The market is flooded and the openings are limited in education but there are thousands of graduates looking to get into the teaching profession. There are a thousand more who went back to school to be a teacher and now trying to get your foot in the door and “get my own classroom” I visited many job fairs and the focus is very heavy on “Check out my resume”. Yes, don’t get me wrong the resume is important to get an interview, but that is where the impact of the resume vanishes. A resume gets you an interview – an interview gets you a job. As a principal for 11 years and a district leader the past two, I wanted to share some suggestions to help all going through this process right now. The below “tips” will help prepare an aspiring educator for an interview. Tis the season and jobs are posted, so it is on you to go in and impress.
Take a deep breath and relax. The person who is interviewing you knows that almost everyone has some degree of nervousness during the process, and will not think you’re weird or hiding something if you’re fearful – it’s just a normal part of the process.
Nothing can sabotage an interview like being under-prepared. Review your resume, especially if you haven’t read the entire document in a while. Make sure that your contact information and references are up to date. Bring paper and pen to take notes during your meeting.
Find out about the school district online or by asking other people. Learn what kind of services they offer, what type of “image” they have in your community, and what kind of people work there. Many interviewers are impressed when you take the initiative to learn more about their school, possibly giving you an edge over other applicants.
It’s not OK to list jobs you didn’t have, or describe responsibilities that were never yours. Give truthful verbal responses, also, even if you think the interviewer wants to hear something else. Being honest, however, does not mean you have to provide an answer that describes your entire life story. An interviewer will appreciate a thorough, honest, well-thought-out and to-the-point response.
Practical ways of Presenting Yourself.
Dress well, as appropriate for the position you are applying for. Casual dress pants and a button-down shirt are fine for many positions, while others require a suit and tie. Ask someone you trust if your clothes are appropriate. Avoid slouching or leaning back in your chair – this gives the impression that you’re disinterested and not taking the interview seriously. Keep eye contact with the person you’re meeting with, but don’t stare at them. Greet them with a firm (not bone-crushing) handshake – three shakes is the number of pumps in a traditional handshake.
Say hello, thank you, you’re welcome, and have a great day in all the appropriate spots. Turn off your cell phone
Sometimes the best resume, smartest cover letter, or even the strongest interview skills are not enough to persuade an employer to hire you. To get a job, you also need people who can sing your praises, people who can attest that you’re a star employee. Have names and contact info prepared.Also, talk to each reference to get permission to use his/her name and help them prepare to talk about you. Your references are doing you a big favor. “They’re not only investing their time for you, but they’re also putting their own reputation on the line. Never forget to thank your reference after.
Remember that the interview is also your chance to “interview” the district. Be inquisitive (but not pushy) about work environment
Questions and More Questions.
Many interviewers ask standard questions – you might want to review them, come up with great answers, and practice them. Practice these questions with someone – say your answers out loud to hear them before your interview. I broke them up into types of questions to help you frame your practice.
Here are a few:
Possible Mock Interview Questions
- Do you consider yourself a risk taker? (Give an example to back-up your answer.)
- Some people say you should demand respect. Do you agree or disagree?
- How do you feel if a student does not meet a deadline?
- When students say they want their teacher to be fair, what do you think they mean?
- How would you create and promote a safe atmosphere in your classroom?
- Describe what you consider to be the model classroom. What would a typical day look like in this classroom?
- Are you an empathetic person? Give an example.
- Describe an outstanding teacher. What makes this educator outstanding?
- What does “teamwork” mean to you? Give an example.
Focus is on Experience
- Describe your student teaching experience(s). What are some of the most significant things you learned from
- your cooperating teacher(s)? What did you like/dislike?
- What is your knowledge of and experience with standards-based education?
- What experience have you had with students from culturally diverse backgrounds?
- When did you first become interested in teaching?
- What opportunities have you had to bring multicultural education into your classroom?
- Describe your experience(s) working in an urban setting.
Focus is on Instructional Skills
- Describe the teaching techniques or strategies that are most effective for you.
- How would you include cooperative learning in your classroom?
- How would you identify the special needs of your students?
- What do you include when you write learning objectives?
- What techniques do you use to keep students actively involved during a lesson?
- What methods would you use to access student learning?
- Describe different student learning styles and how you adjust lessons to benefit those differing styles.
- Do you feel that the teacher should be responsible for developing objectives or should they be provided in the curriculum?
- How do you deal with the unmotivated student?
- Is drill and practice important? How and when would you use it?
- What would you do if 50% of your class did poorly on a test?
- How would you incorporate technology in your classroom?
- Assuming you have adequate equipment, how would students be allowed to use technology in your classroom?
Focus is on classroom management/discipline
- Describe your philosophy regarding discipline.
- What techniques would you use to handle discipline problems that may arise in your classroom?
- What was the most challenging discipline problem you’ve encountered and how did you handle it?
- Were you prepared to handle this situation? In hindsight, would you have handled this situation any differently?
- What kind of rules do you have in your classroom? (Share an example.) How are they established?
- What is your classroom management plan/style? What are your goals?
- Share three interesting classroom management techniques used in your classroom.
Focus is on relationship building
- What should a principal expect from teachers? What should teachers expect from their principal?
- What kind of principal would you like to work for?
- How would your students describe you as a teacher?
- How do you approach parent/teacher conferences?
- What do you feel is important to know about your students? How do you gather this information?
- Describe your use of paraprofessional aides and/or parent volunteers in your classroom.
- How do you develop self-esteem in your students?
- How do you keep parents informed about the daily/weekly progress of their son/daughter? What vehicles do you use to communicate with parents?
Good luck !!