It's natural for people to get nervous before and during a big interview. Sure, you know you're a good teacher. You've graduated from college with a teaching degree and you've worked with students in the past. So, WHY are you nervous?
It's those pesky little questions, isn't it? If you're like most people, you're probably afraid they'll ask you a difficult question and you'll be giving them a blank look.
If the questions don't make you nervous, maybe it's the vocabulary that scares you. Sometimes interviewers like to throw out intimidating jargon-- those big words you used to see in college textbooks. You might be afraid you won't know how to answer a question about differentiation, IEPs, ELL students, or block scheduling.
Or, maybe you know the vocabulary well, and you're not afraid of the questions. Are you fearful that you will not be able to prove that you're a successful teacher? Do you have trouble putting yourself up on a pedestal and showing off your successes?
Well, the good news is that all three of these fears can be overcome if you prepare yourself well for your next interview.
Your nervousness is natural. But the amount of stress you have to endure can be minimized. How? Follow the steps below to prepare and practice for your next teaching interview.
Interview Preparation Step #1:
Predict what the questions will be and prepare your answers
The Internet is filled with sample teacher interview questions. It's pretty much guaranteed that they'll ask you about your classroom discipline plan, your ability to work with special education students, your favorite lessons, your strengths, and your weaknesses. As you research sample interview questions. Write them down or print them out.
Sometimes you'll have to think beyond the Internet, though. Questions that relate to your specific age-group or subject may be more difficult to find. Still, if you use some basic logic, you can predict what will be asked. Think to yourself: "If I were hiring someone for this position, what would I ask?" If you teach middle school English, for example, common sense should tell you that they'll ask you how you teach writing. If you teach high school calculus, chances are good they'll ask you why Calculus is important for high school students.
When you have a list of questions, sit down any try to plan your answer for each. If you have a close friend or family member in education, you might want to discuss your answers with them. Oftentimes, they will have ideas or suggestions that will help you focus your thoughts. No matter how you prepare, simply having an idea of how you will answer common questions will make you a more confident candidate at the interview table.
Interview Preparation Step #2:
Make a list of popular education buzzwords and acronyms
What terminology might be used during the interview? If a principal asks you how you use differentiation, will you be able to tell him/her? Or will you be the candidate that asks, "What do you mean?" If you're asked how you meet the needs of a student with an IEP, will you be the candidate with the deer-in-the-headlights look?
Educational jargon often trips up candidates. It's embarrassing for candidates at an interview to admit that they're not familiar with a word or phrase used, yet if they don't ask for clarification, they risk giving an answer that doesn't make sense.
Here's what you do: make a list of common educational buzzwords on index cards. (Differentiation. IEP. ELL. Block scheduling. Looping. Four Block Writing. Everyday Mathematics. And so on...)
Then, check to see how many of the words you know. One the back of each index card, define each word. Also, in one sentence, relate each vocabulary word to your teaching. Look up any words you don't know.
Interview Preparation Step #3:
Assemble a Teaching Portfolio
Your teaching portfolio is your professional brag book. Find lots of evidence of your teaching (or student teaching) experiences, and assemble it all in one big, fat binder. It should be chock-full of student work samples, lesson plans, parent newsletters, and philosophy statements. Be sure you have a type-written table-of-contents and dividing tabs so you can easily find information at an interview.
When you're at an interview table, don't wait for an interviewer to ask to see your portfolio. Instead, be ready to pull out examples of your work whenever something in your portfolio relates to something being asked. Interviewers will be impressed by your organization and preparation. Even more importantly, you'll be PROVING that you're an effective teacher, rather than just TELLING them.