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Practice Makes Perfect

I am constantly surprised at the number of people who don't adequately prepare for a job interview. "It's just a bunch of questions," they say. Or "I'm already qualified; why should I have to study for an interview?" What they often fail to realize is that the amount of work you put into an interview will be quickly noted by any competent administrator. Slough off, and you're history. Make the effort, and you're probably hired!

Answering questions posed by someone you have just met can be harder than you think. Fortunately, this book is crammed with the typical questions that get asked in any teacher interview as well as the best responses to those questions—responses that will get you noticed (positively) and get you hired. Obviously, you must be ready for every question and any question—and that is one of the major themes of this book.

Here's something you'll be happy to know: Approximately 95 percent of the questions you will be asked in any teacher interview are in this book. Better yet, the appropriate answers to those questions are also in this book. (Obviously, you selected the right book to read!) Read these questions, and practice the answers. Get as close as you can to these questions and answers. All the questions and all the answers came from actual teacher interviews. What you will experience in an interview has been experienced by others. Their experience and wisdom have been distilled in all the chapters of Ace Your Teacher Interview. You have a valuable resource here, one that will definitely put you ahead of the competition and give you an added advantage in any interview situation.


Please don't memorize the answers to the questions in this book. If you do, your answers will sound corny or canned. Make these answers yours. Alter the wording, change the emphasis, modify the verbs. In short, turn these answers into your answers.

Every day, practice reading and answering the questions in this book. Know that they have been culled from teacher interviews all across the country. Each of the questions has been asked thousands of times by hundreds of administrators. And guess what? You'll be asked these questions, too.


Practice with the questions in this book, become comfortable with each of them, and then put the responses in your own words. You should be the one answering the questions—not me!

The key to becoming comfortable with interview questions is to practice answering them over a long period of time. This is not the time to try and cram all this information in your head the night before a scheduled interview (this isn't a final exam, after all). Plan several weeks (at least) or two to three months (if possible) practicing, practicing, practicing.

Write several of the questions on individual index cards (record an appropriate response on the back of each card). Stuff a set of cards in your pocket or purse. In the spare moments of your day (lunch time, stuck in traffic, before you go to bed), pull out a few cards and review the questions (and answers) so you are comfortable with them all.


In the process of conducting research for this book, I came across a most amazing (in fact, startling) statistic. Nationally, about 15 percent of all job candidates in business, industry, and education are late for their interviews. That's right, 15 percent! And guess what? Those 15 percent did not get hired! No matter how many excuses they came up with ("My car wouldn't start," "The babysitter arrived late," "I missed the left turn on Jackson Street," "Damn traffic," "I sat behind a snow blower for half an hour," or [the best one of all] "Sorry, I forgot the time"), not a single one of them was offered a job. No way, no how! Arrive late to an interview, and you can kiss your chances of getting hired good-bye.


"The negative first impression (of a candidate who is late) is so strong and smelly, it contaminates the entire interview."

When you are late for an interview, you are sending a very powerful message to the interviewer. The message may not be intentional, but it will be extremely clear. It says to the administrator, "I don't plan well," "I'm disorganized," "I'm unpredictable and unreliable," "You're not really all that important," "I don't respect your time," and "You really shouldn't hire me because I can't even do something incredibly simple like getting here on time."

Make sure you know where you're going. Ask for directions (yes, men, you may have to ask for directions) if necessary. Print out a map or a set of driving instructions from Google or Mapquest.

Know exactly how long it takes to get there. If your interview is in the early morning or late afternoon, will you have to contend with rush hour traffic? If it is raining or snowing, how will that affect your travel time? Do you have to go through any construction zones or detours? The candidates who make the best impressions are those who take one or two "test runs," driving to the school or district office and noting how much time it takes. Practice the route; you'll be glad you did.


If you do take a "test run" to the school/district, let the interviewer know about this, preferably in your introductory comments ("Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon, Mrs. Mickleson. I must admit the drive here is quite lovely. I did a practice run last week and was amazed at the profusion of blossoms along Highland Avenue."). This kind of comment signals you as a candidate who knows how to prepare for any assignment, one who plans ahead.

• Plan to arrive about 20—30 minutes early. You don't have to enter the school immediately; rather, you can use this extra time to meditate, relax, do some deep breathing exercises, or quickly review your strengths (see Section 1 of this chapter). Then, plan to walk into the correct office (this may require a pre-interview trip as well) about 7—10 minutes in advance of your scheduled interview.

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