Fine Tuning Recruitment


Recruitment plays a major part for any international school and probably takes up a more than is warranted proportion of a Head’s time. With average turnover higher than that of UK schools, international schools need to adopt an intelligent approach to their recruitment strategy. Here we explore the recruitment process and offer some ideas to fine tune.


Resignation deadline

Many international schools have brought forward their recruitment season to beat the rush of the new year. Whilst this does have its obvious advantages, it does require resignations of existing staff to coincide with this period. Provided no employment laws are being contravened of their host country a school could review their desired resignation deadline. Some international schools have taken the step of financially rewarding staff who inform earlier in the year of their decision to leave (often within the first academic term) but there will still be teachers looking to move on who have yet to secure a new post. Is it possible to have open dialogue with existing members of staff who are potentially looking elsewhere? That way management can at least start planning for likely vacancies. For growing international schools who need additional headcount in certain departments, why not secure these teachers earlier, particularly if they are within shortage subjects.


Attracting candidates

Given the rapid growth of the international school market and the ever-increasing demands this places on teacher supply, the more traditional methods of advertising have become outdated for many international schools. A more strategic approach is being implemented utlising several channels to ensure the school grabs the attention of high calibre candidates; advertising, school’s website, agencies, referral schemes to name a few. The marketing of a school is critical when attracting candidates. Typically, teachers are applying to schools in different countries and will therefore rely heavily on a quality website as a source of information and validation. Review your school’s website to ensure that it is interactive, informative, easy to navigate and ultimately presenting and promoting your school in its best possible light. Provide detailed online brochures which include information of the school and local area. Promotional videos that engage with the staff and students can also make a difference.


There has been a sharp rise in the use of agencies to support international schools with the supply of candidates. Great communication between a school and an agency is vital to the success of that relationship. Both parties will be more effective in their operations if they are sharing information and have regular contact with the Head. Rather than reaching out to multiple agencies, take time to develop a more conscious relationship with a select agent, arrange for them to visit and see your school. Remember, agencies work all year round and can identify talented candidates (particularly in shortage subject areas) much earlier and promote you and your school to them.


Application process

The application process receives less focus, yet it plays a vital role in the success of a school’s campaign. Potential candidates do complain of laborious online application forms that need completing (often asking them to replicate their CV). Whilst it is important from a safe-guarding perspective for any hiring school to obtain specific information, it is of equal importance to streamline this stage for job hunters and find a balance between acquiring data with the amount of time required to make an application.



The all important face to face (either in person or virtually via Skype) is one of the most critical parts of the recruitment process. How is this conducted? Certainly, by the Head of school and members of SLT. If not already forming part of the panel, why not also enlist the support of the Head of Department? Other members of staff can also be used to ultimately ‘sell’ the job and department to a candidate. It allows a space for teachers of the same subject to explore deeper how their subject (area of interest and passion) is delivered in the school as well as allow the interview to focus on more subject specific questioning.


In addition to interviews, schools should look at other ways to determine the suitability of a candidate – video recordings of lessons, portfolios brought to interviews or interview days structured where candidates are required to complete exercises and activities with each other. Interactive open days allow you to see candidates at their most relaxed and their best.



Invariably we all have questions once an offer is presented to us. A candidate needs all the relevant answers to make an informed decision. If this information is provided earlier in the process, this leaves only contractual questions to be answered. The period after making an offer is crucial. The speed to which candidates are given responses can be the difference between acceptance or rejection.


Post Offer

Remember, the recruitment process does not end upon appointment of a teacher. What more can you be doing your new staff before they have started? Read



Posted on 16th March 2020

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