Instruction & Curriculum

Interview Tips from the Other Side of the Table

Whenever my school has interviews for an open position, I do my best to be able to be a part of the process. Our candidates are always really impressive, and there are just a few things, for me, that set certain candidates apart. I’ve come up with four areas that could make or break a candidate, and here they are:
Nerves. Nerves. Nerves.
Some people are so visibly shaken during an interview, that it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. My only advice is to practice. Practice answering every question and do it with a friend or in front of the mirror. Practice your greeting and your handshake and looking into people’s eyes. I know how silly it feels, but the more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be. Confident candidates didn’t giggle nervously, sweat profusely, stammer, and just looked like a better candidate. If you know you’re a good teacher – own it. Be confident and know your worth. What has helped me in the past, is finding the friendliest face in the room and making a point to look at them when you’re talking, it will calm you down.
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Be Knowledgeable
Know your stuff. Do some research on the school. If the school is big on Marzano’s strategies – know these and have examples ready to share. If it’s a middle school position you are interviewing for, know the middle school philosophy. If it’s a school that prides itself on its diversity, think of ways you can help support this mission. If you are applying for a 7th grade Language Arts position, make sure you know your YA literature. If you are new to teaching, and don’t have much experience, that’s okay, but show that you are eager and willing to learn and apply the latest research in pedagogy. One of the candidates I recently interviewed for a middle school math position shared a couple of teaching strategies he had recently read about, and cited the articles and webinars he learned them from.  This really impressed me and definitely set him apart from the other candidates.
Look and Act the Part
Dress like a winner. Wear a suit or blazer or professional dress. When candidates came in with low-cut shirts, or flip-flops, or extremely high heels, I could feel my administrators tense up. School Districts want to hire professionals, and you have to be able to look the part. Remember, as a teacher you represent a school district, and sometimes the community will want you to look and act a certain way. Part of me wants to point out that how you look shouldn’t matter, especially if you’re an awesome teacher, but unfortunately it is all about playing the game and looking the part. So put on the fancy blazer, smile, and practice your handshake.
Be positive. When asked to share some experiences about co-teaching, one of the candidates we interviewed completely dissed another teacher saying, “She taught it all wrong, so I had to reteach it to all my students, and that was annoying.” This makes you look grumpy, uncooperative, and willing to sell out another teacher. It’s okay to mention the obstacles to co-teaching, but also provide solutions and ways you’ve overcome those obstacles. Don’t put down your current or past co-workers, it will only make me think you’d do the same to me. Show that you are flexible, collaborative, and a good team member and you will gain a few allies when it comes down to choosing the best candidate.

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