Music Lessons: 5 Tips for Hiring Great Teachers

At the 2019 NAMM Show, Eileen Tan of 7 Notes Music School shared her tips on how to hire the best teachers for your lesson program and business—and avoid bad hiring decisions. Tan guaranteed that you’ll save yourself time and mistakes by following these tips.

Here are highlights from the session. (Watch the video to view the full presentation.)

1. Job Description
According to Tan, if you post a generic job description, you’ll find a generic teacher. Tan advised retailers to think about what you really want before advertising. Most importantly, look for the right fit with your business culture. Don’t cut and paste other job descriptions. Be specific, and make it exciting. Note that the more descriptive you are, the better you will find the right fit for your business. Also, use your imagination and spend time writing what you want.

2. Phone Screening
Don’t email, but call your prospects. Tan modeled a sample call and hit on specific points, such as asking if this is a good time to talk, stating what you’re looking for, reviewing the candidates resume and experience, and confirming days and hours and long-term availability.

• Introduce yourself.

• Tell them the job they applied for.

• State that this is not a job offer, but a phone screening.

• Evaluate their reaction and tone. Are they excited and conversational?

• Ask if they’re authorized to work for a U.S. employer? If not, stop here.

• Review the hours you need them. If they’re not available, stop here.

• What are their pay expectations? You can give them a range and negotiate at the interview.

• Ask them what else they do.

• If you’re in doubt or not feeling a connection, don’t schedule an interview. Keep looking, or you can also FaceTime.

• Before the interview, ask for a minute of playing or teaching, a or YouTube link, so you have an idea of the teacher’s caliber.

3. The Interview
Tan recommended spending time with a candidate because you want to get to know them and make sure they’re the right fit for your organization. This teacher is going to be your future.

• Offer a tour of your facility. Watch their reactions. Do they seem excited about your school or facility? Do they know your brand? Are they good communicators? Ask if they visited your website, and make a mental note.

• Block off an hour of your time. Sit them down, and go through the same job description you posted. Don’t go over an hour.

• Interview when there are no clients around. Tan will schedule interviews during the day because it works best for her.

• Review hours of availability. Ask if they’ve applied anywhere else to see where they’re at.

• Are there any hours or days that are conflicts, previous commitments, gigs or vacations?

• Ask about their teaching philosophy and values.

• Make it conversational and build trust.

• Ask what other things they like to do, such as hobbies, gigs, and lifestyle.

• Make sure there’s a cultural fit with your company.

• Talk about curriculum (if applicable).

• Have them play for you. Some people are good musicians who don’t know how to teach and vice versa.

• Do they have emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and connect with students?

4. Post-Interview Follow Up
You may like this person, but don’t hire someone on the spot. Hire a teacher when you don’tneed a teacher, so you’re not desperate. Wait at least two or three days after the interview. Then, call and ask the candidate about the position. If they sound excited, they probably want the job. They may tell you they’re no longer interested.

Discourage them from the position. You’re going to go back to the first point again and run through all of the criteria of the job, to be clear. Talk about the pay range, based on their teaching experience and formal training. Tell them you’d like to meet and go over agreements with them.

5. Formal Documents
Schedule this meeting for a separate day. Sit down and explain the documentation point by point before they sign. Make sure it’s an employment agreement written by employment agency or a lawyer. You want everything to be legal and binding, as well as HR compliant. You want to make sure everything you’ve talked about is in this document. (As a side note, even though it’s a contract, Tan shared that she prefers to call it an agreement.)

Tan’s insider tip: Ask candidates the right questions. Be prepared, and you’ll find the right teacher for your program.