Dr. Jerome Cranston

Dr. Jerome Cranston

July 15, 2013

There are people in Catholic schools making hiring decisions who have no idea what they are doing, says a university professor with a research specialty in human resource management in schools.

When preparing to interview a teacher candidate, some people doing the hiring will just Google "good interview questions for teachers," says Dr. Jerome Cranston of the University of Manitoba.

Cranston was speaking at the Canadian Catholic School Trustees convention in Winnipeg June 6-8.

Cranston has many years of experience in Catholic schools, having served as a teacher, principal, superintendent and director of education in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

"One of the most important things you can do is put the right person in the room with those students," Cranston said. "The question is, what is the mission of your school? If you don't know, you are casting a net not knowing what you are looking for."

Cranston said the next generation of teaching candidates is socially different from those in a position to hire them.

"We told them they can have anything they want and 'nobody is the boss of you.' We gave them participation trophies just for showing up, and guess what they want now? An award just for showing up.

"We told them they can have everything, so don't be surprised when you hear them say they want everything." Cranston said the young Catholic teacher hopeful will even ask, "You mean I really have to go to church?

"Teaching is a judged profession for everything you do," he said. "The public will judge you harshly."

Cranston asked what makes an organization Catholic? "How do you know what's happening in your board office would qualify as Catholic? I walk into a building and what makes it Catholic? If you can't answer that question I want to know how you can be hiring for mission."

Cranston said Pope John Paul II said teachers in Catholic schools need not be Catholics but if they are, they will be especially effective when they are active, practising Catholics.

"If you are hiring non-Catholics you want active, practising 'fill-in-the-blank.' If you're hiring non-Catholic teachers you are still hiring with mission in mind."

When hiring the right teacher, Cranston said, "You need to know they can do the job and they can fit into your organization; these are two different things."

Cranston says when he asks someone in a hiring position to describe a good teacher, "they'll stumble to answer and then say, 'I know it when I see it.'

"That's not good enough. What makes you good at hiring? What have you done to get good at this?"

Cranston said the interview is the weakest tool for hiring.

"I know people on hiring committees who haven't spent a dime on training," Cranston said. "We should be ashamed of that."