Research Consortium for Belizean Studies

An Exploration of Preferred Teacher Characteristics and Hiring Tools in Belize

Kyle Ingle
Cynthia T. Thompson
Zipporah W. Abla


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to answer the following research questions: what characteristics do key Belizean educational leaders value in teacher applicants and why? What hiring tools do they use to ascertain whether teacher applicants have the characteristics they prefer? Design/methodology/approach: The authors utilized a mixed-methods approach drawing upon three data sources--face-to-face interviews with Belizean educational leaders, field notes, and government documents. A card sorting activity of applicant characteristics and tools was embedded into the interview. Findings: Informants preferred motivation, caring, subject matter knowledge, and teaching skills. Intelligence was perceived as a potentially negative characteristic unless coupled with other characteristics, such as strong teaching skills, motivation, and caring or the umbrella of other characteristics, such as content knowledge or university training/credentialing. Professional characteristics, such as where one went for teacher training and academic performance, were perceived as having less relative importance than personal characteristics. Least important were applicant demographics. Consistent with the extant literature, Belizean informants perceived the interview, evidence of prior experience, and certification as the most important tools in vetting and hiring applicants. Research limitations/implications: The exploratory study is limited by the small sample of informants, but provides insights into preferences for applicant characteristics and hiring tools in an understudied international context. This study informs future research that may seek to survey representative samples of various stakeholder groups (i.e. general managers and principals) for their preferences in applicant characteristics and hiring tools from across Belizean schools and educational providers. Originality/value: The study adds to limited research on preferred teacher characteristics among educational leaders responsible for hiring and/or working with teachers and to the limited international educational leadership research.