A Guide To Teacher Interviews
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

A Guide To Teacher Interviews

on

  • 14,348 views

A Guide To Teacher Interviews

A Guide To Teacher Interviews

Statistics

Views

Total Views
14,348
Views on SlideShare
14,348
Embed Views
0

Actions

Likes
3
Downloads
263
Comments
0

0 Embeds 0

No embeds

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft Word

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

A Guide To Teacher Interviews A Guide To Teacher Interviews Document Transcript

  • A Guide to Teacher Interviews
    If you are preparing for an interview in the field of education, you know that teaching interviews can be comprehensive and very different from interviews in the corporate world. In order to make a good impression on the school where you’ve applied, you’ll want to do your homework. We’ve compiled articles written specifically to help teachers in the interview process.
    Teacher Interview Tips and Advice
    10 Secrets to a Perfect Teaching Interview
    Three Steps to Prepare You for Your Next Teacher Interview
    100 Teacher Interview Questions
    How to Answer 6 Common Teacher Interview Questions
    Do You Really NEED a Teaching Portfolio?
    Five Insider Tips for a Successful Interview
    Teacher Interview: Common Sense and Professional Advice
    Teacher Interview Tips and Advice
    This is the culmination of several years of hard work. You’ve finished college. You’re done with your student teaching and you’ve passed all of your teacher certification examinations. The applications, resumes, and cover letters have been sent out to every local school district.
    All you can do now is sit around the house and wait for the phone to ring, right? Wrong! You should be preparing for your interview!
    I’ve been to the interview table several times as a candidate and many more times as an interviewer. If there were any tricks, secrets, or shortcuts to success in the interviewing process, I haven’t discovered them. My only sound advice for candidates is to come to the interview prepared.
    You should have your teaching portfolio in-hand and you should be ready to talk about anything and everything that relates to you, your background, and your philosophies on education. The best candidates know how to teach, they know how to articulate their teaching beliefs, and most of the time, they already know what types of questions will be asked before the interview even begins.
    It’s easy for an interviewer to spot an unprepared candidate. Candidates who have not practiced basic interview questions beforehand are unnaturally nervous. They shift in their seats more. They begin most answers with the word, “uhhhhh.” There are long pauses while interviewers wait for the candidate to process the question and think up an answer. They get confused by basic educational jargon that they learned in college.
    Almost every teaching interview includes similar, common questions. In order to be a prepared candidate, all you have to do is practice answering the most common questions before you go to the interview. (See the practice interview questions chapter in my book to review the 45 most commonly asked questions.) If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. There are no tricks or shortcuts; if you do your homework you will perform well.
    Body language can show whether you’re a confident, qualified teacher or an unsure one. At the interview, be confident, but not cocky. Smile when you walk in. Greet the people interviewing you with a smile and a nod. Firmly shake the hand of the principal and other interviewers that are within easy reach. When you take your seat, sit up straight with your feet on the floor and your hands in a relaxed position on the desk.
    Have a mild sense of humor. Prepare to make some humorous small talk when you are greeted. For example, if a principal shakes your hand and asks how you are, it’s okay to say, “A nervous wreck!” A whimsical introduction can break the ice. Be sure your sense of humor is clean and appropriate for an interview.
    Have a teaching portfolio ready. Your portfolio should contain extra copies of your resume, a copy of your teaching certificate, sample lesson plans, samples of student work, and any other evidence that shows you are a qualified candidate for a teaching position. It should be bound in a neat, professional-looking leather binder. (See the teaching portfolio chapter in my book for more information.) Place the portfolio in front of you when you sit down at the interview table.
    Usually, the people interviewing you will not ask to see your portfolio. They do, however, expect you to have it on-hand. Don’t wait for anyone to mention the portfolio. Instead, you should use it as a tool to describe your teaching experiences. For example, if you are asked to describe a lesson that involves teaching writing, you might say, “Yes, I can show you! I have a sample of student work that shows how I teach the writing process.”
    The first question at almost every interview will be: “Tell us about yourself.” You should already know what you’re going to say. Keep your answer reasonably brief. You can talk about the college you attended and provide an overview of your teaching experience.
    Always be positive. Try not to say, “I don’t know.” Avoid saying, “I’m not really good at…” Don’t say, “That’s one of my weak points.” Always tell the truth, but you don’t want to suggest that you’re not a confident, successful, qualified teacher. If you honestly don’t know the answer to a question, you might ask the interviewer to restate it in a different way, or you might want to give the best answer you can based on your knowledge and experiences.
    Use lots of examples when you answer questions. When they ask how you would do something, tell them how you have already done it. This will make you seem more experienced. For example, if an interviewer asks, “How would you use creative problem-solving in your lessons?” You might answer with, “When I was student teaching, I did a great creative problem-solving lesson when…” When you use specific examples, you’re convincing the interviewers that you’re more than just hypothetical talk.
    The final question of your interview will most likely be, “Do you have any questions for us?” Be prepared with a thoughtful question ahead of time. While this is probably not the most important question of the interview, it is your last chance to leave a positive impression. Rather than answering with, “Not really,” you should ask something philosophical or complimentary. You might ask the interviewer why they are proud of their school or what the people you’ll be working with are like. Since your interviewers will probably be meeting with lots of candidates, you should use the opportunity to ask a question and make yourself stand out. And, think about it: You’ve been on the hot seat answering their questions for 45 minutes. You’ve earned the right to turn the table, even if it is just for a moment.
    When you leave, the interviewers will, of course, be talking about you. They’ll be filling out little forms rating your experience, qualifications, communication skills, and personality. At the end of the day, they will have about a dozen of these forms sitting on the desk. They’ll look through them all and the chosen candidates will be the ones who were the most memorable, most qualified, and most prepared for the meeting. With some time and effort, that candidate can be you.
    10 Secrets to a Perfect Teaching Interview
    Are you nervous about your next interview for a teaching job? Don’t be! Just remember these 10 secrets to a perfect interview!
    1. Have a teaching portfolio that is filled with lesson plans and student work samples.
    I know it takes a great deal of time to assemble a teaching portfolio, but your hard work will pay off. Instead of just telling them you’re a great teacher, you can use your portfolio to show interviewers the exciting lessons you’ve used to teach children in the past.
    2. Practice sample interview questions before you go to the interview.
    Interview questions aren’t usually unique. In fact, the same questions will be asked at almost every interview. Do a Google search to find common teacher interview questions and practice your responses beforehand. (50 common interview questions and answers are also available in my eBook, which can be downloaded from: http://www.iwantateachingjob.com)
    3. Be sure you dress professionally.
    You’d be surprised at how much your clothing matter. If you dress to casually, the interviewers may not believe that you’re taking the interview seriously enough.
    4. Make eye contact with all of the interviewers at the table, not just the principal.
    I’ve sat in on many interview committees and have noticed that many candidates look directly at the principal and seem to ignore the rest of the panel. Be sure you make eye contact with everyone at the table.
    5. Project a friendly, bubbly, positive, and outgoing personality.
    Interview committees are looking for friendly people to be on their staff. While your teaching credentials are important, you need to remember that the interview committee is also looking for someone with a positive person that is easy to get along with. If they can see your glowing personality shine through, they are more likely to want you at their school.
    6. Research the school district beforehand.
    Visit the district’s website to find out their philosophy of education. Also, research information about the types of students that you will be teaching, the community, and the subjects being taught there.
    7. Be sure your educator vocabulary is up-to-date.
    Be sure you’re familiar with educational jargon and teaching acronyms. All of those big vocabulary words you learned in college may come back to haunt you at the interview. If you’re asked about differentiated instruction, IEPs, Everyday Math, NCLB, or ELL students, you don’t want to be the candidate that responds with, “Huh?”
    8. Use lots of specific examples when you discuss your teaching experiences.
    Want to seem like an experienced professional? Whenever an interviewer asks you how you would do something, tell them how you have already been doing it. If you use words like, “I would like to…” or “I might try to…” or “I could…”, then you will seem inexperienced. Instead, say things like, “When I was student teaching, I…” or “When I taught __, I would…” or “One thing I always do is…” This will help to emphasize and highlight your expereince.
    9. Prepare a good question to ask at the end of the interview.
    Your questions should be complimentary to the school and open-ended. Try to prepare a question that will require the interviewer to think, rather than just provide you with a one-word answer. Thoughtful questions will leave a lasting impression.
    10. Don’t forget to mail your thank you letter right away!
    Whether you send a greeting card or a formal business letter, be sure you thank the interviewers for meeting with you. You letter should express your appreciation, compliment the school environment, and invite the interviewers to contact you again.
    Three Steps to Prepare You for Your Next Teacher Interview
    It’s natural for people to get nervous before and during a big interview. Sure, you know you’re a good teacher. You’ve graduated from college with a teaching degree and you’ve worked with students in the past. So, WHY are you nervous?
    It’s those pesky little questions, isn’t it? If you’re like most people, you’re probably afraid they’ll ask you a difficult question and you’ll be giving them a blank look.
    If the questions don’t make you nervous, maybe it’s the vocabulary that scares you. Sometimes interviewers like to throw out intimidating jargon – those big words you used to see in college textbooks. You might be afraid you won’t know how to answer a question about differentiation, IEPs, ELL students, or block scheduling.
    Or, maybe you know the vocabulary well, and you’re not afraid of the questions. Are you fearful that you will not be able to prove that you’re a successful teacher? Do you have trouble putting yourself up on a pedestal and showing off your successes?
    Well, the good news is that all three of these fears can be overcome if you prepare yourself well for your next interview.
    Your nervousness is natural. But the amount of stress you have to endure can be minimized. How? Follow the steps below to prepare and practice for your next teaching interview.
    Interview Preparation Step #1:
    Predict what the questions will be and prepare your answers
    The Internet is filled with sample teacher interview questions. It’s pretty much guaranteed that they’ll ask you about your classroom discipline plan, your ability to work with special education students, your favorite lessons, your strengths, and your weaknesses. As you research sample interview questions. Write them down or print them out.
    Sometimes you’ll have to think beyond the Internet, though. Questions that relate to your specific age-group or subject may be more difficult to find. Still, if you use some basic logic, you can predict what will be asked. Think to yourself: “If I were hiring someone for this position, what would I ask?” If you teach middle school English, for example, common sense should tell you that they’ll ask you how you teach writing. If you teach high school calculus, chances are good they’ll ask you why Calculus is important for high school students.
    When you have a list of questions, sit down any try to plan your answer for each. If you have a close friend or family member in education, you might want to discuss your answers with them. Oftentimes, they will have ideas or suggestions that will help you focus your thoughts. No matter how you prepare, simply having an idea of how you will answer common questions will make you a more confident candidate at the interview table.
    Interview Preparation Step #2:
    Make a list of popular education buzzwords and acronyms
    What terminology might be used during the interview? If a principal asks you how you use differentiation, will you be able to tell him/her? Or will you be the candidate that asks, “What do you mean?” If you’re asked how you meet the needs of a student with an IEP, will you be the candidate with the deer-in-the-headlights look?
    Educational jargon often trips up candidates. It’s embarrassing for candidates at an interview to admit that they’re not familiar with a word or phrase used, yet if they don’t ask for clarification, they risk giving an answer that doesn’t make sense.
    Here’s what you do: make a list of common educational buzzwords on index cards. (Differentiation. IEP. ELL. Block scheduling. Looping. Four Block Writing. Everyday Mathematics. And so on…)
    Then, check to see how many of the words you know. One the back of each index card, define each word. Also, in one sentence, relate each vocabulary word to your teaching. Look up any words you don’t know.
    Interview Preparation Step #3:
    Assemble a Teaching Portfolio
    Your teaching portfolio is your professional brag book. Find lots of evidence of your teaching (or student teaching) experiences, and assemble it all in one big, fat binder. It should be chock-full of student work samples, lesson plans, parent newsletters, and philosophy statements. Be sure you have a type-written table-of-contents and dividing tabs so you can easily find information at an interview.
    When you’re at an interview table, don’t wait for an interviewer to ask to see your portfolio. Instead, be ready to pull out examples of your work whenever something in your portfolio relates to something being asked. Interviewers will be impressed by your organization and preparation. Even more importantly, you’ll be PROVING that you’re an effective teacher, rather than just TELLING them.
    100 Teacher Interview Questions

    1. First, tell us a little bit about yourself. (Almost every teacher interview begins this way.)
    2. Describe your college experiences?
    3. Tell us about your experiences working with students at this age level.
    4. Describe your philosophy of teaching?
    5. Why do you want to become a teacher?
    6. List three of your strengths your strengths and explain each one.
    7. Describe three of your weaknesses as a teacher.
    8. In what ways do you encourage creativity in your classroom?
    9. Tell us about a lesson in which you’ve used differentiated instruction.
    10. How do you teach kids to utilize higher-order thinking skills in your classroom?
    11. What do you do to prepare your students for state or standardized tests?
    12. Do you make learning fun for students? How?
    13. If I walked into your classroom on a typical afternoon, what would I see going on?
    14. How do you measure student performance in your classroom?
    Are you prepared for your next interview?
    15. Describe a successful lesson. Tell why it was successful.
    16. What would you do if a student wasn’t handing her homework on a regular basis?
    17. How much homework do you give?
    18. Besides lecture, what methods of teaching do you use?
    19. Tell us about your discipline philosophy.
    20. What are your classroom rules? How do you make students familiar with the rules?
    21. What daily or weekly routines would be incorporated in your teaching?
    22. One student hits another student. What do you do?
    23. A student throws a pencil across the room. What do you do?
    24. Explain what you would do if a student was swearing in your class?
    25. What would you do if a student was complaining about an assignment you’ve given?
    26. What would you do if a parent complained about an assignment?
    27. Describe some methods of “positive reinforcement” that you might use in your classroom.
    28. Would you describe yourself as a “tough” teacher or an “understanding” teacher? Explain.
    29. How would you create a behavior modification for a student with ongoing behavior problems?
    30. What are some ways you can avoid behavior problems?
    31. Without giving any names, describe the most challenging student you’ve ever taught.
    32. What would you do to calm an angry parent?
    33. Do you have an example of a parent newsletter that you can show us?
    34. In what ways do you communicate with parents on a regular basis?
    35. A parent calls you because they are worried about their child’s low grades. What would you say to the parent?
    36. A parent writes a note and tells you that their daughter could not complete their homework assignment because she had a dance recital the night before. What do you do?
    37. How do you keep parents informed of their child’s progress?
    38. How do you use technology to enrich your lessons?
    39. How computer literate are you?
    40. Do you think it is appropriate for children in school to be using the Internet?
    41. Give an example of a time when you’ve worked on a team.
    42. Describe one time when you’ve acted as a leader.
    43. How do you feel about team-teaching?
    44. What can you do for a student that is extremely gifted?
    45. Describe a gifted student.
    46. How would you recommend a child for special education services?
    47. Most classes have students with a wide-range of reading abilities. What can you do to meet the needs of students with high reading abilities and low reading abilities at the same time?
    48. Tell us a little about your student teaching experiences.
    49. What is your least favorite age/grade/subject to teach? Explain.
    50. What is your favorite age/grade/subject to teach? Explain.
    51. What are some of the most important things you learned when student teaching?
    52. What was the most satisfying moment throughout your student teaching?
    53. What was the most frustrating thing about student teaching?
    54. Describe one college course that taught you the most about being a good teacher.
    55. Who influenced you to become a teacher?
    56. Describe the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to face.
    57. What books are you currently reading?
    58. A student confides in you and tells you that his parent abuses him. He asks you not to tell anyone. What do you do?
    59. What is your definition of a life-long learner? How can you promote life-long learning in your classroom?
    60. Would you be willing to help out with extra-curricular activities? Which ones?
    61. Have you ever been a substitute teacher in this school district?
    62. What do you look for in a principal?
    63. How do you communicate with administrators?
    64. Would you like to be part of our new teacher mentor program?
    65. What kinds of in services would you be eager to attend?
    66. List five adjectives that accurately describe yourself.
    67. What professional teaching organizations do you belong to?
    68. Have you ever received an award for anything in your lifetime? Describe.
    69. Describe the differences between a good teacher and a great teacher?
    70. What were you like as a student?
    71. If you teach a lesson and your students don’t seem to be “getting it,” what do you do?
    72. How do you provide support for students who are not performing as well as they should?
    73. What can you do to meet the needs of students who do not speak English?
    74. In what ways can you teach students to be accepting of one-another?
    75. How would you teach conflict resolution to your students?
    76. Name a book that you’d like to read to (or with) your students. Describe the book and tell why you chose it.
    77. How do you feel about working in an inclusion classroom?
    78. How do you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?
    79. How would you teach the writing process?
    80. Describe a high-interest project that you might assign to your students.
    81. What can you offer our school that other candidates cannot?
    82. Do you think you are a flexible person? Explain.
    83. What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
    Bottom of Form
    84. How do you incorporate writing into your curriculum?
    85. Can you show us what your lesson plan book would look like?
    86. How closely do you follow your lesson plans?
    87. Where do you plan to be ten years from now?
    88. What part of this job are you looking forward to?
    89. What part of this job scares you?
    90. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that teachers face today?
    91. Why do you want to teach in this, particular district?
    92. How can you make your teaching connect to students’ real-world experiences?
    93. Tell me about your references. Who are they and how do they know you?
    94. If I were to call your references, what might they say about you?
    95. How can teachers reach out to the community?
    96. How do you make sure you are teaching to the state standards?
    97. What kinds of materials and supplies would you need to do your job well?
    98. How do you feel about noise in your classroom?
    99. Show us your portfolio.
    100. What questions do you have for us?
    How to Answer 6 Common Teacher Interview Questions
    When you get a call from a school administrator inviting you to interview for a teaching job, how do you feel? Happy? Elated? Excited? Nervous? Scared stiff?
    You don’t need to worry about the interview if you’re a well-prepared, qualified candidate. Preparing for a teaching interview is a lot like studying for a test. You can review commonly asked questions, think about what you’ll say beforehand, and go in to do your best. If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. You’ll have answers on the tip of your tongue, ready-to-go.
    Below is a list of six commonly asked teacher interview questions from my eBook, Guide to Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams. How would you answer each question?
    1. Tell us about yourself.
    This will be the first question at almost every interview. Just give a brief background in about three sentences. Tell them what colleges you graduated from, what you’re certified to teach, what your teaching & working experiences are, and why you’d love the job.
    2. How do you teach to the state standards?
    If you interview in the United States, school administrators love to talk about state, local, or national standards! Reassure your interviewer that everything you do ties into standards. Be sure the lesson plans in your portfolio have the state standards typed right on them. When they ask about them, pull out your lesson and show them the close ties between your teaching and the standards.
    3. How will you prepare students for standardized assessments?
    There are standardized assessments at almost every grade level. Be sure you know the names of the tests. Talk about your experiences preparing students. You’ll get bonus points if you know and describe the format of the test because that will prove your familiarity.
    4. Describe your discipline philosophy.
    You use lots of positive reinforcement. You are firm, but you don’t yell. You have appropriate consequences for inappropriate behavior. You have your classroom rules posted clearly on the walls. You set common routines that students follow. You adhere to the school’s discipline guidelines. Also, emphasize that you suspect discipline problems will be minimal because your lessons are very interesting and engaging to students. Don’t tell the interviewer that you “send kids to the principal’s office” whenever there is a problem. You should be able to handle most discipline problems on your own. Only students who have committed very serious behavior problems should be sent to the office.
    5. How do you make sure you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?
    An IEP is an “individualized education plan.” Students with special needs will be given an IEP, or a list of things that you must do when teaching the child. An IEP might include anything from “additional time for testing” to “needs all test questions read aloud” to “needs to use braille textbook.” How do you ensure you’re meeting the needs of a student with an IEP? First, read the IEP carefully. If you have questions, consult a special education teacher, counselor, or other staff member who can help you. Then, you just make sure you follow the requirements on the IEP word for word. When necessary, you may be asked to attend a meeting in which you can make suggestions for updating the IEP. Your goal, and the goal of the IEP, is to make sure the student has whatever he or she needs to be successful in your class.
    6. How do you communicate with parents?
    This question will come up at almost every elementary school interview. It’s fairly common in the middle school and high school as well. You might have a weekly parent newsletter that you send home each week. For grades 3 and up, you may require students to have an assignment book that has to be signed each night. This way, parents know what assignments are given and when projects are due. When there are discipline problems you call home and talk to parents. It’s important to have an open-door policy and invite parents to share their concerns at any time.
    Do You Really NEED a Teaching Portfolio?
    Is a teaching portfolio absolutely necessary to get a job in education? I bet you think I am going to say, “Of course. You can’t get a job without one.” Actually, you CAN get a job WITHOUT a teaching portfolio. I’ve been on many interview committees and I’d estimate that less than 50% of all candidates have a portfolio. And we’ve even hired people who do not have a portfolio. But, even so, I STRONGLY recommend assembling a good portfolio and presenting it to your interviewers.
    But why? I hear the argument AGAINST portfolios all the time: It take many hours to prepare a proper teaching portfolio. (Which it does.) Interviewers seldom ask to see the portfolio. (Which is true?) It’s hard for inexperienced teachers to find enough quality material to put in the portfolio. (Perhaps.)
    So, why WOULD you want to have one? Even though you don’t NEED a portfolio, I really think it’s a good idea to have one in front of you next time you sit down at an interview table. Here’s why….
    1. When you have a portfolio, the interview will be easier because you will have something in your hands to talk about. When an interviewer asks you how you would do something, you can simply open your portfolio, and SHOW him/her how you HAVE BEEN DOING whatever it is they’re asking about. When you are asked a question, you can only really do one of two things: a) You can answer by simply telling them what you would do— or b) you can answer by SHOWING them PROOF of what your teaching is like. Which will impress an interviewer more? Of course, it is better to show and prove your teaching experiences because the interviewer will have much more confidence in your ability if he/she has seen concrete EXAMPLES of your work.
    2. The simple act of walking in the room with a portfolio sends off positive signals. When you have a portfolio in-hand you seem serious about wanting the job. You are showing that you took time to prepare for the meeting. It shows that you are organized enough to compile evidence of your teaching experiences. People who are serious, prepared, and organized at an interview are usually serious, prepared, and organized teachers. Principals know this and they’ll be looking for signs of these attributes in their new employees.
    3. An interviewer will find you more INTERESTING if you use your portfolio effectively at an interview. Think about it: All day long, this person is sitting in a room asking questions about teaching practices and philosophy of education. After 3… 4… 5… 10… 12… 15 candidates they are bored to death of listening to cliché responses and tired of focusing. So, with your portfolio, YOU have a chance to add a little excitement to their day. How? You make it a conversational, interactive interview. When they ask about your teaching philosophy, you don’t just tell them— you pull it out and put it in their hands while you talk about it. When they ask about a successful lesson you’ve done, you pull out photographs and pass them around the table. If they ask how you communicate with parents, you pull out a copy of a parent newsletter you made up and say, “Here’s a copy of my parent newsletter— you can keep it!” By giving your interviewer things to hold, examine, and discuss, the interview becomes more interesting. It’s not longer just a question-answer session. It morphs into a show and tell… a bragging session that shows off your qualities as a teacher. And THAT will make you stand out above the other candidates!
    5 Insider Tips for a Successful Interview
    Read these tips from someone who has sat on school interview panels for years.
    I have sat on the interview panel on my elementary school for several years and have witnessed some impressive and not so impressive interviews. Like many schools, our leadership team spent hours analyzing the answers and demeanor of the candidates. Our goal was to find the best teacher from the mere 45 minute meeting. Every second counts when you are under the watchful eyes of an interview team. Below are five helpful tips that may help you to impress your interviewers and secure your desired job.
    Interview Tip #1:
    Maintain an understanding of current best practices and be ready to provide examples of how you are implementing them in your classroom. For example, you should certainly be prepared to explain how you differentiate instruction. In a recent interview, we questioned what differentiation techniques one candidate would use to reach the low-achieving students in your classroom. She responded that she would pair the low-achievers with the high-achievers who would help teach the material. First of all, this is not differentiation. Because the high-achievers have mastered the material they are now expected to take others under their wings and teach them? As smart as these children may be, they do not have a teaching degree. Secondly, if she were truly meeting the needs of all of the students in her classroom, these high-achievers should have moved on to other tasks that match their ability level, while she worked with those struggling to understand the material.
    Interview Tip #2:
    Avoid saying anything negative about current or former colleagues. Collaboration is a must in schools today. Principals are looking for “team players” whose presence and expertise will add to the staff. I once heard an interviewee explain that her teammates were not very good teachers and their personalities clashed so she did not collaborate. This may very well be the case, but it sends up a red flag to those sitting across the table. Interviewers are left questioning was it the teammate or the interviewee who was the problem? Sugarcoat your answer or omit a few details, but remain positive. No one wants to hire someone who may bring negativity to a staff.
    Interview Tip #3:
    Create unique answers that will stick in the minds of the interviewers. Take time before the interview to consider those questions that will likely be asked. Think about the wonderful things you do in your classroom that set you apart from others. You may even want to set up a few interviews with schools that do not interest you just to get a feel for what types are questions are currently being asked. Our interview team would often ask a candidate why he or she wanted to become a teacher or has stayed with the profession. In this situation, do not say that you love kids. This response was most frequent, and the least impressive. Of course, you do and that is wonderful, but the answer is common and predictable.
    Interview Tip #4:
    As petty as this sounds, consider your appearance. If you have seen the latest “Tide To Go” advertisements with the “talking stain,” you understand that appearance can often speak louder than words. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I once interviewed a candidate who was wearing a white shirt and thin bra that you could see right through. Needless to say, my memory of this interview was not how she ran her reading program. If you appear disheveled or inappropriate in an interview, a principal will be concerned about how you will present yourself in the classroom.
    Interview Tip #5:
    Do not forget to write a thank you note. Not only will your etiquette stand out among other candidates, but it gives you one more opportunity to compliment the principal and his/her school. A well-written thank you note can go a long way.
    Teacher Interview: Common Sense and Professional Advice
    This is the culmination of several years of hard work. You’ve finished college. You’re done with your student teaching and you’ve passed all of your teacher certification examinations. The applications, resumes, and cover letters have been sent out to every local school district.
    All you can do now is sit around the house and wait for the phone to ring, right? Wrong! You should be preparing for your interview!
    I’ve been to the interview table several times as a candidate and many more times as an interviewer. If there were any tricks, secrets, or shortcuts to success in the interviewing process, I haven’t discovered them. My only sound advice for candidates is to come to the interview prepared.
    You should have your teaching portfolio in-hand and you should be ready to talk about anything and everything that relates to you, your background, and your philosophies on education. The best candidates know how to teach, they know how to articulate their teaching beliefs, and most of the time, they already know what types of questions will be asked before the interview even begins.
    It’s easy for an interviewer to spot an unprepared candidate. Candidates who have not practiced basic interview questions beforehand are unnaturally nervous. They shift in their seats more. They begin most answers with the word, “uhhhhh.” There are long pauses while interviewers wait for the candidate to process the question and think up an answer. They get confused by basic educational jargon that they learned in college.
    Almost every teaching interview includes similar, common questions. In order to be a prepared candidate, all you have to do is practice answering the most common questions before you go to the interview. (See the practice interview questions chapter in my book to review the 45 most commonly asked questions.) If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. There are no tricks or shortcuts; if you do your homework you will perform well.
    Body language can show whether you’re a confident, qualified teacher or an unsure one. At the interview, be confident, but not cocky. Smile when you walk in. Greet the people interviewing you with a smile and a nod. Firmly shake the hand of the principal and other interviewers that are within easy reach. When you take your seat, sit up straight with your feet on the floor and your hands in a relaxed position on the desk.
    Have a mild sense of humor. Prepare to make some humorous small talk when you are greeted. For example, if a principal shakes your hand and asks how you are, it’s okay to say, “A nervous wreck!” A whimsical introduction can break the ice. Be sure your sense of humor is clean and appropriate for an interview.
    Have a teaching portfolio ready. Your portfolio should contain extra copies of your resume, a copy of your teaching certificate, sample lesson plans, samples of student work, and any other evidence that shows you are a qualified candidate for a teaching position. It should be bound in a neat, professional-looking leather binder. (See the teaching portfolio chapter in my book for more information.) Place the portfolio in front of you when you sit down at the interview table.
    Usually, the people interviewing you will not ask to see your portfolio. They do, however, expect you to have it on-hand. Don’t wait for anyone to mention the portfolio. Instead, you should use it as a tool to describe your teaching experiences. For example, if you are asked to describe a lesson that involves teaching writing, you might say, “Yes, I can show you! I have a sample of student work that shows how I teach the writing process.”
    The first question at almost every interview will be: “Tell us about you.” You should already know what you’re going to say. Keep your answer reasonably brief. You can talk about the college you attended and provide an overview of your teaching experience.
    Always be positive. Try not to say, “I don’t know.” Avoid saying, “I’m not really good at…” Don’t say, “That’s one of my weak points.” Always tell the truth, but you don’t want to suggest that you’re not a confident, successful, qualified teacher. If you honestly don’t know the answer to a question, you might ask the interviewer to restate it in a different way, or you might want to give the best answer you can based on your knowledge and experiences.
    Use lots of examples when you answer questions. When they ask how you would do something, tell them how you have already done it. This will make you seem more experienced. For example, if an interviewer asks, “How would you use creative problem-solving in your lessons?” You might answer with, “When I was student teaching, I did a great creative problem-solving lesson when…” When you use specific examples, you’re convincing the interviewers that you’re more than just hypothetical talk.
    The final question of your interview will most likely be, “Do you have any questions for us?” Be prepared with a thoughtful question ahead of time. While this is probably not the most important question of the interview, it is your last chance to leave a positive impression. Rather than answering with, “Not really,” you should ask something philosophical or complimentary. You might ask the interviewer why they are proud of their school or what the people you’ll be working with are like. Since your interviewers will probably be meeting with lots of candidates, you should use the opportunity to ask a question and make yourself stand out. And, think about it: You’ve been on the hot seat answering their questions for 45 minutes. You’ve earned the right to turn the table, even if it is just for a moment.
    When you leave, the interviewers will, of course, be talking about you. They’ll be filling out little forms rating your experience, qualifications, communication skills, and personality. At the end of the day, they will have about a dozen of these forms sitting on the desk. They’ll look through them all and the chosen candidates will be the ones who were the most memorable, most qualified, and most prepared for the meeting. With some time and effort, that candidate can be you.