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Steve Haberlin is a Ph.D candidate at the University of South Florida, where he also works as a teaching assistant, supervising and teaching pre-service teachers. Steve holds a master's degree...
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Interviewing for a Teaching Job: Finding the Right Fit

As summer vacation nears, principals begin scrambling to fill teaching positions. College graduates start sending out resumes and trying to interview for jobs. Working with final interns (last semester of the program), I have begun to explore how to help these aspiring teachers land a job, preferably at a school of choice. Part of this process (we also work on crafting a resume), involves successful interviewing. To gather information on the topic, I started asking principals to speak to my interns as well as begun asking and researching my own questions. If I had to narrow this information to one theme, it would be this: it’s all about finding the right fit, for the teacher and the school community.

Here are some basic ideas, strategies, and information regarding interviewing for a teacher position:

  1. Certification: Principals are going to want to know if candidates have passed teacher certification requirements, including passing state exams. Since they can vary from state to state, consult your state’s education department for specifics. While they might take a chance on an applicant, school administrators don’t want to worry about a teacher not having the necessary credentials to remain in the classroom.
  2. Portfolio: In addition to providing a resume, having a prepared portfolio is a must. The portfolio could be a hard-copy binder or perhaps a website provided in advance but should address some of the following elements: teaching philosophy, classroom management system, collaborations, conducted research, assessment strategies, and future goals.
  3. Outnumbered: More than likely, interviews will involve several people from the school, perhaps the principal, assistant principal, teachers from the relevant grade level, resource teachers, and/or guidance counselors. This means applicants must be prepared to field multiple questions from this committee, but it also provides the opportunity to ask questions of various school staff.
  4. Research, Research, Research: Learn everything possible about the school, including test scores, demographics, school improvement plans, and other data that can be accessed via district and school websites. But go further by asking questions, if possible, of teachers and people who have worked at the school or currently work at the campus. For instance, ask them: What’s it like to work there? What’s the culture like? How would you describe the students? Also, search for news articles and other online information. Visit the school’s social media sites if possible and study the conversations and postings. You want to demonstrate you have done your homework and are informed about the school’s needs and goals. But there’s another reason for this research.
  5. Making a Match: During the interview, applicants must articulate how their strengths, skills, experiences, and background compliments the school and will help serve to meet its goals and needs. In other words, what do you bring to this school? How can you help the principal, teachers, students, and parents? For instance, if an applicant was raised in the community, speaks Spanish (the school is predominately second-language learners), worked and researched with similar students at nearby school during internship, and creatively practiced methods to improve parent participation, they might appear as a strong fit with the school.

Of course, this blog doesn't cover all the basics of interviewing, advice that can be applied to most job interviews, such as arrive on time and dress professionally. But for teachers, it all comes down to being prepared: having the necessary credentials, packing your teaching experience in a portfolio, researching schools to find the right match for your goals, then selling yourself during the interview by highlighting how you can help the students succeed. What are you waiting for? Send out that resume!

 

Steve Haberlin is a graduate assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida and an educator with 10 years of experience.