Education Interview Tips Part I

It’s summer, folkertons.

That means it’s still hiring season for many schools.  Better move quick.  Gotta get those quality education jobs before some jackass from a big corporation has a mid -life crisis, decides he wants to change the world and leaves his six figure salary and tropical vacations for…

Yeah, I’m not buying it either.  Let me try again.

Better move quick to get the approximately two teaching jobs still left after some jackasses from a big corporation ruined the economy, shrugged it off, and left behind massive budgets cuts for the one sector whose job it is to teach young America not to be jackasses.

Whoospie.  Where did that little rant come from?

Anyway, jackasses aside (and yeah, I’m looking at you, too, you little Wisconsin union buster smug-faces) it’s a competitive market out there, so I thought I would lend you all a hand.  Give you a few interview tips.  Prep you, so that when you walk into that room with your future principal, colleagues, or whomever, you are adequately prepared to…well… not look like a jackass.  Interviews are serious matters requiring a delicate balance of people skills, content mastery and thoughtful reflection that looks effortless.

Shocking that I even have a job.  But I do.  So here goes:

Interview Advice for Those Seeking a Job in Education Part I:  General Tips

1.  Grow a pair.
No, seriously.  I once sat through and entire interview with a chick who did not once make eye contact with me or my principal.  Considering we were the only other people in the room, that made it a bit uncomfortable.  I started narrating the interview like a baseball game in my head.  Oh…oooh…here it comes….here it…and…NO, it’s a miss! The eyeballs escape to the ceiling, rapidly followed by a trip to the walls and a little vacation to the floor.  It’s a shame, folks.  A crying shame.
Really.  If you can’t look a (somewhat) well-behaved teacher in the eye, how the Howard Gardner are you going to keep control of a classroom of adolescents?  Oh wait…you’re not.

2.  Don’t be a Tool.
At one point, I referenced a “tool” in front of my father who (understandably considering his generation) confused the person in question with a gardening utensil.  So for those of you who many not be hip to all the urban lingo, here’s the definition of a tool from (on a semi-related note, Teaching Teenagers Tip #1 is put on your “favorites” tab.  It will save you a lot of confusion and embarrassing moments.)
A person, typically male, who says or does things that cause you to give him a “what-are-you-even-doing-here” look.

Simple enough.  Sample tool experience: a Spanish demo lesson where the teacher applicant, rather than attempting to learn students’ names, repeatedly called each one chico or chica.  This is the equivalent of saying, “hey, hey boy.  What’s the answer to number five?  And you, girl, what did you write for number six?”
Are you serious?  That’s just insulting.  And again, we’re back to how you plan on controlling a room of teenagers if you can’t even build a relationship enough to learn their names.  Plus, I think this particular dude was wearing a bow-tie.  Or maybe not.  It’s possible my memory just assigned him one to match his personality.  I’d avoid the bow-ties in an interview, too, unless you really are Just That Cool.

3.  Know your content.
I kind of can’t even believe that I have to write that, but holy cow.  In my particular area, don’t apply for a language job unless you can…oh, I don’t know…speak the language.  Which means that at a bare minimum, you can narrate the past tense correctly.  Don’t apply for an English job if you can’t use an apostrophe -s, an art job if you can’t fire a kiln or a social studies job if you can’t get your facts straight.  Got applicants going all Michelle-Bachmann-Sarah-Palin in their interviews.  Nutjobs.

Oops.  Mini-rant.

Balls.  Tool-less.  Content.  Three basics.  If you prefer, you can switch the order around to make it easier to remember and only slightly more inappropriate sounding  – tooless balls content – and repeat that little mantra to yourself as you head into the Direct Questioning part of your interview.  With tooless balls content on your side, how could you possibly go wrong?

But just in case, coming soon –

Interview Advice for Those Seeking a Job in Education Part II:  Interview Questions Do’s and Don’ts

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