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How to interview a K-12 IT Director and make a successful hire

So you have to do an IT director interview for your school district.

An IT director interview can be challenging. Especially if your not technical. To have quality K-12 IT director interview questions you need to decide what you want from your IT director. A good part of that will be the size of your district and the expected effort to support technology.

We suggest organizing the following job functions in order of importance to your district. It is easier to find a good fit if everyone agrees on expectations as a starting point.

  • Fix on IT problems
  • Manage the IT vendors
  • Manage the IT staff
  • Attend strategy meetings
  • Help with technology curriculum

Once the importance of job functions is documented you need to clarify the districts long term technology  goals. What you expect your new technology director to accomplish over the next 3-5 years?  Here are some questions to ask yourself if your not sure.

Is your technology modern and innovative or does it need to be updated?
Do you have a technology plan in place or does the new hire need to make one?
Did the last IT director leave current accurate documentation?

If you do not have current accurate documentation you at least need a printed list of the brands/names of each system running at your district. Bring a copy with you to each interview.

make sure you are able to explain where your district is now and what your vision is for the future. Have you decided on a platform already? Is the district going Chrome? Is Apple the prefered direction?

Once all that information is clear and you understand what you are looking for you are ready to interview candidates for your new IT director. You should always start the interview giving your candidate a background of the district’s technology. Explain where you feel things are today. Then explain your vision for the next 3-5 years. You want them to be able to answer questions while speaking specifically to your district and not in general.

Here are some interview questions to help the process.

  • Ask them to describe how they would build or change a technology plan for your district. Ask them to explain their approach.
  • If you have selected a platform already (Chromebook, iPad, Mac) ask them what they think of the choice. Ask them what tools they have used in the past to manage that platform.
  • Ask them what SIS system and what LMS systems they have worked with in the past.
  • Now that you have explained your strategy ask them their opinion.
  • Ask them if they have any preference to certain manufactures hardware or software and why.
  • Ask them to tell you about their most memorable experience helping a frustrated user.
  • Add in general questions for why they want to work at your district, why they left their last job, what they expect out of this job.

If you are expecting them to repair and support the network and systems present them with a list of what is currently in use at your district. Ask them to rank their proficiency in each item and identify any systems they would need vendor help with. Ask them also to note where they worked with that system previously. Make sure they know you are not expecting them to be an expert in everything so you have a better chance getting accurate answers.

At this point try and get a feeling of their personality and if they would fit your environment and then end the interview. Gather all the information together and have everyone present write down a few sentences with their opinion.

After going through as many interviews that make sense this should give your district a good idea of who the top candidates are. If your district is expecting technical ability you probably want to bring in a technical consultant to evaluate their ability. If the applicant with the weakest technical ability knows more than the interviewers it is impossible assess their skill. It might even make sense to consider IT as a service as an option. Especially if your have a smaller district. It can be very difficult to find someone that can do everything a district needs around technology. With IT as a service you can often ge a whole team of experts at a similar cost.

Odds are if you are reading this you are trying to hire an IT director that your district can count on. A bad hire at this position can set a district back years and be very costly.

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