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Principals’ tips for teacher interviews

Tis the season for teacher interviews across the country. Retirements, relocations, and layoffs all lead to teachers looking to land a new gig. Prepping the resume, application, and letters of rec are the first steps in the process, but when you are granted an interview, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Just be yourself.
Getting the interview is a huge step, because it means that your experiences and other paper credentials must line up with whatever the school is looking for. The interviewers probably like what they’ve seen on paper, so now it’s just a matter of them deciding which of the candidates will be the best fit for the school. Curriculum and instructional practices will keep changing over time, and all teachers will have to adapt to those changes. With all of those changes occurring, what will it be like to have you as a person as part of their team and sitting across the table from them during the lunch hour? Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be polite and professional, but let your true personality show during the interview. Some teams already have obnoxious jokesters on the team, so adding a subtle low-key person is not a problem. You need to be sincere and engaging with the students, but having a variety of personalities (positive ones!) among the staff is good for everyone.

Same thing goes for your level of experience. If you are a newbie, don’t try to pretend that you are Super Teacher. They’ve read your application. They know you are new. Just be honest about what you know and have done. If being new or old to the profession were a problem to the interviewers, you wouldn’t have been granted an interview.

Get yourself in the right frame of mind.
Certainly be yourself, but also be happy and confident during the interview. Go buy a new outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks (but only costs you a minute fraction of that). If you are wondering how dressed up you should be for the interview, the test for your clothing is if you would wear the outfit again at school (parent conferences, concert night, employee banquet, etc.). Look professional, but also be comfortable during the interview. Don’t suffer in a suit or skirt that just isn’t your style. Don’t be so uncomfortable in your fancy duds that it has a negative effect on what you say to the interview team.

On the day of the interview, give yourself plenty of time so you don’t have to rush anywhere. Get up early, get some exercise, and eat a good meal (you need energy, but don’t eat so much that you are sluggish). Make sure you absolutely know where you are going for the interview. Find it on Google Maps and then drive there ahead of time (day before on a scouting mission if you are able) so you are certain where you should be, ON TIME. Get to the interview site ahead of time, but don’t walk into the building until about 15 minutes before your scheduled time. A tip for settling yourself and feeling positive is to listen to your favorite music in your car right before you head in to the interview site. Hum your favorite tune as you walk in, but save your Megadeth humming for another occasion. (A good friend has made some made some videos on how to use music to motivate yourself. See them here and here.) Turn your phone off as you wait for your interview. Get your brain in gear and don’t let your phone distract you from what lies ahead. The interview team won’t care that you just finished level 3-15 of Angry Birds right before you walked in.

Finally, walk into the interview room, smile, shake hands with the interviewers, and start with a simple “Thank you for having me here.”

Common questions to think about ahead of time
Some interview questions are so necessary and helpful that they are asked in most interviews. Be ready for these and have a prepared statement in mind for questions like “Tell us about yourself” and “Do you have any questions for us?” These two questions are like the opening and closing arguments in a trial and have a lot of sway with the interviewers. Be ready for them so you have strong first and last impressions. Another common question is, “Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.” The interviewers may not really care what those strengths and weaknesses are, but they will care that you are a reflective person and that you know why you are good at some things and what you plan to do to take care of your weaknesses. Whatever you do, don’t respond to the weakness questions with, “I care too much, I give too much, don’t know when to say ‘no,’ and I am a perfectionist.” Teaching is a tough job with extremely high expectations and these things are expected, not weaknesses that need to be changed. You better care a lot, work hard, be a team player, and have high standards for yourself. Be honest about your weaknesses and show that you really understand yourself.

What to say when you aren’t sure about a question
You can predict some of the questions that will be asked, but you won’t be 100% prepared for them all. If you are unclear on how to adequately respond to a question, be honest and upfront. This often happens if the question is asking about a specific program that you don’t have experience with, but a great teacher looks forward to learning something new. Just simply respond with, “I’m not familiar with that, but I would be eager to learn more about it.” If you aren’t sure what the question was getting at, ask a clarifying question like, “Are you asking if…?”

Brevity vs. boring
If you can answer a question with one word, dont! State your yes or no, and then give a quick explanation with an example. Cover the questions, but don’t go on and on, even if you have encyclopedic knowledge on that question. Pay attention to your interviewers to see if they are engaged in your response. If you see them fading away from you, wrap up your response and move on to the new question. Portfolios can be helpful to give details and examples to questions. Have your portfolio with you to refer to in response to one of the questions, but don’t try to just pass it around the table. No matter how wonderful your scrapbooking skills are, portfolios just aren’t that interesting on their own. They do become interesting when they show how reflective you are and can speak to how much you’ve learned on a particular topic.

Your main message
Everyone wants a job, but why do you want this job? Do your homework to find out what makes this school/district unique. What specific skills do you have that would pair well with the school’s strengths and challenges to make it a better place? Devour their web site to learn as much as you can. Call your friends or family who might be familiar with the school and community to get their insights. Achievement scores are often listed online, so find them and get a feel for how well the school is doing.

After the interview
A written thank you note won’t have much of an effect at all on whether or not you get the job, but it does speak to your professionalism and courtesy. Whether it’s a hand-written note or email, a sincere thanks from a candidate is appreciated. If you don’t get the job, certainly stay professional about the decision. There are lots of fantastic candidates out there, and schools can’t hire them all. Principals from different schools and districts frequently network with one another to gauge candidates when they are filling similar positions. They might call a colleague up to say, “I see you just hired a new teacher. Who else was in the pool who is worth an interview to us?” Your post-interview professionalism to a school that didn’t hire you can lead to good things with another.

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Comments and questions to this post are absolutely welcome. If you have other interview tips, please leave them in a comment. For those of you with upcoming interviews, best of luck!

This post was a group effort from 3 Wisconsin elementary school principals (the Three WImigos!). They are Jessica Johnson, Jay Posick, and Curt Rees.

~ by Curt Rees on April 20, 2011 . Tagged: ,



45 Responses to “Principals’ tips for teacher interviews”

  1.   Pam Hernandez Says:

    Great words of advice. I’m looking forward to passing this on.

  2.   Curt Rees Says:

    Thank you Pam!

  3.   Ana Says:

    Thank you so much for your words of advice, they are much appreciated.
    Good for reflection.

    Ana

  4.   Ana Says:

    gosh I just wrote a comment !!!

    Thank you so much for your words of advice. Much appreciated.

    Ana

  5.   Kristi Says:

    Between this blog post, the videos of Dwight Schrutt, and my district research, I am r e a d y for my interview tomorrow!! Thanks (:

  6.   Curt Rees Says:

    Good luck Kristi. Let your inner Dwight Schrute carry you to interview victory!!!

  7.   Jenn Says:

    This was super helpful and direct! Thanks for taking the time to write this! :)

  8.   Curt Rees Says:

    Thanks for the comment Jenn. I hope it helps you out.

  9.   Scott Allen Says:

    The entire Single Subject Credential Class at California State University, Chico read this article. Well done, this is useful.

  10.   Amanda Says:

    Thank you so much!! I have an interview tomorrow and this was very calming and helpful!!

  11.   lady lee sibonga Says:

    thank you so much for the tips and advice it really helps a lot for my incoming interview … wishing to make it successful….. wish me the best…thank you so much :)

  12.   Curt Rees Says:

    Good luck Lady Lee and Amanda. I hope your interviews go very well!!

  13.   Rodelyn Says:

    thank you so much for the advice.. it’s really a big help.

  14.   Lena Says:

    I am working as a professional math tutor, despite having an MAT. The part of the interview that frightens me is the part where you advise us to be ourselves. I noticed back in grad school that some people were there to earn their degrees and get jobs and others were there to earn their degrees so they could get hands-on and really HELP kids. The second group was more radical than the first. I am unequivocally part of that second group, which is part of what makes me an excellent tutor. I am certainly willing to follow board mandates concerning what I teach and school mandates on how I dress, but my lessons are not traditional. They also work. How much of this quality should I show during the interview? I can’t seem to hide it completely, and I don’t want to turn the administration off.

  15.   Curt Rees Says:

    Lena – Great question. My thoughts on this would be that as long as you demonstrate your understanding of the expected student outcomes/standards, then it’s OK to explain some of your creative ways of getting there. In short, “I know what kids are expected to know and be able to do, and here are some successfully proven activities to help them get there.” Hopefully those administrators interviewing you understand that students learn in many different ways and that they can reach common learning goals through different paths.

    Thanks for reading this post and thanks for the question/comments.

    Curt

  16.   Megan Says:

    I got my first teaching job five years ago. The first school that I interviewed with decided to hire their student teacher. The principal that hired me told me she got my name from the principal of the first school, and specifically mentioned my thank you note. I am back here now because I am interviewing for a position at new school this week….fingers crossed!

  17.   Curt Rees Says:

    Good luck Megan! Hiring is so often about the right fit, both for the candidate and for the school. Just be you and don’t forget to be awesome (a nod to the Brothers Green of VlogBrothers fame).

  18.   Jess Henze Says:

    This is helpful! I’ve been in the same school for 6 years, so when my husband and I began considering a move out of state, the idea of interviewing freaked me out a bit, especially since I was so out of the loop. It has been a while since I reflected on some of those ideas. Time to dust the cobwebs off!

  19.   Curt Rees Says:

    Jess – Thanks for reading my thoughts and best of luck as you and your family take on the adventure of moving. Come out here to Wisconsin. We’re always looking for more great teachers.

  20.   Katherine Says:

    I am moving to Wisco this summer, and just finished my Masters in Special Ed…from my experience in student teaching in California, a lot of the hiring is based off who you know. Any tips to someone applying from out of state? Any tips that will make my resume stand out?

  21.   Curt Rees Says:

    Great question Katherine. I’ve been that out of state candidate three different times, moving from SD to NM, NM to IL, and then IL to WI. Searching for a job when you don’t know the area very well and don’t have many connections can be difficult. But, it can be done.

    My first recommendation for the out of state candidate is to make sure you get your new teaching license as soon as possible. School districts have regulations they have to follow regarding licensing, and a common one is to have teachers licensed in the area in which they are employed. This is what is referred to as being “highly qualified.” If you know you are coming to WI, then apply for your license with the Dept of Public Instruction even before you move. Even if you are granted a one-year license with deficiencies to clean up, it is much better than no license at all.

    Who you know won’t get you a job, but it can help with getting you an interview. A large majority of teacher applications look pretty good. About 25% of them look great. Another 10% look fantastic. When it comes to narrowing down who to bring in for an interview, a letter of rec from someone I am familiar with can be more persuasive than a letter of rec from a person I don’t know. This isn’t always the case, but here is a tip for that out of state candidate that worked for me in landing an interview with people I didn’t know. When I was applying to my current district here in WI, I didn’t know a soul. My wife took a job in the area and I was the trailing spouse. My superintendent at the time (Jim Burgett, world’s best boss!!) told me to let him know when I had found my ideal job from all of them that I had applied for. I told him about the job I wanted and then he called the superintendent here to put a friendly voice to his letter of rec. He didn’t say anything that wasn’t in his letter, but the personal phone call added assurance to that piece of paper. It helped me get the interview, and I did the rest to get the job. I’ve done this same thing for top-notch teachers and student teachers at my school. A 5-minute phone call can highlight your candidacy. It might not necessarily turn into an interview or a job, but it will likely lead to the potential employer spending a little more time with your application materials.

    You had asked about making your resume stand out. To me resumes are pretty boring, and the ones that stand out are those with spelling errors. The good and great resumes all look very similar. What stands out to me in an application packet are the letters of recommendation. You don’t write these, but you should be strategic in who you ask to write them on your behalf. Get letters from your team mates, your supervisor, and your principal (if not your supervisor) If your superintendent knows you, get one from her/him too. I also see some great letters of rec from parents of students. Don’t be shy about asking your letter writers to comment on specific traits you have. If you already have a letter that speaks to your organization and teamwork skills, ask someone else to describe your enthusiasm or persistence with students who have academic struggles. Once you have them, turn them into color PDFs as those look so much better when districts use an online application system. DOC files sometimes get screwy and those wonderful words of rec for you can get distorted.

    Hope this helps and good luck!!

  22.   ngocngoc Says:

    thank you! very upfront and to the point. will help me tomorrow! :)

  23.   Selena Says:

    I know that all school districts’ hiring processes are different, but I have a question about it you might be able to help me with. I applied to a district I student taught in and had some really great success in. My mentor teacher’s and university supervisor’s evaluations of me were outstanding. And I really connected with the school community, including the administration, teachers, even the front office and cafeteria staff. I really felt like I belonged there.

    During the Spring, I had a screening interview with the district and the interviewer told me that I was very qualified and my interview went ‘spectacular’ (her words, not mine). She told me that candidates would be contacted in mid-to-late May for principal panel interviews starting in mid-June. I was concerned when I didn’t get a call by the beginning of June so I called the board of education and asked when principal interviews would be starting. This was June 4th. They told me over the phone that they had had a lot of really great applicants and that principal panel interviews were that week. (Side note: the county next to this one is having a school system crisis and a LOT of teachers are fleeing to this and other counties so I’m sure there really were a lot of teachers with much more experience than I have.) I was devastated because I thought I’d lost my shot at my dream teaching job.

    Fast forward a week. This past Tuesday I get a phone call from (lo and behold) my dream district. The nice lady asks me to come in for an interview on Thursday. Umm…yes please. The next day I realize that I didn’t know what grade/school/person I was interviewing for so I call the board of education and ask the receptionist these questions. She says, “I’m not sure they want us to tell you but it is a really nice lady.” Umm….??? Okay…. I was actually a little perturbed at this because how was I supposed to prepare when I didn’t even know the age group? (Note: I’m middle grades 4-8 so I can teach at the elementary level and middle school level and my answers to A LOT of questions vary according to which level I’m interviewing for.)

    So I go to the interview (after super-preparing because two previous interviews with other schools didn’t go so great) and I come out feeling like a million bucks. Of course I realize that I could have tweaked things a bit but I really felt like I hit it out of the park. During the interview, it felt like I was having a conversation with the interviewer instead of just a question and answer session. She kept saying “good answer” and “great answer.” She concluded her questions for me by asking if I “have all my licensure papers in order,” which I do (I actually got my license last week).

    After the interview was over, she reiterated to me that I had really great answers to all of her questions and she mentioned that she liked how I was dressed (NONE of the other candidates I saw were in professional/business attire). After the interview, I still don’t exactly know who I interviewed with. All I know is she is a retired school teacher who taught in the elementary grades. So I Google her name and she ends up being the school system’s K-5 administrator.

    Right now I’ll mention something else. While I was waiting for the interviewee before me to come out of the room, I was having a nice chat with the receptionist and she asked me if this was my first or second time interviewing with “them” (not sure who the “them” is…maybe she meant it as a collective term for the “board of ed”…not sure). Of course I answered it was my first time. This got me to thinking though…had some of these folks had panel interviews? And if so, how was I able to skip the panel interviews and come straight to the second interview? This left me confused.

    So…after all that…my question is: why would I not have gotten a principal panel interview? Does this sound like a “call back/second interview” after the panel interview? Is the county K-5 administrator the one who makes the hiring decisions? Is it possible that the principal at the school I was at wanted me interviewed, even though I wasn’t at the panel interviews? Okay, that’s like four questions. I’m just sitting here confused and waiting for a call from my dream job.

    Thanks for any insight you might have.

  24.   Curt Rees Says:

    Selena – Thanks for the details on your confusing scenario. I’d have questions as well if I were you. Each state, district, and school have their own hiring process, and there are no prescribed methods for choosing new staff members.

    I’ll just say that I think it is a good sign that you had an audience with the district’s administrator. Maybe you were able to skip the principal panel because they already knew you from your student teaching.

    My opinion based on what you wrote is that you are in a favorable position to get the job. Let me know how it turns out!

  25.   Curt Rees Says:

    Selena – Thanks for the details on your confusing scenario. I’d have questions as well if I were you. Each state, district, and school have their own hiring process, and there are no prescribed methods for choosing new staff members.

    I’ll just say that I think it is a good sign that you had an audience with the district’s administrator. Maybe you were able to skip the principal panel because they already knew you from your student teaching.

    My opinion based on what you wrote is that you are in a favorable position to get the job. Let me know how it turns out!

  26.   toolmanfob Says:

    So my Daughter is going thru the hiring process as a music director. she has so far lost at least two jobs to ohio’sprocess which they say they are required to call her current principle and talk with him. i have been in the inductrial manufacturing industry for 30 years and i can not understand what ansers they will get from a principle that was made to begin with that she is not renewing her contract. both jobs she was in the running for told her that they principle did not ahve good thing to say about her. which is funny since they offered her a new contract adn she turned it down.

  27.   Curt Rees Says:

    Tool Man –

    Based on what you share, it does sound like her previous principal is not saying positive things about your daughter. She might consider being up front about this as she applies for other positions. She could contact the HR people (or whoever screens applications) as she applies and simply state, “I know I won’t get positive comments from my previous principal. We did not have a good relationship, which is why I chose not to come back to that school.” That forthright honesty might speak well of her as she seeks to continue her career in a new school. Sounds like a tough situation for her and certainly for you.

    CR

  28.   Shannon Says:

    Hi there Curt – I just came across your blog post while trying to prepare myself for my 4th interview of the hiring season. I just wanted to thank you immensely for your tidbits. They are a nice reprieve from everything else that comes up in the “interview tips for teachers” google search.

    Fingers crossed that my good amount of preparation in combination with tips from folks such as yourself will land me this job. Thanks again. :)

  29.   Pam Says:

    Any tips for a stay at home mom of 9 years that is trying to get a job as a Special Education Aide.

  30.   prjazz01 Says:

    I am glad I found this blog. I am starting to get worried about my employment situation. I have been teaching Spanish almost 13 years. However, I am afraid that the changes in jobs may be hurting me. I am not sure and trying to figure it out. I left a school district as I was being treated unfairly after I moved to a different school. I had no previous negative comments and was well liked but I had a situation that was out of my control and I didn’t know what to do and the union was of no help so I left. I did nothing wrong nor inappropriate so I had no reason to worry. I still have 100% confidence in my work. I was quickly hired by another school and was furloughed after 2 years. I was fine with the course my career took because I was able to experience different settings and groups of students I may not have been able to before and made me a better teacher. However, I am getting temporary contracts and bumped out of positions and every summer I have to stress about providing for myself and my family. In interviews I do not mention I am a single mother, I don’t try to act as if I know it all (it’s not in my nature however, I can say that I had to start showing a little more confidence because I surprise myself at professional development how knowledgeable I am. I actually help everyone have great lessons and technology). So why am I going through this? I have encountered a couple instances where I am a threat to other power hungry teachers that have seniority within the department. Last couple of interviews, I felt I was honest, humble, did a lot of the things mentioned on this blog, (except my first interview out of state, the information i was reading about the school wasn’t as favorable and no mention it was an IB school. I didn’t want to mention the negative things I read in the interview when they asked me why I wanted to work there. Maybe my mistake in that interview where I said the location was perfect and wanted to work with the Hispanic students on their test results as i was bi-cultural/bilingual. I was told I would know by the end of the day and they sent me an email with more paperwork. I thought I was on the right track. I felt confident. I felt disrespected because they never called back or thanked me for the interview after I sent a thank you. Same in another interview where I had previously worked as a substitute and everyone told the new principal they have seen me in action and they loved me” and she said at the end she hopes I get the job. Then, again, I was left with no call back, no thank you, no response. What could have possibly gone wrong? Last summer it was the same, I would go as far as a third interview, then, no call. I even had an interview where they discriminated saying they wanted a particular accent. I am really frustrated and have asked for advice but don’t want to stress my friends. Anything that you suggest that is not already suggested? Oh, and are they conveniently hiring after September 30th count so they can provide a temporary contract instead? Sorry, seems like a lot but felt like it was important in order to understand my situation. Do you think also I should address me leaving that district where I have made it so they can only verify the dates I have worked? Especially since none of my principals work there anymore have retired and can’t be of reference. Also, is there a professional out there that can review my documentation and presentation in the education field and not the business world? Thanks.

  31.   Curt Rees Says:

    Pam – So glad to hear that you have an interest in working with our students who really need our support. My advice on landing that special education aide position is to simply make a phone call to your local districts to find out what requirements they have for filling these positions. Some districts require a certain level of post-secondary education, and some only require a high school diploma. Call the HR director or building principal and let them know your interest, and inquire about their staffing needs and hiring procedures. You might also consider being a substitute in positions you seek. You’ll get a feel for the school and the position, and the school staff will get to know you and increase your chances of being interviewed/hired. We need great people with skills and a passion for special education, so connecting with the people who hire would be my recommended starting place.

  32.   Curt Rees Says:

    prjazz01-

    So sorry to hear that you are experiencing the stress of looking for work, especially when trying to meet the needs of your family. I’ve been through that and know the anxiety it can lead to.

    A lot of what you share might be the issues of specific schools/districts, so my advice will be general in nature. In thinking about the jobs you’ve left, I feel it’s important to make it absolutely clear to your prospective employer about why you left. Don’t let them speculate on why you left because they may think it was do to an impending non-renewal. State it up front on your resume or in your interview. Sometimes a school is just not the right fit for a teacher, and it’s advantageous for them to go elsewhere to put their talents to best use.

    Thinking about your interviews, I think it is appropriate to follow up and ask about their decision. Ask if they have any feedback for you that you might help you in future interviews. I’ve had several teacher candidates who didn’t get the job ask me for feedback and was happy to do so. Most candidates we interview are all pretty good, so I don’t have much for constructive criticism for the candidates who didn’t land the job.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  33.   Megan Says:

    Thank you for all the info you have given. I have been searching for a job for 2 years now. I have a question. If one is interviewed by a group of 4 people (including the principal) should a thank you letter be written to each person, or just the principal. I don’t remember the names of 2 of the teachers. I know they are resource teachers, but there are three at the school. Thanks again.

  34.   Elizabeth Says:

    Thank you so much I have an interview tomorrow and another the day after. This was a very reassuring read. Thanks!

  35.   Curt Rees Says:

    Megan,

    In my opinion, a thank you note to the principal will suffice. You can thank him/her and also ask to pass on your appreciation to the rest of the team. The thank you note won’t necessarily sway the team’s decision, but it does speak to your professionalism if future jobs come open. Hopefully, you’ll land this job and won’t have to worry about future jobs! :)

  36.   erin Says:

    I am currently mid move to new hampshire coming from CT. I have applied for my Nh license( i have my CT cert and it transfers) have had multiple interviews, even call back interviews but never get that “you got the job!” call. I understand that I am a recent grad and newbie but feel like maybe I just am missing something. I have lost of experience, great letters, and even personal reference phone calls from some interviews. Frustration is starting to sink in. Any tips?

  37.   Curt Rees Says:

    Erin -

    I’ve been in that same situation before. Got an interview, felt like I did well, didn’t get the job. Being runner up for the job is never fun. The only way to find out what you could have done better/differently is to ask those you interviewed for. I’d suggest you make a quick phone call or short email to inquire about your interview performance. You might say, “I’m new at all of this, really want to work in a classroom, so just want to see how I was perceived by the interview team.” Then follow up with specific questions about areas you think are important like, “Did I seem competent in the area of reading instruction? Did I speak to teamwork enough with my responses?” Frame all your questions with the intent to critique yourself. Be very careful about sounding like you question their hiring decision. If your interviewers give you good feedback, please share your thankfulness. It’s great to get that feedback, but it’s also a chance to show your professionalism and dedication to continuous learning. If you play this right (with sincerity of course), this exchange might help get you back to the interview table the next time they have a position come open.

  38.   Katie Says:

    What a great resource! Thank you for your genuine honesty! Since I see that you’re actively answering comments, I have a question to throw out there as well.

    All of the advice on the internet about applying for teaching positions suggests to stop by the office and deliver a resume in person, but all of the information from districts and schools says to please submit everything online and NOT to contact the school directly.

    As a principal, do you actually want applicants to stop by in person? Would you see it as dedication, or an imposition? Is this something you expect from applicants?

  39.   Curt Rees Says:

    Katie,

    Good question. In my opinion and experience, I’ve never felt it necessary (and certainly not advantageous) for a candidate to stop by the school to deliver a resume. In my district, we do collect all of our application materials through an online service, but once in a while a teaching candidate will stop by to give me a resumé. Sometimes it’s nice for me to put a connect a real live human being to a name in a data base, but it hasn’t influenced my decision on who to interview or hire. So long story short, you don’t need to do it.

    If you find yourself subbing in a school to which you’ve applied for a job, DO stop by to introduce yourself to the building principal. Also, once you’ve submitted your online application materials, it’s not a bad idea to drop a short email to the principal to say, “I’ve submitted my materials online and just wanted to say that I love your school and think I might be a good fit for you.”

    Good luck!

    Curt

  40.   Hunter Says:

    I will be seeking my first teaching interview very soon and was wondering about the teachers portfolio. I did not take the traditional route for teaching certification and am working on my alternative certification now. I was wondering, is the teaching portfolio something which is expected from new teachers?

  41.   Curt Rees Says:

    Hunter,

    If you have a portfolio, do bring it to your interview. It isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it can be a great way to show off some of the work you have done. My advice on portfolios (digital or actual) is to not let them speak for your work. You need to speak to your work. If a question is asked about creativity and you have an example of creative work in your portfolio, then talk about it as you show the artifact. Don’t just pass the portfolio around the table to the interviewers. Point out the awesome things that are in it and relate them to how they might be used in the classroom should you be chosen for the job.

    Good luck!

    Curt

  42.   Heather Says:

    What do you recommend teachers should ask when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for us?” I always get stuck at that point and feel that if I don’r ask a question, they will think I am not interested in the job. Thanks!

  43.   Curt Rees Says:

    Good question Heather. You should have questions about the position, but often those questions are answered before you even ask them. If that happens, then I’d say something like, “I was going to ask about mentoring for new teachers, but you already answered that pretty well.” I also recommend that you write down your questions ahead of time, because sometimes the excitement/stress of the interview makes you forget them.

  44.   AJ Says:

    I find this article really helpful! I just received an invitation for an interview with a local school district. They are requesting I prepare a 10 minute lesson plan to teach to a couple of their teachers and principals. Have you ever asked teacher candidates to do so before? If so, what were you looking for? If not, hypothetically, what would you be looking for in those 10 minutes? A 10 minute lesson plan is really short, what should I include in it?

    (Side note: I have yet to find out what subject/grade level I am interviewing for)

    Thank You!

  45.   Curt Rees Says:

    AJ,

    First of all, good luck with your interview. Landing that interview is a sign that your application materials look good. Ten minutes isn’t long enough to see your true teaching abilities, but here is what I’d be looking for in those ten minutes.

    1) Is the candidate comfortable and relaxed in this situation?
    2) Is the candidate prepared?
    3) What is the objective of the lesson?
    4) How will the candidate know that we’ve learned the objective?
    5) Do I like this person? [Smile, smile, smile.]

    Item 5 of my list jumps out at me because I wonder, beyond the classroom, what will this candidate be like as we eat lunch together the next 20 years in my staff room? Curriculum pieces and instructional practices keep changing, but is this new hire going to make us all better?

    My $.02.

    Let me know how it goes!!!

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