So, you’ve followed my four step program and you’ve landed an interview…or you landed an interview on your own. Congratulations! You are well on your way to finding a job. Here are a few pointers for the interview.
I’ve had quite a few, so I’m basically an expert.
1. Don’t read into your interviewers’ body language.
I’m not kidding when I tell you that during about eighty percent of my interview at CCHS, my future boss was in front of her computer.
I had done a mock interview earlier that summer and I remembered a nugget of wisdom he shared with me, “don’t read too much into body language.” I smiled and nodded wondering exactly what he meant. He mentioned something about principals multi-tasking while interviewing, but I knew that I would dazzle so much that my interviewer wouldn’t want to look away.
I guess the joke was on me.
I kept on answering questions and sharing my sample lessons and throwing in the literature that I swore by (“Teaching Content Outrageously” was a favorite of mine for a while). I smiled my first year teacher smile and was so very excited about whatever it was I was talking about.
At the close of the interview, my principal stood up, smiled, shook my hand, and escorted me to the door. The English Department Chair did the same. I felt like I did well with the department head, but wasn’t so sure that the principal was sold on me. I would just have to wait and find out.
Twenty minutes later, I had a call from the English department head at Chamblee who offered me the position; I was thrilled. I can still remember that feeling; knowing exactly where I would be the following year, embracing the challenge of teaching gifted students (and it is a huge challenge), and being so truly excited about what was to come.
While we were chatting about my new position and I was thanking him profusely for the opportunity, I had a call from an unsaved number. I excused myself from the conversation and picked up the phone. It was the principal from my student teaching school…he wanted to offer me a position at MLK Jr. High School.
The principal at CCHS had been e-mailing the principal at MLK Jr. High School during the interview to see if I was worth my words. This was why she was behind her computer. It all made sense now. He apparently gave me a thumbs up and said that he wanted to hire me; she beat him to the punch. This, my friends, was an awesome feeling. I had done my work and people actually wanted to pay me to do what I loved. I assure you that there is no greater professional security than having options for employment in a down economy.
2. Don’t be afraid to be personal; but always be professional.
I LOVE making my way back to GSU to help future graduates make themselves more marketable in the competitive world of education. It is the most rewarding feeling IN THE WORLD. I know how difficult it is to find a job and how tough it can be when there are no job prospects in sight. This year, the panel of hired graduates hosted a mock interview for one of the members of the cohort. We asked him a few interview questions that are typical in an education interview (see below). He did…okay. Why just okay?
He didn’t say ANYTHING about himself…and he should have. This guy was awesome. Before deciding to become a teacher, he was in the marines for seven years. So, I lobbed a soft one up for him so he could knock it out of the park.
“I see you have military experience; How could that experience help you in education?”
I was hoping he would take one of many routes
-I have a great command of the classroom with the management techniques I learned while being a Marine.
-The discipline I have will help me to stay focused on the task at hand.
-My core first mentality will help me put my students first.
…ANYTHING to help him stand apart.
Do you know what he said?
“I don’t think my military experience will help me in the classroom.”
!!!!!!!! I scribbled furiously in my notes. Poor guy didn’t see what we were trying to do.
ALWAYS play up your experience…even if it isn’t in education. Not to go all “Taken” on you, but you have a specific set of skills that are unique to you. STAND OUT using your personal strengths.
Still, don’t be too personal. When the principal asks the question, “So tell me about yourself,” don’t talk about your boyfriend. The principal is looking for a little personality mixed with heaps of professionalism. If you play softball, talk about how that led you to seeking employment in education.
3. Discuss your interest in investing in students more than your content.
If you don’t like kids more than content, you’re in the wrong environment in K-12.
4. Brush up on your extra-curricular skills.
Sponsoring a sport can get you a job. Period. I always knew I wanted to coach swimming and teach English. I stated that plainly in my interview. I am convinced that my excitement about coaching led to me getting the position.
5. Have student work available (censoring names) with rubrics that you are proud of. Include this in your resume folder/website.
For more on this, refer back to my look good online and on paper posts.
6. ALWAYS write a hand-written thank you note. E-mail is okay. Hand-written notes land jobs.
Next week, I will talk about what to do once you have the job…because keeping your dream job isn’t as easy as you may think.
Be sure to have responses prepared for these typical interview questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What is your teaching philosophy?
3. Why do you want to become a teacher?
4. If I walked into your classroom, what would I see on a typical day?
5. How do you differentiate instruction for different learners?