“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. “
– 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
For those graduating college as a teacher this is a pivotal time in your life in trying to land that first teaching position. You have just spent the last four to five years of your life working hard toward this moment when you can help change the lives of students in your own classroom. There are a lot of great teacher candidates who are applying for the same position you are. The interview is the place where you can make yourself stand out as a top candidate for the position. I have been on both sides of the interview table being the one looking for a position as well as being on the committee that adds new teammates to our building. Over the years I have learned a few things that I feel will help a committee move you to the top of their list. Here are the top 5 tips for having a great interview:
Sharing Your Story
Often in an interview, the committee will ask you to tell them about yourself. Since you have already given them your resume, they are obviously impressed enough to have you in to learn more about you. Give them a quick highlight of your resume, but also your reason why you became an educator. What led you to this calling? Was there a personal experience in your life that you could share that made you want to become a teacher? Even if you have not had your own classroom before, share experiences of working with students and how that has impacted your outlook on teaching and serving others.
Do your Homework
Get to know the place where you want to work. I definitely understand putting your name out there to a lot of districts to try to land that first position, and that is very smart to do. Once you get the call of the interview, familiarize yourself with their building by logging onto their website or asking around. If you know someone who works in that building, it might be worth taking them out for coffee prior to the interview. Here are some items you may want to know well before the day of the interview:
- District Mission Statement
- Diversity of Students in the Building/District
- Special Programs The School Offers
- Names and Roles of Potential Colleagues in the Building
- Number of Students in the Building
- Curriculum and Other Instructional Frameworks
At some point during the interview, the committee would like to know how you might handle situations such as a handling a difficult student, parent communications, and how you have met the needs of your diverse student population through academics and behavior management. Give specific examples from your student teaching experience or strong examples from your mentor teacher that you with to implement in your own classroom. If your school is using Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), then you could look into how they are using interventions to help all students succeed. An additional resource for academic and behavior interventions is Intervention Central.
What Do You Bring to This Team?
Most teachers are humble and modest, but during this part of the interview you must showcase your talents and other gifts that will be an asset to any school. If you are a new graduate, you may want to bring up some great technology and latest techniques that you can teach others in the building. Also let the committee know that you are a committed, hard working teacher that will do anything to help students succeed. Give examples from previous experiences in which you were a leader and collaborator to help lead students to success and promote a positive culture in your building. It would also be beneficial to highlight some of your other interests you might be involved in such as volunteer work, participation in a local church, sports teams you coach, etc. One of the most important points you want to bring across is that you are a team player and a lifelong learner that wants to continue to help improve student success.
Questions to Ask the Committee
At the end of the interview, the committee will often ask if you have any questions. Take some time prior to the interview to think of a few questions you might want answered. I would stay away from questions around compensation or other benefits until they offer you the position. Here are a few questions that you could use or get you thinking of your own:
- What are some extra-curricular activities that I could be involved in with your school and/or district?
- Would I be able to have access to a mentor teacher for the first year to help me with the transition into this new district?
- What do your students and parents love about your school and/or district?
- What might be the timeline when I would expect to hear either way about a decision moving forward?
I know you will be nervous and cannot wait until the interview is over, but hopefully having some of the answers to these topics will give you a sense of clarity as you enter the interview. Remember to just be yourself and give genuine and sincere responses. God has a plan for you and your talents and it is my hope that you find a place where you will be valued and are able to refine your skills as a educator. Good luck in the process and let me know if you land a position!