(cont. from previous entry)
As a note, after taunting the English teacher applicants in the last blog for the apostrophe -s, I realized I had no idea how to use it in “do’s and don’ts.” So I googled it and found this handy thread: http://www.englishforums.com/English/ProperApostrophesDontsAboutDonts/lzkx/post.htm.
That’s called being resourceful. Also good in an interview.
Moving right along.
Assuming that up to this moment in your interview you haven’t royally screwed something up, at some point you’re going to have to answer a few questions. Stay on your toes. They may seem straightforward, but in reality pulling off the right answer to these questions is as tricky as answering the classic, “Does this make my butt look big?” If you’re lucky, you can just give a quick, honest answer. (Nope. Not at all.) If that’s not an option, you’re going to have to think fast. Lie like a fool (Your butt always looks hot!) sugarcoat the truth (it’s not your butt that’s the problem…I just don’t know if ass-less chaps are really ‘in’ this year) or just flat dodge the question (AHHHHH! YOUR PANTS ARE ON FIRE!!)
Really and truly, in most cases, I only recommend the first option, but there are a few exceptions. Sooo…
Interview Advice for Those Seeking a Job in Education Part II: Does This Make My Butt Look Big?
Typcial Interview Question #1:
What are your weaknesses as an educator?
The seemingly trickiest of the questions is actually the easiest, so we’ll start here.
Just friggin’ answer it honestly and give us all a break.
The most common misstep with this question is to attempt the sugarcoating option, which just gets annoying. Much like watching someone who really shouldn’t be wearing ass-less chaps prance around in ass-less chaps. Dear god, please just make it stop!
We all have weaknesses. So get over it and ‘fess up. Differentiation has been your mortal enemy for the past year? It’s okay, lots of folks struggle there. Organization isn’t your strong suit? Please, come look at my desk during finals week. Transitions, time management, balance…we don’t care. Ok, maybe we care, but we’ve got weaknesses, too. And you’ll get bonus points for recognizing you’re not perfect and easily identifying your struggles. Just don’t start in on the oh, golly gee…it’s just that I’m such a perfectionist I probably work too hard at everything I do, that’s my biggest struggle…
Shut it, chappy-pants. You’ve obviously been coached to say that, and you’re totally full of poo. Which is gross, considering what you’re wearing.
Typcial Interview Question #2:
What are your strengths as an educator?
This should be obscenely easy. If you can’t answer this in less than three seconds flat, you’ve got bigger problems than I (or my sarcasm) can fix. Kindly reconsider your career.
Typical Interview Question #3:
Why are you interested in teaching here?
Let’s just get the elephant out of the room.
We know you need a job.
Few and far between are the souls who are so filthy rich that they have nothing better to do than get an education degree, plow through job interviews in a lousy economy, be hired and work an ridiculous amount of hours for peanuts in pay – just for shits and giggles. So the moment we receive your application, we’re going assume that you don’t fit in this to-my-knowledge-non-existant-demographic . You need to teach in order to eat. But kindly don’t use that as an interview answer.
Schools are like teenage girls. We need affirmation, validation. We want you to make us feel special, bring us roses and some hideously cutsey stuffed bear on Valentine’s day. We don’t need you to awkwardly shrug and say, “I dunno…I guess I thought I’d ask you out ’cause you were…available.” That’s the education equivalent of being called easy. Ever call a teenage girl easy? You’re asking for a catfight.
You teach for a profession. Do your homework. Research the school, learn a little, then find something nice to say. And if you can’t say anything nice…well, then this would be a classic dodge the question example. Except that it’s going to be obvious to everyone in the room that you’re dodging the question, so the only real way out is to actually set your own pants on fire, thus giving you have an extremely legitimate excuse not to answer. The next step, however, is generally to run from the room screaming, so it’s unlikely that you’ll get the job. But you will have made one hell of an impression.
Typical Interview Question #4:
Why did you leave your last school?
Yup. We’re checking up on you. If the answer is “I was fired because I’m totally incompetent,” you’re probably not going to get hired. But nearly no one is dumb enough to be that brutally honest. It’s the death-by-pushing-others-under-the-bus that is much more common. Or rather, to follow the ongoing metaphor, you’re running on about others’ hind ends while sitting on the biggest booty of them all.
Some schools suffer major dysfunction, yes. Sometimes a poor administration, catty staff or incompetent colleagues makes a place an almost unbearable environment in which to work. But you can’t throw your administrator under the bus without instantly being dragged underneath yourself. If you come from a school you hate, strap on those chaps and run down the hall screaming about flaming pants. In other words, drop a line that subtly lets us know your boss/school/staff/job sucked, then smoothly change the subject. Here, I’ll help:
“My colleagues were a nasty, catty group who refused to lend a hand and stabbed you in the back the first chance they had.” ——-chaps and flames——–> One of my big values in any workplace is working with a supportive and collaborative staff and I didn’t feel I really had that at my last job. Could you tell me a little about what collaboration looks like at __________?
“My boss was an incompetent asshole who didn’t know a thing about education.” ——-chaps and flames——–> “I felt I had grown as far as I could at that particular school and now I’m looking for a school that is willing to challenge me to get better and support me in my efforts. How do you do that here?
See? It’s not that difficult, really, but you would be surprised by the number of people who will happily trash-talk their old employers. If you’re the one complaining about catty bitches and poor communication skills, guess what that makes you look like? A tad too big for your britches, perhaps?
It totally makes your butt look fat.
Plan ahead, do your homework, watch your tongue, and be yourself. You’ll nail your interview.
And we’ll all be admiring your rear as you sashay down the hall, job offer in hand.