Hiring process evaluates candidates virtually to fill vacancies


Alina Susani

The hiring process will recruit new administrators and faculty members despite challenges of the virtual setting.

Colin Leslie, Reporter

With multiple faculty vacancies, the hiring process, which usually includes in-person interactions such as campus tours and guest teaching, has become more challenging as a result of the pandemic.

At least seven faculty positions and two administrative positions are open throughout the Laboratory Schools as of this month. 

Two faculty positions are open in the history department. According to history department chair Naadia Owens, making potential candidates excited about coming to Lab has been more difficult during the pandemic.

“What are the things that sell Lab School? Meeting kids, meeting faculty, getting to hear about all the great things that we do,” Ms. Owens said. “It’s just harder because usually people fly out and we take them out to dinner, you know, we make them feel special.”

Kimberly Williamson, director of human resources, said it has been difficult to provide candidates with a complete and satisfactory view of campus. To combat this challenge, videos and Zoom calls which show parts of campus can be provided to interested candidates.

“We can’t invite candidates to physically come and see our beautiful campus,” Ms. Williamson said. “Coming onto our campus and checking it out is first and foremost what’s been limited because of the pandemic.”

Another obstacle in hiring during the pandemic, according to Ms. Owens, has been figuring out a way to hold guest teaching.

“We’re going to look at how some other schools and departments are doing that,” Ms. Owens said. “That’s definitely something we’re thinking about is how do we get to see people interact with kids, because that’s so important.”

According to Ms. Williamson, candidates may be asked to teach a lesson over Zoom or share a previous lesson they have taught so that faculty members can see how they interact with students.

“We really value and really appreciate when candidates are able to come to campus to actually demonstrate for our faculty members the actual teaching demonstration,” Ms. Williamson said. “We’ve found that to be more challenging.” 

Ms. Owens said that difficulties communicating with other members of the hiring committees has also been a challenge.

We really value and really appreciate when candidates are able to come to campus to actually demonstrate for our faculty members the actual teaching demonstration. We’ve found that to be more challenging.”

— Kimberly Williamson

“It’s hard because oftentimes a lot of stuff can get done just if you run into people or have a moment to connect with people in the hallway,” Ms. Owens said.

Despite the setbacks resulting from the virtual setting, Ms. Owens noted that one advantage of hiring during the pandemic is receiving interest from candidates who may not have considered the job in other conditions.

“I definitely think we might be getting some people that we usually wouldn’t get,” Ms. Owens said. “Some folk who are maybe thinking that they want to move closer to home, or they want to change where they are in a way that they didn’t think about before the pandemic.”

According to Ms. Williamson, the experience of hiring in the virtual setting has provided ideas for possible future adjustments to hiring in a normal year. These possibilities include virtual onboarding and training as well as being able to record training sessions that candidates are not able to attend.

“We’re going to walk away with some new tools and new tricks,” Ms. Williamson said. “There are definitely some winnings and some new ideas that we will take away from the experience of this time period.”