This is my fourth summer as a principal, and I have interviewed many teacher candidates. June is what we call hiring season, and there are many teachers currently on the hunt for a job. Some teachers are embarking on their first teaching job search, and some are interviewing for a new school for the first time in over a decade. You also have this summer serial teacher job searchers who look for a new school every summer. I have experienced my fair share of good interviews, and I have experienced my fair share of bad interviews. More often than not, interviews have been bad. I think it is time that I share some tips on how to prepare for your interview and land that teaching job you want.
It is a unique experience interviewing candidate instead of being interviewed. I remember reading through resumes and cover letters trying to decide if a person was worth the interview. Resume and cover letters only tell part of the story. You do not get to know a candidate until you get them into your school building and sit down and talk to them. Teachers must understand the fancy resume and the well-written cover letters only guarantee you an interview; it does not guarantee you the job.
With the resume and cover letter only telling part of the story, teachers need to understand the importance of them being able to articulate what is on their resume and make their experience included in their cover letter come to life.
It is amazing how many teachers with plenty of experience cannot articulate their experience during an interview. You should be able to explain to your experience and how it shaped you as a teacher. I can read that you taught for X amount years, you were named an outstanding teacher, and your students hit this proficiency, but I need you to tell me the “how.” When I am interviewing a teacher, I need to be sitting there with a visual image of their classroom. Make your classroom come to life.
I need teachers to bring a portfolio. I know there are many teacher preparation programs that have teacher candidate create a portfolio during senior year. Typically, when you are fresh out of college, your portfolio is pretty thin and pretty generic. Seasoned teachers, we must do better.
Do not just show up to an interview with your resume in your hand. Get a leather portfolio cover, and bring multiple copies of your cover letter and resume. Also, bring a copy of your licensure. your philosophy on teaching, and a copy of a lesson plan. It is an immediate red flag when I do not see a portfolio from a teacher.
Look like you want a job. For some reason, teaching has become a profession where the dress code is out the window. I need for my teacher candidates to come to an interview as though they are running for office. Yes, men wear a suit, or at least a button up shirt, tie, dress slacks, and dress shoes. Ladies dress like a business professional. You may not dress that way to work; however, you do not have the job yet so act as though you want it.
Be confident. I need teachers in front of students and families who are confident. I need to see and feel confidence in the interview. You know what you bring to the table as a teacher; speak on it and speak on it proudly. Be sure to have experiences you can share. Talk about your experience at your previous school or in your student teaching. It is important you can answer the questions asked. Be sure to be specific in your responses.
Over these four years, as a principal interviewing teachers, it was hard to see them struggle in an interview. It was frustrating to read a resume and cover letter and be excited to meet a candidate in person only to be underwhelmed in the face to face interview. I do not want to hear this notion that teachers do better with children than they do with adults; you cannot get to the children if you cannot get past the adults.
Teachers as you embark on this journey looking for your next job, I want you to understand that it is just as crucial for you to be able to speak about your work with children as it is to do the work for children. Leave those interviewing you wanting more.