I have received several emails in the past month asking for resources on interviews as many educators are going through that process. Below, I have shared a post originally written in 2018 that encourages people getting interviewed to try and steer the process to their benefit. Hopefully, you will find it useful!
I also wanted to share the following past posts:
I hope these posts and the one below might help anyone going through this process now or in the future! Best of luck!
I applied for a job at a historical park when I was in university, and I was excited about the opportunity to be a tour guide and share some history with visitors. Eager to get the chance, I went through the interview and thought I was doing well. Then they asked me this question, and I will never forget it. The interviewer held up a pencil and said, “Pretend you are telling the history of this pencil to a group. Go!”
Immediately, I shared that I didn’t know anything about the history of the pencil, and the interviewer said, “Make it up then!”
I stumbled along, making stuff up that was utterly incoherent, and had a Billy Madison debate moment where nothing made any sense, and everyone in the room was dumber for listening to what I had shared.
To this day, I still think the question was stupid and more of a “gotcha” moment. It was not helpful for the interviewers to determine if I was a good fit for the job because I would hope that any of the histories that I would have shared at the park would have been accurate, not something I made up on the spot.
As I have seen interviews in education, I have seen some of this disconnect. Asking teachers to “teach a lesson” to a panel when we are looking for more collaborative learning in classrooms, or panels that don’t talk to applicants or have conversations but instead shoot rapid-fire questions their way. If you are going to get the best educator for your school, you have to do your best to see how they are in an environment that is most like your school or the school you want to create.
As someone being interviewed, you don’t ask the questions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t guide the conversations. Some people I have interviewed and some that have interviewed me keep coming back to specific themes, no matter the questions. When working with educators about to have interviews or newer teachers, I encourage them to have some focus points for interviews that they will come back to throughout the questions. Here are five key points that I would suggest you look at:
1. Relationships (staff and students) – One of my favorite principals in the world stated that if you were exceptional with connections but weak with content, you could last a longer in education than if the reverse is true. Of course, we want educators with both, but focusing on the relationship piece is paramount; this goes beyond students as well. I know some very gifted educators who are great with children but struggle with other adults. The focus is on finding school teachers; educators focused on the benefit of every child in the school, not only the ones they teach directly. If the word “relationships” does not come up in your interview, I would be concerned.
2. Have a willingness to grow and learn. – Whatever you know now should be less than what you know in a year. In any interview, it is important to give examples of times that you grew through your career as a teacher and learner. You could have been a fantastic teacher ten years ago, but you can now be irrelevant if nothing has changed. Growth is necessary for individuals or will not happen at the organizational level.
3. You have access to knowledge outside of yourself. – Collaboration is key in education, so if you are limited to your thoughts and ideas, so is your classroom. Face-to-face collaboration is crucial, but how can you learn outside your local community? For this post, I asked people for thoughts that I could share for this post:
If you were interviewing a teacher for your school, what things would you like to hear from them? Would love to know your thoughts.
— George Couros (@gcouros) April 15, 2018
If you read the responses, you will see that so many great ideas go beyond this post. If you want to provide a “world-class” education, you have to take advantage of worldwide access.
4. Passionate about the content they teach. – Content knowledge is crucial to any teaching position, but if you are in education, you have probably come across an educator that knows their content inside out but struggles to share that knowledge with their classroom. Having a passion for what you teach, though, can become contagious. If kids see you love your subject, that passion will likely become contagious.
5. Education is a calling, not a career. – Why did you become a teacher? The prevailing sentiment is that teachers do not get into it for the money, but I also think about the mental tax teachers pay and how much we feel alongside our students. This doesn’t mean that a teacher should only care about teaching; you should also have outside interests. But if you don’t LOVE the job, the job will eat you alive or wear you down.
The five above are vital points that I think are important to get across in an interview, no matter the question, but are a personal preference. What would be some ideas that you would want to ensure you were to get across in a teaching interview?