Job Interview Tips

What’s Here

If you’re searching for a teaching job in 2015, this page will help you prepare for interviews and put your best foot forward. The main purpose of this page, though, is to help you really evaluate whether a school will be a good fit so you can get the right teaching position for YOU.

Who Am I To Give Advice?

Tips from teachers for teachers: questions to ask during an interview, whether to bring a portfolio, and moreI’ve changed schools a lot and have been on 14 job interviews during my teaching career:  I was offered every position on the spot except two.  An uninformed person might conclude that I’ve just got it like that, but the truth is, I was fortunate to have sought positions during extreme teacher shortages.   It’s kind of like getting excited about selling your house in 2 days…in a seller’s market.  Who would have expected anything less?  If teachers are the ‘buyers’, then it was definitely been a buyer’s market when I was job hunting in Washington, D.C. and South Florida.  Teacher turnover in both places was extremely high and the colleges weren’t producing enough graduates to fill the positions.  Therefore, rather than having to ‘sell myself’, principals have always spent the majority of the interview trying to sell ME on their school.

My advice on this page comes from that perspective, so I’m really not the best person to advise you on landing a position that hundreds of other teachers are vying for.  At the bottom of the page, I’ll recommend some more resources to help you.  But, even if you’re in a tight job market, it’s still important to think about what YOU want and need in a work environment, and I hope my ideas will remind you to consider that, as well.

What To Wear

My personal opinion is that a prospective teacher should dress more formally for an interview than for the actual job itself.   A pants or dress suit for women almost always makes a good impression.  If you are a creative person, it can pay off to express that a little bit in your clothing through jewelry or unusual prints or fabrics, as it can set you apart from other candidates.  On the interview for my most recent teaching position, I wore a black skirt, turquoise and black top with a thick black beaded belt, purple heels, and a deep tangerine bag. I love to take fashion risks and wanted to show that I think outside the box. Floridians aren’t afraid of color, and the principal loved my shoes!


That worked for me in Florida–and I was a highly-recommended veteran teacher at that point, so it was definitely safer for me to look different than your ordinary teacher.  Back when I lived in D.C., I interviewed in a business suit every time. It definitely depends on where you’re located, but in general,  it’s probably fair to say that your overall look should be modest and not a distraction from what you are saying.  Clothing is a very personal preference, and I believe you should wear something you feel like yourself in and that will make you feel comfortable during the interview.

Tips for Landing a Job Interview

The advice in the this section was getting pretty extensive, so I moved it to the new Finding a Teaching Job page. Look there to find info on choosing the right school and teaching position for you, getting an interview for a teaching position, questions to ASK about the school you want to work in (don’t skip this step!!!), things to look for when you visit the school, and tips and advice from other teachers. You can also read tips from other teachers and principals.

4 Tips For Answering Interview Questions

1.  Smile, smile, smile! Good teachers are friendly and warm with their students, and you want to convey that during your interview.

2.  Be a good listener. Pay close attention to what the principal is saying.  Maintain eye contact and don’t be afraid to ask questions–it shows you are interested.

3.  Pause to think before answering. Don’t feel rushed to say anything that comes into your head.  Give yourself a moment or two to reflect on the question, take a breath, and then reply.

4.  Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know how to answer. You can laugh good-naturedly and say, “Wow, that’s a tough one.  Let me think about that for a moment…”.  If you still feel unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, say something to the effect of, “I think my actions would depend on the specific situation and child involved.  I might ___, or maybe even ____”.  If you’re really stumped, you could explain, “I would really try to utilize the experience of my co-workers on this one.  I would confide in an experienced and trusted team member and ask for his or her advice and support.  I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t have all the answers, and if asking for help would bring the most benefit to the students, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.”  Or, you could say, “I would need to give this situation a lot of time and thought so I could make the best decision for my students.  I would research the issue a little more by talking to the parents/ my co-workers/ principal/ going on the internet before deciding on any actions.”

Often-Asked Teacher Interview Questions

There are thousands of questions a prospective employer might ask, but I would suggest thinking out your responses to the following, as variations of them are used often.  Interview questions usually fall into the following categories, with at least one asked from each section.

Philosophy of Education

  • What is your philosophy of education? Here you’ll want to talk about the approaches you like. Child-centered or teacher-centered?  Hands on?  Incorporate play?  The role of parental involvement?  Brain research?
  • What are the components of a lesson? This is a basic knowledge-type question, and if you’re a new teacher, you’ll probably hear something along these lines. The terminology will vary from district to district (so do your research!), but essentially the components are: anticipatory set (introductory activity), warm up, direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice, assessment, and closure.
  • What is your approach to reading instruction? Balanced literacy?  4 Blocks?  Small groups?  Flexible or set groupings?  What do other students do while you’re teaching small groups?

Instructional Strategies

  • How would you help a struggling reader? Have a number of strategies ready, since each child’s needs are different. One on one instruction?  Small groups with similarly-abled students?  Send home activities for parents to help?  Bring it up in RtI or tell a reading specialist?  Research strategies online, with co-workers, and a reading specialist?
  • Do you use centers, and if so, how? These went out of favor for a few years but now with differentiation, centers seem to be more on-trend educationally speaking. Research your district carefully! What materials would you use? Objectives?  How often/ how long?
  • What are some strategies you would use to teach math? Hands on?  Manipulatives?  Variety of strategies? Tech integration?

Classroom Management

  • What kind of classroom discipline plan would you use? You will almost certainly be asked some variation of this question.  I would mention a pro-active approach, meaning that I set my students up for success by making expectations, rules, and procedures clear to try to solve discipline problems before they start.  I would also mention that I spend a lot of time in the beginning of the year establishing specific procedures, with extensive modeling and practice. Another approach is to talk about helping kids develop intrinsic motivation and giving them real-world, authentic tasks, since high-quality activities and lessons often negate the need for discipline. Some principals would prefer a response focused on that, but if you’re interviewing for a high-poverty, urban school, you will probably need to convey very strong classroom management abilities and a clear approach for responding to unruly students.
  • What would you do for a constantly disruptive student? Find out what’s causing the behavior?  Conference with student and parent?  Set up an individual behavior management plan with set rewards and consequences?  I would stress pro-active techniques: establishing effective routines and procedures.

Assessment

  • How do you check to see if each student understands the material you are teaching? Individual wipe off boards?  Special classwork assignments?  Ask students to explain how they got their answers and how they know the answers are right?  Require that students show their work?  Assess frequently?  Tech tools?
  • What kind of assessment methods would you use in your classroom? Informal vs. formal? Be familiar with the district and state assessments for the grade level you’re interviewing for.  I would stress using a variety of assessment methods to ensure that no matter what a child’s strengths, s/he would have frequent opportunities to excel.  Ideas include tests, quizzes, classwork, homework, monthly projects, group work, internet research projects, participation, oral discussions, etc.  I would also mention using assessment to guide instruction.

Technology

  • How would you incorporate technology into your lessons? Web quests?  Internet research projects?  Digital cameras to make class books, etc.?  Class website for homework assignments and spelling words, etc.?  Interactive whiteboard activities? Class blogs and wikis? Be prepared to share a specific project you’ve done that was successful.
  • How would you describe your own technological skills–beginner, intermediate, or advanced? Be honest! And if you know this is a personal weakness, address it right away by taking a class or getting on the computer and experimenting. (No one ever taught me how to use a computer, create documents, do web design, use HTML programming, create a blog, use social networking, etc.–I just got on the computer and played around until I got it, and researched stuff online. You can do it, too! Being tech-savvy is really a non-negotiable in education now.)
  • What computer programs are you familiar with? This question is falling out of favor now that principals assume teachers can use basic Microsoft Office programs, but be ready to explain your familiarity with Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Excel and other spreadsheet software, children’s software and online programs (check to see which ones the school/district subscribe to), the internet, and email. More tech-savvy principals will want to hear about Google Apps and other online resources, as well.

Team Collaboration

  • How would you utilize your team members’ experience to benefit your students? I would emphasize the importance of working together as a grade level team and sharing ideas.  Regular team meetings to share what’s working and what’s not are very important to me.  Additionally, I like to be part of a team that is constantly developing and finding new materials, and then sharing them with one another.
  • What is your philosophy about team teaching? This is another place where it is essential to be completely honest.   If you like it, explain why (kids can benefit from multiple teaching styles, teachers can bounce ideas off one another, etc.).   Initially when I wrote this article in 2003, I didn’t like team teaching, and I would have admitted this because I would not have been happy sharing my classroom with another teacher.  I would have explained that while I love being part of a collaborative grade level team, I like to provide the consistency that comes with having only one teacher’s ideas about rules, routines, homework, etc. in the classroom.  In 2005, though, I was actually asked this during a job interview because I would be sharing a classroom with another teacher due to overcrowding.  I wanted the job so badly and I really felt like it would be the right one for me, so I told the principal that while I would look forward to having my own classroom, I knew the benefits of team teaching and the importance of communication, etc.  I did get the job and ended up LOVING team-teaching because I had such a fabulous partner!  So, you never know–hopefully as teachers we are always learning more about ourselves and our practice. You might be asked this question as it relates to push-in services by special education teachers, so consider what response you could give that would assure the principal you’d be in close communication and collaboration with that teacher.

Professional Development

  • Where do you see yourself 10 [or 20] years from now, professionally speaking? Still teaching? At other grade levels?  Administration?  Masters or doctorate degree?  National Board Certification?  Mentoring?
  • What committees have you served on, or are you interested in serving on? Try to mentally list all of these before the interview so they are fresh in your mind.  Chances are, there are more than you think!  Include a list in your portfolio, if you want.  Try to come up with at least one committee you would be interested in serving on in your new school (a content area committee such as social studies, school improvement team, yearbook staff, parental outreach, etc.).
  • What role would you like to play in school improvement? See the answer above. Pick something that you’re passionate about, and let that passion shine through.

Special Education

  • What experience have you had with special needs students? In the classroom?  Other jobs?  Summer camp?  Siblings?  Which disabilities? Are you familiar with the RtI process?
  • How comfortable would you be with special needs students in a general needs setting? Emphasize that you are prepared to handle special needs students with the right support systems in place. (Some principals ask this question knowing they’re going to dump half a dozen unlabeled but clearly emotional disturbed and learning-disabled children in your classroom, and want to hear you say essentially, No problem, I can handle any kid with no support from you at all! I enjoy when kids throw desks at me and set fire to the trashcans! ) Tread carefully. You want to sound capable and confident but also aware of the fact that creating interventions and accommodations for special needs kids is a team effort and a school-wide responsibility.
  • What would you do to help a child with ADHD in your classroom? Sit them in the front of the room?  Have them repeat directions to you?  Give them jobs so they can move around?  Try to keep instruction fast-paced and varied?  Use hands-on activities as often as possible?  Pair them up with a buddy?  Prepare your response to other specific disabilities the principal might mention–ADHD was a buzz word a few years ago, but now principals are just as likely to ask about Asperger’s, autism, oppositional-defiance disorder, etc.

Classroom Scenarios

  • What would you do if you had planned a lesson but the students just weren’t understanding what you were teaching and were not ready to move on to the next activity? I would answer this by saying I’d re-teach using another approach.  For example, if I were teaching a math concept and the kids didn’t understand, I might get out manipulatives to try to make it more concrete.  I would also try to identify what information the kids did not know that I had assumed they had known.  If I were teaching 2 digit multiplication and their answers were consistently wrong, I would look to see if they knew their multiplication facts and were computing correctly.  I would address the problem during the lesson by passing out calculators or multiplication tables so the kids could focus on the new skill, rather than trying to recall basic facts, then add basic fact review activities to our daily routine.
  • What would you do to help a child who was unable to finish work on time/ stay focused during your lessons/ refrain from hitting other students? Individual behavior plan?  Parent/student conference?  Specific rewards/consequences? Try to recall a real situation you once faced and how you handled it.

Parent Involvement

  • What would you do to encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s education? This is a tough one, and I often admit that to the interviewer.  Personally, I think the most important thing is to establish a good rapport at the beginning of the year.  Providing positive feedback is important, too–not calling home only when a child is in trouble.  If there are any ideas from the Creative Family Outreach chapter of my book that you plan to use, mention those, too.
  • How do you establish a good rapport with parents? My answer usually involved something like: “I try to establish contact right away, even if they don’t attend Open House night, just to introduce myself and see if parents have any questions.   When a parent has a concern, I try to let them get everything out while I listen quietly, and validate their opinions rather than immediately jumping in to defend myself or the school.  At the end, I always ask if they feel the situation has been resolved to their satisfaction so I can be sure we are on the same page.”

Personal Questions

  • What are your two biggest strengths and weaknesses? Ideas for strengths: creativity, energy, enthusiasm, strong work ethic, patience. Ideas for weaknesses: over-thinking things, perfectionism (although some people will say that the latter is a cliche, it’s true for me!), particular concept/topic/subject area you’re not as strong in but are working to learn.
  • Why would you like to teach at this school? Proximity to home (you’re part of the community)?  Good reputation?  You really want the grade level available?  You have a good feeling or gut instinct about the school?  Be authentic in your response.
  • What is your grade level preference, and why? I would give a grade range here, in case the principal can’t hire you for the grade you want.  I would also specify any grades you are certified to teach but would NOT want to. You could say that your gift is for grades ___, and you think it takes a special person or different personality type to work with kids that are younger/older than that.
  • Why do you think you would be a good match for this school/ what can you offer us that no other candidate can? My personal answer to this question is that I am always learning.  I never teach a lesson the same way two years in a row.  I am constantly bringing in new ideas from the internet, other teachers, my co-workers, and original concepts.   I am open to change and like trying new things in the classroom.

A note about personal questions:  You do not need to reveal your sexual orientation or marital status during an interview; in fact, it is illegal for any employer to ask.

Don’t forget to ask your own questions of the interviewer! This page gives advice on what to ASK the person you’re interviewing.

Behavioral Interviewing

Many employers are now asking “tell-about-a-time” questions, known as behavioral interviewing, which research shows are more predictive of actual on-the-job behavior than traditional interview questions. Personally, I hate this behavioral-based line of questioning because it’s hard for me to think of good examples on the spot. However, if you’re prepared for this line of questioning, you should have no problem! Examples: Tell about a time when…

  • You went above and beyond what was required of you
  • You encountered resistance from a colleague/parent/student
  • You overcame a crisis
  • You created a unit/project that went really well/incorporated technology
  • You took initiative and led the way

Key Phrases to Integrate (And Which Ones Not To)

Find out what the “buzzwords” are for the district you are applying to.  Buzzwords are the latest educational jargon for techniques that are really being pushed in school systems, and are often very regional.  Buzzwords for your area might include differentiation, differentiated instruction, Response to Intervention (RtI), balanced literacy, hands-on learning, cooperative learning (now often referred to as collaborative learning), inclusion, print-rich environment, real world learning, pro-active discipline, standards-based learning, flexible grouping, assessment-driven instruction, and so on.

There may be certain teaching techniques or terms that have become outdated in local schools.  Consider carefully the terms round robin reading (replaced by popcorn reading or other techniques which don’t involve calling on students in order); individualizing (has been replaced by differentiation, a very different concept, in many places); emotionally handicapped or severely emotionally disturbed (now called emotionally involved–and, actually, I think they’ve changed it again to emotionally impaired, which proves my point), etc.

Spend some time talking to teachers in the district you are applying to, or at least spend some time on the district website.  While buzzwords may not make or break an interview, being up to date on current trends in the school system can only be an asset for you.

Portfolio Or No? (And how are you supposed to use those things, anyway?)

In the past, I’ve told teachers this: If you have the time to make a portfolio, do it.  It can’t hurt!  If you don’t have time, don’t worry.  I’ve gotten job offers with and without a portfolio, and there are plenty of employed teachers who have never created portfolios in their lives.

However, in 2012? I would say definitely have one, and make sure it’s a digital/online portfolio. Not just because the job market is tough right now, but because it’s easier than ever to showcase your ideas and accomplishments with pictures and video. Chances are, you can pull out your phone right now and show a picture of a meal you ate last month or something cute your pet did. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that technology to show a principal what an awesome teacher you are?

In my opinion, the purpose of a portfolio is to support your interview answers.  In other words, if the principal asks what kind of centers you do, you should have pictures of your centers to show.  If s/he wants to know how you involve parents, display the monthly activities you created for families to do together. Very rarely does a principal have the time to sit and read a portfolio, and personally, I don’t think most of them are interested in the things that colleges require teachers to include, such as philosophies of education, evaluations, and research papers done for courses.  I think a principal would much rather hear you describe those things and show ‘props’ than read a five page paper.

So, what should you include?

  • worksheets and activities you created
  • photos of your classroom, centers, special projects, and events
  • examples of completed student work on a project you designed
  • evidence of something creative you’ve done in the classroom (a postcard exchange, Mystery Reader program, program for parents, etc.)
  • lesson plans that you can use to help you as you describe what you did and what the objective was (not for you to hand to the principal to read)

Organize your portfolio in a way that makes sense to you.  You want to be able to navigate to the item you’re looking for quickly, so use simple section headings that you’ll remember how to get to.  You could use the categories of interview questions I listed above (Philosophy of Education, Instructional Strategies, Classroom Management, etc.) so you are prepared with evidence for any type of question.  If you had to create a portfolio in college but hated the sections they made you use, you don’t have to make a new portfolio, just rearrange things so you can easily find them.

Another nice thing about online portfolios is that interviewers can read your resume, see photos of activities you’ve done, view lesson ideas and your philosophy of teaching, watch videos of you teaching, etc. before they even meet with you.  You can email them to confirm the interview time and share your link. This is an incredible asset and definitely worth offering to an administrator. Then, bring an iPad or netbook with you to the interview and showcase your website and online resources on the spot!  If you are proficient with technology and can create a really nice website yourself, you’ll get bonus points for sure. But even if you’re not, pulling out a laptop to illustrate your points with an onine portfolio will still go over well with the principal (who will probably be either a tech dinosaur who is wowed by the fact that you are showing him/her pictures online, or a tech lover who expects and values tech proficiency among staff).

Do Your Research BEFORE You Interview!

Go to the school system’s website.  You want to know as much as possible about the school BEFORE you agree to spend the next year working there.  Find out about test scores, ESOL population (English learners), Title I populations (low income), racial backgrounds of students (so you understand the school culture better), average class size (not always indicated accurately on the website), school boundaries (so you know which neighborhoods the kids come from), the feeder schools (which middle/high schools the kids will eventually go to), etc.  If you’re not familiar with the school district, look up statistics for it as a whole, including how many schools there are, where the higher-achieving schools are located, how test scores have compared over recent years, etc.  Ask other teachers what they’ve heard, as well: schools and administrations have reputations that may not be accurate, but are worth hearing about, especially if you can get multiple opinions.  You want to combine as much information as you can.

If you love data analysis like I do, you won’t have a problem.  But if just reading the above paragraph has bored you to tears, let me explain: the more you know about the school you’re interviewing at, the more knowledgeable you’ll sound while interviewing.  And, the more intelligent and informed questions you’ll be able to ask, and the more you’ll be able to tell if the school is a good fit for you.  If most of your kids won’t speak English as a first language, wouldn’t you want to know that up front?  Don’t depend on the principal to disclose this information!  If you discover in advance that half of your students will come from a mobile home community and the other half from single family homes that start at 600K, you’ll be prepared when the principal asks how you would address the needs of families from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.  Being informed may set you apart from other candidates who walk in blindly with no knowledge of the community or school’s history: it shows you are interested in the job as well as the families and students you’ll be working with.

Click to continue and read the page Finding a Teaching Job:

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 (don’t skip this step!!!)

Things to look for when you visit the school

Tips and advice from other teachers

Recommended Resources

Sample interview questions for teaching candidates from Virginia Tech’s website
Great tips by Leah Davies
Interview questions and tips from Teaching Heart
A short article on answering tough interview questions from the Education Oasis

Now What?

Tips for getting a teacher job from other teachers and administrators
Finding a teaching job
Substitute teaching

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Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum resources, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. Subscribe via email for blog updates, exclusive tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan June 11, 2011 at 3:17 am

Thank you so much for these tips!! I am hoping to get a call for two different jobs soon!! This was very helpful as it will be my first year teaching!

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2 Angela Watson June 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Thanks, Megan! Best of luck to you in your interviewing! The right position is out there for you!!

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3 Miss Teacha June 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm

These are fantastic tips! Your interview questions were spot on. . . I answer quite a few of them today, when interviewing. And the tips about smiling and asking questions about the school, I really believe that is what got me the position.

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4 Angela Watson June 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Thanks! Glad to hear that the info is relevant. I update it every spring. And CONGRATS on getting the position!

I saw your blog post. Deciding whether or not to take the job is definitely more fun than interviewing for it! I’m glad you have so options here. Part of me would advise you to take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone…but I hesitate to do that if you’re not passionate about the subject area. Will keep it in prayer!

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5 Tracy April 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

I love the idea of an online portfolio! How do I get started? Is there a website to help put it together ?

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6 Angela Watson April 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Hi, Tracy! I am not familiar with any sites that are created specifically for online teacher portfolios, but you can easily create your own website or blog to share your resources. Google Sites is really basic free option that you can get going quickly. If you want something prettier or fancier looking, use Wordpress or Blogger. Once you get a teaching job, you can use your site to share resources you create and keep an “online file cabinet” of your ideas.

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7 Kelly April 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I have an online portfolio and I use weebly.com It’s great, easy to use (especially if you’re somewhat electronically challenged like me), and most of all IT’S FREE! I highly recommend it to anyone. You can get two free websites per email, so if you get a job and want to create a classroom website, you can do just that!

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8 Mrs. K. May 4, 2012 at 7:47 am

I used weebly.com to create my online portfolio. It’s the easiest site I’ve ever used — no knowledge of HTML required, unless you’re looking to do something a bit fancier, like insert widgets or jump links. It’s completely free unless you want to upgrade to the premium version, which really isn’t necessary in a teaching portfolio. Your URL has “weebly” in it if you’re using the free version, but you can combat that by using a link shortener like Bit.Ly that will take that right out.

My second choice for creating a website is Wix. Although I don’t find it as user-friendly as Weebly, Wix has some really cool features. You can even create a podcast (maybe welcoming visitors to your site?) and upload it — for free — to any of your site’s pages! (I love that.)

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9 Dana April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Thanks so much for this post! I’m moving and eagerly seeking a teaching position in my new city. I’ve been out of the interview loop for 3 years now, so this was a great review! Thanks again!

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10 Heather April 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm

What a great website! Thank you for your advice! Do you have any advice for a 10 year education veteran that would like to move from inner city to suburban in tough economic times where younger teachers are cheaper? Also, do you have any resume advice? Thank you for your time!

Heather

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11 Mrs. K. May 4, 2012 at 7:50 am

Heather,

I just wanted to step in and say that the “cheaper” teachers aren’t necessarily guaranteed to get the job! I’m a “cheaper” teacher myself, and I’ve been unemployed for a year now. I try to use my lower salary to my advantage and point out that I’m easier on the school’s budget, but principals have replied that they’d rather have experience than “cheap” because “you get what you pay for.” (So I stopped mentioning my lower salary. lol.)

So I just wanted to tell you that there’s definitely hope you. Veteran teachers have amazing advantages in terms of experience and knowledge, and kids NEED that! I have no doubt that you’ll find a job easier than you think. Best of luck. :)

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12 Emily April 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm

You inspired me to create my own blog for teaching, thank you for all your wonderful helpful tips!! :)

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13 Mrs. K. May 4, 2012 at 7:43 am

I have an online portfolio, but I also have a paper copy. I send the link to my online portfolio to principals, and I include a QR code to it (and a link, just in case) on my resume, which definitely makes my resume stand out.

I’ve been itching to purchase an iPad and thought that another great use for it would be to use it during an interview to showcase my online portfolio. I have an iPhone, but I feel uncomfortable taking my phone out during an interview because the traditional thing to do is turn it completely off or leave it in the car. I don’t want to risk getting a phone call or text message and having to navigate through a variety of pop-up notifications and buzzing sounds, just to show a principal my work. Am I wrong to think that?

I made a paper portfolio but felt uneasy about it. I feel that one of my strongest assets is that I know how to incorporate technology, so it seemed ironic that I would create a paper version of my portfolio when I already have an online version. But I can’t justify purchasing an iPad or other tablet JUST to show a portfolio during an interview. (Obviously, there are a ton of uses for one, but I told myself I wouldn’t spend the money on one until I had a classroom of my own again.)

What are your thoughts? Is it counter-intuitive to suggest that I’m tech-savvy but then bring in a paper portfolio? Is dodging pop-up notifications and buzzing ringtones not really that big of a deal? Or is it really better to show my “stuff” on an iPad?

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14 erin June 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I am interviewing for my first teaching job in a week. I went through the career switched program and have never actually taught. Any advice for new teachers or those just entering the field? I have not had a year of student teaching……my first year will be considered that- so all of my answers will be predictions…..

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15 Sarah June 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Hey Angela,

I just wanted to thank you so much for your helpful tips! I read up on this blog last night before my interview. I had a very successful interview this morning, and the principal offered me the job on the spot! She said that was the first time she had ever hired someone on the spot! Keep up the good work!

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16 Angela Watson June 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Wow, that is AWESOME, Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing that, and congratulations!! So exciting!

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17 Mary Murdock June 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

Here’s a few more tips- Print out your resume in a cream-colored heavier paper weight. I would print out the letter in regular white, and then attach the resume- it looks more professional and the administrator remembers it! (Happened on a few of my interviews and I got the job.)

Another thing is posture during the interview- Sit slightly forward and look intently at the interviewer. I was told I looked eager and wanted the job, versus others who just sat back to answer the questions. It’s about the energy you convey, and the stamina that you show (considering that you’re going to be teaching and need to have that anyway!).

Hope these help!

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18 Kaleigh July 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Hi Angela! I have my first teaching interview on Thursday, and this page has been so helpful. I also have your Cornerstone book. You are a huge inspiration. I hope to be HALF the teacher you are one day. Thank you for all that you do! :)

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19 Vickie Smith July 22, 2012 at 11:37 am

I am going to be a first year teacher. I am going to be interviewing at a Chrsitian school for a high school History position. I really want this job. I need help with interview questions. Can you please help me? Thanks so much! Vickie Smith

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20 Dottay July 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Another tip for interviewers from a retired school administrator: Brush up on your grammar! No one is going to hire someone who speaks incorrect English to teach kids!

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21 Angela Watson July 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

Great point, Dottay! In a tight job market, especially, a few typos in a cover letter and resume can mean the difference between landing an interview and not landing one.

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22 Elena D. July 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Elizabeth
July 30, 2012

Hi, Angela;
I have being a Paraprofessional or Educational Assistant for many years for the DOE. Presently I submitted a teachers application, since I am certified and acquired a Masters Degree in teaching. I have not being on any interviews yet, I know that eventually I will.
Do you have any additional tips for me? Is it necessary for me to have a portfolio? Thank’s in Advance.
Elizabeth

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23 Angela Watson July 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hi, Elena! It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a portfolio. An online one is best because you can includes images, video, etc. and principals can check it out whenever they have time. Pull together as many resources as you can to show the type of work you’ve done as a para. :-)

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24 Nichole August 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Thank you SO much for posting this! I have a job interview for a primary position tomorrow afternoon– hopefully my studying will pay off!

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25 Angela Watson August 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

Awesome! All the best to you!

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26 Sabrina September 17, 2012 at 12:15 am

Thank you so very much. I have an interview tomorrow for substitute teaching and God lead me here to read this. I feel much more prepared for the interview now. Thank you for taking the time to post all this wonderful information.

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27 Angela Watson September 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

Wonderful–all the best to you in your interview!

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28 Erin October 26, 2012 at 9:31 am

Your information is very helpful. I have been out of the elementary classroom for several years, to raise a family. I have spent the last five years as a preschool teacher and have an interview for an elementary position. I am very nervous. My portfolio is the “fresh out of college” version. I’m not sure what to bring or how to really prepare for it. Any tips?

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29 Angela Watson October 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hi, Erin! There’s a section about portfolios on this page if you scroll up a bit. My recommendation is to move to a digital portfolio. Good luck to you in your interviews!

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30 adria October 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Hi Angela,

I am currently a student pursing a career within the ‘Teaching’ field. I found this site very informational and very inspiring! I have already added this to my collection of inspirational materials for future use! Thank you for providing it :)

Adria

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31 Angela Watson November 1, 2012 at 10:31 am

Thank you, Adria!

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32 Lee Ann December 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

These are great tips, if you are lucky to get an interview. I made out at least 20 applications and got only 1 interview, a part- time position. I didn’t get it. In Ohio, there are so teachers losing their job so districts have hundreds of applicants. Where are teachers needed?

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33 Katie P August 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Not in Florida! I have been trying for 5 years. Now what happens is they only want to hire teachers with 3-5 years experience which I don’t have since I never got a position after I graduated. So frustrating!!

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34 Naomi May 1, 2013 at 11:43 am

Do you have any thoughts on follow up thank you letters for the interview or samples of these letters?

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35 Kelly July 19, 2013 at 7:14 am

Hi,

New teacher looking for a job here! I have been hired to teach pre-k in the school I was hoping to teach at, but at the last minute they have 2 openings in third grade. I have read this article probably 10 times this week to prepare for this interview this morning. I really enjoyed and agree with the advice you gave. THANKS!

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36 Katie P August 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for all the wonderful tips! I have been trying to get a teaching position for years with no luck! I happened to graduate right when they implemented a county wide hiring freeze. It lasted for two years so I had to move on to another career. I have been trying to get back to teaching but haven’t interviewed in so long. These tips were a great refresher and I appreciate them. Thanks again!

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37 Ruby Rocha December 4, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Thanks for sharing these helpful tips for a job interview. These points are really useful. Cheers!

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38 Lisa January 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I tried to click on the link for advice about questions to ask the interviewer, but something is wrong with it. I really do appreciate all of the advice you have provided, and I intend to use it so thank you.

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39 Angela Watson January 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm
40 Anna December 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Awesome information! I have a job interview tomorrow and this has been, by far, the most helpful thing I’ve read while researching. I especially love the answer you gave about consulting experienced teachers for situations you’re unfamiliar with. Thanks for the great tips!

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