How to Give a Great Interview: Teacher Tell All
Next week, you're going to meet with a panel of principals, parents, and administrators in your dream school district. How can you make sure you shine? Scholastic.com asked those in the know — teachers who've been there, and done that, in both private and public settings, and most important, landed the job — to share their best advice.
Before You Go . . .
- Dress for Success. Look neat, professional, and friendly, no matter how progressive the school may be. Wear a colorful scarf or tie, but skip the shiny jewelry. What you wear conveys that you are organized, respectful, and self-confident.
- Do Your Homework. Use the library, the Internet, ask friends and colleagues, and find out in advance about the school's philosophy, extracurricular activities, special programs, expenditure per student, and typical class size. The more you know, the better equipped you are to ask good questions.
Ask Yourself Why. Interviewers will ask you why you want to teach, so it's a good idea to work this out for yourself beforehand. One teacher wrote a "philosophy statement" that she brought to every interview, which briefly described why she loved teaching and her unique approach. Another teacher polled every colleague she knew for likely questions to expect, and then rehearsed her answers in advance.
- Prepare your portfolio. A few shining letters of recommendation from supervisors and your resumé may fit here — or you might send them under separate cover. Choose a project or two that shows your strengths best, our teachers advise. Include photos and writing samples that show your approach to curricula, cooperative learning, how you set up your room — and show them off with pride. "This is no time to be shy!"our advisors agree. "It's grown-up show and tell!"
Questions to Answer — And Ask!
It's essential to be ready with questions for your interviewers, once they're done grilling you. Here are some questions they're likely to ask you — and a few you can ask in return.
"Tell us about yourself." Bring a resumé to share, says one of our experts. It's a good idea to have it in front of you to quell nervousness. And put a positive spin on your previous experience. If you find something good to say, you'll be better regarded.
"Why do you want to work here?" Talk about your strengths. Share what you know about the school and district and point out how you'd be a great fit.
"What would you do if a lesson didn't work well?" Identify weaknesses honestly, and indicate that you'd seek out the advice of fellow teachers. Collegiality counts!
"How do you teach reading? Math?" Your approach and materials show the panel if you are in tune with the district and up on teaching trends. Use your portfolio now.
- "What are your personal and professional goals?" Schools want teachers who are learners, who have bigger dreams than a classroom can hold. Talk about your skills and where you want to put your energy to use in the school community.
Finally, here are a few questions you can ask the panel:
- What kind of professional development opportunities does the school offer?
- What is the technology program like?
- How involved are parents, and how do teachers communicate with them?
- What kinds of teaching materials do you use?
"Remember that the school has to sell itself to you, too," says one of our teacher experts. "The more questions you ask, the more self-confident you seem." Be sure to write a thank-you note within days of your visit, our experts agree: "When you're going to be working closely with people, it's important to show you care from the start."