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Les Potter is currently the Assistant to the Superintendent (Educational Services Overseas Limited) in Egypt. He received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years...
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Beginning the Interview

In today's world, interviewing can be on-line or in person.  Many of these tips can be used in either case.

  • Arrive early (about 15 minutes) this gives you time to freshen up and to make sure all of your electronics are working.
  • Go over your resume-one more time.
  • Many administrators are conservative by nature, either personally or for their school's image. Look your best. Administrators know that usually the candidate will be dressed the best that they will ever see them again. Leave the nose ring, and facial piercing at home. Cover up any tattoos that might show. I work in a conservative country and the families may not be tolerant of their child's teacher covered in tattoos and piercings. Be well groomed and dress for success! Men wear a suit or at least a sports jacket with a tie. Women wear a nice suit  or professionally dressed. Even if you are applying for a physical education position, dress nicely. I knew a principal who sent home a physical education candidate for wearing shorts and a tee shirt to the interview. Make a good first impression. When I was a principal a few years ago we had a young lady show up to the interview wearing blue jeans. We couldn't hire her even if we wanted to because the front office staff were already making comments about her appearance.
  • If you have a face to face interview, bring with you and hand out your folders for each of the interviewers. Your folder should include: resume (resume should be 1-2 pages in length--with just job related information---we don't need to know if you are married or what church you go to), cover letter (1 page letter stressing why you are qualified for this position), thank you letter (this letter would be generic to the interview committee---you will not have time after the interview to get the correct spellings of names, titles, etc. to mail them a letter), portfolio information and possibly references (this is up to you if you want to include references in the folder). Don't assume that all members of the interview team have reviewed your resume.  I would be disappointed when the candidate brought in one resume and expected us to swap it among ourselves (6-8 of us) as we are trying to listen to the candidate. Bring in more than you need. Make sure if you are interviewing virtually that the interviewers have what they need.
  • Strive to project a positive and confident image.
  • Adhere to social distancing recommendations and make sure you wear a mask even if the others don’t.
  • If someone extends their hand for a handshake, shake their hand too.  Look people in the eyes and show interest.
  • Remember names and titles.
  • Be sensitive to both verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • It can be stressful in this situation but try and remain calm and non-flustered as possible.
  • After you answer a question, stop speaking. Don't embellish or elaborate unless you feel that it is helpful to you. You do not want to ramble.
  • Listen carefully to every question and be sure you understand it before answering. If necessary, repeat the question and/or request clarification.
  • Know that much of the interview is to learn about the candidate but this is an excellent opportunity to ask members on the interviewing team about the school, test scores, culture of the school, etc. You can hopefully learn a great deal in this conversation and see if you are a good fit.
  • When you answer the questions, look at everyone, not just the person who asked you the question.  Many years ago we were interviewing a male candidate and he could not take his eyes off one of our very attractive female committee members. To the point where it was getting uncomfortable for all of us. After the interview the lady committee member said that if we hired him, she would quit. We do not hire him!
  • Be honest with your interviewers, if you do not know the answer, do not try and bluff us as we probably already know the answer.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic as well as confident without being cocky.
  • Be truthful about what you can do and are willing to do. If you can and are willing to coach a sport or sponsor the drama team say so but if you get the job, they will remember your willingness to coach or sponsor an activity.
  • Thank all committee members for their time at the end of the interview.
  • Remember---the interviewers probably know if you are a serious candidate or the best candidate for the position as soon as you leave the room.

Good luck!

Dr. Les Potter
Assistant to the Superintendent
American International School West
Cairo Egypt
[email protected]