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Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

8 thoughts on “Interview Tips

  1. I’ll start things rolling here…

    I have a few questions that I try to ask in an interview. Some of these can be answered by doing a bit of research, others need to be asked in the interview itself:

    (1) Besides teaching class, what other responsibilities are expected of me?
    (2) How supportive is the community of the district?
    (3) What kinds of performance expectations are expected from me?
    (4) What is the socio-economic make-up of the district? What about the specific school?
    (5) What is the educational philosophy of the interviewer?

    What else?

  2. One thing I always do and recommend others to do is research the school you are going to by going to their webpage. I read old newsletters (if they are open to the public) and get a general feel of what their educational philosophy is, what pd they are working on (quite often it will mention it in newsletters)and any recent accomplishments. Then I bring one of these items up in a question or comment to show the interviewer that I am keen and ready to learn more about them. I usually start with “I noticed on your website…” It has been quite successful for me and my student teachers that I have supervised. Good luck!

  3. I actually blogged about this a few weeks ago, when I was involved with the hiring process for a bunch of teachers and administrators at my school. I think my advice pretty specific to independent schools, but maybe there are a few tips that cross over.

    how to search/prepare for a job:

    what the people interviewing are looking for:

  4. I just went through the interview process this semester, so this stuff is really fresh in my mind. Here is my .02:

    1. Dress in something that makes you feel confident. I wore the same outfit to every interview: a red sweater, black skirt, and black heels. I felt very professional. Feeling good about myself allowed me to open up to my interviewers and be more friendly. You smile more and make better eye contact when you feel confident. People like that.

    2. Get there early. Being early is better than being late. Plus, you have a few minutes to sit in your car and breath, pray, or practice some common interview questions without feeling rushed.

    3. Show off your skills. I brought a mini-portfolio filled with a sample syllabus, procedure packet, a positive reinforcement worksheet I created, a lesson plan I created, a unit plan I created, some really great student work, and “report cards” my student wrote about me. The principals were really impressed with the material I brought, and 2 actually photocopied some of the material I created– with my permission, of course (those 2 principals offered me positions at their schools).

    4. Be honest about yourself. Being honest is way less stressful than trying to come up with the answers you think your interviewers want to hear. Plus, if you do fib through the interview and get hired, you’ll spend the next year being someone you are not.

    5. Research the school and district and create some questions and conversation starters based on your findings. Principals like to know that you made the effort to know their school, and it enables you to contribute to conversations in the interview. The best interviews I have participated in felt more like conversations than question-and-answer sessions.

    6. Make sure you make eye contact and pay attention to each person at your interview. No one likes to be ignored.

  5. 1. Dress professionally!
    2. Have a resume and include your references (make sure to ask all your references if they can give you a favorable reference-You would be surprised at how many people put down a reference without letting them know, and the reference burns them)
    3. Expect questions in the following areas- career goals, special education, discipline, instructional practices, classroom management, parental involvement, extra-curriculars (secondary)
    4. Follow-up later with phone call or thank you letter

  6. Among all the other great advice here and elsewhere, here are a couple specific things that worked well for me:

    1. Have a portfolio. As another commenter mentioned, it can include anything: lesson plans, newsletters, concert programs, anything to give an interviewer an idea of the type of work you’ve done in the past.

    2. Make the follow-up call. One of my first jobs out of college was offered to me because my boss said I was the only one to make a follow-up call. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation or even a fake excuse for a call. You can just say “I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to interview. I enjoyed meeting you. Let me know if there is anything else you might need from me.” A similar note or card in the mail would do the trick too.

  7. Wow! Awesome stuff, guys. Thanks for your help. A lot of the tips covered here are things that I’ve seen before. Others are common sense. But common sense is so often uncommon. Again, thank all of you for being readers and contributors to this blog!

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