Welcome back to part 4 of my series, 10 Tips for Teaching Interview Success. If you haven’t read part 1 ofthe series, which includes tips for writing your resume and finding the right references, you can find it here. You can find Part 2, which
includes tips for filling out an application and designing your portfolio, here. Part 3, which can be found here, includes submitting a sample lesson and researching the "right" answers to common interview questions.
Congratulations! You have submitted your application, noted your interests, and have been asked to come in for an interview. What do you do now?
7. Know Your Audience
First of all, you need to know your audience. What are this school’s strengths? What are their weaknesses? What is the school’s instructional focus, and how can you help them achieve these goals?
|Every School Is a Community: How Do You Fit In?|
If you’re lucky, you may already be familiar with the school culture. Perhaps you completed your student teaching in the building, or you have acted as a substitute teacher there on a regular basis. Maybe you already work there, but are looking to switch grade levels. If any of these apply to you, congratulations, as you have an advantage that most other applicants do not have. However, you might still find these tips useful.
If you do not know the school, the Internet can help. Most school districts, and many individual school site have their own online presence. My own district has a five-year plan, which can be accessed and downloaded from the district’s website. In addition, each individual school site has its own website. Make sure to read all the information on each school’s homepage, plus the principal’s message. You can glean valuable information about the school’s goals by reading through the information posted there.
|Use the Internet to Research Your Prospective School Site|
In addition to the district’s and school’s own official websites, make sure to check out what the community thinks about the site. Go to Great Schools to learn more about the school site.
For instance, is the school a STEM (Science, Technology, and Engineering Magnet) site? Do they emphasize the arts, such as dancing, music, or visual arts? Your undergraduate studies in art education would be valuable here.
|Art Education Can Be a Bonus|
Is there a large population of English language learners? Your additional certification for working with ELL/ELD/ESL students would make you a valuable candidate.
What is the socio-economic make-up of the school? Your experience working with inner-city youths as part of a summer school program or camp would get you extra notice for this job.
|Prior Experience Is Valuable|
Your goal in accessing each school’s information should be to figure out what skills and experience you will need to work there, as well as what kind of teachers the principal is looking for to service the school’s population. If you know the school’s background in advance of the interview, you will be prepared to answer the question as to how you are the best candidate to fill their open position and increase the quality of their programs.
8. Practice the Interview
When I first realized that I wanted to make a cross-country move, I spoke to my principal and was fortunate to receive some valuable advice. In addition, she and her assistant had me go through a couple mock interviews with them. That process was eye-opening. It had been many years since I had last interviewed, and the typical questions had changed dramatically. I was also extremely nervous. By practicing my technique, I improved my fluency and became more professional in my answers.
|Conduct Mock-Interview Practice Sessions|
Since many principals might not have the time or inclination to conduct mock interviews with you, there are other possibilities to consider. Perhaps your friends would be willing to practice with you. This would be especially helpful if your friends are other teachers, as they have a sense of what principals are seeking from their interview candidates. If necessary, you can practice by yourself in a quiet room. Just make sure to have a list of possible questions, along with your answers to practice.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading part 4 of my series: 10 Tips for Teaching Interview Success. I hope you will take a moment to leave a question or comment down below. Please join me next time for part 5, which will include more tips for the actual interview, plus for continuing your job search. Thanks for visiting!
“See” you next time!