I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in interviews, but let’s just say I’ve been through enough to know what to and what not to say in a teacher interview. During my senior year of college, I did everything I could to get the interview at the schools of my choice. I applied wherever I wanted and researched by butt off to see which schools would be compatible. I was very lucky to get an interview at most schools I applied to. My resume was apparently good enough that administrators wanted to see what I was all about. With as many interviews as I did, no one grabbed the bait I was providing. Yes I was young and inexperienced, but come on I know I wasn’t saying the wrong things.
Every phone call I received led to disappointment and I stopped picking up the phone when I saw the caller ID pop up. I’ve heard everything from:
“You did very well and there is nothing that you did wrong, but we just went a different route.” To…
“You’re not from the area and you don’t know anyone here.” To…
“We were very impressed by your credentials, but we want someone more experienced.”
Not until my final interview did I receive that one phone call I had been eagerly waiting for. I reflected upon what went different, what I said, and how I acted. Every little aspect that I evaluated was different. Different in a good way.
I took what I learned from that one interview and applied it to future interviews. After teaching three years already, I moved to a different part of the state and started searching for another job. I want to share with you want I have learned over the years during my interviewing process.
I started researching and applying for jobs that interested me. I applied for an elementary teaching position in a town which had a population of 5,000. This one elementary position had 180 applicants.
In small town, USA!!
For only one position!!
My mind was blown.
The principal narrowed down the candidates to 8 and I was one of the chosen few. Yes, I nailed the application and resume process but was I going to the interview? The eight candidates were required to provide an online video interview which we had to answer 5 questions in 5 minutes. After each candidate recorded their responses to the questions, the principal said he would call in the top 3 applicants to be interviewed face-to-face. With the online video platform the school district was using, the candidates were able to see everyone’s interview video. I don’t think the school district intentionally set it like that, but all of the candidates took advantage to see the competition.
This was one of those rare opportunities to get an insight on how others would answer the same questions I just answered. It was interesting to see how my video interview differed from my competition. I observed applicants reading like robots reciting from a script, some applicants admitted that they just now looked at the questions, while some didn’t even follow the principals requests and time limits. I had a really good feeling about this. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but my video was different from everyone else’s.
I got called in for the face-to-face interview because my video was different and here is why:
- I was prepared. I read those questions the moment they were sent to me. I wrote down my answers and practiced in front of a mirror prior to video recording myself. I knew how my voice was going to fluctuate with my responses and how my facial expressions would show my emotions. I did not read my answers from my paper but I practiced well enough that I knew my responses like the back of my hand.
- My personality shined. I was lively throughout the video and made it personal to me. It was surprising to see that other applicants didn’t show their true selves…unless their true selves are not smiling and having a strict attitude… then I guess they nailed it. Showing my smile and the way I present myself showed the principal who I was as an educator and future employer.
- I expressed confidence and smiled. I wanted the school district to know that I wanted the job. One applicant that I watched on the video interviews said she didn’t know why the school district should hire her. If you are unsure about yourself, how do you think your future employer will feel about you? Be confident and smile in your interview! If you are unsure how to answer a question it is okay to stop, take a breather, and think about what you’re going to say. The employer will appreciate you taking the time to think about your response. Smiling will make a huge difference. It will make you seem happy and approachable. These are great qualities that employers are looking for!
Just in case you were wondering, they did offer me the job. I ended up turning the position down because I knew I would not be happy with the grade level they wanted me to teach. I was in one of those positions where I had a job already and didn’t need to take a job that I wouldn’t be happy at.
So…After all my rambling, I am here to tell you ways on how you can successfully land that teaching job you want.
5 tips to succeed in your teacher interview:
Superhero Pose: I got this idea from the book Presence by Amy Cuddy. You know how a superhero stands? They stand up straight, hands on their hips, chest puffed out, head held high. This is how you should be! You never see a superhero slouching over, looking at the floor, not talking loud enough. Stand in front of a mirror for no less than 3 minutes before your interview with your hands on your hips and your head held high. That voice in your head needs to be positive self-talk that boosts your self-esteem and confidence. Being confident for your interview is essential.
Prepare: I can’t tell you how many different teacher interview questions there are on the web, but they are all useful. You can never be over prepared for the questions employers will throw at you. Write all the questions on index cards with possible answers on the back. Then, practice over and over until the answers seem natural and sounds like you. Here is a list of 30 interview questions that were used in my interviews from the past few years.
First impressions: I can’t stress enough how important your first impression is to your future employer. Dress to impress, shaking hands firmly to everyone in the room, have your materials organized, and make eye contact with everyone. You want to stand out but in a good way. And of course SMILE!! You want your future employer to see you happy, joyful, and approachable. You’re going to be apart of a bigger community, they want someone who seems to enjoy their job and their life.
Research: Research the school district you are interested in. The school website is the best resource to find teacher contracts, academic calendars, and important information about the school(s) in the district. This is also where you can generate questions to ask your future employer. Maybe you see that the school you are looking at has 1:1 iPad’s. Ask your interviewer how teacher’s utilize the iPad’s in their classrooms or what support the district will provide for professional development?
Give examples: During your interview it is crucial to give examples to your answers. For example, if the interviewer asks, “How do you communicate with parents?” Your response should be personal followed by an example. For instance, “ I communicate with parents via email, Class Dojo, and a weekly newsletter. As you see here, I have a few examples of weekly newsletters that I have sent home in the past. Parents and students are informed of events, tests, and activities that are coming up. They get to see what we are learning in each subject, celebrate our leader of the week, and recognize birthdays of students. I also give important reminders so parents are aware.” Being specific allows the interviewer to get an insight of who you are as a teacher.
I hope my tips gave you a little insight on how to rock your teacher interview and get the teaching job you want. Good luck and happy interviewing!