Congratulations! You have your degree, have your certification (or are in the certification process), and you’re officially a teacher. It’s time to go find that first job!
With so many people looking similar on paper, it’s imperative that you stand out from your peers in the interview process. You need the knowledge, skills, and attitude to sell yourself as a perfect fit, and that can take finesse because every interview—and every community and school—is unique. You may find yourself sitting in front of a few administrators or a large panel of educators and community members, and they’ll be completely different every time.
Knowing how to prep, what to bring to a teaching interview, and what to expect will help you prepare for what lies ahead with your interview and give you an edge. Here are 4 things you should do to nail those teaching interviews.
1. Do Your Homework
You want to find out everything you can about the school itself and the community that surrounds it. An obvious place to start would be the school’s mission, vision, and values. These can likely be found on the district or school’s website and are often pretty similar from school to school. They do, however, offer a great way to warm up to the basic philosophies of the community, and reflect priorities that can impact you as a teacher.
And remember: it’s just as much about making sure the school is the right fit for you, as you for it.
The website might also offer some insight into the relationship between the school and the community. If the local councils, organizations, and community members actively support education, it’s solid evidence that they probably value well-paid teachers and high-quality instruction and resources as well. That can indicate better compensation, benefits, and an overall better work experience for you.
And don’t stop there! Consider checking the school’s social media accounts. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will give you a great overview of recent events and noteworthy accomplishments. How great would it be to casually congratulate someone you’re being interviewed by on the band’s recent performance at Nationals as they walk you back to their office?
2. Bring Your Materials
When you’re filling out your application, you will likely be asked to include items like a cover letter, resume, and references. These are all important and it’s not a bad idea to bring them with you to the interview in case anyone requests another copy.
This is, however, recommended under the assumption you completed the application in its entirety. Far too often, teachers submit an incomplete application which will significantly impede their chances of getting an interview at all. After all, if you’re not minding your p’s and q’s, what are the chances you’ll teach your students to cross their t’s and dot their i’s?
If you haven’t already built your teaching portfolio, do so ASAP, and bring your laptop or iPad to the interview so you’ve got a digital backup just in case. Your teaching portfolio is one of the best ways to display your skills and sell yourself. This can include components like lesson plans, supplemental learning material like handouts, student scores on standardized testing, and student work to display their success in achieving learning outcomes.
3. Prep for Q&A
The question and answer part of an interview is where you’re going to spend most of your time. While this is also often where people feel the most pressure, like creating a diamond, it may also be your greatest opportunity to shine.
There are tons of websites out there you can browse to get an idea of what types of questions will likely be asked. Read them over, think about how you would want to answer, and practice. If you can, find someone with interviewing experience. Ask them for honest feedback and refine your answers to build confidence.
Also, in many cases, the best answer is not a solution, but understanding your resources and how to find one. For example, you may be asked: “How would you handle a student who is consistently acting out in your class”
Answer: “You know, that is a great question. I would consider reaching out to my colleagues who may be familiar with the student to see if they have any tips. For instance, if the student happens to be on one of the school’s athletic teams, I may also reach out to the coaches to see what they suggest.”
Take note of the classic “That is a great question”. It’s a great way to get a few more seconds to digest the question and get your response together without any dead air. The gears will be turning, and you’ll look calm and collected.
4. Prepare Your Own Q&A
“Do you have any questions for us” often rounds out an interview session, and it’s another great opportunity to stand out. In fact, when you’re considering what to bring to a teaching interview, a list of your own questions can be the most important. It’s a chance to build on some of the research you did and the questions they asked, and further assess whether or not the school is the right fit for you.
As always, be very thoughtful. The old saying “there are no dumb questions” doesn’t apply here. There are definitely questions that can make you come off as less than ideal for the job. Don’t ask about salary, for example, if this is something that is non-negotiable or clearly posted.
Knowing What to Bring to a Teaching Interview Is Going to Help You Make the Grade
Preparing to break into your first professional role is an exciting time. Use that energy to your advantage by preparing and knowing what to bring to a teaching interview. The interview process is just the first step in a bright future with incredible potential for a rewarding career.
A successful and rewarding career will also be supported by quality professional development. Online courses like Classroom Success – The First Years of Teaching and Introductory Classroom Management Course: Creating Classroom Expectations are just a few of the many course offerings by Premiere, an industry leader in professional development education for teachers. All our courses are designed by industry professionals, and will give your new perspectives and insights into your career as an educator.