The Perfect Teaching Candidate


Intelligent. Compassionate. Patient.

Or organized. Knowledgeable. Collaborative?


What qualities personify the perfect teaching candidate?


Like with most questions, it depends on whom you ask and the specific needs of any learning community.


Regardless of how folks look on paper, there is no replacement for experience in the field and a solid sense of self. Teaching needs to be the most collaborative profession, instead it is unusually the most isolating and therefore the right candidate must possess certain less than obvious qualities.


When considering a teaching position, the candidate needs to interview the school as much as the administration needs to review the person because career longevity is all about the fit.

We all know that it is easy to say the right or wrong thing in an interview, but there are ways to avoid general pitfalls. After a #satchathack, I realized that there are many things that can be deal-breakers for the administration when selecting a candidate.


Here are deal-breakers that were mentioned:

  • People who don't come with questions about the school in the interview

  • Folks who refuse to admit short-comings

  • Candidates whose philosophy doesn't align with the school's in areas like mastery, revision, homework, late work, grading, etc

  • Unconnected people who aren't on Twitter or other social media

Ideal teachers possess all of the following (in no particular order):

  • Life long learners, always looking to improve

  • Eager to connect with diverse leaders to continue to improve practice

  • Are voracious readers, modeling what they expect of their students

  • Transparent in their expectations

  • Exhibits a good attitude and a growth mindset

  • Models mistakes and growing from them

  • Comfortable not-knowing, but eager to problem solve

  • Technology is seamlessly integrated into their practice

  • Student learning is of the utmost importance - they don't control, they conduct, facilitate- empower

  • Creative and open to trying new things

  • A natural relationship builder and a good reader of situations

  • Hard-working and nurturing

  • Responsible

Good candidates should always be learning, like the students we teach. They are looking for ways to connect with thought leaders and are eager to grow as learners themselves. Making mistakes publicly and sharing that transparent moment to help kids develop better.


So much of what we do as teachers are intangible. Developing relationships in order to better read student needs and adjusting accordingly to ensure the best learning experiences is essential. It's not good enough to be knowledgeable about content area or the latest

technology, a good candidate wants to help improve the school community in meaningful and impactful ways.


What characteristics would you look for in a new teacher if you were on a hiring committee? Please share

  • This piece originally ran on my Ed Week Teacher in May 2015

©2018 BY STARR SACKSTEIN -  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED