An interview is a lot like a first date. You may be a little nervous and a little excited.
You might be excited to see if they want you, but you should also be excited to see if you want them, too. If everything goes well, you might be with each other for a long time!
Here are 8 tips to help you nail your job interview:
1. Be Prepared
It may seem obvious, but make sure you have made the best case for yourself possible.
Have a portfolio of your best work ready to show.
Schools, like many employers today, prefer that you show you have a proven record of being effective. Make sure to highlight any data you have showing that something you worked on did better because you were there.
Have a resume as well, but make sure that it is as engaging as you are. Make sure your resume stands out visually.
Also, consider the kinds of interview questions you might be asked and practice with friends how you might answer them. Practicing will help make you more comfortable and allow your true self to shine in the interview.
Make sure to do something for your self-care before and after the interview.
2. Have copies
When interviewing, it will most likely be by more than one person. You may or may not learn this ahead of time. Either way, make sure you make copies of things you will be handing out at your interview, such as resumes.
Surely you had to supply your resume when you applied for this job, but that was a while ago. Help refresh your interviewer’s knowledge of your skills and accomplishments by handing out your resume at the interview.
You may also want to bring additional copies of anything in your portfolio you will be referencing.
Making sure everyone has a copy looks professional. It also keeps awkward paper passing between the people interviewing you to a minimum.
3. Do your homework
You might be working here for a long time! You will be putting in many hours. Make sure it’s a place you can be happy.
Learn as much about the places you are applying to as possible. Check out the feedback on them in places like glassdoor. Find their scores and reviews on great schools. Read literature the school puts on its website. Check out the information provided by the district if applicable.
Learn as much as you can to make sure that your values align with theirs.
4. Ask questions
Now that you’ve done your homework, you probably have a great many questions.
Make sure to ask them at the interview. Asking questions does two things. First, it shows the school that you are interested in what they do and already know a lot about them. Secondly, it allows you to learn even more about them.
Ask about the school’s culture. Ask what expectations they have of their staff, and ask what they think the best thing about their school is.
As we said above: this is a date. Make sure you like them, too. The only way to know for sure is to ask them about themselves.
Disclaimer: This is not the time to ask crazy specific questions about benefits and pay. That time is when they want to offer you a job, and you are negotiating those things.
5. Arrive early, but not wayyyy early
I am not a proponent of universal earliness. Sometimes that just makes you the jerk there before things are ready. When it comes to interviews, though, early is always better.
Interviewers often group interviews together. One may run shorter than expected. If you’re there, they can move on to you right away.
Showing up early makes their job easier by allowing them to finish interviews ahead of time, and may give them extra time to talk to you. Either way, you win.
You also show how dependable and reliable you are by showing up not only on time but early.
Show up no more than 30 minutes early, preferably 15 minutes early. Anything earlier and it just looks like you don’t have anything else going on or that you got the time wrong.
6. Don’t try to be anyone but yourself
There is often a temptation to present as the person that people want us to be. It’s even more tempting when we want these people to employ us.
Try to curtail that impulse. You should be appropriate for the occasion, which is to say, don’t show up looking like you’re going to paint your house. Wear what you would wear to a job interview.
However, don’t do something that you wouldn’t want to have to do every day. Have tattoos? Don’t cover them if you don’t want to have always to do that.
Anything you feel makes you, you, don’t smother it. Let the interviewers see what kind of person they’ll be getting when they hire you.
If they see that person and don’t want to hire them, you dodged a bullet. Nothing is more miserable than having to go into work day after day as someone you’re not.
7. Pay attention to what they’re not saying
Sometimes the things people don’t say speak volumes.
Their silence can show you what they don’t think of as problems or aren’t worth mentioning.
If you’re going to be a special education or ELL teacher and they don’t mention working with instructional assistants, that’s weird, isn’t it? They either don’t employ them or aren’t interested in your style of collaboration.
They may not mention why the vacancy you’re applying for is available. This omission is very interesting, especially if it’s mid-year or the last person had not been in the position long.
As they speak to you, make sure you keep a close eye on the volumes not being said.
8. After the interview, send a nice follow-up
After the interview, the best thing to do is to send a thank you. I would suggest an email, but some people like to handwrite a message. However you do it, make sure you send something.
The purpose of this follow-up is to show you are thoughtful and to keep them thinking about you.
To accomplish this goal, make sure you thank all of the people who interviewed you by name in the email. CC them on it if you have their email addresses. Include a specific compliment about something you liked about their campus or programs. Tell them you’re excited to hear back from them, and then you’re done.
Keep this simple and short (again showing you honor their time). Keep a friendly and professional tone. Make sure to send it within the same day as the interview ideally, but no later than the day after.
Everything will be ok!
No matter what happens in the interview, it will be ok. A bad interview is nothing more than a bad date. You guys didn’t click, and it wasn’t the environment for you.
The jobs you don’t get are not rejections or failures. They are chances you took on places that weren’t a match with your personality, skills, and values.
If you keep looking, you will find a place that works for where you are right now. Don’t doubt that you can do this.
An interview is nothing but a conversation, and you’ve got this!