The Tough Questions: Hiring Content Area Experts

You found this stellar teaching candidate, but are not sure if they are a fit for the demands of boarding school life. While their academic credentials are outstanding and this will make them a positive addition to the XY department, you will need to find ways they can contribute in the afternoons and in residential life. Should you hire them?

Well, that depends. What is your school looking to gain from this hire? Needed academic expertise as a boost to a department and a feather in the cap of the school? An addition to an already strong and balanced department where their content knowledge will be a true asset and their lack of background in other areas can be covered by others? Are they someone who you can see "becoming" a triple threat? If so, how will you go about supporting them?

The hiring matrix at a boarding school is nothing short of dumbfounding, but in asking the tough questions before hiring a person for a specific expertise, schools can meet the needs of their students while maintaining faculty balance, positive faculty culture, and community feel. As well, with a purposeful eye towards hiring, educators new to the triple threat can be supported and developed via clear goals, expectations, and mentoring.

Hiring an academic, athletic, or artistic expert is great, but only if schools pay attention to the reality that those people may struggle in the triple threat role and that there must be a plan in place as to how best to utilize their skill-set while not asking them to produce in an area outside of their comfort zone. Additionally, schools must have a clear vision as to how faculty culture is impacted by hiring content area specialist who may not have the experience or skills outside of their area. Is the school willing to modify the triple threat to gain a content area expert? How will that be received? Will other faculty resent the new hire?  Can the new hire be allowed to "grow " into the role of the triple threat educator? Who will support and mentor this new hire? These are the tough questions that must be asked.