I graduated in college in 2010, right on the cusp of when many schools were not hiring or furloughing. As a consequence, I’ve been on MANY interviews, and had a lot of experience tweaking what I do to get immediate, better results. Here are a few of the things I learned.
1). Research the job beforehand.
When I was going in to interview for a position, it’s not enough to just know ‘music teacher’ or ‘science instructor’. I would dig into the district’s school board meeting minutes and see if there were any recent retirements, resignations, etc. Finding out the exact subject you will teach (general music 6-8 or pre-algebra 8th grade) helps you dramatically alter the way you interview, as well as tailor your interview lesson to what the committee is looking for.
2). Research the district beforehand.
Is it rural? Suburban? Title I? Knowing the community of the school you are interviewing in is integral; not only so you can interview well, but so you can determine if you are a right fit for the school. If you’re just trying to get any job no matter what, keep an open mind.
3). Always go around the room and shake EVERY interviewer’s hand.
Simple, yet important. And if you’re the only one to do that, you’ll be that much more memorable in the minds of the interviewers. Unless you have some sort of communicable disease that day.
4). Ask questions.
When an interview is over, the question “Do you have any questions for us?” is almost always asked. USE THIS TIME TO DISTINGUISH YOURSELF! Ask the interviewers what THEY love so much about community, the school, etc. Give them the task of trying to sell their district to you.
5). Send a follow-up note/email.
After the interview, send a note or an email to all of the interviewers thanking them for their time. Even if you don’t get the job, they still picked you out of a huge pile of people for consideration! Sometimes, the interviewers are willing to discuss how you can improve if you are not chosen.
6) Tailor your portfolio to the job.
Once you find out (through the diligent research you did) what the position actually is, you can detail all cover letters, resumes, and actual work in your portfolio to better fit this position. When I first started interviewing, I would bring in a binder that held my portfolio along with examples of student work. Towards the end of my interviewing days, I had upped my game by bringing in an Ipad which was already loaded to my professional teaching website. This allowed the interviewers something neat to peruse whiling interviewing me that wasn’t cumbersome (like a giant binder) and also showed off my technological skills. I made the website easily through weebly.com
7.) Dress appropriately.
Duh, right? Apparently not. Come on folks, do the simple stuff. Guys, wear slacks and a jacket with a tie. Ladies, get a second opinion on your business wear. Just because it’s hanging in the fancy side of Charlotte Ruse doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate, or what your interviewers may think is appropriate. True story; the guy who was interviewing for a job before me went in wearing sandals, khaki pants, and was unshaven. Does it make him a bad person? Of course not! But you will probably hurt your chances at scoring the job.
We’re starting to get deep into the teacher-hiring season. Good luck to everyone out there!