The Interview Process

There’s nothing quite like a teaching interview. A teaching interview feels more like an oral presentation meets a test than it does a typical interview. Because every school board has different interview standards, the interview process is not touched on at length when at teacher’s college. And because a teaching interview is so different from any other job interview, your first couple can really take you by surprise. Here are some things to help you be as prepared as possible for a teaching interview:

  • Know your school board’s interview practices and processes: Every school board runs their interviews differently. Some give you the questions beforehand. Some do cattle-call group interviews. Some offer interviews based on seniority. Some are conducted by principals, other by school board employees. Call someone in HR and ask them what their practices and processes are so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
    Also, school boards run interviews for different reasons. Some require a successful interview to be put on their substitute teacher list. Some school boards have “eligible to hire for contract positions” interviews. Some interview based on their pool of sub teachers. Again, talk to HR and find out what the board runs interviews for, and how you can get yourself on interview lists.
  • Dress appropriately: I’m the teacher who has jeggings in a million colours and calls them work pants. On the day of one of my English classes’ exams, I wore a t-shirt that says “Similes are Like Metaphors” (haaa). I of course dress appropriately for a teacher, but I also like to dress casually since you never know what you’re getting into when you respond to a sub call. An interview is different than a sub call though (duh). You’re typically dealing with principals, vice principals, and school board employees, aka the big-wigs. You want to present the best version of yourself in the interview, and that includes how you dress. Pizza slice pullover is fine in the classroom (yes, I own that one too), but let’s stick to the blazers and dress shoes for the interview.
  • Know your jargon and buzzwords: Remember those terms from teacher’s college, like co-teaching, pedagogy, constructivism, restorative practices? Those terms don’t ever go away no matter how much you despise them are music to an interviewer’s ears. Know what they mean and use them.
    If you went to teacher’s college in a different state/province than the one where you are now teaching , make sure you know what the jargon you know “translates” to. Sometimes the same meaning has different titles, depending on who is teaching it or where it’s being taught, and there is no worse feeling than being asked about how you would incorporate something into the classroom and you have no idea what that thing is. Trust me; I have personal experience (*shakes fist at Balanced Literacy having a different name in Quebec*)
  • Know your school board: What is your school board’s stance on bullying? How do they approach mental illness and wellness? Are they organising a board-wide mission trip somewhere? All of this information is really easy of find if you spend a little time researching and exploring your school board’s website. Your interviewers want to know that you are invested and interested in their board, and a good way to do this is to show you know what they’re about and that you know how you would incorporate these board initiatives into your classroom.
  • Bring your teaching portfolio: Sometimes principals ask you for a copy of your resumé or references and are too lazy to print them off of your online profile or photocopy them from your application. Bring your portfolio with you if only for the reason that it looks good to look prepared. (Next week I’m going to list everything I have in my teaching portfolio, in case you were wondering what I think is a “portfolio necessity” {I know you’re all dying to find out})
  • Ask questions: Sometimes the teaching position changes between being posted and being interviewed for. Confirm when the position begins and ends, and what subjects/grade levels you’d be teaching. Find out what programs and extracurriculars the school offers. It can be easier to find out about the school board in general and harder to find out about individual schools. Make the effort to show that you are interested in the school and want to contribute to make it an even better place.
  • Write down your questions: you look prepared and you remember to say everything you want to say. ‘Nuff said.
  • Be super available: if you’re interviewing in October for a position that begins in December, be aware of that gap in time and offer to come in to meet with the teacher and the students before the position begins. It eases the transition for everyone involved, and it shows the interviewers that you are already committed to the job.
  • Chat with the other people waiting to interview: Listen, we’re all in this together. Gone are the days of 3 morons and 2 good teachers interviewing for the same position. For the most part, everyone is good. Everyone is qualified. Everyone is working less than they want to. These are your peers, not your enemies. Get to know them. Be friendly. Don’t harbour ill-will or resentments.
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