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Participating in Interviews

Participating in Interviews

Résumés and Letters     Portfolios     Job Search      Interviewing     Career Steps      Grad School


Your Elevator Speech, or Commercial
Your first 30 seconds and your last 30 seconds are the most important. Make them memorable! Use a story and hook your interviewer. Leave that person thinking you are unique and a perfect fit for their school. Show excitement, willingness to try new things, passion for working with students, and a desire to collaborate and learn.

Often, your first question will be something like, “tell me about yourself” or “what should I know that is not apparent on your résumé?” That is your chance to open the interview with a bomb or a hook that will remain in the interviewer’s mind and set the tone for the whole interview. Prepare a 3-minute (or 5-minute) speech that tells something significant about why you went into teaching, why you changed jobs and how that will make you a better teacher, how you relate to students the interviewer might not think you would relate to, or something of value about your becoming a teacher. Read the story in Preparing for the Interview.

You do have your own story. Think about what sets you apart. What makes you unique? What experiences have shaped your thoughts and feelings? How will these help you be a better teacher?

Think about how you’ll end your interview. Tell a narrative that takes about a minute but shows your interviewer your passion for teaching and your desire to engage your students no matter what it takes. Answer “why should we hire you instead of all the other people who applied for this job.”

Act Professional
You may think this should not even have to be said, but you’d be surprised how many teacher interviewees do not act like a confident teacher someone would trust to teach their child. Think about that.

Things You May Be Asked to Do

Questions You Should Ask
Remember that the main purpose of the interview is to find a good fit. You may want a job, but you also want one at a school at which you can be happy and thrive. Interviewers expect to be asked some questions and will feel it is a bad sign if you do not have any. Although you should review available material about any district or school at which you interview, it would be appropriate to ask, “Although I have looked at your web site, could you tell me about the students who attend this school?” Also ask about:

Read New School? 9 Questions You Should Ask by Maia Heyck-Merlin for more ideas of questions you need to ask either in your interview or later before accepting the position. This is a great resource.

Second round interviews are becoming more common with the tight job market and an overabundance of good candidates. If you get called for a second interview, be grateful, review all your notes and possible questions, dress for success, and be confident.

Deal Breakers
A deal breaker is something you do that is so wrong that you are immediately crossed off the list of possibilities. Some of these are missing common courtesy and politeness, others are faux pas in how you are attired, and others are saying the wrong thing or talking badly about someone. Here are a few deal breakers that principals have mentioned:

About that last deal breaker: most principals like to make up their own minds. They understand about personality conflicts that may occur during student teaching. If your university supervisor has good things to say but your co-operating teacher does not, or vice-versa, you will be able to explain it, diplomatically, by saying that there was a ‘conflict in style.’ It is best to leave it at that unless you are asked for details, in which case you say that you respect the individual in question, and it was a matter of a difference of opinion or style, and leave it at that. You will get points for discretion.

For more deal breakers, read Twelve Ways to Blow a Job Interview. Some of these are more applicable to those applying for higher level jobs like department chair, assistant principal, or principal.

Interview Do’s and Don’ts
The Do’s

The Don’ts
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