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Questions You Should Ask (and Questions You Shouldn't)

Most professional interviewers will tell you that a good interview is a two-way street; interviews that get applicants jobs are those in which both participants contribute to the interview. If the interviewer does all the work, then the interview will be decidedly one-sided. Make some contributions! The interviewer has a limited amount of time and wants to know as much about you as possible, but doesn't necessarily want to do all the work.

In most interviews, you are given a golden opportunity to provide the interviewer with some valuable inside information. These are the times when you are offered the chance to ask your own questions. Don't blow this opportunity—more than one job has been won simply because the candidate showed a real interest in the school or the district through carefully crafted questions. These questions can reveal as much about your interest, desire, and motivation as they can in showcasing your talents and skills, particularly those talents that mesh with the school's philosophy.

It is always advisable to prepare a set of questions well before the interview. I suggest recording individual questions on separate index cards. Put the questions in priority order, or arrange them according to the categories below. Review the questions several times in advance of every interview. Be sure each question is specific; don't compose a generic set of questions for all your interviews, but rather make up a separate set of questions for each individual interview.

INSIDER TIP

Put your set of index cards in a pocket or in your purse, in a place where you can reach them very quickly and easily. Although you will know the questions on the cards, it is a good idea to read a question directly from a card. The set of prepared questions will always impress an interviewer, letting him or her know that you came to the interview well-prepared. In short, you did your homework.

Although most interviewers will frequently ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview, it is always advisable to sprinkle your questions throughout the interview. Again, this promotes the concept that a good interview is part of a shared responsibility, part of a give-and-take process, part of an evolving partnership. By knowing your questions ahead of time (and putting them in priority order), you will have some idea as to when you can use them during the course of the interview.

Asking your own questions also provides you with an opportunity to be pro-active rather than passive. They help underscore your sincere interest in building a working partnership, in becoming an active member of the school team. Of course, you don't want to take over the interview, but a relevant question here and there in the interview helps you highlight your strengths and how those strengths can be used effectively in the school.

EXTRA CREDIT

Prepare a set of 15-20 questions you would like to ask in an interview. Plan on asking three to five carefully chosen questions throughout the length of the interview. Know your questions, and know when it would be appropriate to ask each one.

The key is not to wait until an interviewer asks you, "Do you have any questions?" That will make your interview like every other interview. Rather, plan your questions and when you want to ask them. You want to show initiative, and you want the interviewer to know that you are interested in the school or the district and not just a job. In many cases, those three to five questions may make all the difference in whether you get a teaching position.

 
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