Interview Season.


interviewThe flood of unsolicited resumes is a telltale sign that interview season is upon us. And by us, I mean me.

Unless of course, you are unemployed. And if that it is the case, consider us in this together.

Filling a teaching position is sad, interesting, disappointing, and rewarding.

It’s sad and disappointing because you hate for your school district to lose good staff members. Although if other schools want to hire your teachers, that is a sign that you made a wise choice once upon a time.

If no one wants your teachers, that is what we in the education world call… bad.

Interviewing is interesting. Sometimes too interesting. It occasionally borders on scary.

As in, “it is scary that this person may be allowed to work with young people” or animals, or anything with a pulse.

The best part of conducting interviews is its ability to be a fulfilling experience.

Finding just the right person. Searching through the mountain of resumes to come up with that perfect candidate. Hiring someone for their very first job.

That is exciting.

There are a lot of upsides to interviews, even when it is sad that a good teacher is leaving.

But, as always, with the good comes the bad.

And the downside is the interviews themselves.

Talking to 5 or 10 or sometimes 20 people is tiring. Not tiring like a coal miner, but exhausting none the less.

It is even worse when the interviewee is bad.

That is why I have gone to the trouble to compile a list of 5 things not to do on an interview. Actually, it wasn’t that much trouble because all of these things are true. As far as you know.

In an ode to Casey Kasem, I will countdown backwards. Odds are, if you are being interviewed this spring, you don’t get the Casey Kasem countdown reference, but as always… this blog is written for my own amusement.

#5 Don’t Have Your Mom Drive You to the Interview and Wait in the Office.

I have seen this twice. You can’t make this stuff up.

Having your mom drive you to an interview is not a sign of love, convenience, or even supportive. It is sad and creepy.

Don’t do it, even if you have to walk to the interview.

#4 Don’t Dress Like a Hitchhiker.

You are interviewing at a school, not a 7-Eleven. It isn’t my problem if you have to go straight from the interview to your part-time job at the convenience store.

This is an interview where you are hoping to land a job that will pay thousands of dollars. Don’t show up looking like you are on your way to a frat party.

That doesn’t mean you have to wear a $1,200 suit, but it does mean you need to look as nice as possible.

It also means you need to take a shower and get a haircut. Covering your 18 tattoos that seemed like a good idea your freshman year is also recommended.

School administrators are hiring teachers, not prison guards (although from time to time, this job description can become blurry).

#3 Cruise the Internet for Something Appropriate for Once.

Schools have websites. Visit them.

I am not saying you need to memorize state test scores for the last decade, but you should know the principal’s name.

And the school size, and whether or not they have a football team, and what classes are offered.

College students spend an average of 107 hours per week on the internet (I made this up… and my guess is probably a little low), surely you can take 5 minutes to Google the school district.

Research goes hand in hand with having an intelligent question, or questions, to ask at the end of the interview.

Where is the lounge? … is not an intelligent question.

#2 Don’t Tell the Whole Truth.

The people who interview you want to get to know you. But, they don’t need to know everything.

I am not saying lie, but please remember I am not a psychiatrist or pastor.


Don’t tell them your sad story about just breaking up with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other (we are not here to judge).

Don’t say you really need this job because your credit cards are maxed out.

Don’t share that you are tired because you aren’t used to being up this early. And it’s 1:00 pm.

Don’t announce that you got your degree in education because it was “easy”.

Don’t say that in five years you hope to be on tenure, so you can get to school late and leave early.

Don’t ask if there will be a break halfway through the interview, so you can go outside to smoke.

#1 Be Yourself.

When I am asked for advice on interviewing, I am struck by 2 thoughts.

The first is why are you asking me? I have made a career on being “accidently successful”. But that is for another blog.

And two, interviewing isn’t brain surgery. The secret is to just be yourself.

Answer the questions honestly (not too honestly), be straightforward, and don’t try to fool the people conducting the interview.

Don’t try to give them the answer you think they want to hear. After all, you just met them and you have no idea what they want to hear.

They are trying to find a good fit for their school and for you.

If you aren’t yourself and then they hire you… eventually (in the two hours of employment) they are going to see the real you.

And they won’t like it because they hired the fake you.

You want to work at a school that wants and appreciates you. The only way to find that perfect job is to be yourself during the interview process.

And in case you missed it earlier, leave mom at home.


10 Responses to “Interview Season.”

  1. Diane
    on Mar 16th, 2009
    @ 6:28 am

    Here’s another tip (as told to a group of us at an interview workshop)-do not bring your coffee and muffin into an interview.

    Casey Kasem. And those “special dedications”. Is he still alive?

    Question for ya-should women wear a suit with a skirt or are pantsuits okay? I keep getting different opinions.

  2. Mitch Weisburgh
    on Mar 16th, 2009
    @ 7:02 am

    One more tip, as early as practical, ask the interviewer to describe the idea candidate. This has two purposes
    1) everyone likes to talk, giving you the opportunity to increase your rapport
    2) once you know what they are looking for, you can tailor your responses directly to what was said, which also has two purposed:

    a) it shows you know how to listen
    b) you have a greater chance of getting the job if you demonstrate you have whatever the person wants you to have.

  3. Pat
    on Mar 16th, 2009
    @ 12:39 pm

    Thanks again for our mealtime entertainment! Even though my husband was not in education (he was a judge), he had to go through this interview process more times than he would have liked. He says the results are still like a crap shoot and you never know just from an interview what you will end up with. I liked the idea of a giving the person and topic and have them develop a lesson plan on how they would teach the topic. Then let them present it to you. After reading your list, I was so relieved to see that I did not do the first four and definitely was myself in all interview (and they still hired me!).

  4. Charlie A. Roy
    on Mar 16th, 2009
    @ 5:47 pm

    Interviewing is always so much fun and so time consuming. My favorite experience was asking a candidate, “Why are you the best candidate?” She answered, “I’m probably not the best candidate.” At least she possessed the virtue of honesty but we tended to agree with her.

    A great book on interviewing methodology is “Who: The A method of Hiring” We’ve started using the format and we love it.

  5. Mark Stock
    on Mar 17th, 2009
    @ 12:22 pm

    Here is an additional tip:

    Just answer the question! Not some circular, rambling, off the cuff monologue with more bird walks than a bird sanctuary. Just answer the question already!

  6. Barry
    on Mar 19th, 2009
    @ 2:14 pm

    Good advice to just being yourself. Tomorrow I interview for a principal position (for the first time). Heck, I am just happy to make it to the interview process :) And I will definitely take Dr. Stock’s advice of – no rambling and just answer the question.

  7. UltimateTeacher
    on Mar 20th, 2009
    @ 8:57 pm

    I loved your post and thought it was quite timely since either we are all either on one side of the interview table or the other. I did however found some more points that you might have missed, and added them to my blog.

  8. People Want a Boss. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Mar 27th, 2009
    @ 3:27 pm

    [...] districts are in the process of hiring administrators for next [...]

  9. The other side
    on Apr 5th, 2009
    @ 1:43 pm

    What about advice for the interviewer?

    Trying to find a job is hard enough and stressful enough without the bosses of the word creating extra hoops to jump through that lead you in the wrong direction.

    Last year was my first year with a certificate, and thus, also my first year interviewing for a teaching position fresh out of college. And, I kid you not, I had to deal with the following from principals and other interviewers.

    Forgetting about the interview time slot that they had given me. So that they show up unprepared, late, in a hurry, distracted or JUST FILLED THE POSITION 15 minutes before my arrival to interview for the position.

    Literally, I drove 2 hours to get to school and when I got there, they’d JUST filled it, having forgotten that I was coming, and hadn’t bothered to call me and let me know this until I showed up for my interview time. This, after I’d already called to confirm the time earlier that week.

    Principals’ musical chairs and the disappearing resume.

    The Lowcountry of SC tends to have a lot of turnover for teachers and administrators. But it was very frustrating to have a great (I thought) interview and be told “I’ll call you, probably this week” and then a week later the school has a new principal, no clue that I was even interviewing for the position, and is too busy to grant a new interview with the new administrator.

    “I’ll call you either way.”

    I HATE that line. It’s a lie 90% of the time. The only schools who ever called me (with the exception of one) were ones offering me the job. The rest, the call never came and it was up to me to call and find out that I’d been rejected. Thanks. Really, if you aren’t going to call, just tell me so ahead of time, instead of letting me expect something. And really, you should call. After all, I was good and wrote each school thank-you notes after every interview. You could at least have your secretary call me. It just takes a couple seconds.

    Tell the FULL truth when the job-seeker asks you a question.

    The job I finally did get and accept has turned out miserable. I was misled right from the beginning. I thought that I was going to join their freshman academy, have a middle ground range of students, and that the academy had been done before with success. As a small rural school, very little information was available online about the school and what was available was outdated by many years. So, I had to rely more on the answers given to me during the interview process.

    What I actually got was a new academy (they hadn’t had one in over 10 years), with a scheduling error that no one seemed to understand and which wasn’t corrected until the 2nd day of classes , which left me with the lowest range of freshmen kids all in one class together, and then the wrong students/classes so that I couldn’t accurately plan ahead for the first week because the classes keep changing from seminar to English and back again, and the only other English teacher in the academy with me was another first year who wasn’t even finished getting certified yet.

    I still hope to stay in teaching, but not at that school and certainly not under that administrator. The longer I’m there, the more I dislike it. The culture is very negative and full of backstabbing, gossiping, passive-aggressive, headache-inducing people and a dictatorship administration that doesn’t ever know the whole story, sides with students to pacify parents, tells us how easily replacible we teachers are, and never shows us any sort of appreciation. I turned in my resignation in January. I will not return at the end of my contract.

    My mentor, an older teacher in the same department as me, has been an absolute godsend. I would have walked away and Christmas if it wasn’t for him.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    I am sorry to hear some of this. I can assure you that there are good administrators out there – and lots of them.

    You just have to find the right school and situation for yourself.

    On the issue of administrator turnover – in retrospect you are probably lucky you didn’t get the interview/job in those schools afterall.

    I always call, or email if the candidate prefers, once the interviews are complete and a decision has been made. I think it is the least I can do if a candidate took the time to inteview at my school.

    Best of luck in your job search. I am sure it will be better and easier this time around.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.