Teaching Trenches: The Interview

InterviewSo, you made it through the initial screening of the madness titled, “teacher job fair”…Congratulations!  Next up, the small interview.  Prepare yourself, this may be a one-on-one, one-on-two, or in my most recent case, one-on-five.

Positive preparations:  Bookmark the school’s website and increase the site’s traffic so much that they start to wonder.  Next, make a cheat sheet and memorize it.  Things to know:  school mission, team make up, school demographics, access the school improvement plan, data documents, anything that will give you an edge.  Record and memorize the names of the people conducting your interview.

Mandatory Materials:   Print enough resumes and cover letters in case they are needed, and, of course, one for yourself.  Bring a tote bag with minimal student work samples (I brought a copy of my student interactive notebook, accessible if needed — note:  I did not use mine, but felt more prepared knowing that I had it).  Bring a neat, new notepad and pen.  No frills, patterns, or excess; a simple notepad and nice pen are sufficient.

Fantastic First Impressions:  Greet the office staff, introduce yourself, and state the position you are interviewing for or who you’re interviewing with.

Enlightening Expectations:  Upon arrival at my most recent interview, I was given a selection of student work samples for a research project.  Although I knew what the end result was, and had great ideas about how to teach argument writing, the process, and everything in between, I was at a LOSS!  I could not target the problem area for the sampling I was given.  It seemed like the RED FLAG sample was removed from the stack and I was looking at a collection of average work that did nothing fabulous, but didn’t lack in one clear area.  I quickly drew up an idea about some strengths and weaknesses.  Upon entering the conference room, I was asked for my feedback.  This was an area that I felt prepared for, but did not excel at due to the lack of sampling.  If I can advise in this area, I would say, develop a key list of feedback criteria ranging from developing stronger thesis, developing key evidence, proper citations, elaborating on ideas, etc.

More on question and answer preparation and standout attire later…

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