Every year, even as a rookie teacher, I have had the extreme privilege of sitting in on interviews for both teaching and specialist positions. Every time I have been amazed at the quality of candidates that are available to us but also stumped once in a while when a candidate just isn’t all that prepared. So why not offer up some tips for anyone trying to land that sometime elusive teaching job?
- Be prepared. Yes, I know this sounds like an “of course” but there have been times where I have wondered whether the person even knew where they were interviewing or what they were interviewing for. So prepare for this like you would your first day of teaching.
- Be relevant. Many schools like to see something you have made, whether you bring artifacts, a video, or a link to something. Make sure that the things you bring to show are current and fit the job. If the things you bring have nothing to do with the position you are interviewing for, then don’t bring it. If it fits with the interview bring it up during it, don’t just let it lie in front of you.
- Listen to the question. Teachers tend to like to talk and sometimes we are not the best listeners, this is the time to tune in. Really listen to the question being asked and then answer it. This is not the time to stray off topic or think you know what the question is before it has been completed. You can always ask for them to repeat it.
- Stay current. I was expecting my first child my first year of teaching but that did not stop me from taking classes nor reading books. There simply is no excuse these days to not participate in professional development,so be active in your professional development. Take a class, read books, get connected, do something that shows that teaching is passion, not just a job.
- Research the school. Most schools have websites that provide a description for you to read and then use. We want to know why you want to work for this specific school, not why you want to be a teacher. Make us feel wanted.
- Mention kids. Another “duh” but there have been interviews where the person never mentioned kids or their desire to work with them, that sends up a major red flag.
- Figure out what “team” means. I have never heard of an job that didn’t require someone to work as part of a team, so come up with a great description of what being a team player means to you and make sure it doesn’t just talk about how much you will bring to the team, what will the team bring to you?
- Keep your eyes open. I know nerves can get in the way but if you speak with your eyes semi-closed now is the time to open them up and look at people. This goes for smiling and any other body language that says you are eager, passionate, and with it.
- Share stories but keep them brief. I like hearing about past experiences but only if that story is 100% relevant and brief. So stay on point and share, but not to every question.
- Practice your answers and questions. If you google “teacher interview questions” you will find enough questions to give you a baseline for what to expect. Think your answers through and figure out questions you want to ask as well. It shows you care, that you are motivated, and that this job matters to you.
Of course, there are experts out there that know way more about this than me but this is what i would tell my friends who are interviewing. So good luck to all of those seeking jobs.
After some thought it is now time to add the one I forgot:
11. Google yourself! If you are a new teacher with an online identity; wahoo! However, google yourself before the interview to see what a prospective employer might see and then set up some privacy settings if you don’t like what they find. Results of your awesome blog or schooling is great, pictures of you drinking on Facebook is not.
12. And finally, be excited, be humble, and have questions that you want to ask at the end. I have always asked; What are you hoping to find in a candidate?” because ti allows the interview team to tell you their vision. Remember you are looking for a great fit as well, not just a job.