Developing Dispositional Prescreen Questions

At the Point of Appointment and Dispositional Screening
The connection between teacher dispositions and student learning, growth, and development is receiving greater attention and may likely be the missing link for moving student achievement a quantum leap forward. If you hire staff by asking the right questions during the pre-screening and interview process, and have members of the interview committee who can detect core dispositions and find answers that focus on the students’ perspective, then student achievement gains will follow.

Conducting the Dispositional Interview
One of the schools in your district is seeking to fill an open teaching position. Initial screening of resumes and reference checks has netted what appear to be three strong candidates who will now go through the interview process.

While interviewing, the selection committee begins with typical questions intended to discover more about the candidate’s background, such as: tell us a little about yourself, describe your strengths and weaknesses, describe a lesson in which you differentiated instruction for various learning styles, etc.

Most interviewees are prepared for the ‘standard’ interview questions and will have done their homework regarding the district and their strengths. Then the selection committee moves to questions designed to give deeper understanding of the candidate's dispositions by asking the following questions:
•When was the last time you went home from work so pumped that you skipped or whistled all the way home? Describe what happened.
•What is the most common misperception about you?
•What do students say about you?
•Why are you a good fit for our district and why is our district a good fit for you right now?

Answers to these questions are usually not rehearsed and you are more likely to get talk from the heart; from one’s dispositions, as opposed to the rehearsed remarks so carefully constructed in the days leading up to the interview.

Listening carefully and using the dispositions scales will provide the committee with a front row view of the applicants’ dispositions, defined as “one’s natural mental and emotional outlook or mood” ( The committee will be provided with the most valuable insights “into how applicants perceive themselves, their students, and their chosen profession” (Wasicsko, 2005, p. 1) as the dispositional interview questions are answered.

Once the committee can determine the dispositions of the applicants, the decision on who is the best fit for the position can be made with greater confidence than simply reviewing resumes and trying to interpret the rehearsed remarks typically found in the interview process.

Developing Pre-Employment Pre-Screening Questions
Does your district use a screening-questionnaire as part of the pre-employment process? If so, are you asking questions that allow for discovery of candidate dispositions? Most districts in Kentucky use teacher-perceiver questions as a pre-screening tool, which tend to focus more on teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skills than dispositions. Altering pre-screening questions to focus on dispositions will make the interview process more efficient for two reasons: first, candidates who make it to an interview will be known to have solid content knowledge and pedagogical skills through a review of the application, resume and reference letters. Second, the answers to the disposition pre-screening questions will help determine if the candidate's dispositions are a fit for the culture of your district, or even individual schools within a district. This video will provide insight into how Boone County Schools started the process of developing a new dispositional based pre-employment screening tool.
Click here for video (Run time: 1:08)

Sample Pre-Employment Dispositions Questions
Asking the right questions before the interview process is critical when determining who should be interviewed during the selection process. Boone County Schools developed a set of pre-screening disposition-based questions to get to know the natural attitudes and beliefs of teacher candidates before ever talking to them. Using such questions, and screening candidates before the interview process, will dramatically increase the likelihood of interviewing and hiring the right individuals. View this link to see the pre-screen questions developed for certified applicants in Boone County.
Boone County Schools’ Pre-Employment Questions

*All citations on this page are referenced on the annotated bibliography page.
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21st Century Superintendents - Planning for the Next Generation