Competing for Talent with Online Video Interviews
How New Caney ISD uses Frontline Recruiting & Hiring and interviewstream to creatively recruit and retain teachers and staff as a fast-growing district.
New Caney, Texas
Teachers & Staff
Product & Solutions
New Caney ISD is a mid-sized district but one of the fastest growing in the Houston area. Like many districts across the country, one of its biggest challenges is to fill staff positions to ensure the students pouring into classrooms receive the education they need.
“I believe that it has been harder to recruit and retain after COVID than before COVID,” said Trina Persson, Director of Recruitment and Retention. Trina, who served as an elementary principal for eleven years before taking a human resources role, said that now that the pandemic is over, many people who had previously remained in jobs because of the security they offered are re-evaluating their careers and considering other options. “We’re not only competing with area districts, we are also competing with outside industries.”
Creative Recruiting, Creative Retention
New Caney ISD is taking numerous steps to attract candidates as well as keep existing employees. Some strategies will be familiar to many in other districts: they partner with area universities, enabling education students to get classroom experience and even paying student teachers $75 per day, which encourages them to stay in the district once they graduate. “We see that as a way to invest in them,” Trina said.
They also provide laptops to student teachers and help them with the necessary steps all teachers must take as they begin teaching, such as fingerprinting and background checks. The work is paying off: one recent semester, all graduating student teachers were placed into full-time teaching roles. “They wanted to stay. All of them.”
The district also works to provide financial incentives to employees, monitoring the salaries offered by other area districts as well as local businesses who are competing for talent, and striving to offer competitive pay. Employees in every single department apply for scholarships offered to people who want to continue their education.
Trina said that they also take proactive steps to listen to employees. The district surveys employees on a regular basis to get their feedback. “Our superintendent wants to know what are the top two things that are most important to employees, and that’s how we make decisions for the next school year.”
Efficient Hiring Practices
Another key strategy is to remove roadblocks for applicants and make the hiring process efficient for HR and hiring managers. To do so, New Caney ISD uses Frontline Recruiting & Hiring, including Applicant Tracking. They also use interviewstream, which is integrated with Frontline Recruiting & Hiring to allow applicants to record answers to interview questions and submit them to the hiring manager for review. “Those types of things and the ease of them working together has been absolutely instrumental,” Trina said.
Hiring managers have come to depend on the system, reviewing applications then watching a one-way interview submitted by the applicant — and even screening candidates from home if they want. If someone is a good fit, they can schedule a follow-up interview with the hiring team.
Virtual Job Fairs
New Caney ISD purchased interviewstream before COVID. When they first got started, the HR team wondered if candidates would feel comfortable recording themselves until a younger coworker put those fears to rest: “Are you out of your mind? That’s what they do constantly!”
The system has proven especially helpful when inviting candidates to virtual job fairs. These online events became more common throughout the pandemic, and today people are much more comfortable with virtual screenings than they would have been even a few years ago.
When Trina sends out recruiting emails, she always embeds an interviewstream link, encouraging candidates to record a brief screening interview. “It’s a hook. They see that we’re abreast of technology, that we’re innovative.” This helps principals, especially when hiring for hard-to-fill positions — but Trina said that it also gives candidates an advantage as they come into job fairs feeling more confident. “They get really excited about knowing they’re going to have a screening interview. It’s really about how you market that to them.”
“They get really excited about knowing they’re going to have a screening interview. It’s really about how you market that to them.”
– Director of Recruitment & Retention
Right now, Trina and her team use interviewstream to screen teachers, paraprofessionals, and substitutes. For substitutes in particular, Trina created a custom interview series in interviewstream tailored to that role. “That has been a game-changer, having our substitutes do those videos. I know that there is a sub shortage everywhere, and it has really helped to expedite our processes, because we interview our subs.”
“That has been a game-changer, having our substitutes do those videos. I know that there is a sub shortage everywhere, and it has really helped to expedite our processes, because we interview our subs.”
– Director of Recruitment & Retention
District Culture and Brand
As New Caney ISD provides applicants with a picture of the district’s culture and brand, interviewstream helps keep Trina and her team connected with them. It facilitates ongoing interactions and encourages candidates to stay involved in the process (once they’ve applied, they contact Trina and are sent a link to the screening interview). This gives Trina the chance to provide a personal touch (she reaches out to let them know that they’ll be guided through the process). These points of connection let Trina stay in touch with candidates and keep tabs on how things are going.
As a result, candidates are more confident and better informed. They have a sense of the district’s culture from the screening interview questions, and they tend to be better prepared for in-person interviews.
“It’s one thing to be really technology driven. We all know that we can all improve on efficiency. But if you take out that personal component, at least in our field of education, I think that’s really where you miss out on the opportunity to stand out from other districts.” Thankfully, using Frontline Recruiting & Hiring and interviewstream offers New Caney ISD a balance between efficiency and innovation and human connection with applicants. “Retention starts at recruitment. I really believe that.”