My Moment - Day 60 - It's Interview Time - What Am I Looking For?

I had the opportunity today, through a partnership with Texas A&M Commerce to interview student interns who would be joining us next fall at Sigler Elementary. While this interview process is done via a rotation where groups of three to four students rotate, meeting with four different campuses every twenty minutes, I want to take a moment to share my advice with "soon to-be" student interns or graduating students seeking their first teaching position. In sharing, I openly admit I do not know it all, but I do know what we are looking for in potential candidates as we begin our hiring process.

1. Be Professional - This is your once chance to make a first and maybe only impression. Be professional, dress professional and carry yourself as a professional. How you choose to answer the series of questions that will come your way over the next forty-five minutes to an hour could possibly be the difference between you or another candidate. Leave the slang language in the car, be careful how you articulate yourself and rehearse how you refer to sub-populations of students. The last thing you want to do is say something that leaves a potential employer scratching their head, thinking you are not professional.

2. Have an Opinion - As an interview team asks questions, be prepared to answer the questions with your thoughts, not the thoughts you "think" they may want to hear. You have to have an opinion and be able to articulate why you feel the way you do. Many of the questions you will be asked do not have a right or wrong answer. Sometimes just being able to articulate your answer and justify why you feel that way, is doing it right. Do not be concerned with whether or not your opinion is right or wrong. If you share your thoughts and can share why you feel the way you do, the right match will come your way. You want to be hired by someone who appreciates your opinions. Be sure you share them.

3. Read - Whether you are a college student seeking a student teaching position or a college graduate, you should be reading up on your profession. Be familiar with what you are reading. If you are asked a question about what the last professional book you have read or to share an article or Ted Talk that has inspired change in your teaching practices, be able to share the name and/or author of what you have read. Being able to clearly communicate not only what you have read, but who wrote it or the title of it, shows the team interviewing you that you are invested in what you are learning. If you read it, but cannot remember who wrote it or what you learned from it, does it really matter?

4. Relationships Matter - The number one factor that impacts a student's education is the teacher. Yes, the teacher needs to be competent in the content they will be delivering, but more importantly they must be competent in creating a relationship with each of their students. "You cannot teach students to learn, until you show students you care."

5.  Be Connected - I sat down with over twenty future teachers today and not a single one of them articulated anything that would lead me to believe they are connected. Is that a flaw in the system? Possibly. Did they forget to mention it because they were nervous? Maybe. Regardless, as you prepare for an interview know what you want to communicate about yourself as a person and as a learner. Being connected and articulating how that benefits you as a person, learner and teacher speaks volumes about how much you value your professional learning and the steps you take in dictating your own learning. Do not let someone dictate what you will learn. Be in control of your learning. Be connected.

Those are five characteristics or practices that I am looking for as we interview candidates to join our team. While it is not an exhaustive list, nor in any order, I am sure that the teachers we hire this year or next, will possess each of them. Will yours?

What characteristic or practice would you want to highlight?

Do you have a specific interview question you feel we should ask? You can add it here: Interview Questions for the 21st Century Teacher

What was your moment today?

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