Keys to a Successful Teaching Job Interview

Interviewing for a teaching career, especially in a shaky economy, can be quite nerve-wracking. However, there are certain actions and steps you can take that will increase your chances of success. While the following items will not assure you a job, if you follow through on each of these you will leave a much better impression and will hopefully receive a positive answer.

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Be Prepared for Key Questions

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Research and prepare yourself for possible teacher interview questions so that you can keep surprises to a minimum. While you don't want to look too rehearsed, you also don't want to appear as though you are searching for what to say.

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Research the School and District Before the Interview

Show that you know something about the school and district. Look at their websites and make sure to learn about their mission statement and goals. Learn as much as you can. This interest will pay off when you are answering questions and will show that you are not interested in just a job, but also in teaching at that particular school.

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Wear Professional Dress and Have Good Hygiene

This might seem obvious but it often occurs that individuals come to interviews dressed inappropriately. Remember, you are making an impression about your professionalism so make sure to iron your clothes and keep your skirts at an acceptable length. Brush and use mouthwash. If you are a smoker, don't smoke right before you go into the interview to avoid smelling like smoke.

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Make a Good First Impression

Arrive ten minutes early. Shake hands firmly. Smile and appear happy and enthusiastic. Wait to be asked to take a seat. Make sure that you have spit out your chewing gum before going into the interview. The first few minutes of your interview are very important.

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Be Polite and Tactful

Use your best manners - always say please and thank you just like your mama taught you. You should also make sure that you are tactful when you make statements. For example, when you are speaking about your previous teaching positions and fellow teachers, do not stoop to idle gossip or petty statements.

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Be Alert and Listen

Stay in the moment and listen closely to questions. Make sure that you are actually answering the question that was asked - you can parrot the question back or have the interviewer repeat a particularly complicated question, but you don't want to have them repeat every question to you. Respond to nonverbal cues from your interviewers. For example, if you notice that the person interviewing you is looking at their watch or fidgeting, you might want to make sure that you are not being too long-winded.

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Show Enthusiasm for Teaching

Be enthusiastic. Sadly, I've been in too many interviews where prospective teachers don't act like they even like students. They are more interested in their content than in the actual teaching of it. Be enthusiastic and energetic. Remember, teaching is all about helping students learn and grow. This should be your focus. If you need some inspiration, check out the top ten reasons to become a teacher.

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Use Specific Examples

When answering questions, stay away from generalities. Instead, use specific examples. If you are a new teacher, pull from your student teaching experiences. To show why this is important, which of the following statements would count for more in an interview:

"I make sure to come to class prepared."

"Each day, I have my lesson plan printed with approximate times for each transition. I make sure that all handouts are ready and in order so that I can go through the lesson with a minimum of disruptions."

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Show Interest in Professional Growth

When you are asked questions about your future or your personality, make sure that you show an interest in growing in the profession. This will give interviewers further information about your enthusiasm and interest in teaching.

More Information: Methods of Professional Growth for Teachers

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Sell Yourself

You are your own advocate. The interviewers will in most instances have no information about you other than your resume. You need to bring that experience and enthusiasm alive for the interviewer. When they are making their final decision, you want to stand out. You can only do this if you show yourself in the best light and allow the interviewer to see your passion for teaching.