Things to Remember When Applying & Interviewing for Teaching Positions
Recent graduates who are looking for teaching positions often blur the lines between college life and young adulthood and the start of the professional career. These small reminders might seem like common sense for some but for many a quick review can make the difference between full-time employment, an opportunity to be a substitute, or the likelihood that the administrative team may never call or interview you again.
What number did you give when you applied?
- If you are living at home with your parents or siblings, be sure to give notice that you applied and are expecting a call and make sure they copy down all of the information.
- If you gave your mobile number, what does your greeting sound like? If you sound like you are in a tornado, your ring back tone is not something you would want your grandmother to hear, or your personal greeting is inappropriate, you may not even get a message. Lastly, if your phone is disconnected, schools will not take the time to track you down.
What does your resume look like?
- Again, make sure your contact information is correct. Is the email you list your old school email? If so, change it to something appropriate. If it is [email protected] or [email protected] you may be waiting a long time to be contacted. Create a professional email address that includes your name and is simple.
- Is your formatting goofy? Make sure your certification areas are easy to identify and are located towards the top. Try to be consistent with your spacing, fonts, and bullets.
When you go to the interview...
- Take some time to research the school/program. You can use your research to supplement your responses and often times the interview team will ask you what you know about the school/program.
- If you are not sure where the school is located, drive their prior to that day or leave very early to make sure you are walking in at least fifteen minutes prior to your interview time. If you are late, you will most likely not be offered a position.
- The interview starts as soon as you pull on to school grounds. If you peel into the parking lot like it is a NASCAR race and flip a cig out the window as you pull into a parking spot that is labeled for someone other than a "visitor" word will spread quickly. Turn your radio down, drive like you are in a school zone and carefully park in a visitor parking space.
- Smile! Interact with everyone you have the opportunity to meet. Administrators will often ask for feedback from the people that you interact with while you are waiting. If you are not personable and positive you may not gain much support.
In the interview...
- Thank the individuals for taking the time to interview you.
- Be confident, make eye contact and smile.
- Answer questions providing relevant examples without rambling and digging for the right answer.
- At the end, they will probably ask you if you have any questions for them. Come up with good questions. Not asking anything is not usually a positive thing. Consider asking about induction programs or if you would have a mentor. You can also inquire about opportunities to coach or contribute to the school community.
- Sometimes there is small talk at the end as you are leaving. Be humble and thankful. This is not the time to tell them that you are interviewing other places, complain about getting lost on the way, talk about personal information, or vent about the local community. This will only hurt your chances.
- Do you have an electronic portfolio, binder, or disc that you can send them or leave the interview team with? This might include a recording/video of your teaching, as well items like your resume, lesson plans, and clearances.
- Send a thank you card or email the members that were present. In order to do this successfully, you must listen closely to the names of the interview team when they introduce themselves! Write their names down as soon as possible.
Sometimes people break out in hives, sweats, and stutters. If you are a nervous person, be nervous on the way and on the way home, but being nervous during the interview will only hurt your chances of earning a position. As a professional teacher, you have been trained to talk to people! That is what they are hiring you to do! Give yourself a pep talk before you get out of the car and promise yourself you won't be nervous. If you are able to pull it all together while you are inside, it is perfectly acceptable to scream and hyperventilate on the way home! Be you and do your best!
Matthew J. Erickson, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor - Special Education Department
Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania