Interviews – What are you leaving on the table?

I work in an amazing building. I walked into a school with a positive culture, student centered approach, and willingness to change. So, when it comes to hiring new teachers, our bar is set high. Todd Whitaker provides an additional twist, as he believes new hires should not just maintain a school culture, they should drive it forward (What Great Principals Do Differently, 2011). The pressure is on.

This being interview season, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about our interview candidates and our practices as an interview team. This blog post serves mostly as my stream of consciousness regarding interviews.

Prepping for interview questions? You’re doing it wrong.

There are not many times in your life when a group a of people will eagerly gather together to listen to you talk about yourself for 40 minutes, but, essentially, that is what an interview is all about. You have 40 minutes to brag about yourself, your students, and your work. If you are preparing for an interview by looking up sample interview questions, you are doing it wrong. It should not matter to you what questions are asked. You need to be confident about who you are as an educator. What do you stand for? What are you passionate about? What are your core beliefs? Every answer you give should point back to your passion and beliefs. Forget the resume, that is the stuff you need to leave on the table. When you walk out of the room, we should know what is important to you. If the interview team had to describe you in one word, what word would they use?

Get connected.

If you are new to teaching, you may feel that there is little you can do about your minimal experience. I would disagree. Twitter, blogs, and EdCamps put the world of teaching and learning at your finger tips. The same goes for veteran teachers. I dare you to spend 30 minutes exploring Twitter, and not learn something new. If you make the time to interact with these resources daily, you will be a better educator. I’m sure of it.

If you’re really looking for a way to “prep” for an interview, participate in a live Twitter chat. Practice thinking on your feet and have your ideas supported or challenged by your peers. Again, the topic is less important than your ability to express your thoughts in a powerful, concise manner. Here is the official Education Twitter Chat schedule.

If I could ask anything…

While I believe rehearsing interview questions is not effective for an interviewee, well crafted questions will help the interviewers take the best snapshot of the candidate. Our district has pre-determined interview questions, but if I could ask anything…

  • What is your favorite song?
  • How do you prove to your students they are important? Please use specific examples.
  • What does professional collaboration look like?
  • How will you improve our school?
  • Walk us through your best lesson ever, from beginning to end.
  • How do you stay current on best practice?
  • You just received an e-mail from an irate parent. How do you respond?

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