Finding a Teaching Job, Part 3: Interviewing for a Teaching Job

Finding a Teaching Job, Part 3: Interviewing for a Teaching Job

What to Expect

If you have passed the initial screening process and have been offered an interview, congratulations! Interviewing for a teaching job is not all that different than interviewing for any other job, but there are a few things you should expect.

  1. You will likely be interviewed by a panel of administrators, teachers, and parents. The administrator will likely make the final decision, but the other panel members may have quite a bit of influence, so try to engage everyone!
  2. You may be asked to come back for a demo lesson. This is pretty standard, so make sure to have your calendar ready in case you need to schedule on the spot.
  3. You will be asked about your teaching philosophy everywhere you go. Make sure you know what you will say, and that you can back it up with examples.

Be Prepared

It is not difficult to anticipate the kinds of questions you will be asked. I found this site by doing a simple Google search, I’ve been asked all of these questions before. I don’t recommend memorizing everything you will say or giving canned answers, but having some idea of how you will respond to the “why did you become a teacher?” question will prevent you from saying, “because I love children” (which may be true but it’s a totally lame answer!). Instead of scripting your answers, think of some examples of your best work. If you say you love project based learning, you better be prepared with an anecdote about how you’ve used it. If you claim to use assessment to inform instruction, make sure you can demonstrate how.

Ask Questions

The Q & A portion of the interview is your chance to determine if the school is a good fit for you, but it’s also your chance to share any valuable tidbits of information about yourself that may not have surfaced yet. If you really wanted to talk about how much of a leadership role you played in a previous position, ask, “are teachers given the opportunity to fill leadership roles?” This opens up a dialogue about the topic and you have the opportunity to explain why this interests you. Avoid questions that don’t add value to your interview, don’t ask about parking, or other logistical things.

Follow Up

I’ve often been advised to send thank you cards to everyone on an interview panel. While I have done this out of superstition, having been on the receiving end of these cards, it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference. I’ve never based any decision on post-interview correspondence, but it certainly can’t hurt. When I say follow up, I mean send your interviewer a quick thank you email. Tell them you appreciate their time and consideration, include a link to your portfolio, then sit back and wait. If it seems to take a while, you can send another follow up email, but keep it very short, and don’t be pushy! You want to seem interested, but not overbearing. I received an email from an applicant last week detailing all the reasons I should interview her. She emailed me several more times, each time with more urgency, demanding my attention. Needless to say, she did not advance to the interview stage. It is possible to be overzealous.

Hopefully all of your hard work, and patient waiting will pay off and you’ll get an offer! Teaching jobs are unique in that there is often no room for negotiation, you are placed on a salary schedule, so you can accept your offer right away without haggling, and start teaching!

This post is Part 3 of a three-part series by Emily Dahm. Read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.