Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sunny Side of the Table

Even though interviews can be boring and tedious, it's MUCH more fun being on the interview panel! I was foolish enough to move just two years after landing my first job, and I can't tell you how frustrated I was trying to represent myself accurately while telling the interrogators interviewers what they wanted to hear.

We had 9 interviewers today, beginning at 8:30. They were scheduled 30 minutes apart, but it would have been easy to work in a 15-minute window, considering HR only allowed us 8 dull questions.

Now, I've only done this once, so I'm not any kind of expert, but here's what I learned:

  • The people who are interviewing you may or may not be your immediate supervisors. We were all from the same school, but were interviewing for positions at 3 different locations.
  • The people who are interviewing you may not have ever done this before. They could be pretty nervous, too, especially if it's early in the day.
  • Like any competition, it's not best to go first.
  • Come early. Your HR department might allow a huge window between interviews but, especially if it's after lunch, the interview panel will appreciate being able to move things along.
  • Answer the question.
  • Answer only the question. If you're going to volunteer random information, be sure to connect it back and show how it answers the question.
  • Answer the whole question.
  • Prepare a solid answer for the ubiquitous "what is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?"
  • Be prepared to answer the weakness question. It is ALWAYS asked. Always. People who seem surprised look foolish.
  • Don't try to "forget" the weakness question.
  • Does it seem like I'm harping on the weakness thing? I am! My students know that when I repeat something over and over and over and over and over it means that it's important.
  • Don't go overboard with your clothing. Seriously. If you're applying for a job where you won't have to wear business formal, don't go buy a new suit. You'll look uncomfortable, and we'll be able to tell that you don't wear that sort of clothing in your current job.
  • Whatever outfits are expected at your job, wear them enough so that you're comfortable. Wash or dry-clean them once or twice before the interview. Break in your shoes so you don't fall over in the hallway on the way to the interview room. Don't wear an outfit you don't like.
  • Wear one interesting or unique piece of clothing or jewelry. Not anything crazy or punk, but a pretty necklace or slightly brighter tie. After 9 interviews, everyone kinda blends together, and we're not allowed to discuss candidates until the end. I'm not a fashionista by any means, but I did say things like "remember the one in the green shirt? She said that...."
  • Everyone says this, but I'll repeat it: LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT THE JOB BEFORE THE INTERVIEW. Ask people you know, use any contacts you have, even if you haven't talked to them in 20 years, and go online and talk to people, especially those in your local area. It's hard to picture you in a job if you're sitting there asking what you'll have to do.
  • In many school districts, interviewers have a list of questions, and they are instructed to record comments. When you finish answering a question, STOP TALKING. We may not say anything, but that's not 'cause we're waiting for a more complete answer, it's because we're making notes on what you already said. Rambling makes you look silly.
Teacher interviews are next week! It should be fun to help select my newest colleague.


Photo Credit: Rickydavid on Flickr

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