Hello, I am going to begin interviewing soon for the next school year and could use some advice - anything would be helpful.
Is there anything that I should research prior to interviewing? Are there any questions that are almost always asked in teacher interviews?
I know that there is a team of teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents which is intimidating in itself.
I did teach for a year and a half but it was at the school I student taught at and they just offered me the position with no interview. I am in a long term subbing position now so also no interview. However the school wants me to interview with them for a permanent position so I will know some of the people on the interviewing team, I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
Anyways, interviewing is something that is very intimidating and stressful to think about for me so any advice would be much appreciated!
Oh, one more thing, is it normally required or suggested to have a portfolio? I don't have a current paper portfolio but last year I did create a web based one ( I thought that was the current expectation but it didn't help me get a job for this year) however, I'm not sure how an online portfolio works while in an interview.
I always check the school's website before an interview. I also thought very carefully about what I expected in my classroom. What I expected from a school and I made sure to have a few questions concerning the school just to make you seem prepared. As for the portfolio. I took a paper based one and never once had the opportunity to crack it open. So I wouldn't worry. If you have the portfolio's site you can always leave a card with your resume that has the portfolio address. Every interview I've gone to has asked me about my language arts block, my behavior model and my teaching experiences. I've also been asked situational questions like "what would you do if the school lost power for an extended period of time" or "describe how you would handle a difficult parent approaching you at the mall"
I've never been in an interview that had that many people. Mine were always principal/assistant principal and that's all so I can see how you might feel intimidated. Just realize that you're there for a reason. That you're wonderful. I think when you go in confident it really helps. Good luck! You'll do fine.
If you know what grade you are interviewing for, then be aware of the programs the school uses. Do they mainly use textbooks, trade books, or just have a curriculum and develop lessons against that?
If it's first grade, do they use project construct? Do they use 4-blocks elementary-wide? Do they use literacy circles in 3rd grade and above? Be familiar with the language arts program they use.
Bring a portfolio with any good teaching evaluations you have. Develop the ways that you do parent communication (a biggie!) and show a big project that you may have done involving the community. Have a good grasp of your grade's general curriculum. This differs from school to school, but do the best you can. What I would do is research your grade level's state testing--if you're interviewing for 4th and a major part of the state testing is the social studies/history section, then you could find a way to incorporate that information. I've found books at the teacher stores that help with our state testing standards for each grade. Also your state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Ed. on the internet would probably help with this. Include pictures of happy kids from your classroom at the end, and include pictures of your b-boards or room.
Of course a DVD of your teaching would be good, too, if you have a snippet of you on video.
Be ready to tell a little about yourself. I start with my name because it's hard to pronounce, then my age, family, my hobbies, and end with a recap of my teaching experience. Keep it short and succinct. They'll possibly ask you about your discipline procedures, your strengths, your weaknesses. They might ask you something like "What's the worse thing you could do in the classroom or to a child." I got that one a few years ago. They might give you scenarios about how to handle a parent/child situation. Be ready for that. Good luck!!
Congrats! I've had the opprotunity to be on both sides of the interviewing table. Here are a few things I've picked up along the way.
First of all, it is a bit overwhelming when interviewing with a room full of people. It is very common in teaching. Enter the room with a smile and a firm handshake for everyone present. One thing to keep in mind is that the principal will probably guide the interview while the others observe and take notes. Try to ignore the note taking and concentrate on the questions instead. They too will probably ask a few questions. Remember to keep good eye contact on all the people in the room though. Believe it or not, a lot of times its HOW you talk during the interview that is just as important as what you say.
Research the school district before the interview. The questions usually fall in 6 or 7 categories. Instead of trying to guess at all the specific questions and remember and think out tons of answers, I usually prefer to come up with answers to fit these broad categories.
1. Describe yourself
This question could be-Tell us about yourself, what are your strenghts or weaknesses etc. List all your best qualities i.e. I'm creative, dynamic, enthusiastic etc. You're trying your best to sell yourself here. Don't give personal information like your age out. That has nothing to do with how you will do your best job for them.
2.Educational Philosophy-what is it, show them you are a good match, a lot of districts have a page about what they think is important at their schools. You might put this is when they ask "Why do you want to work here"? I believe that children... I think I would be a good match because I have seen .... here.
3.Discipline-expectations, rules, classwide behavior techniques etc.
4. Academnics-Reading program familiarity, Math, manipulatives experience, assessments, cooperative grouping (include words from your research on the school here)
5. Collaboration-How do you work with others in the school, special ed., speech, assistants, modify assignments to meet needs
6. Experience with diverse populations-how do you include experiences in your room
7.Parents-types of communication, how would you deal with a difficult parent etc.
Give specifics when you can to back up your answers. For example, if they ask about Math instruction you can include Math workshops you took or show pictures from your portfolio for an example. This is the best way to use your portfolio. Usually they don't have much time to look at them. Work it into your anwers whenever it seems appropriate. This will also help keep you calm. Show them and you are more likely to come across as enthusiastic. Smile during the interview but keep things professional.
Always prepare questions to ask them. If its something that they already addressed let them know that and ask another one. Keep child-centered/teamwork questions in mind i.e. how much planning time will I have with my team?
Leave with another handshake and thank them for their time.
Write a thank you letter and send it promptly. Restate and highlight the positives that came up in the interview. Leave phone number again and how you can be reached.
All of the above is great advice and should help you to prepare. You should also ask either the Human Resources person(for your district) or principal if they can give you a sense of what types of questions you may be asked. You would be surprised how much they may tell you. Also, it sounds like you are nervous about the actual interview process, even though you may be very prepared. I would suggest getting some interview coaching, which you can do over the phone, through a number of businesses. It will help you practice answering the questions so you feel as if you have already been through it once you go to the actual interview. I did this in preparation for my school interview and it gave me a lot of confidence. If you want the name of the place I used(it is an online teacher resume/portfolio/interview coaching service)just let me know.Good luck!