Be a Detective: Do Your Due Diligence When Preparing For Interviews
Think Sherlock Holmes or Carmen Sandiego! An applicant needs to do more than simply know the school district's goals and mission - those should go unstated. Employers across the board, regardless of industry area, note that new hires need to know more about their organization and demonstrate that they took the time to do research in advance of their interview.
As a follow-up to blog entry "Do You Really Want to Work Here?" in February 2014, candidates should have a strong understanding of why they want to be a part of XYZ School. Take some time to consider these strategies:
Who are you interviewing with? Who may you encounter on your interview? Knowing your audience is key. Sometimes you'll been given that direct information from the Human Resources Specialist setting up the interview for you, but if not ask the question: "In order to best prepare, can I ask with whom I will be interviewing with?".
- Suggested Strategies: Talk to your network (Friends, Family, Faculty, Fellow Peers and Alumni, etc.) to see if anyone has any connections. Utilize the power of Google to do your research - previous work history, schools they attended, professional associations, research interests, etc.
How do you get a better understanding about a school's curriculum? In this day and age a lot can be found on a school district's website and many superintendents have a page incorporated into the site as well. Knowing some of this content will help you anticipate questions you may get on an interview.
- Suggested Strategies: Maximize your use of LinkedIn as a research tool. A lot of school districts have "Company Pages" with information and a place where you can see any 2nd degree connections. Be proactive and ask to "Get Introduced". (If this content sounds foreign, please look into LinkedIn at www.university.linkedin.com for more specifics.)
What are the needs and challenges facing of students in that school? Remain student focused in your responses to continue emphasizing your dedication to their success. Yes, the interviewers will want to know about your background and accomplishments, but don't lose focus on what is most important to them (and hopefully, you)...the students.
Suggested Strategies: Again, the biggest strategy to get this information is by asking targeted questions. Think about whom you know that has had any experience with that school district - maybe they taught there, their children or relatives attend there, or someone they are connected with has some insight into the curriculum. Remember even after you've graduated with your degree and achieved your certification, faculty are great resources and usually have prior experience working in the school system.
Ashley Reichenbach, M.A.
Assistant Director, Twardowski Career Development Center
West Chester University of Pennsylvania