RTRL.33: Human Resource Professionals’ Perceptions of Music Teacher Candidate Performance on Applicant Prescreening Measures (Shaw, 2019)


Shaw, R. D. (2019). Human resource professionals’ perceptions of music teacher candidate performance on prescreening interview instruments. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 29(1), 100-114.

What did the researcher want to know?

How do HR professionals perceive music teacher job candidates’ performance on interview prescreening instruments? 

What did the researcher do?

Shaw’s study participants were human resource professionals from five different school districts in one metropolitan area in the Midwestern U.S. Of these five districts, three were using the Applitrack TeacherFit instrument, one was using the Ventures StyleProfile, and one was using Gallup’s TeacherInsight. Except for the district that used the Gallup’s TeacherInsight, the other four districts also screened top candidates before selecting interviewees by administering the HUMANeX Ventures instrument over the phone or in person; this tool is aimed to gauge candidates’ teaching-related characteristics in the themes of drive and values, work style, relationships, influences, and thought processes. Shaw conducted multiple interviews with each HR professional, all of whom were former principals and/or teachers (though none had taught music).

What did the researcher find?

In general, most participants observed that candidates applying for elementary teaching jobs typically performed better than secondary candidates on the prescreening measures, particularly in terms of empathy and relationship building. However, they perceived music teachers to be lacking in these areas regardless of whether applying for elementary or secondary music teaching jobs. Most of the participants expressed “the feeling that music candidates viewed themselves as directors of large programs” rather than focusing on individual student growth. One participant explained, “They’re after excellence, molding a group of kids in a unified way to perform” (p. 107). This HR professional “felt that music teachers he had interviewed thought only about ‘getting a superior rating at contest,’ and were modeling their approach on an ‘old-school’ drill sergeant style teaching more common in the past” (p. 107). 

What does this mean for my classroom?

Music educators should reflect on the extent to which they prioritize large-group performance and program goals over focus on individual students. Being a music teacher is hard! It is easy to get so caught up in doing things the way they’ve always been done that we lose sight of other possible ways of looking at things. Hearing HR professionals’ perspectives that many music teachers “are in it for the wrong reasons,” namely because “they like the performance” (p. 107), might prompt us to step back and ask ourselves some important questions, such as the following:

  • To what extent do I relate to my students as individuals?
  • When a student is struggling, do I try to respond with empathy? Or am I angry because that student’s behavior is detrimental to the group? Why do I feel this way?
  • What is more important to me as a music educator: group performance or individual student experiences? Why?
  • As a music teacher, what am I even there for? What is my larger purpose?

We may not have immediate answers, but reflecting on questions like these can help us remain thoughtful about who we are as educators.

2 thoughts on “RTRL.33: Human Resource Professionals’ Perceptions of Music Teacher Candidate Performance on Applicant Prescreening Measures (Shaw, 2019)

  1. Angie Snyder

    This article is completely invalid. The music classroom is NOT like other classrooms. And clearly those evaluating it have never been in one. The music classroom is about team or group instruction. It is not about indivdual instruction. It is about how each student participates and contributes in an overall group setting. This article proves that there is a complete disconnect between HR and what they are hiring for, let alone comprehension of the subject. Things that are taught in the music classroom professionalism, group consensus, critical thinking, performance under pressure, language acqusition and comprehension, and so much more prepare students for life with applicable skills to every job type. Whoever wrote this artivle or conducted this research is clueless about music teachers and their field. They are more relavant today than ever before.

    1. heathershouldice

      Hi Angie. Sorry if my summary did not accurately convey the participants’ sentiments. I try to keep posts short so that busy music educators have time to read them! The HR folks who participated in this study were trying to say that music teachers were too focused on “their program” and putting on a high-quality performance, not focusing enough on individual student needs. Out of curiosity, what did you mean in saying that music education is “not about individual instruction”?

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