Interview Techniques

Preparing for Success

General Interview Guidelines
Characteristics Administrators Look For When Hiring Teachers
School Administrators Value...
Common Interview Mistakes
Dress for Success
Interview Questions for Teacher Candidates Questions from Specific Categories After the Interview

 

PREPARING FOR SUCCESS
A successful interview takes planning and practice. The interview is an opportunity to present yourself as the best qualified candidate for the job. The biggest mistake made by job candidates is grossly underestimating the competition. district representatives do not hire the best candidates, but instead the candidates who are best at getting the job offers. Preparing for the interview and being ready to present yourself as the best candidate requires that you:
* know your strongest skills and qualifications.
* determine how you meet the requirements of the job.
* know your strengths and weaknesses.
* be ready to explain how your education and experience prepared you for the position.
* anticipate the questions the interviewer might ask you.
* research the district -- know something about their goals, history, annual reports, size, location, and growth patterns.
* think of questions that you would like to ask the interviewer to help you determine if you are interested in the job.

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STEPS IN THE SELECTION PROCESS
Steps district administrators take to prepare for the search to fill a teaching vacancy.
* Write a job description.
* Select criteria.
* Write vacancy announcement and advertise the position.
* Receive applications.
* Select the candidates to be interviewed.
* Check references.
* Interview.
* Select the best candidates.
* Conduct a hiring interview.
* Implement the job offer and acceptance.
* Notify the unsuccessful candidates, "Sorry letter."

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GENERAL INTERVIEW GUIDELINES
1. Arrive a few minutes early.
2. Be brief and direct in answering questions.
3. Be responsive to the interviewers needs and interests.
4. Be natural and relaxed.
5. Be animated. Nod your head, smile, and look interested.
6. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
7. Be clear, positive and specific. Be sure your answer addresses the interviewer’s question. If it is not clear what the interviewer is seeking in the question, ask for clarification.
8. Be self-assured and 100% honest.
9. Avoid saying anything negative about yourself, others or past employers.
10. Be aware of non-verbal communication signals (both the interviewers and yours).
11. Take extra copies of your resume with you.
12. Smile, sit comfortably -- shoulders fairly erect and gesture with your hands and body when you emphasize points.
13. Keep enthusiasm in your voice throughout the interview.
14. Offer a firm hand shake. Be confident.
15. Research the district prior to the interview. Know about the schools and the educational programs of the district.
16. Practice, practice, practice -- it increases self-assurance.

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CHARACTERISTICS ADMINISTRATORS LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING TEACHERS
1. Good sense of Humor.
2. Tact and diplomacy when dealing with people.
3. High moral, ethical and professional standards.
4. Visionary.
5. Cooperative and considerate, sensitive toward others.
6. Risk taker.
7. Can do attitude...positive and opportunistic.
8. Intelligent.
9. Organized.
10. Loyal to the cause.
11. Neat in appearance.
12. Flexible.
13. Infectious enthusiasm.
14. Warm and friendly.
15. Ability to set goals and be committed to them.
16. Expresses ideas precisely.
17. Recognizes strengths and limitations of self/others.
18. The best person.

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SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS VALUE.....
1. The ability to make a difference in a student’s life. All those who are involved with school systems want teachers in their classrooms who sincerely like children and who are willing to work to see those children succeed.
2. A variety of life experiences. School systems look for teachers who bring with them a variety of experiences. Recent graduates whose resumes include volunteer work, camp counseling and community work strike a responsive chord in the hiring office.
3. Managing a classroom. If you haven’t taken a course in classroom management, you probably should, because school administrators are looking for evidence that you understand the task.
4. Student teaching experiences. Administrators place strong emphasis on the evaluations you receive from your student teaching experience, so make the most of it.
5. Academic preparation. New certification requirements in nearly every state place increased emphasis on strong academic preparation.
6. Personal Appearance. Like it or not, first impressions are important. Teacher candidates must present a professional appearance for interviews.
7. A sense of humor. New teachers need to be able to laugh at both situations and themselves recognizing that they are human and can make mistakes just as students do.
8. Adaptability. Administrators seek teachers who are able to bend, but not break. They look for assurance that you can withstand the pressures of the job.
9. Maturity. Accountability and evaluation are increasingly important to school systems. Administrators want teachers who are able to withstand scrutiny and take criticism.
10. Involvement. Teachers are expected to be active and assume leadership roles in the community. Administrators look for teachers who are willing to come in early and stay late.
11. Enthusiasm for education and for students. Motivation, involvement, energy, willingness to learn and progress, eagerness, commitment and dedication to students and learning, history of working with and being involved in activities related to career, special skills, talents, or training, interest in extracurricular activities.
12. Interpersonal relationships. Willingness to cooperate and contribute as a team player, human relationship skills with students, parents, fellow workers, principals or department head and staff.
13. Professional awareness Knowledge and awareness of latest developments in subject/grade level, knowledge of the field of education in general, and familiarity with professional literature.

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COMMON INTERVIEW MISTAKES
Watch out for common interview mistakes. They can sneak into an open exchange before you know it. Once they do it is difficult to correct the misimpression they create.
1. Inability to describe strengths and accom-plishments concisely and convincingly.
2. Indicating that you are not sure what you want to do.
3. Rambling or straying from the point.
4. Not listening to the question.
5. Insufficient or overly detailed answers.
6. Evasiveness, making excuses.
7. Volunteering weakness or negative information.
8. Fidgeting, tapping feet or fingers, yawning or other signals of disinterest.
9. Focusing on salary and benefits. Let the topic be initiated by the interviewer.
10. Criticizing a previous employer or a master teacher.
11. Giving the answer "I really like working with people".
12. Misrepresenting the truth.
13. Indifference to the interviewer’s or districts interests.
14. Indicating the you are a "window shopper" just seeing what is out there.

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DRESS FOR SUCCESS
"Your total appearance is your first impression. You never have a second chance to make a good first impression."

The interviewer’s first impression of you is created almost entirely by your appearance so put some thought and care into that appearance. Dress conservatively and professionally, nails clean, hair neat and shoes shined.

WOMEN:
* Attire
Conservative suit or dress, low-heeled closed-toed shoes, and nylons. Suit should be stylish and complimentary but not distracting.
* Make-up
Use sparingly, colors match, conservative, natural.
* Hair
Well groomed, styled.
* Scent
Subtle or non-existent.

MEN:
* Attire
Suit or sport coat and slacks, ironed shirt and tie, polished shoes.
* Hair
Conservative length and style, well trimmed facial hair.

LOOK SHARP, FEEL SHARP, BE SHARP!!

According to Psychologists, words express only 30-35% of what we actually communicate. Facial expressions alone may make up over 50% of all communication. Often, non-verbal communication speaks louder than words. Your body language and tone of voice will create an impression. During a job interview, the image you project can have greater weight than what you actually say.

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INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR TEACHER CANDIDATES
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
2. Why did you enter the field of teaching?
3. What qualities do you have that make you an effective teacher?
4. Why would you like to teach in this district?
5. What grade levels do you prefer to teach?
6. How do you diagnose your students needs?
7. How would you use parents in your classroom?
8. What would you do to help non-English speaking parents feel comfortable at the school?
9. What kind of planning do you see a teacher doing?
10. What are some characteristics of a well managed classroom?
11. What rules have you established for your classroom?
12. What type of rewards and consequences would you use?
13. Describe your most difficult student discipline situation and how you handled it.
14. What additional talents and skills do you have?
15. What extracurricular activities can you supervise?
16. Describe a format you use to develop a lesson.
17. Describe a unit that you have taught.
18. How do you feel about thematic planning?
19. How do you handle the different ability levels of students in your classroom?
20. How do you individualize learning in your classroom?
21. Tell me about the methods of evaluation that you would use.
22. How do you motivate students to learn?
23. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
24. What area of your skills/professional development do you want to improve?
25. What are your career goals for the next five years? Ten years?
26. Describe the physical appearance of your classroom.
27. In what professional organizations do you have membership?
28. What is your philosophy of education?
29. What is the toughest aspect of teaching today?
30. What do like most about being a teacher? Least?
31. What motivates you?
32. What techniques do you use to deal with stress?
33. Why are you the best candidate for this position?
34. As a new teacher to a school, what would you see yourself doing to become a part of the staff?
35. Explain your role as a team/group member?
36. Do you have any questions or additional comments for me?

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THE INTERVIEW: Questions from Specific Categories
1. Central Character Assessment
"What influenced you the most to become a teacher?" "Why do you think you will make a good teacher?"
2. Academic and Co-curricular Background
"What class or classes did you take at the University that prepared you most for a teaching career?" "What sports or student activities do you feel qualified to coach or direct?"
3. Teaching Ability and Educational Philosophy
"In what ways are you able to change your teaching methods to meet the wide range of academic needs that will be present in your classroom?" "How can a teacher get students actively engaged in a classroom discussion?"
4. Learning Styles and Student Achievement
"What are some ways that teachers can be helpful to the slow learner?" "What would you do if you were to receive a new student in your class that had a learning disability?"
5. Planning and Organization
"What makes up a good lesson plan for you?" "Describe how you determine academic needs and then decide upon the proper learning materials."
6. Student and Parent Rapport
"In what ways can you have a positive impact on the parents view of you as a teacher?" "How are you able to make students feel at ease around you, while still respecting you?"
7. Student Management
"Good teaching can usually prevent discipline problems. Explain." "How would you handle a student who refuses to work in your class?"
8. Classroom Environment
"How would you make your room attractive and inviting to the learner?" "What is the teacher’s responsibility for maintaining clean and functional rooms?"
Preparing answers to questions in advance is vital. You don’t want to do all your thinking on the spot. You can show off your knowledge if your answers are well organized.
The interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions, be sure to have one or two strong ones to ask.
Project a willing image!!

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AFTER THE INTERVIEW
1. Thank the employer for their time.
2. Ask how soon they will be making a decision and how they will notify the applicants of their decision.
3. Ask the interviewer for a business card.
4. Write a thank you note to the interviewer.
5. Call the interviewer regarding the hiring process only after the deadline they provided for when they expected to have completed the hiring process.
6. Keep notes on all information provided by the interviewer regarding the expected hiring process.

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