Successful Interviewing

Part 2: Tips for the Candidate

When applying for a position in education, it is important to stand out from the rest of the candidates throughout the hiring process. Communicating your values, personality, and character will help the district get to know the real you and help distinguish you from the other candidates. 

Here are some tips to increase your chances of getting noticed. 

Share Your Interests and Passions When an excellent school district has a desirable position available, they can receive hundreds of applications. Get yourself noticed by including unique talents, experiences, and interests in your resume and application. Whether you are a rock climbing enthusiast, volunteer at the local animal shelter, or run your church’s youth program, make sure you include this unique information about yourself to set you apart during the screening process. The person(s) screening the applicants might have a similar interest or passion, resulting in an instant personal connection without ever meeting. 

Make Contact Very few candidates take the time to reach out during the screening process. Get yourself noticed by contacting the position’s direct supervisor (principal, assistant principal, etc.) and the head of the hiring process. Send a short, yet personal email to those individuals about your interest in the position and why you would be an excellent candidate. It’s also a good idea to include something positive that you’ve heard about the district. The individuals who receive your emails will be more inclined to add you to the first round of interviews and remember your name.

Be Yourself First impressions in interviews are important. Get yourself noticed by being authentic right from the beginning of the first interview. Interviewers can tell when candidates are insincere. When you give answers and tell genuine stories, you give an honest impression of your values, personality, and character. Even if you exhibit initial nervousness or seem unsure about an answer to an interview question, you will still stand out if you show you are a sincere, quality individual who cares about kids. 

Create a Theme Interviewers can learn a lot about a candidate from his or her overarching messages. Get yourself noticed by weaving a life theme that is important to you throughout the interview. For example, if you value relationships, believe in servant leadership, or embrace collaboration, highlight that theme in your answers. It’s a good idea to start your answers with the overarching theme and then talk about the fine details and how they relate to that theme. Interviewers are more likely to remember your overarching theme than a specific answer long after the interview.

Tell a Story Stories are powerful communication tools. Get yourself noticed by including stories that demonstrate your approaches and share insight into how you will perform your job while answering questions during interviews. For example, interviewers may hear multiple theories regarding differentiation throughout a day of interviews, but they will fully understand how you actually approach differentiation if you share a personal story illustrating it. Stories help create visuals for the interviewers and help make connections between your personal experiences and the interviewers’ personal experiences. 

Keep Doors Open Sometimes amazing candidates are not hired simply because of fit and timing. Get yourself noticed by being humble, gracious, and thankful for the opportunity to interview for a position even if you are not the selected candidate at the end of the process. If you were a finalist, the school district may keep you on a shortlist for future positions. 

Passion for People... During the interview process for our Technology Supervisor position, we asked the candidates to tell us how they would assess our current technology situation and develop an improvement plan. Each candidate talked about the functions of the department (hardware, software, devices, infrastructure, etc.) and how they would assess our current situation, many of them going into fine detail. But one candidate began his answer by talking about the importance of relationships, listening to people, and meeting each individual's needs. He was able to answer the technical questions just like every other candidate, but he constantly wove in a theme about building relationships and servant leadership. Because of this, we wanted this candidate as a member of our staff.
Attitude is Everything... A few years ago, my district interviewed candidates for two administrator positions: a junior high and a middle school principal. One of the finalists who lives in our district applied for these positions because he wanted to come “home.” This candidate was the runner up for both positions simply because he wasn’t the perfect fit for either. Instead of being discouraged or negative, he told our interview teams that he held no negative feelings toward us and he trusted that God had a plan. A year later, a high school administration position opened up. We knew he was the perfect fit for this position that required a professional, positive, relationship-focused person because we saw these character traits demonstrated in his attitude throughout his long journey “home.”

With over 20 years of classroom and administrative experience, Mike serves as Assistant Superintendent for the Amherst Exempted Village Schools in Ohio. He is active in his church and community.


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