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In this interview situation, you may be provided with a set of exams and asked to determine what students have mastered and what you would do with the information in terms of lesson plan design. Often teacher candidates are given a set of student-written assignments and asked to evaluate them using a standard writing rubric. At other times you may be invited to view a videotape of a teacher teaching a specific lesson and asked to evaluate the effectiveness of that lesson or whether the lesson adhered to standard lesson plan design or was in accordance with the standards of a particular subject area. Typically, in these situations, the interviewers have a set standard they are looking for—they want to pare down the list of candidates by giving them all the same "test." Thus, your performance on this evaluation measure will be compared with the evaluation of all the other candidates.
FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"We were undecided between two very qualified candidates. It was only during the demonstration lesson that the differences really emerged. After that, our choice was easy."
Depending on the school or district, you will either go through a screening interview and then a hiring interview or you will go directly to a hiring interview. In short, always expect a hiring interview; it's the last and final step in your journey to becoming a classroom teacher. This is where you make it or break it! Everything in this book is designed to help you be successful in this critical stage—the final chapter in your college career.
Hiring interviews typically fall into one of four categories. In some cases they may include a combination of two or more of the following: One-on-One, Sequential or Serial, Panel, and/or Group. Let's take a brief look at each one:
This is the most basic of all interviews and the one you will encounter most often in your search for a teaching position. Most of these interviews are conducted by the principal at the school to which you are applying. The interview is most frequently conducted in the principal's office, although some may be held in a conference room or board room. (One of my former students had his one-on-one interview in the principal's car as they were driving from one school across town to another school.)
This interview is designed to gauge your skills, talents, and abilities as a potential teacher. By this stage of the game, you have made it through a review of your application and resume, any potential screening interviews, and a check of your references. This is where everything you have prepared for comes down to a 45-minute conversation with the one person who will decide whether you get hired. Remember, it's all about preparation.
Sequential or Serial Interviews
Sequential or serial interviews are those in which you interview separately with each of several different individuals. Once, when I was interviewing for a reading specialist position, I interviewed with the principal of the elementary school, the principal of the middle school, then the principal of the high school, and finally the superintendent.
You may want to consider that this interview format is simply a string of one-on-one interviews in a row. The interviews may all be held on the same day, or they may be spread out over several days. It is quite likely that you will meet with several different people—all with a stake in the advertised position. The key to success in these interviews is consistency; don't create different responses to the same questions. It is likely that all of the people involved will compare notes and share impressions. Your success will ultimately be determined by your consistency throughout all the interviews.