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A teacher interview can be extremely stressful for prospective teachers looking to land a new job. Interviewing for any teaching job is not an exact science. Many school districts and school administrators adopt a different methodology for conducting a teacher interview. Approaches on interviewing potential candidates vary greatly from district to district and even school to school. For this reason, potential teaching candidates need to be prepared for anything when they are granted an interview for a teaching position.
Being prepared and relaxed is critical during an interview. Candidates should always be themselves, confident, candid, and engaging. Candidates should also come in armed with as much information as they can find about the school. They should be able to use that information to explain how they will mesh with the school's philosophy and how they can help improve the school. Finally, candidates should have their own set of questions to ask at some point because an interview presents an opportunity to see if that school is the right fit for them as well. Interviews should always be two-sided.
The Interview Panel
There are many different formats through which an interview can be conducted including:
- Single Panel - This interview will be conducted by a single person in a one-on-one setting. Most of the time, this person will be the building principal that you would be directly working for, but could be a superintendent, athletic director, or curriculum director depending on the type of position you are interviewing for.
- Small Panel - This interview is conducted with two or three individuals that may include the principal, athletic director, a teacher, and/or superintendent.
- Committee Panel - This interview is conducted by four or more individuals formed by a variation of the principal, athletic director, curriculum directors, counselor, teachers, parents, and students.
- Board of Education Panel - This interview is conducted by the district's board of education members.
Each of these interview panel types may lead into another panel format. For example, after being interviewed by a single panel, you may be called back for a subsequent interview with a committee panel.
The Interview Questions
No part of the interview process has the potential to be more diverse than the set of questions that can be thrown at you. There are basic questions that most interviewers may ask, but there are so many potential questions that can be posed that it is likely that no two interviews will be conducted the same way. Another factor that plays into the equation is that some interviewers choose to conduct their interview from a script. Others may have a beginning question and then like to be more informal with their questioning letting the flow of the interview lead from one question to another. The bottom line is that you will probably be asked a question during an interview in which you had not thought about.
The Interview Mood
The mood of the interview is often dictated by the person conducting the interview. Some interviewers are rigid with their questioning making it more difficult on the candidate to show much personality. This is sometimes done intentionally by the interviewer to see how the candidate responds. Other interviewers like to put a candidate at ease by cracking a joke or opening with a light-hearted question meant to help you relax. In either case, it is up to you to adjust to either style and to represent who you are and what you can bring to that particular school.
After the Interview
Once you have completed the interview, there is still a little more work to do. Send a short follow up email or note simply letting them know that you appreciated the opportunity and enjoyed meeting them. Although you do not want to harass the interviewer, it does show just how much you are interested. From that point all you can do is wait patiently. Remember that they likely have other candidates, and they may still be interviewing for some time.
Some schools will give you a courtesy call to let you know that they have decided to go with someone else. This can come in the form of a phone call, a letter, or an email. Other schools will not provide you with this courtesy. If after three weeks, you have not heard anything, then you may call and ask if the position has been filled.