Top Teaching Interview Mistakes

What to Avoid During a Teacher Interview

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The teacher interview is your time to show your knowledge and your love for the profession. However, you will have a hard time showing these if you are making interview mistakes.

The following twelve interview mistakes have suggestions on how to avoid them. 

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Mistake #1: Talk Too Long

Business people shaking hands in meeting
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 You may be someone who talks when you are nervous. While you want to be descriptive and answer each of the questions posed to you thoroughly, there comes a point when you are just being too long-winded. You should use visual clues as you are speaking to let you know if the interviewer is ready to move on.

Remember, while your interview is most important to you, sometimes the panel conducting the interview will be on a tight timeframe. They might have a whole day of interviews scheduled. You definitely do not want the interviewer to cut the questions short because you took too long answering one question.

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Mistake #2: Be Argumentative

Be careful not to disagree with anyone conducting the interview.

For example, if you have an administrator who is praising a "professional development" program that you have attended and disliked, the interview is not the time disagree with his or her beliefs about the program.

If this happens, it is best to be tactful and avoid an argument. If you want a job, it is less important to be right than to be hired.

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Mistake #3: Unnecessary Complex language or Slang

Do not try to impress the interviewer using vocabulary that is pretentious or unnecessarily complex. When you have a couple of choices for words, you may want to choose the one that makes you approachable.

By the same token, do not use slang (or profanity) when you are interviewing. You want to put your best foot forward and part of this is showing that you know and use proper English.

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Mistake #4: Answer Questions With a Simple Yes or No

While there might be a few questions that can be answered using a yes or no, the purpose of the interview is to allow the panel to learn more about you. Remember, you are selling yourself in an interview. Find a way to answer each question that gives them more information about you, especially the information that puts you in a positive light.

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Mistake #5: Fidget or Look Distracted

Do not appear distracted or bored. Try not to shake your leg, look at your watch, twist your hair, or do any other action that makes you seem like you are not 100% engaged in the interview. Even if you have something happening in your life that you are worried about, put that aside when you walk into the interview. You can always pick that worry right back up when you walk out.

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Mistake #6: Interrupt the Interviewers

Be careful not to interrupt the interviewers when they are speaking. Even if you know the answer to a question before they are done, you must let them have their say. Cutting off someone before they have finished speaking is very rude, and it could offend some interviewers enough that they will not hire you because of it.

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Mistake #7: Act or Dress Inappropriately

Do not arrive late. Do not chew gum or bite your nails. If you smoke, be sure not to smoke just before the interview.  Make sure that you choose a professional outfit that is modest, ironed, and clean.  Groom your hair. Limit your perfume or cologne, and any makeup should be understated. Make sure you have trimmed your nails. While all of this might seem obvious, it is a fact that individuals show up to interviews all the time without paying attention to their dress and actions.

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Mistake #8: Bad Mouth Anyone

Don't speak badly about former coworkers or students. If you are asked a question about a challenging experience or about a time when you disagreed with a coworker, always answer in as positive a manner as possible. Don't gossip because this reflects on you. Also, make sure not to name names when you are talking about a person with whom you had an issue in the past. It is a small world and you definitely don't want to be caught talking about someone who is the interviewer's friend or family member.

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Mistake #9: Be Too General

In responding to questions, be clear. Use specific examples if at all possible. Generic answers like, "I love to teach," are great but do not give the interviewer anything upon which to base their decision. If instead, you followed that statement with an example of why you love teaching, the interviewer will have a greater chance of remembering your answer. For example, you might tell of a time when you could see the lightbulbs come on for a group of students struggling to grasp a difficult concept.

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Mistake #10: Be Disorganized in Your Answers

Organize your thoughts quickly, but do not be hasty. Do not jump around in your responses. Finish your thoughts and use transitions to move to additional examples. Avoid going back to previous answers if at all possible. You want to appear to be an organized individual, showing a disorganized mind will count against that. Interviews with individuals who jump around in their speech are dizzying and difficult for the interviewer.

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Mistake #11: Be Cynical or Pessimistic

You are trying to get a teaching job - the ultimate in helping others succeed. You do not want to appear like you do not believe success is possible. You must be upbeat and optimistic.

On the same note, you want to make sure that you show your love for students and the profession

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Mistake #12: Lie

Obvious but true. Your stories should be based no fact. If you are answering a question with an example that you found on the Internet, you are setting yourself for failure. Lying is a dead end and a sure way to lose all credibility. People are fired each day for being caught in lies - even white ones. Do not lie.