You’ve received the phone call from the principal. You’ve been called in for your first teaching job interview. This is excellent news. You should celebrate, give a little fist pump. After you’re done celebrating, it’s time to prepare. What do you say to get this teaching position? Teaching job interviews are high stakes conversations, and if you’re lucky enough to land one, you have to have a game plan. Below are seven tips for success that will most likely make you a more appealing candidate during your interview.
1) Know your audience. Are you interviewing with the principal, department head, superintendent? Each will ask different questions, for which you need to prepare different answers. Department heads will mostly likely ask subject area questions. Principals will ask you about your ability to work as a member of the staff and gauge your interest in extra-curricular activities. Superintendents will discuss your educational philosophy.
2) Be friendly but not funny. Be affable, likable, social. Do not crack jokes. There are two types of administrators: serious and insecure. Serious administrators don’t want to hear your jokes, and those that are insecure want to be more popular than you. Joking will only get you a trip back to the job posting boards. Be humble but not self-deprecating.
3) Answer the questions. Interviewers have very specific pieces of information they want to know about you. Stay on point and answer their questions directly. If you’ve only student taught, use that as your experience. Give them specific grade levels and classes taught. Don’t blather on about how much you love teaching, that’s pretty much expected. Mention it once that get to the meat of their question.
4) Be confident. If you want a job, get in the habit of saying yes. “Can you coach debate?” your answer “But of course!” “Can you coach soccer?” “Yes, sign me up.” Teaching is only half of the job. They will want to perform extracurricular duties, this is almost of greater concern than your skill in the classroom (sadly).
5) They will ask you if you have questions…ask one and only one. They want to see that you’re engaged in the interview. They do not want you to begin an interrogation.
6) And the most important piece of advice…once they’ve shown interest in you, stop talking. Make the sale then be quiet. At this point you can only talk yourself out of a job.
Good hunting, and I’ll see you in the trenches!