They Already Know Who They Are Going to Hire!!!
Do yourself a favor and do not fall into the, “They already know who they are going to hire,” trap.
We’ve all been there. A new principal, superintendent, or whatever is announced, and many respond by complaining the process was rigged from the start. That it was pointless to apply because the panel had a favorite candidate and no matter what that person was going to get the job. Do not fall for this trap. Apply for jobs you are interested in. Control what you can control. Do the hard work. Do your best!
Over 24 years as an administrator and 12 as the human resources leader or superintendent facilitating administrative interview processes in four different school districts, I can attest that sometimes a favored candidate does indeed start ahead of the pack. Whether they remain there, however, can be a different story.
Favorites come in many styles. Some are internal applicants who impressed the district office. Others are at a school site where they have demonstrated leadership. The favorite is usually someone who has had many opportunities and who has done lots of hard work to get ready and gain experience. Some were the talk of the town going into the interview. Everyone knew they were the “favorite.” Many felt the job was theirs.
Sometimes that’s how it pans out. The “favorite” goes into the interview and earns the job in the eyes of those responsible for the final decision. Other times they simply get the job.
And sometimes - more often than most imagine - the “favorite” candidate goes splat.
There are many reasons for this. The candidate might perform poorly in the panel interview and not make it to the final round. They could allow arrogance to keep them from properly preparing or delivering in the interview. Or something could happen in the final interview, or the reference check that reveals something disqualifying. As much as some within the community thought they were the perfect fit, sometimes, it turns out they simply weren’t. I have seen all these things happen.
The point is, don’t talk yourself out of applying for and possibly landing a job on suspicion that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. So many things can happen along the way to determine the outcome. And if nothing does happen along the way and the "favorite" does get the job, you are still better off for having gone through the process!
After more than two decades of leading interviews and selection processes, I’ve come to realize that interviews alone do not work very well for determining how a candidate will do in a particular role. That could be another blog topic, but I will spare you for now!
Often, the interview doesn’t land a candidate an administrative job. It is the totality of the selection process that begins with the application process and ends with a final interview or reference check. What I say is this: The panel interview is closer to the beginning of the process than the end.
What should you take away from this?
Often, those in power didn’t have a clue who they wanted to hire when they started the process. And then someone rose to the top. Whether you are the favorite or a dark horse in the race, do the hard work all through the selection process. Focus on what you can control - your performance, your preparation, your research, your investments in yourself, and all the practice you put into getting yourself ready. Free your mind of things outside of your control.
If you aren’t selected for the job, give yourself a few days to process and reflect. Learn from the experience. After a couple of days, reach out to your point of contact to ask for feedback. Sometimes they will give it to you and sometimes they won’t. The feedback you receive might be the thing that pushes you across the finish line in your next interview. Most of all, be kind to yourself and to those who had the hard decision of whom to hire and whom to pass over. Everyone is doing their best.
Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything else I can do to help!
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Kris Cosca has dedicated his career to public schools for 30+ years as a teacher and administrator. Most recently, he served as superintendent of a 7,500-student K-12 district in Novato, California. Kris has experienced the joys and the challenges at every level – from the classroom to the school board room. He navigated curriculum changes, enrollment challenges, pandemic restrictions, labor negotiations, and staff burnout. As a leadership and career coach, Kris now shares his expertise with Next Level Leadership Services clients.
Public service runs in the family. Kris' father was a long-time district superintendent in Southern California, his mom was an occupational therapist in a state hospital for her entire career, and Kris married a high school science teacher with whom he has two adult children who are both studying to teach science. Dedicated to his Napa Valley community, Kris serves on the Connolly Ranch Education Center board of directors and supports local, environmentally-friendly acts of kindness through his Facebook Group, Earth's Everyday Heroes.
Kris also is an avid outdoorsman who fly fishes, ties flies, backpacks, hikes, completes ultramarathons, and cycles.