Many of us are applying to positions in public or private schools at this time of year. Although the 2014-2015 school year won’t begin until late August, now is the time to start thinking seriously about where you’d like to teach! Apply to lots of places and, at the very least, get some interviewing experience. Getting your resume out there is one thing, but getting noticed is another. Our job fair is also a great way to put a face to your name, as is Bank Street’s new CareerConnect website. You should also go to the Career Services page for more information. I’ve also covered the Job fair in a blog post you can check out here.
Here are my top 10 tips for interviewing, which I’ve collected from colleagues at Bank Street and friends who work at schools. A number of these tips come from a former principal who used to interview teachers:
You’re going to be working with kids in a school, and you’re happy to be following your passion – look happy! Look engaged! Look interested and therefore interesting.
Dress formally and look serious. Of course once you start teaching you’ll want to be ready for paint, glue, and other messes, but first impressions are important. I am no fashion guru but I think us guys at the very least should wear a tie and ironed clothing, but maybe don’t overdo it because these employers want to envision you working with kids, not in an office. As for young women heading into the interview, a female colleague recommended this link.
Prepare a short list of things about yourself – why you wanted to teach, what you like to do on the weekends, best lesson you ever taught, etc. While it sounds like small talk, a potential employer also needs to see that you can hold a conversation.
Make a resume that is specific to that position – you should not have only one resume that goes out to every place you apply to.
Try to have a personal connection to someone at the school you are applying to. This could be a classmate or a friend from home so that the person doing the hiring will remember you. Think about the hundreds of applications these schools get – all very qualified people – you need to stand out from the crowd, so work your network!
5. Be ready to talk about an experience you had with a difficult student, and how you solved the problem or what you learned from it.
4. Sometimes in an interview, they’ll ask: “So what makes you want to teach in New York City?”
This is not the time to say that it’s always been your dream to live here because of the nightlife, your favorite Woody Allen movie, and tourist attractions. Think hard about the unique challenges students in the city face and how Bank Street has prepared you to tackle those challenges.
3. Tackling Nerves & Anxiety
Yes, these things happen. There is an old saying that the best cure for anxiety is information. Make a list of what is concerning you and then have a plan of action. Example: “I am worried they will ask me about classroom management; I will research 3 classroom management strategies teachers use.” Oddly enough, feeling butterflies is usually a good sign because your body and brain is letting you know something important is happening. It’s only human!
2. Speak up!
If your interviewer is constantly saying “What?” you may have a problem. Be clear and purposeful in your responses. Hold onto eye contact too.
Make sure you are not just throwing terms around like “responsive classroom” or “achievement gap” if you’re not 100% sure on what they are. It is okay to not know everything, and it is okay to bring different experiences to the table. You never know what they might be looking for, and you don’t want to fake it just to be accepted into a job you’re not ready for. Bank Street has provided you with a range of experiences and pedagogical training. Talk about what you know and about how you solve problems. Be yourself! You’ve worked hard!