“Great leaders make all decisions based on the best people”. -Todd Whitaker
It’s an exciting time of year for schools looking to hire the best and educators alike in search of their dream job. And even though we are heading into the final half of the hiring season, quality candidates and exceptional schools are still in interview mode. Having been both in the hot seat as an applicant and as part of numerous hiring committees, we would like to offer practical advice directly from our own experience for those in the hunt for the best job in the world, Teacher.
We want to start by pulling back the curtain and letting you in on a simple, yet important truth about hiring. Every interview represents the committee’s desire to hire only the very best for their students. You might be thinking, duh! But there’s a great deal of depth to this. School leaders understand these wise words by Jim Collins, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Administrators and hiring committees know that their numero uno objective is to hire only the very best, no excuses, and let’s face it, getting The Job at The School you want to be at is competitive. We hope these tips help give you an edge over other candidates and set you apart as The. Best. Candidate. Here goes!
Your Experience and Hustle is Your Best Resume
Your proven track record should speak for itself, but the committee won’t know what it is unless you tell them. Some get nervous or shy in an interview because they feel like they are bragging, but in truth, no one can speak about your experiences and success like you can! Look for opportunities in the questions asked of you to share about specific examples, scenarios, and experiences. Be sure to highlight your competencies. Tell the committee about your unique skill set and how you leveraged those skills to implement a special program, spearhead an innovative initiative, and supported student success.
Focus on Your Core Values
The interview committee is trying to get a feel for you during the time you are with them face-to-face. It’s up to you to communicate your core values clearly. The committee wants to know what you believe and if your values are congruent to their culture.
Do Your Research
It speaks volumes when you are aware of the strengths and areas of growth of the school you hope to soon be serving. This means not only looking at hard data, but also investing time to find out their story on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Know When the Interview Begins and Ends
- The interview started the minute you hit submit on the application and resume. In the digital age, admins want to make certain that your digital footprint matches the values and standards they want for their campus.
- The parking lot – your arrival is anticipated so don’t be surprised if a first impression is formed through a window. Dress and carry yourself in a way that communicates yourself as the professional you are. Don’t lose out on the opportunity because an outfit is distracting.
- Always include your most current supervisor as a reference. Not including this person could prevent the interview you want from even happening in the first place.
- The interview is ongoing. Though the formal 30-60 minutes may be over the interview is far from over. Even if you do not land the job today, you may be offered a different position by the same school or within the district later. You want to demonstrate that you are such an asset that to not hire you would be a loss.
At the End, Ask the Right Questions
Inevitably, almost every interview ends with the question, “Do you have any questions for us?” Be ready for this by knowing what questions you want to ask (and what not to ask)! The tone and type of questions you ask will communicate additional things about you to the committee. We suggest asking high level questions that anyone on the committee could answer. Here are a few great closure questions:
- What do you hope people see about your school when they walk in the front door?
- What makes your learning community exceptional?
Shy away from questions that focus on easily searchable information about the school or district, like pay or the school calendar for example. And don’t ask about wearing jeans every day either.
Be ready for the committee to ask you, “Is there anything else that you would like to tell us that would help us make our decision?” Have your response to this question ready. Seriously, plan and practice your closing statement! This will be your last opportunity to make a final face-to-face impression with the committee and you want it to be memorable and strong! You want them to have the feeling that they need to offer you the job before you leave the school. Your closing words should punctuate your interview, summarize your core values, and inspire the committee to KNOW You are The Best fit for their school!
In closing we want to share a few signs that the interview is going well or not going well based on our own experiences.
Signs It’s Going Well:
- The interview goes longer than scheduled.
- When the interview shifts from a strict interview format into more of a conversational flow.
- The committee is telling you increasing details about the school or the position (ie When it starts to feel like you are interviewing the committee).
Signs It’s Not Going Well:
- It’s a short interview, very short! As in it was scheduled for 30 minutes and it wraps up in half the time. A short interview can be a sign that it’s probably not a right fit.
- One-on-one interviews. The absence of a committee could signal that the interview is nothing more than a courtesy interview. If this happens, don’t blow the interview off! You always give it your all and knock the socks off the person interviewing you because you never know, this opportunity could lead to your big break.
A final word is not to forget who you are in the process. Allow your genuine love and passion for students to shine through and you will be sure to find the right fit.
Let us know if these suggestions were helpful to you in your own job search. Anything else you would add?
This post was co-authored by Heidi and Jeff.