5 Steps for Hiring Exceptional Dance Instructors

Finding dance instructors for your studio is always a challenge. Finding the RIGHT ones for your studio are even harder. No one wants to deal with faculty that may not align with your studios core values or be put in a situation where you have to fire someone in the middle of the season. Taking a look at your hiring procedures can help ensure that you are hiring the right fit for your studio.

Here are 5 steps to hiring instructors that not only help you find exceptional instructors but will also, hopefully, help you find long term members of your studio team.

  1. Finding Candidates

Finding potential candidates for your studio can sometimes be the hardest part of the hiring process. The first place to look is within your studio. Do your current faculty members have friends or acquaintances they can recommend? Do you have a teacher training program within your studio to train your older students who might be interested in teaching? Depending on your hiring needs and the size of your area, posting a “We’re Hiring” flyer in your lobby can be successful as well. You may have a dance studio family who has a cousin/niece/family friend they could pass the information on to. I have found a lot of great preschool instructors from doing this because a current family knew someone moving to town for college.

Our area has several colleges and universities that are great resources for gaining new instructors. Often times you can easily post on the universities hiring and employment page for free. If the university has a dance program then reach out to a professor or administrator within the school to see if they might be able to recommend someone.

When in doubt, you can always post to a website like Indeed.

2. The Phone Interview

Once you have a potential candidate or a pool of candidates, the first interview in your hiring process should always be a phone interview. This step can save you a lot of time and headaches later. You want to ask the questions that could be deal breakers.

What is your availability? If you are looking for someone that can teach Saturdays and they are not available on Saturdays the interview process ends. Don’t waste your time moving ahead if you don’t have a need for them during the week. “We would love to add you to our sub list for weekday classes but unfortunately we are searching for someone that can be here on the weekends.” (By the way, your sub list is a great way to find future instructors. Look at it like a long term interview process.)

What is your expected pay range? If their expected pay does not align with yours, the interview process ends. You could be open with them about what you are willing to pay, they may accept, but chances are they won’t be happy in the long run and will leave to pursue other opportunities, putting you back in the hiring process.

What styles and ages do you feel comfortable teaching? Someone may have a strong ballet background but being comfortable with preschoolers is very different than being comfortable teaching pre-professional dancers. Do you have time to train someone for an age they aren’t comfortable teaching? Knowing the answer to this questions helps you set up the remainder for your interview process.

You will know by the end of the phone interview if this is a person you want to invite to the next step of the interview process, the in-person interview. If you can, schedule your in-person interview at the end of the phone call.

3. Reference Check

If someone had made it to the In-Person Interview it is time to follow up on their resume and do a few reference checks. This can be done by phone or e-mail. It is surprising how many times this step gets skipped. While we would like to believe that everything on someone’s resume is truthful and accurate, that may not be the case. A person might list they have tap experience and upon further investigation you find out they took tap when they were 8 years old. That is an important detail if you are hiring someone for advanced tap levels.

Here are a few questions to include in your reference checks:

What was it like working with this candidate?

What are some of their strengths?

In what areas could they improve?

Would you hire this candidate again? Why or why not?

Why did this candidate leave your company?

Tell me something about this candidate that might not be on their resume?

You can use this information to tailor your in-person interview.

4. The In-Person Interview

This step not only helps you get to know your interviewee a little better but helps them learn a little more about you and your studio. You are trying to find the right fit for your studio and they need to discover if you are the right fit for them. Your in-person interview should include a tour of your studio and provide them with some background information about yourself and your studio culture.

What are some of your strengths? Weaknesses? These questions can raise so many red flags. Listen carefully and ask any follow up questions you need to. If you need to hire someone that will be in a leadership position or manage performance/competitive groups and they say they struggle with organization, that is a red flag. Proceed with caution.

What are your long term goals? Someone that is actively auditioning or looking to move somewhere else may not be a good fit for your studio if you are looking for a long term team member. If someone wants to own their own dance studio one day, you may need to ask follow up questions. Is this someone that could potentially seek to create a studio that will compete with yours (be sure your faculty agreement includes appropriate language regarding non-compete agreements) or is this someone that you could train and develop into a Studio Director to remove some of the responsibilities from your own plate in the long term?

What are you looking for in a dance studio? Do they want to help develop a competitive team? Do they want a recreational program? We all want to reduce faculty turnover and hire faculty members that are committed to your studio family. Making sure that you can provide those opportunities is a big step in creating that. If you don’t have the opportunities that they are looking for then it might not be a good fit for either of you.

5. Guest Teaching

Once a candidate has made it through the first two interviews it is time to have them teach a class or two. Once again, it is great to schedule this during the in-person interview so you can discuss the details and expectations face-to-face.

Be sure to schedule them to come guest teach the styles or levels you are hiring them for. Sit in the studio and observe the class(es). No matter what is happening in the class you need to avoid speaking up. You want to see how the instructor will manage and handle the class. Things to look for and pay attention to during their class:

  • Appearance – do they look put together and professional?
  • Knowledge – is their class well planned or are they winging it?
  • Class Management – how are they dealing with difficult students or are they giving good feedback to the dancers?

I absolutely recommend sitting in the studio for this instead of watching through a viewing window. A.) You will be able to see and hear everything, B.) it is good to see how they will perform under a little pressure.

Hopefully, your thorough hiring process has led to a new hire and a new member of your dance family. Here is a Hiring Checklist and Interview Worksheet to help keep you on track and organized during your hiring process.

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