What professional organizations do you belong to and what work may you have done for them?
  24. Have you had experience in implementing 1:1 or BYOD initiatives?
  25. How do stay organized?

 What else needs to be asked beside "Tell us a little about yourself" and 'What questions might you have for us?"

Personally I like giving people in interviews a chance to tell us about their successes, challenges they've faced and overcome, and show a bit of their personality. A bad fit of person with job is tough on everyone.  Did I mention this is the least favorite part of my job?

Sue will be missed, but it will also be fun having a new person on board, full, I hope, of energy, vision, and optimism about technology and education. Enough to compensate for his/her idiosyncrasies at least. 

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Reader Comments (4)

I truly respect your opinions and insight into the mind of the employer. These questions as well as your "top ten" for librarian interviews are thought provoking and challenging. Though I already hold a position as a HS librarian, I refer to the top ten often as one way of holding myself accountable for the job I am doing.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Thanks, Tim. Glad this is helpful.

Readers, here's the link to the Top Ten Interview Questions for Librarians that Tim references:


May 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

This is a keeper for sure! Thanks Doug! I would love to hear what people think the next 2, 5, 10 years will look like in education. (especially your opinions) I use to have a clear vision - now I see a dense fog settling in after year 2. Good luck in your hire!

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen Hegna

Hi Jen,

I am in a dense fog now.

Another good question would be" Please list all the qualities you share with Jen Hegna! I'd hire the person who listed the most.


May 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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