Recently, a graduate in elementary and special education shared his experience interviewing in one district. In this district the human resources department initially screens all applications and selects qualified applicants to interview whether there are job openings or not.
It pays to substitute teach in this district to get your foot in the door. The district invites successful substitute teachers for a job interview as a professional courtesy. After screening, a human resources representative phones qualified applicants and schedules an interview.
Prior to the scheduled interview, the job applicant sat down with a district elementary school principal to learn about possible interview questions and the process. This helped him prepare for the interview. Also, by talking with the principal he was also networking. Principals know other principals and will recommend qualified candidates to hire.
The job applicant’s interview was scheduled in the district’s central office at 2:30 PM. Unfortunately, the interview was delayed 30 minutes due to the late arrival of two building administrators who had issues to deal with at dismissal time. He realized the importance of being flexible. (Give yourself plenty of time. When you schedule an interview, make sure you don’t schedule any other appointments.)
Here were some of the interview questions:
· What do you want your classroom to look like in five years?
· Do you have any questions for us?
· Is there anything you would like to add to your file here?
· What is your confidence in using technology?
· What do you know about the New Problem-solving Math?
· What professional development opportunities are you taking advantage of?
· What is your behavioral management technique?
· How would you build parent relationships?
· Tell me about the ELO program and the ENO board?
· How do you get parents to make education important again?”
· Do you prefer the inclusion or resource room model?
· What position do you prefer – general education or special education classroom teaching?
· What questions do you have for us?
The interviewers also asked questions about items in his résumé. For instance, they inquired about a pre- student teaching practical teaching experience in one particular school. Did you like the school? What did you think was impressive about the school? And, they noticed his high GPA and two certifications (general elementary education and endorsement in special education). One of the interviewers thought his special education certification would help get his foot in the door. And, the interviewer suggested that some teachers in the districts might retire due to the changes in teacher accountability.
One week following the interview, he sent thank you letters to the interviewers.
BOOKNOTE: See The Guide for information about different types of interview questions that uncover an applicant’s knowledge of teaching, critical thinking, and dispositions; what interviewers are looking for during an interview; and possible responses to more than 30 interview and questions – what to say and what not to say.