I applied for a job at a historical park when I was in university, and I was excited about the opportunity to be a tour guide and share some of the history with visitors. Eager to get the opportunity, I went through the interview and thought I was doing well. Then they asked me this question and I will never forget it. The interviewer held up a pencil and said, “Pretend you are telling the history of this pencil to a group. Go!” Right away I shared that I didn’t know anything about the history of the pencil, and the interviewer said, “Make it up then!”
I stumbled along making stuff up that was utterly incoherent and had a Billy Madison debate moment where nothing I made any sense and everyone in the room was dumber for listening to what I had shared.
To this day, I still think the question was stupid and more of a “gotcha” moment. It was not something that was helpful for the interviewers to determine if I was a good fit for the job because I would hope that any of the history that I would have shared at the park would have been accurate, not something I made up on the spot.
As I have seen interviews in education, I have seen some of this disconnect as well. Asking teachers to “teach a lesson” to a panel, when we are looking for more collaborative learning in classrooms, or panels that don’t talk to applicants and have conversations, but shoot rapid-fire questions their way. If you are going to get the best educator for your school, you have to do your best to see how they are in an environment that is most like your school, or the school you want to create.
As someone who is being interviewed, you don’t ask the questions but that doesn’t mean you can’t guide the conversations though. Some of people I have interviewed and some that have interviewed me, keep coming back to specific themes, no matter the questions. When working with educators that are about to have interviews or newer teachers, I encourage them to have some focus points for interviews that they will come back to throughout the questions. Here are five key points that I would suggest you look at:
Obviously, the five above are vital points that I think are important to get across in an interview, no matter the question, but are a personal preference. What would be some of the ideas that you would want to ensure you were to get across in a teaching interview?