Interviewing season is upon us...are you prepared? This post is geared toward interviewing preparation with, what I hope you find to be, helpful information! In order to be invited for an interview, you have to first apply to school districts (check back to the first post of January 2014), so make sure that step is complete. But it's what you do after you are invited for an interview that will help you obtain a teaching position...being prepared! Below are some easy steps to keep in mind when preparing for an interview, as well as afterward!
Prior to the interview:
Do your research, which includes going to each school district's website as well as the state Department of Education to find any statistics you can on the district.
Dress professionally appropriate, and keep in mind that the first impression made is usually within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Make sure to dress professionally. This can include: a suit, simple shirt or blouse, tie, belt, dark leather shoes, closed toe shoes (women), pantyhose (women); make sure your clothing is pressed and in good condition; your hair should be styled so it is not in your face; simple jewelry should be worn, with no obvious piercings (except ears); tattoos should not be visible; and men should have conservative facial hair. Last, and most certainly not least, you should have a firm handshake. It is imperative to have a professional handshake to display professionalism and confidence.
Practice with as many professionals in the field of education as you possibly can to get feedback and become a stronger interviewer.
During the interview:
Arrive alone, and make sure to be present for the interview 10-15 minutes early.
Be polite to everyone you come into contact with! Also, make sure to smile as you introduce yourself. Be aware of your verbal and non-verbal communication - remain enthusiastic and positive!
Questions you should be prepared to answer may include themes such as: personal and/or educational background and experience; why you want to be a teacher; teaching philosophy; diversity; teaching methods; professional and/or community collaboration; classroom management; relationships with students, colleagues, administration, and parents; assessment; curriculum/standards; strengths/weaknesses; and professional aspirations and goals. Although these are not all encompassing, they are some of the most prevalent topics that will be discussed in teacher candidate interviews.
Questions you should be prepared to ask need to be thoughtful and genuine. Try to avoid asking questions that are easily found on a district's website, as that may reveal you did not conduct in-depth research prior to the interview. Your questions can include themes relating to: teacher support; school and/or district culture; grade level or content team collaboration; professional development opportunities; intervention resources for students, as well as specific questions you may want to know about school and/or district leadership.
After the interview:
Follow-up with a thank you note, letter, or e-mail, depending on the interview circumstances.
I wish each of you the best of luck on your upcoming interviews! Make sure to utilize your resources such as host teachers, principals, staff and faculty, and career services professionals - we all want you to succeed!
Mrs. Michelle Bollinger, M.P.A.
Education Career Services Coordinator
University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri)