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How should I prepare to Interview for Teaching Positions?

Updated on December 3, 2012

Teaching Jobs

As I started my job search this spring I came into the process with a lot of experience and knowledge on the interview process. A great deal of what I knew is true but a great deal has also changed.

I live in Illinois and the process has proved to be slow but moving along at the moment. In previous experiences I have know that a majority of the hiring happens in a two month period. A great majority of interviewing happens between the end of May and all of June. The rest of the hiring is the scramble right before school starts between August 1 - the start of school. If you don't get calls in July don't be surprised because many administrators take vacation time during July. That being said for some reason I have already had four interviews in the month of July.

What to wear to an interview

I know it is summer and it is hot. The last thing anyone wants to do is put on a business suit. The people that are interviewing you are often in shorts or less casual outfits but they already have a job and you don't. Dress professionally, end of story. On the ridiculously hot days I have gone with a dress pant and silk sleeveless top combo or a knee length skirt, cropped jacket, and sleeveless blouse combo. I often see people who are leaving interview before me or waiting after me and all I can think is they are really wearing that to an interview.

Last week I saw a older gentleman in cargo pants, a short sleeve button red button down and a non matching blue tie. When he first walked in I thought he already worked there and just had no style, when I realized he was there to interview for the same job as me, I really wanted to call the TV show What Not to Wear. Of course I didn't get the job so maybe he did (it was for a technology so maybe they were looking for nerdy).

No shorts, no flip flops, no sandals, no tank tops. I did questions about my sleeveless top - but it was silk and had a high neckline so I wasn't showing too much skin. NO cleavage revealing shirts and nothing too tight.

Men should go basic, dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie. Sorry guys there isn't much you can do to cool off in the summer months if you want to be taken seriously and professionally. The dress code world is unfair I know.

Getting Back into School Mode

Before you head out to the interview make sure you read some sample questions and think about the answers. You might also want to read a professional article. Some interviewers will ask you the last professional article you read. I have also been asked the last book I read that wasn't a professional article. I was interviewing for a middle school LA position. I read a lot of young adult books which answered the questions nicely, you wouldn't want to be stuck saying the last book you read was 50 Shades of something.

Think about a few lesson you taught recently, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Visualize your classroom and how the lesson occurred. Get back into the mode of school before you head out. Think about those key words that the principals want to hear about your subject and grade level.

Don't be Late!

Arrive to the interview on time. Also don't be too early. Principals usually have several interviews scheduled back to back. I arrive about 5 minutes before the scheduled interview time and always have a few minutes to wait. This gives me time to get the feel of the building, office personal, and other people as they come in. One of the last interviews I went to the next interviewee showed up before my interview even started. My time was 9:45 and he was not until 10, he walked in about 2 minutes after me at 4:42, the secretary was visibly annoyed that he was there that early. Not a good way to start off. Never get the secretary mad at you, that is an essential teacher rule.

Remember to Smile!

Be friendly, be personable, and smile. You are selling yourself. If it isn't natural than act. You want to make a good impression and this is your only chance.

By the time you are called for an interview they know you are qualified or they wouldn't have called you in. They want to see your personality and determine if you are going to be a good fit with the teachers that they already have on staff. You may be the perfect person for the job but if your personality clashes with the other staff they won't hire you. Try not to take this personally, you don't want to work with people you won't get along with anyway.

Thank You Note

Don't forget to send a thank you note, I use THE POSTCARD. Send a short, nice note to someone who interview you. It is polite, end of story.


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    • kthix10 profile image

      kthix10 5 years ago from IL

      I do realize how fortunate I am, but that being said I have my national board certification and that gets my foot in the door in many districts in this area.

    • dmhenderson profile image

      Dave Henderson 5 years ago from Missouri, USA

      Things are tough out there! I hope you realize how fortunate you are to be getting interviews in the first place!

    • kthix10 profile image

      kthix10 5 years ago from IL

      Good Luck on your search, I will be writing up some good tips for getting the interview soon, (don't want to give away all my secrets until that contract is signed)

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the help! I am finishing up my teaching degree and will need to put this information to use soon.