I’ve said it before and I’m sure that I’ll say it again: The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen has really had an impact on my recent thinking.
The book’s central premise is that organizations can figure out how to become more innovative by studying the key actions of the most innovative companies—Amazon, Apple, eBay, PayPal, Virgin—and one of those actions is systematically hiring innovative people.
Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen put it this way:
Clearly, if companies want innovative ideas from employees, they should screen for innovation potential in the hiring process. Most companies rarely do it, but highly innovative ones do. They explicitly screen candidates for creativity and innovation skills as part of the new-hire process. (p. 194)
Interesting, isn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever been a part of an interview team that was thinking specifically about the innovation potential of the teachers that we were considering for positions in our building.
So I decided to whip up a few interview questions that might just help schools do a better job spotting the most innovative minds in their applicant pools.
They are designed to spotlight the five skills that Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen believe are characteristic of innovators: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting.
Here they are.
Tell me about a lesson that you have tinkered with over the years.
What did that lesson originally look like? What changes have you made to it over time?
How did those changes impact your students? Your peers? Which changes were the most successful? Which changes failed miserably?
What did you learn—about teaching, about learning, about students, about yourself—from those instructional successes or failures?
How do YOU learn?
Are you constantly reading? Constantly writing? Constantly practicing?
More importantly, who are the most interesting people that you currently learn with? How did you meet them? How do you connect with them?
What have they taught you? What have you taught them?
What well-established professional practice are you skeptical about?
What is it about this practice that leaves you doubting? Can you give tangible examples of places where this practice has let you—or your students—down?
Tell me about the most interesting idea that you’ve learned outside of education.
What is it about that idea that captures your imagination? Can you find any connections between that idea and your work in schools?
Can that idea change the work that you are doing with students, colleagues and/or peers?
Tell me about a profession that you are curious about.
What is it about that profession that captures your imagination? Why would working in that field leave you energized? How does that profession compare—positively or negatively—to education?
You can download a PDF version of these questions here:
Hope they are helpful—and more importantly, I hope that if you use them in your interview process that you’ll leave me some feedback and tell me how they’ve worked!
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