If you have a preschool, then chances are you’ve thought about how to hire a preschool teacher at some point or another. The best time to hire a preschool teacher is in the spring for the upcoming school year. The second best time to hire a preschool teacher is 2 months before you need to fill the position.
Follow the 18 steps in this complete guide, and before you know it you’ll have a wonderful preschool teacher at your side!
1. Create an Ad for a Preschool Teacher
Confirm which positions are available for hiring by asking current teachers if they are returning for the next school year. If you know that you have brand new positions open, you’ll advertise for those as well.
Create a “Careers” page on your website with everything you see in in this article for an Example of a Preschool Teacher Ad
Write a shortened version of your Careers page (inviting them to look at your Careers website page for more information) and place that ad copy in the following places:
In your ad, use examples of the following titles to make your ad stand out:
- Seeking Best Preschool Teacher in <City>
- Now Hiring Best Preschool Teacher for Premier Private School
- Are You the Best Preschool Teacher Looking for Your New School?
- Premier Private School Looking for Best Preschool Teacher
Announce the position(s) to your preschool parents, family, friends, and community members. The more people who know you’re hiring the better, as they will tell their friends and family members about the position as well. This word-of-mouth advertising will often help you find the perfect preschool teacher.
Also post the preschool teacher ad here:
- Community Facebook groups
- Local newspaper
- Reader Boards
- Preschool Business Facebook page
Save all email applications (they should have attached a resume and cover letter) inside your email inbox
Delete and repost all online ads every 14 days until the position is filled; change titles of ads as needed
2. Evaluate Potential Preschool Teacher Candidates
Soon, you’ll have plenty of resumes and cover letters to go through. You will need to review their resume and cover letter, find their social media profiles on Facebook, and search their home address to see how far away they are from your preschool.
Then, create 3 folders (YES, MAYBE, NO) inside your email inbox. After you categorize all candidates according to the criteria below (each candidate won’t perfectly meet all the criteria below, so be discerning about what is most important to you), move each candidate’s email into the corresponding folder inside your email.
YES (USUALLY 1-2 CANDIDATES)
- Qualifications (must have all 4):
- Education: ECE (or similar) degree or ECE coursework
- Experience: 5+ years preschool teaching (BONUS: 5+ years teaching at same school)
- Social Media Profile: Profile is clean and smiles are genuinely happy
- Location: Commute is less than 20 minutes
- Actions to take:
- Create an “Applicants” tab in a binder
- Print cover letter and resume; file in “Applicants” tab in binder
- File email under “Yes” folder
- Send “Questionnaire” email (see this article of an Example of a Preschool Teacher Questionnaire)
- When questionnaire comes back:
- File questionnaire email in “Yes” folder
- Print and file with cover letter and resume in “Applicants” folder
- If needed, send “Follow-up” email to ask any questions about red flags or questions that came up from the questionnaire
MAYBE (USUALLY 3-4 CANDIDATES)
- Qualifications (must have at least 3 of 4)
- Education: CDA, or relevant degree
- Experience: 2+ years preschool/daycare teaching
- Social Media Profile: Profile is clean and smiles are genuinely happy
- Location: If commute is 20-40 minutes, disregard candidate unless amazing; if amazing, contact candidate to discuss distance
- Actions to take:
- File email under “Maybe” folder
- If no candidates are hired from the “Yes” folder (or you need more candidates), review “Maybe” candidates
- If qualified to interview, move “Maybe” candidate(s) to “Yes” candidates and follow actions to take
NO (USUALLY MOST OF THE CANDIDATES FROM INDEED)
- Qualifications (must have at least 2 of the 4; or, if has social media profile and/or location below they are automatically put into NO folder):
- Education: No relevant degree/coursework
- Experience: Little or no relevant experience
- Social Media Profile: Candidate looks “rough” or the profile is vulgar or unacceptable
- Location: Commute is 40+ minutes
- Actions to take:
- File email under “No” folder
- Do not reconsider anyone in the “No” folder
3. Schedule Preschool Teacher Interviews
Schedule interviews after about a month of collecting resumes (or if you get some amazing resumes that you know you need to interview quickly before they’re taken by someone else). To set up the interviews, follow this process:
- Select the best 3-4 candidates to interview (or just one at a time if you have an amazing candidate)
- Set aside time the following week for the first interview from 6:30-7:30 p.m. (3-4 per session; 1 candidate per each room; each candidate will rotate rooms every 15 minutes)
- 6:30-6:45 p.m. – Interview with your teachers
The candidates will have an opportunity to get to know your current teachers (if you have other teachers)
- 6:45-7:00 p.m. – Interview with Director and/or Owner
The Director and/or Owner will get to know the candidates
- 7:00-7:15 p.m. – Lesson Plan
The candidates will write down a sample preschool lesson plan (from their brain, no cell phones allowed) on the Pumpkins theme
- 7:15-7:30 p.m. – Room Design (Only use if you have 4 candidates)
The candidates will look over the preschool classroom and give suggestions on how they will fix it and what items they think are missing (nothing has to be missing, but you can find out who has great classroom ideas)
- 6:30-6:45 p.m. – Interview with your teachers
- Send “Interview” Email to candidates inviting them to interview and giving them an overview of the process
- Re-arrange the interview schedule as needed
- If you have additional teachers, contact two teachers (including those who may directly be working with this teacher) to see if they can attend the interview (have them arrive 15 minutes early)
4. Prepare Materials for the Preschool Teacher Interviews
Prepare the following materials for each candidate’s interview:
- Copy papers for each interviewing candidate (Some of these are articles that will give you more info)
- “Questions to Ask During a Preschool Teacher Interview”
- “Questions to Ask Preschool Teacher References”
- “Candidate Activity – Lesson Plan”
- “Candidate Activity – Room Design”
- Assemble Candidate Packets on separate Clipboards with pen
- Staple each candidate’s papers together in this order on top: Questions to ask during interview, resume, cover letter, questionnaire, questions to ask references
- Look through candidates’ resumes and write down any questions you want to make sure you ask (look for inconsistencies, concerns, areas that need more clarification, etc.) i.e.:
- Why have you had x amount of jobs in x years?
- Why did you leave _________?
5. Prepare for Preschool Teacher Interviews
Prepare for interviews by doing the following tasks:
- Bring to interviews:
- Clipboards with Candidate Packets
- Lesson Plan and Room Design copies
- Candidate Overview copies
- 30 minutes before interviews: Set up rooms with black chairs
- Room with teachers: 2 chairs facing 1 chair
- Room with Director and Owner: 2 chairs facing 1 chair
- Room with Lesson Plan: 1 chair by table with pen and Lesson Plan papers
- (If have 4 candidates) Preschool classroom: 1 chair by table with pen and Room Design papers
- 15 minutes before interviews: Review with teachers, director, and owner in teacher room
- “Questions to Ask During Preschool Teacher Interview” – remind them of the obvious non-permissible ones (don’t discuss marital status, children, religion, etc.)
- Hand out Candidate Overview papers and briefly go through each candidate; remind them to keep papers discreet throughout interviews
- Remind them we will have candidates switch every 15 minutes, either talking to Director/Owners, or teachers, or writing Lesson Plan, or doing Room Design (if you have 4 candidates)
- Teachers should get to know them, find out if they have any questions for the teachers, and generally determine if they are likable, a team player, and know their “stuff”
6. Begin the Preschool Teacher Interview
As candidates arrive, greet them warmly, welcome them to your preschool, and put them in rooms as follows based on earliest to latest:
- Lesson Plan
- Instruct the candidate to fill out the lesson plan (no using phones, only use the great ideas we have in our heads) and be done by 6:45, when they will rotate to talking to either our teachers, or yourself and owners
- Room Design (Only if there are 4 candidates)
- Instruct the candidate to fill out the room design (no using phones, only use the great ideas we have in our heads) and be done by 6:45, when they will rotate to talking to either our teachers, or yourself and owners
- Introduce the candidate to the teachers, tell the candidate they can ask the teachers anything, and let them know we will switch at 6:45, when they will rotate to talking to yourself and owners or writing lesson plan
- Introduce the candidate to the owners, and let the candidate know we will switch at 6:45, when they will rotate to talking to our teachers or writing lesson plan
7. Interview the Preschool Teacher Candidates
- During the interview with the Director/Owner, remember: First and foremost, trust your gut. During this process, everything is on trial – their personality, their humor, their wardrobe, their appearance, their likability, their outgoing-ness, their ability to “go with the flow,” etc. Just because you liked them on paper (or the phone) don’t go into the interview assuming they’re the right person for the job. First impressions are crucial, and so are gut instincts, because the same feeling you have immediately toward this person is the same feeling other people (such as your preschool parents) will have toward this person.
- Begin asking questions from “Questions to Ask During Preschool Teacher Interview.” Let the questions flow, don’t feel constrained that you have to go through each question in order; think of it more as a discussion than an interview and keep it light and positive
- As you meet each applicant, evaluate several factors at once and mentally note your answers.
- Does he/she look you in your eyes when talking to you?
- Would you be excited to introduce your preschool families to this teacher?
- Is he/she:
- Overly nervous?
- Genuinely happy?
- Dressed appropriately?
- Remember that we’re looking for someone who is honest, happy, energetic, loyal, professional, creative, dependable, and a problem solver
- Before the candidate leaves, discreetly write down “Teach” on the front of their packet if you want them to go to the next step of the interview process and teach a circle time lesson
- Wrap up the interview by asking if the candidate has any questions, then move candidates one at a time in this order:
- Director/Owners goes to Room Design (if 4 candidates, otherwise Lesson Plan)
- Room Design goes to Lesson Plan
- Lesson Plan goes to Teachers
- Teachers goes to Director/Owners
- As you move each candidate, have the candidate you are moving stand out of the way in the new room as you instruct him/her what to do, then guide the current candidate to the new room and shut all doors as you leave the rooms
- When you have made all the moves, you should end up with a new candidate to begin the process again with the Director/Owner; repeat until all candidates have gone through each activity
- When you have finished interviewing the last candidate, let him/her know you will walk out together:
- Guide the candidate outside to the front step and shake hands
- Thank candidate for coming to interview, and that you’ll be in touch shortly with your decision
- Repeat the process as you take one candidate out at a time to leave the school
8. Evaluate Candidates
- Once everyone has left (except teachers), discuss privately with the Director/Owner your thoughts and their thoughts about each candidate and who should come back to teach a circle time lesson
- Go into the teacher room with the owners and ask the teachers their thoughts on each candidate
- Usually it’s unanimous who you all agree on to continue on with the interview process and come back for a circle time lesson, but if not, Owner/Director makes the final call
9. Schedule Circle Time Lessons
Ask teacher(s) what time of day is good for a circle time lesson:
- Try to see the circle time lesson that week if possible
- Determine which classroom the candidate is being hired for, and ask that teacher what time circle time is
- If you have multiple candidates to see teach, try to schedule all lessons within 30 minutes of each other if possible (if you have multiple classrooms) otherwise do 1 lesson per day
Update the time(s) on “Circle Time” email, and send the email to all candidates moving on to the next step. Include in the Circle Time email these instructions about how to prepare their circle time lesson:
- Please prepare a 15-min. circle time; you will have the opportunity to present it to (10) 3-year-olds during your interview.
- The theme or activity is entirely up to your choosing. There is no right or wrong answer. We simply want to see your teaching personality and how you manage the children. Please bring all materials needed for your activity.
- During your lesson, please be sure to include:
- Activity that teaches a developmentally appropriate concept
- Song (we have a CD player if needed)
As replies come back:
- Reply to candidates saying you’re excited to see them teach
- Notify teacher and owner of time and day of candidate’s lesson
10. Observe Circle Time Lessons
Welcome the candidate:
- Introduce candidate to teacher again and the class
- Get kids to circle time (if not already there)
- Let the kids know he/she will be doing a circle time lesson and to use best behavior
- Turn time over to candidate
Look for the following skills in an amazing future teacher:
- Captures children’s interest
- Manages children’s behavior calmly, confidently, nicely
- Is enthusiastic and genuinely happy
- Teaches developmentally appropriate concepts
- Changes her lesson plan based on the needs of the children (if children are getting antsy, she’ll change)
- Captures adults’ interest and keeps you excited to learn more
After the lesson is finished:
- Ask the children to say thank you
- Walk the candidate out, thank him/her and let know you’ll be in contact shortly
Repeat with all candidates doing circle time lesson. Confirm with the Director/Owner and teachers their opinions about each candidate and determine who you will have continue to the next step and call references for.
11. Call Preschool Teacher References
Call the supervisor of the most current past teaching position (do not contact current employment as it may hinder their current job).
During the call: build rapport, explain that you’re the Director of <Your Name Preschool> and recently interviewed one of their past teachers, and ask if you can ask a few questions about the candidate’s job with them.
Then refer to this article and ask them the Questions to Ask Preschool Teacher References.
If the reference gave a glowing review, move forward with hiring.
If the reference didn’t give a glowing review, continue contacting past supervisors. If most supervisors give unfavorable review, do not hire.
If all gave a glowing review except one, then consider if you want to move forward. (Unfavorable review might have just been a fluke bad experience for reasons you don’t know.) Move forward with hiring as long as everyone loves the teacher and can’t possibly think of a reason why the candidate shouldn’t be hired
12. Present the Job Offer
Confirm with Director/Owner your choice of candidate and move forward with hiring. Then call the candidate as soon as the decision is made and:
- See if the teacher would like to teach at your preschool. If so, welcome teacher into your preschool family!
- See if the teacher has any questions before you meet next week for training
- Set up training times within next week if possible
- Observation: during class (3 hrs.)
- First Training Day: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (3 hrs.) (a few days after observation day)
Send “Welcome” email to teacher. Send “Thank You” email to interviewed candidates who weren’t chosen.
13. Prepare New Employee Paperwork
If you’re hiring your preschool teacher as an employee, prepare the following paperwork for them to fill out
- Preschool Teacher Contract (print 2 copies)
- I-9 (print 1 copy)
- Direct Deposit form from your bank (so you can pay them directly to their bank; print 1 copy)
- My Favorite Things worksheet (so you can buy them things they like as gifts; print 1 copy)
- Teacher Dress Code (print 1 copy)
- W-4 (print 1 copy)
14. Create New Teacher Binder for Training
Include the following tabs and fill them:
- Preschool Policies & Procedures Handbook
- Yearly Preschool Calendar
- Preschool Teacher Handbook
- Preschool Health and Safety Protocols
- Preschool Assessment Milestones
- Examples of a Preschool Portfolio
- Past Preschool Professional Development Training Handouts
15. Have Your New Teacher Observe a Preschool Class
Allow the new teacher to observe a seasoned teacher for 2.5 hrs. Ask the new teacher to note how the seasoned teacher:
- Greets the students
- Manages the class
- Runs circle time
- Uses songs, fingerplays, and movement activities to get everyone’s attention or lead into a transition
- Utilizes the room in centers
- Speaks to the children during their disagreements
- Says goodbye to the students
- Cleans the room at the end of the day
At the end, ask if teacher has any questions. Also let the new teacher know this is a great time to:
- Learn what a typical day looks like
- Find where materials are located
16. Have Your New Teacher Fill Out New Employee Paperwork
After the observation, spend some time with your new teacher.
If you’re hiring your preschool teacher as a contractor, they need to fill out everything except the W-4 and I-9 (and instead they need to fill out a W-9).
If you’re hiring your preschool teacher as an employee, they need to:
- Sign both copies of the Preschool Teacher Contract (you both keep one)
- Fill out the I-9 form
- Fill out the Direct Deposit form
- Fill out My Favorite Things worksheet
- Sign the Teacher Dress Code
- Fill out the W-4 form
17. Onboard Your New Preschool Teacher
Before you dive into training, be sure to do the following things below to onboard your new preschool teacher:
- Ask when his/her CPR/1st Aid Certification expires; if within 12 months, have him/her get re-certified at upcoming CPR day
- Remind the teacher to get their background check started asap
- Take teacher’s headshot for the website
- Make copies of the teacher’s social security card and driver’s license (for I-9 verification)
- Notify the teacher of the day for the upcoming Preschool Teacher Retreat
- Make copies of CPR/1st Aid Certification cards
- If current, must say Pediatric CPR
- If not current, ask teacher to get CPR training or if you have several teachers who need it renewed or new, then contact a local CPR trainer in your area to do it in-house
18. Train Your New Preschool Teacher
Using the new teacher binder you created, go through the binder and discuss each item in detail. This process should take about 2 hours to review the materials at length.
After you follow this complete 18-step guide, you won’t have to wonder about how to hire a preschool teacher any longer… you’ll already have hired an amazing preschool teacher!