My first teaching job interview did not go well. I thought I had done enough to prepare. I drove to the school to check it out and see what the neighborhood surrounding it looked like. I did a series of Google searches (on a level that a private investigator would be impressed with) to learn everything there was to know about the school. I wanted to be prepared for any question they asked me. I went to a district open house, shook hands with the principal, told her I would be applying and that I couldn’t wait to speak with her.
Well, the day came and it was everything I hoped it wouldn’t be. I sat down with 3 representatives of the elementary school. The whole time I answered their questions I thought to myself, “These people do not want to talk to me.” (I found out later they had already made their decision about hiring someone else well before my interview, I was there because of a formality. It happens.) When it was my time to ask what questions I had about their school – all of my Google search information left my brain. The only thing I could think to ask was, “Um…could I have a guinea pig as a class pet?” I’m still facepalming myself for that one.
The next interview I had was extremely different. There were 20 principals from the school district and 20 vice principals or intern coaches. 40 people. 80 eyes staring at me. I was extremely nervous, but I walked in with a big smile and said, “Hi everybody!” (The first of endless times I’ll have to do this in my teaching career.)
I heard the districts always ask you questions to throw you off your game, I had no idea what to expect. The first question they asked in the interview was, “What scares you?”
I thought about my answer for a beat before telling them the honest answer: I’m scared of failing.
I talked about my anxiety disorder and how it’s helped me both as a student and a teacher. All of the people in the room were nodding and celebrating that I shared something so vulnerable. I found out later that the principal who hired me was searching for someone like me because he had so many students at school struggling with anxiety. If you struggle with anything, don’t worry about people not wanting to hire you because of it. The right people are going to see if you are turning that weakness into something that makes you an amazing educator.
I was offered a job that day and the principal told me he had to “arm wrestle” to be the one to send me the offer. Please don’t get discouraged because the first, second, third, or fourth interview doesn’t go well. You are going to find the school with the kids who are a perfect fit for you. I’m so glad I didn’t let the “guinea pig” interview hold me back from achieving my dream.
Here are some things I wish I had known about finding a teaching job:
- My dear friend, Learning with LaFrenz, has an interview course specifically designed for helping student teachers find jobs.
- Keep your resume education-themed. Confetti and Creativity has beautiful templates available for purchase!
- Your cover letter is so important. The one I used is available as a template on TPT.
- Stalk your friends list on Facebook or your contact list in your phone to find references who have glowing things to say about you. Ask them if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation. (Tip: Ask more people than you need letters for so you can choose the best ones and make deadlines.) I asked people I used to babysit for, old bosses, teachers I’ve connected with, etc. The worst thing someone can do is say no when you ask them! Then you just ask someone else.
Once you have those things in order, it’s time to send your resume to schools. I used the website K12 Job Spot to find my current job. (This has openings for every state in the United States!)
The best tip I have to remember during your interview is to relate everything back to teaching.
For example, If you like to travel, talk about how those experiences enrich your lessons and make you more culturally aware.
Questions you can ask at the end of the interview:
1. What is a need at your school I can fill?
2. What does the culture of your school look like?
3. How does your team collaborate
4. How do you feel about technology in the classroom?
5. Anything else important to you! (I would probably leave out asking for a class pet…)
You are going to do amazing, friend!