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1. Bring the energy that you bring to your classroom!
You might be nervous. You probably are nervous. But if you are applying to be a teacher, the people on the interview committee have to be able to imagine you interacting with kids. If you try to hold back and be too “formal” in the interview setting, it is harder to picture you in the classroom. This doesn’t mean that you should treat it informally – but let that energy that you feel in the classroom come through.
2. What do YOU want to THEM to know?
This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten about interviews. They will be asking the questions, but you, as a candidate, get to do most of the talking. If you were to distill your message down to a few key concepts or phrases, what would they be? Not just “what they want to hear”, but what makes you uniquely you as a teacher? Make sure you work those in during the interview as it makes sense with the questions they ask. Personally, I’ve found that this also keeps me from rambling too much, because it gives some focus to what I want them to remember about me.
3. Answer the question, and be honest.
While you are applying #2, make sure you also answer the questions. This sounds so obvious, right? But it’s amazing how often people don’t follow this rule. If you don’t have a ton of experience with something they are asking about, don’t gloss over it, be honest – but also show a willingness to learn! If you only remember half of the question, ask them to read it again. If you don’t fully answer a question, this will put you at a disadvantage with being compared with candidates who did fully answer the question.
4. Check your resume and cover letter for grammar and spelling and style errors. Then check again.
I remember being disgusted when I was on a committee to hire an administrator and two of our candidates had pretty significant grammatical errors in their cover letters. The culprit? Copy/pasting from old ones. It’s fine to reuse material, but please, read it through, out loud, and make sure it makes sense. In the field of education, people want to see that you can write well and pay attention to detail.
5. Don’t just want any job, want this job.
You know how they always tell you to do some research about the school you are applying for? You don’t need to know a ton of facts or memorize the mission and vision, but you want enough to show the committee that you are actually interested in working at the school, more than just getting a job. This will also help you tailor your answers to interview questions to “click” with what the committee knows about their school, their culture, and this position.
6. Be genuine!
If you remember nothing else, remember this one – be genuine! While skills, certifications, and experience are important, ultimately, the interview is about human connection. You wouldn’t have gotten to that point if you weren’t qualified for the job, so you can lay those worries aside and focus on being yourself. Even when first meeting someone, it is pretty easy to tell when they are trying to act a certain way, and that doesn’t leave anyone with a positive impression. The best way you can connect with the interview committee is to be yourself, as Evan states in the Finale of Dear Evan Hansen:
“Dear Evan Hansen,
Today is going to be a good day.
And here’s why: because today, today at least you’re you and that’s enough.”
And a bonus #7…Make sure you have supervisors on your references list. Peers, friends, and fellow teachers are not as preferred as supervisors or cooperating teachers (if you are coming right out of student teaching).