Teachers must be skilled in the technicalities of their subject area, but it takes soft skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, adaptability and social intelligence to be a great teacher. Connecting with students on a human level to offer support and get the best out of each individual is key.
This article will explore how to identify great teachers and how you can test to hire the strongest candidate.
What should a teacher be able to do?
Being a teacher is a multi-faceted job that requires a high level of adaptability.
Primarily, teachers are responsible for the curriculum in their subject area, and planning lessons to specific requirements. At times, teachers will need to collaborate with other staff or school board members to curate lessons, projects and activities.
Setting clear goals for students will give context to the 'why' of learning something in particular and be a useful measure of students' progress. Teachers must be highly organised to keep track of each student's academic progress and communicate this to students and parents alike.
Teachers often have to adapt their methods and resources to meet students' varying needs, uphold behavioural expectations and counsel students through academic or social adjustment challenges.
Finally, teaching comes with a healthy dose of administration, maintaining student records, tracking homework submissions, taking registration, ordering supplies, writing reports and much more.
Skills to look for in a teacher
We've already mentioned a few of the core skills a teacher needs to have a positive impact on their students, but the following will detail exactly what this looks like and why they are essential.
Verbal and non-verbal communication: being able to speak and write effectively is integral to being a good teacher, as it is how you communicate information and instruct students on how to do something.
Leadership: having the power to galvanise a positive learning environment, bring students together to collaborate, develop relationships and further their education takes someone with direction, confidence, vulnerability and clear boundaries; all qualities of a true leader.
Social perceptiveness: being aware of students' reactions and potential changes in behaviour can give a teacher insight into each individual's needs. Teachers must be able to understand where their students are coming from to best support them.
Time Management: classes tend to be around one hour each, with a set workload to complete in this time. Teachers should have a good perception of time, be able to manage it well and adapt when necessary to get the results needed in a limited timeframe.
Useful abilities for a teacher
Further to the essential skills needed, a good teacher should also have abilities such as:
Oral expression: to support a teacher's verbal and non-verbal communication skills, effective teachers must be able to precisely communicate information, ideas and instruction orally in a way that others can understand and comprehend.
Inductive reasoning: this is the ability to combine pieces of information, both tangible and invisible, to form conclusions and solutions. Teachers use this to navigate a fast-changing learning environment and respond to emotional responses.
Fluency of ideas: the ability to innovate, brainstorm and create new ideas around single topics is essential for a teacher to keep a curriculum fresh and exciting. It will also help teachers to react and move forward when a particular idea doesn't go as planned.
Speech recognition: teachers come into contact with countless different people, with varying accents, articulation and vocal projection. Teachers need to have strong speech recognition which enables them to tune in and understand what people are saying.
Memorization: between the curriculum, students' names, parents' faces and procedures - teachers require the ability to remember vast bodies of written, verbal and visual information and recall it quickly.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a teacher?
To ensure your candidates possess the essential soft skills we've discussed you can carry out pre-employment skills tests. For teachers, we would recommend:
- Interpersonal skills test: this will measure candidates' social intelligence and ability to work effectively with others. It's designed to assess how well prospective employees can apply their social intelligence in a professional context – essential to maintaining boundaries between student-teacher relationships.
- Time management test: designed to recognise candidates that will be able to plan and execute lessons promptly alongside additional responsibilities. The test will use workplace scenarios to get a realistic measure of a candidate's ability to manage time effectively.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a teacher?
Use pre-employment technical and aptitude tests in the following areas to identify job-ready candidates that will require little training. For teachers, we would recommend:
- Verbal reasoning test: measuring candidates' ability to read and comprehend passages of text, and draw conclusions from it. This will be essential for teachers to read, grade and feedback on classwork.
- Microsoft PowerPoint test: designed to highlight how proficient a candidate is in using Microsoft PowerPoint software. Used by teachers to display lesson plans and information to the class.
Our recommended test battery for a teacher
As we have discussed, teachers are required to demonstrate a range of skills. Discovering whether a candidate has these through a resume or interview alone would be near impossible, which is why we recommend the following pre-employment test battery to find adept and inspiring teachers.
For more information about hiring a teacher, check out our page on teacher tests.