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Successful Job Hunting Strategies
by Kim Tracy

First Impressions

The summer months are considered the hot time for interviews to take place for educators. Most principals are scurrying to find qualified individuals to fill vacant positions. In some areas of the United States, the competition for positions are tough, while other areas will hire anyone with a degree. Regardless, when interviewing, the future educator needs to remember that first impressions go a long way. Prepped by colleagues, universities and friends, the potential employee is armed with his/her philosophy, discipline methods and teaching strategies. Any well qualified future educator can rattle off the latest research in education and can explain why he/she is the best qualified for that position. But what else does one need to know before going into an interview for a teaching position?

  • Be sure to find out about the school ahead of time. The enrollment numbers, location, how many grade levels, how many classes and whatever else about the school. Check for a website that the school might maintain.
  • Obtain official reports from the department of public instruction website for that area. Access the latest test scores in comparison to the rest of the state and region.
  • Obtain a copy of the overall curriculum for that area and find out if the local school board has any further curriculum objectives
  • Dress Appropriately. Dress for Success. Dress to Impress.
  • Think in advance of any questions you might want to ask. These questions might be about class size, schoolwide projects/programs, school rules, etc.
  • Be prepared to make an immediate decision if offered the position. While many areas, this prospect would be a dream come true to actually be offered a position on the spot but some places will hire teachers immediately.
  • If interviewing at the school, be prepared to take a tour of the school. Remember that everyone is checking out the perspective employee

During the interview, one must try to maintain a low level of stress while still trying to be natural. Questions should be answered completely and honestly while looking in the eyes of whomever asked the question and glancing at the other interviewers. If a question is confusing, ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Show prior knowledge of the school and ask questions to the panel of interviewers with tact.

Interviewers are looking for individuals that can mold into the existing society. Will this person get along with others and venture out on his/her own to take the initiative to do projects for the school? Will this person go above and beyond the official duty of the teacher? Will this person make a good team player? The answers to the questions such as philosophy and discipline are most imperative. Interviewers will hang on to those initial words spoken when asked questions in those fields. Mannerisms and body language are just as important as the answers themselves. Be constantly aware of the environment in the room, and the aura that is being produced.

Most interview advisors preach to "sell yourself." Showing the thrill of being someone that actually can make a difference in the lives of children, backed with knowledge of the curriculum, any future educator can shine in front of a panel of interviewers. Teaching is a special calling for those that are ready to take on the world with very little monetary or verbal recognition. Anyone who is ready to take on that challenge, and can prove he/she is ready for that challenge, will naturally show how he/she is the best person for that position.