March 25th, 2010
In my day job I get to interview teachers several times a year for various positions that include blogging and lesson planning. I am often surprised at how poor some of the candidates interviewing skills are. It got me thinking about how important it is to present yourself in the best possible light at an interview. So as someone who has interviewed and hired teachers I thought I’d share several tips that may help teachers looking to find summer employment or even change careers.
1. Dress appropriately - unfortunately people still do judge a book by its cover and so it is important to take the time to press your clothes and make sure your jacket is lint and cat hair free. You’d be surprised at how many candidates seem to forget this. Remember, first impressions count!
2. Listen to the question - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a question and got a rambling answer that gave me the impression that the candidate was either very nervous or a poor listener.You don’t want to give one word answers. On the other hand you don’t want go on and on about something, especially if you’re not quite sure how best to answer. I had a candidate once tell me, that she was sorry that she did not know the answer to a question I just asked her. I appreciated her honesty and it was one of the factors in our final decision in hiring her.
[View Guide to Getting a Teaching Job]
3. Be prepared to show off your technology skills - I’m putting this up there on the list because unless you’re teaching in a rural school that has no access to technology, you will be asked to demonstrate your technology skills in many interviews. I often ask candidates what types of technology they use, if they have a blog, if they know what Twitter is and to list some of their favorite websites. I then hand them a netbook and watch them use it while I have them perform certain specific tasks. If you’re not quite tech-savvy, now’s the time to start brushing up on your skills.
4. Do not pad or lie on your resume - as tempting as this might be for new teachers, it is far better to not list skills you do not possess. If you said you were a pro at Excel and are given a test to sort data and you don’t know how to do this, you will lose credibility immediately. Again, if you don’t have certain skills that relate to a job, try to learn them if you can or let the interviewer know that you are a fast learner and will commit to working extra hard until you master the skills you need.
5. Smile and make eye contact! I’m not quite sure what it is, but over the course of the past several years, I’ve met quite a few teachers who seem to have forgotten how to smile. I’m sorry, if you want me to give you a job, you have to first show me that you have good social skills and can work with a team. Smiling and making eye contact is a good first step.
6. Do your research - I always check to see if a candidate has done their research about the position and visited our website. If they have, they get plus points. It just shows that you are savvy and serious about the position.
7. Have a portfolio - whether it’s on the web, on a CD, in a binder or on a flash drive, bring something to show and tell. Candidates who make the effort to bring something with them as a leave behind or to show during the interview have always impressed me. Make sure that the work you show though is of good quality, which means it is error free (no typos, grammar mistakes or punctuation errors) and if it is a website make sure your links work and your design is pleasing.
How did you get your first job? Got any tips to share? Leave a comment.