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I’ve never met someone who couldn’t reminisce on a favorite teacher. Whether it’s shaping interests, aiding learning styles, or cultivating a friendship, great teachers are the most important factor to student success and are districts’ MVPs. Screening candidates for their foreseen greatness is a superpower all recruiters probably want, so let’s take it a step back and discuss what qualifies a great teacher as ‘great’. To help us out, we tapped into to educational professionals and students to find four qualities that they consider makes great teachers great.

Screening Candidates: 4 Qualities of a Great Teacher

Subject Knowledge

The core of a teacher’s work is to educate students on the subject that they are teaching. A 2014 educational study concludes that teachers who have a strong knowledge of the subject they teach can also understand the way students think about the content, evaluate the thinking behind students’ own methods, and identify students’ common misconceptions. Mitchell Chester, education commissioner for Massachusetts, said subject knowledge is at the core of being a good teacher and that improving the quality of teaching is “the crux” of the challenge in schools. Screening candidates for their knowledge of the subject they could be teaching lays the foundation for their ability to adequately teach others and remain current in the field.

Clear Objectives

Student Renea Williams from Youth Communication’s video “What Makes a Great Teacher?” said, “great teachers write out objectives and also grading policies, to ensure students have a clear idea of what they will be learning and what’s expected of them.” Effective teachers with clear objectives provide students, parents and administrators a detailed overview of the curriculum, educational goals and how those goals will be measured throughout the year. Screening candidates for their experience with setting goals based on their past teaching experience can provide insight into their ability to make ever assignment purposeful so that students have the greatest chance for learning the most that they can.


For many people, (myself included) their memories of their favorite teacher go beyond the classroom. Although American teachers lead the world in instructional time with typical classroom hours around 8:30am – 3pm, the time a teacher allocates to the success of their students extends well beyond the standard classroom hours. Between preparing for class, going over assignments, meeting students outside of class, talking to parents, attending school meetings, and serving the school community, good teachers are willing to put in additional time. Screening candidates for their passion towards teaching will reveal their dedication to the success of their students and their ambition to work hard.

Believe in the Students

At the end of the day, many scholars believe that the most prominent element among good teachers is that they believe in their students. Ellie Herman, writer and teacher, spent a year visiting classrooms with the intent to discover what is at the heart of great teaching. “Teaching is both a science and an art that varies from school to school and from every human being,” Ellie noted, “the one thing that does not change is that great teachers love their students and their work.” She found that students who were most successful in the classroom were a product of teachers who catered to the learning of each student and continuously praised students for their participation and accomplishments. Screening candidates for their optimism and outlook on their potential impact on being a teacher will help identify candidates who will support their students an encourage growth.


Regardless of economic conditions, hiring practices, budget cuts, curriculum, or any other factor that impacts the education system, the need for great teachers is universal and timeless. Screening candidates for their ability to be a great teacher is a crucial and district recruiters need the right interviewing tools to do so effectively. If you’re interested in seeing how RIVS can help you identify great teachers among seas of resumes, schedule a live demo here. Let’s get started!

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Image used under Creative Commons by Eli Christman

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