28 March 2014

NAILED IT: post interview part 1

This past summer, I wrote a series of posts about how to interview effectively. You can check them out here. They even got pinned! Woah! I have been really excited to get a few e-mails lately asking for tips, so I got inspired to get my little first-year teacher sized butt (just wait, newbies...*) into gear and reflect on a few more things I wish I'd know about the whole process. Also, I've been able to add a little something to my list of qualifications as a advice-giver:
  • joined my principal in interviewing a prospective special education teacher
  • participated in the search/interview process for hiring a paraprofessional 
  • interviewed for a variety of education and non-education related jobs
  • actively participated on interview committees for a youth pastor at my home church, the head swim and dive team coach at my university, and for multiple staffing positions for the mentoring program I worked for in college
  • attended multiple teacher interview prep sessions with local HR representatives and interview committee members at my little university
...but more on that later...

When going into an interview, most job-seekers (myself included!) are very focused on trying to convince someone (or a group of someones) that they are the best person for employment. I am quite confident that if you were to follow all of my tips, show off your best side, and bring your true A-Game to an interview, you would likely get considered for a position. I know that it is thrilling and terrifying all at once to be looking for your first job andyoujustwantonesobadyoucouldSCREAM! I know that there is a sense of security in knowing that if  you land a job you may not have to be going into debt just to pay rent and/or you might be able to live off of more than Ramen (teacher's salary=Ramen + some frozen veggies) next year. 

However, all that being said, it is so, so, so important to remember that you are interviewing them, too. I would strongly advise that in addition to the questions about the school, you consider asking at least some of the following questions during your interview**, especially if you feel like they might be getting pretty excited about hiring you:

  • KINDLY ask your interviewer to be frank about what the current situation is. Is this a 2nd grade team of teachers who are really tight knit, and not looking forward to their buddy being moved up to 3rd? Do the school personnel fill traditional roles? Are you taking on a group of students who have experienced trauma or loss? Is this a brand new school with limited budget for materials/resources?
  • Ask about the district policy on co-teaching. Do they foresee a general ed/special ed collaboration in one room? Is there a possibility that you might share a room with another teacher and class (only adding this because it's happened!)?
  • Ask about the roles of support staff and administrative staff. Who can help you if you need support coming up with effective RtI interventions? Does the campus have a behavior specialist? What does the "director of special programs" do? 
  • Ask if you will have any responsibility for supervising paraprofessionals. If so, what role does the paraprofessional typically take in the classroom? (not saying I've seen parapros working with the same level of responsibility as teachers but... IF that was the case you want to know whose toes you may be stepping on!) What things are you expected to do as their supervisor? Do they have responsibilities outside of your classroom?
  • Finally, ask them to give a very brief overview of what a day in the position might look like and/or ask if you can chat with someone who currently holds the position, or one similar (not only does this give you good info about what you'll be doing, but it also tells you whether or not your interview team knows/cares about the position you are taking, which should also give you some food for thought)
Asking these questions (and other relevant, not annoying questions about things you easily could find on their website) will not make you look stupid. It will make you seem interested and like you care about being prepared to take on a challenge.

If the school is not a good fit for you, don't even think twice about continuing to look. Yes, a job is important. It pays the bills. It fills your dreams. It keeps you busy. It makes your heart sing. Whatever. But there is no harm in simply keeping your eyes peeled if you have taken a teaching job that makes you feel uncomfortable or like you settled. Check back in the next couple days to find out more about what could happen if you find a better fit!

*I swear, your first year of teaching is about the same effort as being pregnant and then birthing a child. Except you don't take a kid home at the end of it (PTL!) and you get to keep all of the weight...

**These seem fairly special-education-teachery, but I tell ya what... General ed teachers are being asked to take on a large chunk of these responsibilities more and more (I could write a novel on this- holler if you want my two cents), so if I was solely looking for a general education position you best bet I'd DEFINITELY still be asking almost all of these questions.

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