FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK:
"It is not always the most qualified candidate who gets the job. It is, quite often, the best-prepared candidate who gets the job."
Let's face it—teaching is tough, and teaching interviews are also tough. Don't, for a minute, think that an interview is a casual walk through the park. Under the best of circumstances, it is a time when two individuals meet—one is trying to sell something, the other is trying to decide if he or she wants to buy it. And the stakes are enormous.
The cost of hiring a brand-new classroom teacher is estimated to be approximately $75,000-$100,000, a figure that includes salary, benefits, training, health insurance, retirement fund, and other "extras" for one year.
An average teacher will earn approximately $4.2 million dollars over the course of a 35-year career. That's quite an investment for a school district. As you might imagine, they want to be sure they get their money's worth.
One of the biggest concerns any interviewer has is the fear of making a hiring mistake. Hiring mistakes cost time, money, and reputation—items no administrator can afford to lose.
When you are buying a new product, there are typically three things you want to know:
Will I like it?
Will it work properly?
How long will it last?
Those are the same questions an administrator wants to know about every candidate who interviews for a teaching position. Answer all three questions to the satisfaction of the interviewer, and you have a great shot at a job! Fail to answer any one of them, and you'll probably find yourself in a revolving series of seemingly endless interviews.
The person who has the highest "likeability factor" is the one who, most likely, gets the job. Quite often, it's the person who can best "sell" himself or herself to the interviewer. Are you friendly, engaging, interesting to be with, and someone I would like to have on my team? Do I like you?
You must be both competent and capable. Do you have intellectual and emotional skills to effectively teach young people? Can you manage instruction and a classroom? Are you aware of current issues and strategies, and how will they be part of your classroom environment?
What can you do to contribute to the school/district? How do your unique talents serve the immediate and long-range needs of the school/district? Are you able to put the school's or district's needs first? Is there a match between your talents and the needs of the school?
Remember that teaching is about people. Textbooks, computers, pencils, journals, and Smart Boards are just some tools that can facilitate that human interaction and exchange of information we call education. All of your training will mean little if you don't take advantage of the ideas in this book, ideas from those who hire and have been hired. These are the strategies of interview success—your interview success.
The more you prepare, the better your chance for success. This is your big chance to Ace Your Teacher Interview! Don't blow it!
At this particular point in many business books on job-interview techniques and strategies, the author wishes you "good luck." I'm not going to do that! Getting a teaching position is not a matter of luck; it is not a matter of chance or fortune or circumstances beyond your control. This is not the lottery we are talking about here. This is real life!
This is your future; this is what you have been working for over the course of the past four or five years. Do you want to leave your future to the elements of chance or fortune or just plain luck? I hope not!
I do, however, wish you great success. That success will come from extended and sufficient preparation, homework, and practice. The more you invest in the interview, the more you will reap. This book has been written to give you an edge on the competition. I have seen what happens in "knock your socks off' interviews, those interviews in which a powerful synergy evolves between an interviewer and a candidate; those interviews in which the interviewer knows, long before the interview is over, that this is the person "we want in our school"; those interviews in which a brand-new teacher walks out with both confidence and a job offer.
You now have the tools to make that interview your interview!
And don't forget one last tip that could serve you well: There's a great blog that has lots of answers and resources for you, too—just go to aceyourteacherinterview. blogspot.com.