Spending all those years in college to become a teacher still all boils down to one thing – you have to get through a job interview to get hired. Whether you are looking for your first job, or the change in employment comes is the result of a move or career politics, your future is in someone else’s hands.
Teachnet readers have shared their experiences and opinions on the following pages. We’ll focus primarily on the interview process as it relates to the education field.
Preparing for the Interview
Know Yourself – How long has it been since you reflected on who you are? Make a list of your skills and personal interests. What are your philosophies on education and its subcategories, like discipline, behavior and performance in the classroom? And, above all, ask yourself why you like children and want to teach them. Write your list as if you were sharing it with a stranger who doesn’t know you; soon enough you’ll be faced with that very scenario.
Experience – Be prepared to elaborate at the interview about your coursework and work experience, both paid and volunteer.
Get Your Portfolio in Order – If you haven’t done so lately, familiarize yourself with your portfolio, making sure it is up-to-date. For more information on portfolios, see the Teachnet article Selling Yourself: Creating the Ultimate Teaching/Interview Portfolio.
Do Your Homework – Check out the district in any way you can. This would include web research for the district’s website if they have one, and asking questions on education mailing lists or newsgroups. Also, with the current bashing education gets from the general public, you can count on regular articles in the local newspaper. If you are focusing on one district in particular, you should be up-to-date on what the local media is saying about the school district.
Prepare Your List of Questions – Intelligent, confident job candidates will have their own list of questions for their interviewers.
Above all, be yourself. Answer questions honestly, with the eagerness and enthusiasm you should have naturally. If you have to fake a love for children, you are in the wrong profession. Answer questions with examples from your portfolio which you should be able to go straight to without digging. Ask your own questions about the job and its benefits, and about the district in general.
The interview may be over, but your work isn’t. Send a business-like letter to your interviewer(s) thanking them for the opportunity to meet with them. Then keep in touch with a phone call to the personnel office every week.
Tips to Remember
- Plan well ahead. Get your portfolio in order, and research the school district.
- Run through a mock interview.
- Arrive at the interview early.
- Be yourself during the interview.
- Show confidence and enthusiasm.
- Ask questions.
- Refer to your portfolio when answering questions.