8 things you should know before going in for your interview
1. Expect to wait
If you interview during the school year, you never know what is going on with the individuals who will be interviewing you during that day. Admin and teachers can have very unpredictable days. Don’t take offense if your interview starts a little late (even though you should be there early). The people interviewing you may be coming in from stressful events going on in their day and it could take a moment for them to refocus their attention to you.
2. Different schools and school systems have different interview processes.
In some school systems you will interview with someone from “downtown” or “central office” before going out to a specific school. In other school systems you will go directly to the school where you could potentially be hired.
Some school systems hold job fairs at which they interview and offer contracts on the spot. Other’s hold job fairs where they only take resumes and follow up with interviews later.
You likely won’t know what to expect. Do your best to go with the flow and work within whatever procedure the school system you’re applying to uses.
3. Be prepared to do more than talk
You might think most of the work is done once you wow them with your application and resume and get the interview, but one of the school systems I interviewed with required me to create a lesson plan on the spot during the interview. The person interviewing me had a short discussion with me and asked me about a text that I’m familiar with and would enjoy teaching. I mentioned I had just read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian.
Then she stepped out and gave me about 20 minutes to write about how I would use that book to teach writing. I was not prepared for that!
I wrote about how I could point out the long, drawn out syntax Tim O’Brien uses when he is emphasizing the long, drawn out walks the characters are taking in Vietnam. Then I’d have the students look for short choppy sentences and identify the action happening when the author used that kind of syntax. They would see that the syntax the author uses reflects the action happening at that moment in the text. It was spur of the moment, but it must have been ok because I got the follow up interview and ultimately the job.
4. A tour is a good sign
If they take you on a school tour and walk you around to meet other people in the building after your interview, there is a good possibility you’re getting the job.
5. Hand shake, eye contact, and body language matter
You can say all the right things, but if you have a limp fish handshake and don’t make natural eye contact during the interview it’s not going to matter. Body language is a little more complicated. Make sure not to cross your arms because it makes you appear standoffish.
I have a tendency to lean on the arm of a chair or on the table itself when I’m nervous, but that can make me look too relaxed. I have to remind myself to sit up straight and use natural hand gestures when I’m being interviewed and when I’m interviewing.
6. Keep mints in your bag
You don’t want to be chewing gum, but you don’t want your breath to stink either. I like to keep individually wrapped lifesaver mints in my bag when I go for an interview. I pop one in my mouth when it’s about five minutes until the interview.
Mint can really help with nerves too. I tend to get quite anxious before interviews even though I’ve done it so many times. Mint is very calming in moments of high stress and the sensations in your mouth will take your mind away from obsessing about how it’s going to go and what you are going to say (at least a little).
7. You’ll probably “blackout…
You’ll probably “blackout” to some degree during your first interview or two. By blackout I mean you’ll be so in the moment and nervous that you won’t remember a thing you said. And that’s ok! You’ll have a feel for how it went when it’s over. Trust that feeling and don’t spend too much time trying to remember exactly what you said and how it was received.
8. ..but try to remember
If you are going for multiple interviews in different schools or districts, do try to remember any questions that you didn’t feel you nailed the answers to and spend some time brushing up on those topics before your next interview.
For more info about interviews check out How to get an interview, 5 steps to prepare for an interview, and 7 Tips to rock an interview
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