Q & A: job search & interview tips for teachers

A few years ago, I wrote a page on this site called Job Interview Tips for Teachers, and it’s proven to be so popular (it was pinned on Pinterest over 75,000 times–sheesh!) that I kept updating it every summer. On that page, you’ll find info on what to wear to a teaching interview, interviewing tips, job interview questions that teachers are asked, advice on creating portfolios, and more. Then in 2011, I started getting more questions about how to land the interview in the first place, so I created the Finding a Teaching Job page. That resource includes tips on choosing the right school and teaching position for you, how to get an interview for a teaching position, questions to ASK about the school you want to work in, and things to look for when you visit the school. And last May, I added a blog post with advice from teachers and principals on how to get a job as a teacher that includes some fantastic tips that were shared on my Facebook page.

Because finding a teaching job is such an important topic and a highly individual experience, I still find that there are more issues to address! Today–with their permission–I’m sharing a few questions teachers have recently asked me via email regarding the teacher interview process.

Resources to help get a teaching job: questions about job searches, ideas for answering interview questions

I love your blog! I’ve read the teaching interview tips so many times! I just interviewed for a teaching job at my own school (was an aide and long-term sub this past year). I now want to start preparing for round 2. Any ideas about the questions asked on a second round of interviews? How do I prepare? Thank you!!
-Sara

Congrats on getting a callback! I would expect the second round of interviews to be similar to the first, but geared more toward the specific position you’re applying for. You may go before a panel of potential colleagues, who will be trying to assess whether you’d be a good fit for their team. My advice is to be yourself and let your personality shine through. Be totally honest in your responses, because if you say what you think they want to hear, you might find they’re resentful later on when they realize you misrepresented your teaching style.

Arrive at the interview prepared to talk about specific lessons and strategies you’d use for the grade level or subject you’re interviewing for, and make sure you know the school’s demographics and history well. You want to speak very knowledgably about the issues that teachers at the school face (a highly transient student population, language barriers with parents, etc.) and tailor your responses to incorporate those issues. The idea is to convey that you already know the school well and will be bringing lots of great ideas, solutions, and enthusiasm to the table. Good luck!

I have been reading your blog for a while now and can see how much experience you have in the education field. I wanted to know if you have info for older teachers entering the job market. I’ve had trouble getting call backs on jobs. It seems most of the new hires are right out of college. Thank you.
-Janet

This is a sad situation that has unfortunately been happening for many years–principals have limited school budgets and would rather hire newer teachers for less money than experienced veterans who are higher up on the pay scale. Many principals are also concerned about hiring older teachers who may be jaded and burned out, as well as stuck in the old traditional ways of teaching. There’s not much you can do about the money issue, but you can fight the other part of the battle by demonstrating to principals that you’re a lifelong learner who works constantly to stay current in your field.

Make sure your resume includes the application of technology in meaningful ways, not just in the classroom but outside of it as a way to enhance your own professional growth. Demonstrate that you have established connections in your own personal learning network (PLN) which you use to bounce ideas off of other educators and learn what’s working in other places. You can showcase these things in an online portfolio. Once you do get an interview, take some risks in terms of your clothing choices–you want to appear professional, but creative and modern. Talk with the principal about ways that you’re innovating, and make sure your passion for teaching is evident. All the best to you!

Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive and informative site, it has been very helpful to me. I just finished my credential program and have been putting applications in, and I was wondering what your advice would be for me. When I submit my application online, I receive a confirmation email and I can also check the status as far as whether or not the district viewed it, but then I’m up in the air. I had an interview yesterday, but it took them a month to call me for it…is that a pretty standard time frame? Is it bad form to email the contact listed on the posting and ask if they are still reviewing apps or if they have already called to schedule interviews?  I do not want to give a bad first impression by annoying someone, I would just like to know if I have been passed up, or if I should keep hope alive. Should I inquire, or just wait and hope? If I should inquire, do you have a suggestion for the wording of the email?  Thank you so much in advance for any advice and help you can offer, I truly appreciate it!
–Mary

I do think it’s normal for schools to wait weeks or even months before responding to applications–they have to place surplussed teachers, determine if current employees have gotten work elsewhere, find out how much money they’re going to have for teacher salaries based on student enrollment (which changes significantly all throughout the summer), etc. You may find that you’ve sent out applications in the spring and not gotten callbacks until the day before school starts–or even a few weeks into the school year. It’s frustrating, for sure!

Whether to follow up and how is a tricky situation, and I think a lot of it depends on your district. If there’s someone at the central office that you can direct this question to, that would be ideal—ask them whether it’s standard or appropriate to follow up after submitting the application. Personally, in this job market, I think I’d take the chance on annoying someone and email them. Give it while (maybe two weeks if it’s early summer, or a week if it’s later in the summer?), and then send a personalized email.

Maybe you could write something like this: “Good morning, Mr./Mrs. __. I submitted my application for __ last week and I wanted to follow up to see if you have any questions about my experience, or if there is any additional information you’d like me to provide. Your school has such an amazing reputation for ___, and I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my skills in __ and __ in order to make ___ School even better. I am available to interview at any time this week. Please feel free to reach me via this email address or by phone at ___. Thank you so much for your time. Sincerely, ___” Include a link to your digital portfolio or professional website under your name. I don’t think it’s necessary to mention that you’d like to hear back if they’ve already hired someone, as it’s pretty obvious you’d appreciate a response if that were the case.  Hang in there–the waiting and not knowing is tough, but you’ll have some answers soon!

More info:

Job interview tips for teachers

Finding a teaching job

How to get a job as a teacher: advice from other educators

Questions about interviewing for a teaching position? Advice for the job seekers above? Please share in the comments!

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chistine Lamttina July 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

These tips are great, very helpful. I just landed a position in a private elementary school after teaching Pre-K for many years. (3rd grade!) I did a lot of research and found out that the principal was very much into dramatic arts, fine art, and hands on learning activities. I decided to do an author study in my pre-k classroom, and choose Eric Carle. I had my students create art inspired by, and in the style of Eric Carle. I took photos of the artwork, and of my students engaged in the learning process. I took actual samples of student work, my lesson plan book, and all of the photos to the interview. I also created a lesson plan of this activity and geared it to older students.
I was hired that day without having to do a demo lesson because the principal felt I had presented a thorough lesson already!

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2 Camille July 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm

One thing that really helped me to get a teaching job was to get to know the administration at the school I was student teaching. Then when I got an interview, I let the Assistant Principal over our department and he called in to recommend me.

Another thing I did in the interview to set myself apart is that I included all the positive comments that students made about my teaching strategies, tools, materials, etc. I told the Principal who was interviewing me that I included the typed up comments along with my resume because I wanted him to get a student perspective of my teaching. He hired me the next day.

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3 Kmartin August 3, 2015 at 10:24 am

Thanks Angela for addressing this issue. I job hunted this summer and it is a jungle out there! I find it disheartening that administrators would not consider seasoned teachers because they believe them to be burned out or “stuck in the old traditional ways of teaching” but I understand it. I see this in my own school where veteran teachers refuse to try new things and are burned out. They, unfortunately, hurt those of us who stay current and embrace change. I know that if I need to job hunt in the future, I will take a completely different approach. Thanks for the advice.

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