How To Hire a Music Instructor
Marketing All-Star Jay Abraham once said, “Hire slow-fire fast.” There is so much wisdom in that statement. I’d like to add “interview smart”.
For years I had no strategy when I hired a music instructor. I would ask prospective instructors questions based on the details in their resumes. I was focused on their musical background and training. I was hiring them to teach music so shouldn’t I ask them about music and their experience teaching?
This approach was not getting me the information I needed. Knowing how to conduct an effective interview requires a game plan and strategy. Having a list of set questions allows you to better focus on listening and formulating an opinion. The best kind of interview questions for music instructors will reveal more of their personal character as opposed to their musical ability.
A great music instructor is a great communicator. They are able to take an abstract concept and bring it down to earth for their student. The interview is an opportunity to see how the interviewee breaks down and simplifies complex ideas.
Music Instructors Bring Your Business to Life
The product you offer is music lessons. Your music lessons are served up by your instructors. Your instructors bring your product to life and create an experience for your customers. This experience is arguably more important than the music education the child receives. More important in regards to how much your students enjoy playing music and how much they love your music teaching business.
Music Lessons Aren’t a Commodity
All service industries have this challenge. Music lessons aren’t a commodity so the value is in how the service is delivered. Your teaching staff is a reflection of you and your brand. The better you understand the soul of your business, the better you’ll be at hiring the right people. The better you understand and can articulate how your business helps people and impacts the world, the better judge you will be in identifying music instructors that are likely to bring that reality to life.
What Interview Questions Can Reveal
Music instructors with knowledge, skill, and expertise are important. But what’s more important is how well your instructors reflect your brand and how they make your customers feel. You want to ask interview questions for music instructors that will reveal more of their personality as opposed to their knowledge.
Music instructors create a complex 4-part relationship in your music studio. These relationships include the relationship of…
- The child and the instructor
- The parent and the instuctor
- You and the instructor
- Your staff and the instructor
Go With Your Gut
It’s important to be mindful of these dynamics as you go through the hiring process. It’s important that you step back and imagine how this candidate will be received by these 4 different players.
I encourage you to ask the following questions to yourself right after conducting an interview. Your emotions and gut feeling are fresh right after the completion of a conversation with a job candiate.
- Does this person strike you as a remodel for your students?
- Does this person display the social skills to engage children?
- Does this person seem like someone I would enjoy having in my professional life?
- Does this person’s personality compliment the other personalities on my staff?
8 Interview Questions for Music Instructors
1. Who’s your favorite musician or composer?
One of my favorite interview questions. It’s a curveball and softball question rolled into one. It helps the interviewee relax since they are going to start off talking about something they probably have strong opinions about.
- Take note of their response. Not their words but how they deliver them.
- Do they seem relaxed and animated or flat and guarded?
- Do they seem eager to answer the question or do they seem concerned about answering it the way you want them to?
2. What makes your favorite artist so outstanding?
The softball question from #1 becomes a little more complex. This question tests a candidate’s ability to be expressive. They will have to dig a little deeper into their thoughts to come up with a thoughtful answer. This question puts them in a position where they have to explain musical concepts. This, of course, is something that they will have to do in a lesson.
3. What qualities do you think a good teacher should have?
This is a great way of finding out if the applicant’s philosophy towards music education is in sync with your studio. It’s another way of asking “What type of teacher do you aspire to be”.
4. Have you ever been in a position of leadership? If yes, What were your greatest challenges and how did you handle them?
A more thoughtful, introspective candidate is likely to handle this question well. I have found that people with leadership experience often better understand the dynamics of the teacher/student relationship. They often have more animated or strong personalities. These are all great attributes for a music teacher. A music teacher ultimately needs to make music fun.
5. How would a former student describe you as a teacher?
This question is related to #3 so I don’t always ask this back-to-back. This question encourages the interviewee to discuss their strengths and abilities from a different perspective.
6. Tell me about an instructor or mentor that has inspired you.
This question creates an opportunity for the prospect to tell a story. Being a good storyteller is important for music teachers. Storytelling is a great way to engage students and help them with focus.
7. What is a common musical concept that students struggle with? How do you approach this in your lessons?
Troubleshooting is an essential skill for any instructor. This question puts the candidate in teaching mode. Be prepared to throw out a musical challenge to see how they respond. (i.e. Student is unable to transition to chords smoothly, Student slows down in a section)
8. Is there anything in your personal life that could impact your ability to get to work on a consistent basis?
The question is an invitation for the prospect to reveal any prior commitments or family issues that could impact their ability to work. Caring for family members, lack of reliable transportation, school, and touring bands are all issues I’ve dealt with as an employer. Some of these issues are more disruptive to business than others. It’s important to address any of these issues upfront.