Each year, teacher interviews are happening. I know the basic nerves kick in, but now with an added layer like everything being VIRTUAL… I know it can get overwhelming. I am here to calm your nerves and provide some beneficial tips that can help you nail that teaching position! Honestly, most of this is helpful for in-person interviews, too, but right now we are virtual, so let’s get started!
Tip #1: Ready Your Technology & Space
This may seem a bit like DUH, but you know how it goes… everything is working fine until it isn’t. Just when something big or important is about to happen, BAM! The computer dies, the WiFi is not strong, your computer or video platform software needs updating, there is extra noise outside (or inside), the background view is distracting… and the list GOES ON! Plan ahead by:
- Finding a comfortable place to sit and have the interview
- Securing a quiet place and be aware of any outside or inside noises like construction, the TV, children, and pets (You can announce any outside noises that may be heard at the beginning of the interview.)
- Ensuring the internet connection is strong 30 minutes prior to the interview
- Making sure your computer is fully charged and keep your charger accessible
- Checking for software updates, and UPDATE your video platform software the day before if there is one available (This may or may not have been a reason I have been late for a couple of distance learning meetings!)
- Clearing the clutter from behind and beside you; it will eliminate distractions and keep the focus on you
Tip #2: Look at the Camera
Again, this may seem like DUH, but so often I tend to look at myself, or whoever is speaking, which then makes it seem like I am looking downward. Try video conferencing with family or friends where you are practicing the habit of looking into the camera for a few days prior to your interview. I find that when you look at the camera spot, it is actually less intimidating than looking directly at people.
Tip #3: Dress Professionally
You. Just. Never. Know. Who knows what can, and will, happen during an interview?! Heaven forbid, but maybe your smoke detector sounds or there is a true emergency where you have to stand up from your seat. While a nice blouse or dress shirt will do the job from the waist up, you want to be better safe than sorry. Wear a dress, skirt, or slacks while interviewing online. Completely getting dressed will also put you in the mindset that this is work and not a time to lounge.
Tip #4: Do Your Research
Prior to your interview, take a couple of days to check out the school district, school website, and school testing data. Write down some key facts, school history, statistics/percentages, special programs, intriguing initiatives, accolades, and PTO support. This will be evidence that you did your homework and that will leave a lasting impression.
Tip #5: Be Yourself
Just be YOUrself. Simple as that. Try not to be super rehearsed or too picture perfect. Be genuine and honest. We are teachers and not all moments are glorious, but we ARE reflective. We can always pull from the “not so great” experiences to still show our heart, passion, love for teaching, and next steps. Being yourself will come across in a beautiful light when the panel can sense that your words, actions, and emotions are authentic.
Tip #6: Be Prepared
This includes reviewing commonly asked teacher interview questions and having your ideas in mind. You can use Google to search, and tons of questions will pop up. Some sample questions could be:
- How do you use technology in the classroom?
- How do you encourage parent support?
- How would you describe your classroom management structures or style?
- How do you engage reluctant learners?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- What are effective methods you use to check for understanding?
- When is a time you had to handle conflict?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why do you want a position at this school?
Do not prepare memorized responses but definitely begin crafting your responses to share with the interview committee. Mainly, if you come across a question and you feel like Hmmmm, how would I answer that?! then that particular question IS one that’s worth thinking over in depth. For basic questioning, do not try to script a response. Be confident, knowledgeable, and let you answers come out naturally.
Tip #7: Strengths & Weaknesses
This is a COMMON question that has been asked any time I have interviewed for a job or position, teaching-related or not. I can nail down my strengths, but I try to think of weaknesses that could actually be a “good thing” in the big picture. Some examples of weaknesses can be describing yourself as being a perfectionist at times, taking on too many tasks, or having trouble delegating certain tasks. It shows that you take pride in your work, you enjoy working on projects, you are hard working, and you are also detailed and thorough. More examples of weaknesses could be:
- I have a hard time letting go of a project that I am passionate about.
- I have trouble saying “no” because I love being helpful.
- I do often focus too much on the small details.
- I get a bit anxious if projects run past a deadline.
- There are times when I can have trouble asking for help; I do not want to be a burden to others.
- Sometimes I can lack confidence initially, but end up knowing that I can successfully accomplish the task.
Tip #8: Examples, Examples, Examples
Think about your experience from college, your teaching experiences, and any interactions you have had with children/students. Think about church, summer camp, tutoring, volunteer experiences… interactions like that! Leadership, teaching, organizing, and planning is included everywhere! Also, think about distance learning if you were living the #virtualteacher life during that time frame. When you can use solid examples of something you did, said, or tried, it helps you to stand out. So have some examples ready that you can share, show, or explain (surrounding different topics) that support the fact that you are a ROCKSTAR candidate for the job!
Tip #9: Share Your Screen
Thinking about “share and show” from above, have something prepared and use the “Share My Screen” feature if you can. This can include a very quick and simple slideshow presentation. You can include work samples, photos, videos, anything you implemented, and more! Everyone loves a little show and tell and this is the best way to show off your amazingness! Create a very basic virtual teacher portfolio and share your screen in the moment!
Tip #10: Lesson Plan
Even if you do not have to conduct an actual virtual lesson, definitely have a favorite lesson in mind. Think about the start-to-finish structure, book components, mini-lesson, guided and independent practices, and the assessment tool(s) used. You might be asked to “walk through an ideal lesson” or to describe the lesson, so it never hurts to be one step ahead!
Tip #11: Practice the Pace
When speaking, make sure that you speak at a pace where others can keep up. Knowing how technology can be “glitchy” or may lag, you want to ensure that everyone who is present can hear your words clearly. Speaking slowly also buys you time while thinking about the next phrases you want to share. It is OKAY to pause and think/craft your response before actually answering a question. And don’t forget – add appropriate intonation and expression whenever you can!
Tip #12: What’s Your Talent?
This is YOUR TIME to shine! Your goal should be to glow and stand out from the rest! Make a list of your interests, hobbies, or talents and be ready to share them when the time is right! You could be the answer to the school’s problem or prayer! Because you have shared your skill sets, they can begin thinking about how you will be an asset and great fit for the school!
Tip #13: What Are You Reading?
This is another question I have always been asked! Have a couple of books, personal and professional, that you can quickly reference. Principals may ask about a book you are reading, or have read, and how it was impactful to you. You can also use book references when replying to other questions! Keep a few titles and the authors written down in case you have a brain freeze!
Tip #14: Professional Development
Think about conferences, professional development sessions, courses, or classes you have attended that have helped mold or grow you as a teacher. Keep a potential professional development or two in mind that interests you. Share those with the interview panel. I think it is positive and effective to show that you are a life-long learner and thinking about future ways you can be developed in your specialized field!
Tip #15: Ask Questions
Prepare a few, thoughtful questions, that you would like to ask the interview panel in advance. Asking questions will show seriousness and investment with their school. It opens up additional dialogue that is now led by you! These questions can be centered on the hiring process, school environment, grade level, extra opportunities, extracurricular activities, and more. Some example questions could be:
- What is a typical day like for a teacher in this position?
- What is your favorite part about working in this school?
- Do you have a mentorship program for new teachers?
- How would you describe the school culture?
- How many students are in an average class?
- What are some goals you have for this upcoming school year?
- What are some of the school’s greatest strengths? What are some of the challenges facing your school?
- Do you have an active PTA/PTO? How strong is community support?
- What type of school discipline plan do you implement? (Individual? Grade level? Campus-wide?)
- When are you looking to make a decision on hiring for this position?
Again, as stated before, do your research. Try not to ask a question that can be found on the school website or that has been answered in the interview.
Tip #16: Follow Up
Give the principal time to get back to you regarding a job offer; however, there is nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email to the principal thanking him/her for the time, expressing how you enjoyed the interview process, and that you look forward to hearing about the position soon! You can also send an email inquiring about the job status if they haven’t touched base with you after a few days.
Although teaching, learning, and interviewing has moved into a virtual format, you can still ROCK your teacher interview! Remember, ultimately, the teaching position that is the best fit for you will reveal itself soon! Stay confident, keep working hard, and just know – YOU GOT THIS!
If you have specific questions or need advice about your upcoming interview, feel free to reach out!