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Profile of a Successful Job Applicant (Part 1)

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This is Part 1 of a two-part blog posting.

Recently, I heard from a graduate who landed a Grade 2 general elementary education position. I asked her about her experience with the job search, hiring process, and advice for other job applicants. Here are responses to some of my questions:

What was the timeline for the job search and hiring process?
Noticed the Grade 1/2 job postings on the teacher recruitment website: June 16
Application due: June 29
Selected for an initial interview: July 19
Initial interview: July 24
Selected for a second interview: July 26
Second interview (lesson): July 31
Offered position: August 1
Officially approved by school board: August 14
Reported to first day of work: August 29

How did you prepare for the teacher job search?
Before applying, I frequently checked the site for job postings because the schools/districts I planned to apply for teaching positions use this service to advertise positions.

I set up my profile. It takes time to set it up and is very important. It is the first impression potential employers have of me and what I can offer. After setting up my profile, I continued to check the site for job postings.

What was the hiring process like?
I noticed a Grade 1/ 2 job posting on June 16 and I applied for the positions the same day. The application included all parts of my profile--a cover letter, references, transcripts and responses to two short essays. The essay writing prompts included:
1. In less than 300 words, write about a currently important, critical issue in education.
2. What special job-related skills and/or qualifications acquired from employment or other experiences do you feel may be helpful in considering your application.

After completing the short essays, I clicked "apply" and my application was available for employers to view online. I could track my application and know when it had been viewed and whether I was invited for an interview, hired or not hired.

The district received 300 applications for the Grade 1/ 2 job postings. On July 19, I was selected for the first of two interviews, scheduled by the employer through the site.

Tell me about the initial interview.
On July 24, I showed up to for the first interview early to gather my nerves. There was one teacher candidate waiting before me. Another person arrived for her interview about 15 minutes later.

The interview committee consisted of six people: two principals (one from the school with the job opening and another school principal in the district); three teachers; and the reading specialist. This initial interview lasted about 30-40 minutes. Since there were so many people interviewing for the position, they did not want us to submit hiring portfolios. Instead they requested a copy of my profile posted at the teacher recruitment site. I brought for committee members folders containing my profile information, as well as an example of a lesson plans and photos of teaching as additional evidence of her knowledge and skills.

What interview questions did the committee ask?
Some of the questions they asked me included:
- Tell me about yourself. What is a strength and what is a weakness?
- What is a unique quality specific to you? (I mentioned RTI-Response to Intervention, a school-wide management program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, use of scientist notebooks, and Smart Board.)
- What does your behavior management system would look like?
- What would your classroom look like if we walked in?
- Provide a specific example of how you used technology in an interesting way.
- What I do you know about the school?
- How would you use media resources in your teaching?
- How do you feel about co-teaching? How would you handle co-teaching if your teaching partner disagreed with you?
- How would you handle a parent who was not happy?
- What methods of formative assessment do you use?
- What ways would you involve parents in your room?
- What questions do you have?

What happened after the initial interview?
On July 26, I checked my account at the teacher recruitment site. I was invited to a second interview that was scheduled July 31. For this interview, I taught five Grade 1-2 students with varying needs in the school's extended school year program. The interview committee specifically asked me to teach a 20-minute read aloud lesson followed by an activity focusing on comprehension. The committee for this interview was smaller and included the school principal and two Grade 1 - 2 teachers from the initial interview.

Not knowing the physical environment and available teaching materials, I brought everything I needed to teach the lesson, including a list of clear rules and expectations, stickers for positive reinforcement based on the expectations, a blanket to sit on, clipboards to write on, pencils, crayons, and materials for hands-on lesson. Also, I provided each committee member a folder of her lesson plan and extension lessons and activities.

What was the outcome of the hiring process? How did you hear about it?
Hired! The principal called me on August 1 and offered me the position. The school board officially approved the hiring on August 14. I reported to my first day of work on August 29!

In the next blog posting, I will share this successful job applicant's advice to others searching for teaching jobs.

- MacGregor Kniseley, Professor
Department of Elementary Education
Rhode Island College, Providence, RI

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