It’s spring time which means many changes in districts and it is time for interviews! I can’t lie, I love interviews! Does that make me lame? Probably. I have experienced interviews on the phone, in person, and at job fairs. There are a few important tips to rocking your interview, but I also want to share with you how I handled not getting a job I really wanted. Grab a comfy spot and get ready for my tips!
Choosing the Perfect Outfit
While I believe an outfit should fit your personality, you don’t want your outfit to say too much. A pop of color is a good idea for your outfit but the color should not make a statement. Stay away from reds, oranges, and yellows by sticking to cooler colors. It never hurts to go with your basic black pants, but try to find a top which matches your personality. Some ideas would be a ruffle sleeve, striped shirt, a blazer, or a fit and flare. If you are wearing a dress, be mindful of the weather (no one wants a peep show as you walk to and from your car) and the length. Wear shoes that are comfortable and you can walk in easily. The last thing you need is to be worried about tripping! Last tip here, Pinterest is really your best friend for finding an interview outfit. Just remember you are applying in an educational business setting and not the fashion industry.
**Personally I would remove any smart watch you normally wear. It can be a distractor for you during the interview and that is the last thing you need.
Yes You Need to Prep
It doesn’t matter if the interview is your first or your fifteenth, preparation is key! What I like to do is Google “teaching interview questions”, “instructional coach interview questions”, or “principal interview questions.” Some common questions for teaching are:
- Tell me about yourself (try and keep this short and sweet with a touch of personality)
- For first year teachers: What is one thing you think your supervising teacher did well? What is something you would have done differently?
- What technology have you used in the classroom?
- What is your experience with guided reading and/or balanced literacy?
- What is the last book you read?
- What do you do to relieve stress?
- What do you do when you and a colleague have conflict about a curriculum or student behavior issue?
- How will you get parents involved in your classroom and the school?
- What is your personal weakness? What is your personal strength?
- What is your professional weakness? What is your professional strength?
Then, I print the questions off and study them. I come up with answers to each question and practice saying the answers aloud. Next, I invite a friend over (one who will give me honest feedback) and have them ask me the questions. This allows me to practice delivering my answers to another person and to receive feedback. Practicing will also help you cut down on the filler words such as like, um/uh, and so in the interview.
You also need to seek out information about the school district and/or the position you are applying for. Read the district mission and motto. You can find the district or school’s previous years state testing data, racial backgrounds, Title 1 status, class size, and staff size all online. You can find information about schools on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too!
This is also a great time to come up with questions you want to ask the district. Every interview I have been in, the final question is, “What questions do you have?” It’s a good idea to have 2-3 questions to ask. This shows your interest in the job and that you have done your research!
Day of the Interview
Pee before you leave your prior destination and be at the interview early!! Take a few minutes in your car to collect your thoughts, check your makeup, play your pump up jam, and/or pray. Walk into the building with your head help high and a smile on your face. You only get one chance to make a first impression and it only takes a few seconds for someone to already decide how the interview is going to go.
During the Interview
Handshake and a Smile
Start with a firm, confident handshake and a smile. No one wants to be man handled or shake a limp noodle. I always want to smack a person’s hand away when they put their hand out for a shake but it’s more like they’re the queen and I’m supposed to kiss it. An approachable and sincere smile will always get you far in life!
This can be the hardest part because you are so nervous! Take your time when answering questions and speak loud enough for everyone in the room to hear you. It is okay to pause if you need to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Just make sure they don’t think you have zoned out. Remember, you prepped for this! You know how to answer these questions.
Be sure to look at everyone in the room. If the interviewers are taking turns asking questions, make eye contact with the person who asked the question. If it is just you and one other person, it’s okay to break eye contact every once and a while. Try your best to maintain eye contact the whole time. Places to not look would be; your watch, your phone, the door, or the window.
Before leaving, remember to ask your questions about the district, school, or the position. Even if they don’t invite you to ask questions, ask anyway. This shows you are really interested in the position. Be sure and ask them what their timeline is for making a decision on the position. Then, thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to hearing from them.
What To Do If You Don’t Get The Job
Take some time for reflection and think through which questions you answered well and which ones you could improve on. The questions you don’t feel as confident about will give you insight on what you need to work on for future interviews. For example, in one interview I was asked about my experience coaching other teachers. At the time I was a teacher in the classroom and I did not have much experience coaching other teachers. When I was not chosen for this particular job, it fueled me to think outside of the box on how to grow my experience coaching teachers. I volunteered to have a student teacher, I asked a teacher if I could help her after school on areas she felt needed improving, and I started this blog! So, the next time I interview for a similar job I will have experiences to share.
I wish you the best of luck in your interview! Please comment with what helped you nail the interview!