All other things being equal: Michigan principals’ hiring preferences

Journal Title/Source

Journal of Ethical Educational Leadership

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Journal Article


School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service


More than 500,000 teachers are hired each year, predominantly by school principals who rely heavily on interviews and look beyond teacher candidates’ job-specific characteristics to determine the candidates’ likely effectiveness as well as their fit within the organization. A need exists to better understand school leaders’ biases and tendencies when hiring teachers. In this study, 308 Michigan public school principals answered 10 hypothetical, but realistic questions about teacher candidate characteristics. The principals preferred candidates who were willing to coach sports, possessed a high grade point average, and came from a teaching family. Principals were least likely to hire candidates who had to repeat courses, had visible tattoos, or were obese. The principals in this study displayed significant biases toward and against certain teacher candidate characteristics, regardless of whether the characteristic related to the duties of a teacher.

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