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How Should I Prepare for an Interview?

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Many pre-service teachers think they need to memorize the 'right answer' to interview questions or participate in many mock interviews. First of all the bad news: there is no 'right' answer. In addition, while the mock interview may help you calm down and feel more confident about an interview, the best preparation is to think deeply about your teaching career.

I spent many years as a school district recruiter, and I was never impressed by the rehearsed answers. Interviewers don't look for stock responses to their questions; they look for sincere responses. To best prepare for an interview session, spend time reflecting or even journaling about teaching. Think about the following as a starting place:

• What prompted you to become a teaching in the first place? Has it been a life-long dream, an unfulfilling first career, or a love of learning?
• Honestly and genuinely think about your priorities in this career. What is the most important thing you will do in a day? Every day?
• When you think about your first day in your own classroom, what do you see? How are the students? What kind of classroom environment will you create and specifically how will you do it?
• Research is clear that students make greater gains if their parents have a meaningful relationship with the school. How will you create this? What methods might you use to make parents partners of learning? Might you create a website? Host parent nights?

Take a look at the Job Search Handbook published by AAEE. This is a wonderful resource of hints and guidance offered by professionals in the field. Scanning the articles will help you gain a good mind set for your interview. I have several students who use this as a source of potential interview questions. They practice answering one or two questions each day to help them be prepared, calm, and confident for that critical interview.

Too often, I found applicants who spewed out rehearsed answers to my questions thereby defeating any chance I had in getting to know them as educators and as people. Any interviewer is searching to know who you are, what you value, and what you bring to students. Make their jobs easy! Don't practice the 'right' answer; prepare yourself to give the genuine answer.

Jeanne Gilbert
Assistant Professor
Student Teaching Services
Regis University, Denver CO

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