United States: How To Get An A+ On Your Next Hire

Last Updated: January 9 2017
Article by Susan M. Guerette

When it comes to filling vacant positions at your school, you not only need to find the best talent available, but you also need to locate faculty and administrators who will thrive in your unique community. In many cases, educational institutions overlook or ignore important opportunities to learn information about applicants that could help them make the best choice during the hiring process. While recruiting agencies provide valuable assistance in finding qualified candidates, their work should not be a substitute for a careful and thorough hiring procedure by your school.

Carefully Consider The Position To Be Filled

You should begin your recruiting process by carefully considering the position you are trying to fill. Many schools attempt to find the same type of person who previously held the position, without realizing there may be other characteristics better suited to your institution or that would enable the candidate to surpass their predecessor's performance. 

Do they need great communication skills, leadership qualities, or the ability to collaborate with others? What are the essential duties of that position? Once the answers to these and similar questions are determined, you should carefully draft a job description to incorporate the traits you are seeking and the functions the employee must be able to perform.

Ask The Tough Questions

Schools often miss key opportunities to learn more about their future employees by failing to ask the "tough" questions. An increasing number of schools fail to check with applicants' prior schools to learn more about them. While it is frustratingly common for previous employers to decline to provide detailed information about their former employees, usually just confirming dates of employment and pay rate, it is still well worth the call. To have a prior Head of School or Department Head provide insight into the potential administrator or faculty member is invaluable and you should never overlook the opportunity to obtain that information. 

The interview is another important opportunity to scrutinize the potential employee and ask direct questions. Before compiling the types of questions to be asked, it is important to consider the types of questions that should be avoided. You should train those conducting the interview to avoid discriminatory subjects and questions prohibited by federal, state, and local discrimination laws. These include, but are not limited to, questions about age, ancestry, racial or ethnic background, military status, plans for a family, religious beliefs, and health conditions.

However, it is equally important that interviewers avoid questions that could inadvertently lead to the discovery of such information. For example, train your managers not to ask an applicant when they graduated from high school (which would reveal their age), where they are from (which may reveal their national origin), or similar seemingly innocuous questions that could cause trouble.

You should provide your interviewers with the written information you received from the applicant so they can review it before the interview. This will allow your team to develop questions that will address any red flags, such as gaps in the applicant's employment history or job hopping. Your application should ask whether the applicant was ever fired, not renewed for employment, or asked to resign from a job – and your interviewers should not be afraid to ask the applicant direct questions about their answers to these questions. 

You should also formulate a list of standard questions to ask applicants. This limits the risk of discriminatory hiring and ensures that key questions are included. More importantly, your interviewers should pay attention to the answers. For example, many schools ask their applicants why they are looking to leave their current position but do not follow up on the answer. This is a wasted opportunity.

If the applicant says they did not get along with management, it is essential that you ask additional questions to find out why. Their answers will help you determine whether they are likely to have similar problems at your school, or whether they were justified in looking to leave their previous job. Your interviewers should carefully listen to the answers and not be afraid to press applicants on responses that could indicate trouble spots.

Document, Document, Document

To counter negligent and discriminatory hiring claims, documentation is key. You should appoint someone on your hiring team to maintain a file on each potential hire. The file should include notes taken during interviews (perhaps including a summary of the applicant's pros and cons), reference check information, the resume, and employment application. 

You should obtain a complete and signed application from your potential hires, and not just a resume. Your application will likely include important additional provisions, such as a confirmation of the truthfulness of the answers in the application (and resulting termination if the responses are found to be false), the applicant's agreement to reference checks, reiteration that employment at your institution is at will, notification that they may be required to submit to a pre-employment medical examination or drug screening, consent to any necessary clearances, and confirmation that any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of background checks. 

Background Checks Should Help, Not Hurt

Background checks provide important information, but you must use this information carefully to avoid legal liability. Several states and local jurisdictions have "banned the box," prohibiting you from asking about criminal convictions on the application itself. In some states, you might also be prohibited from hiring individuals who have been convicted of certain offenses. You should be aware of local laws and follow those directives.

Regardless of whether you operate in a "ban-the-box" location, you should avoid applying blanket policies that bar anyone with any sort of criminal background from being hired. If you make a hiring decision based on criminal information uncovered during a background check, you must be able to articulate why the information is job-related and consistent with business necessity. 

You should make such employment decisions only after you conduct an individualized assessment of the job and criminal background results. Look at the type of job applied for and assess the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the individual was convicted or completed their sentence, the nature of the job sought and whether the conviction is relevant to it, the person's contributions to society and rehabilitation efforts after conviction, and their age at the time of conviction. If you are unsure, you can consult with your legal counsel to see if the criminal history justifies a decision not to hire the applicant. 

Finally, although it might be commonplace for employers to conduct internet searches on applicants, the best practice is to have a trusted person at your school who is not otherwise involved in the hiring process conduct the search and pass along only information relevant to the job. This person should carefully screen out any information that reveals the applicant's protected status information before passing anything on to the decision makers.


Hiring the right person can enhance your school's goals and vitality, while the wrong fit can set your school back in both its mission and the trust engendered within the school community. Therefore, it is important to develop hiring procedures that are carefully tailored to reduce the risks of litigation, while maximizing the likelihood that you will hire the best candidate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Susan M. Guerette
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.