Why Would YOU Hire YOU? Preparing for a Successful Job Interview

Printable Handout from CMEA/TMEA/ASTA 2018

Dr. Blair Williams, Assistant Professor of String Music Education, Texas Tech University, blair.williams@ttu.edu

Dr. Lindsay Fulcher, Assistant Professor of String Music Education, University of Northern Colorado, Lindsay.Fulcher@unco.edu

Liz Dinwiddie, Performing Arts Dept. Chair, Ashley Hall School, Charleston, SC, dinwiddiee@ashleyhall.org 

Elements of the Interview -- A General Overview

  • Preparing for the Interview, Ways to Showcase YOUR Unique Offering
  • Invitation to Interview
  • Initial Interview (video conference/phone)
  • Second Interview (in-person)
  • After the Interview

Preparing for the Interview

  • Preparing the Interview questions
  • Prepare YOUR Relationship Mindset
    • YOU are a colleague, not a student
    • They know you are young, try to de-emphasize it with YOUR actions & words
      • “I have seen students” vs “my friends in high school band”
      • “In my experience” vs “in my college class”
      • “Our/my students” vs “your students”
    • YOU are a colleague, not a student (yes, it’s listed twice!)
  • Prepare YOUR Additional Components
    • Teaching Videos/In-Person Teaching Presentation
      • Showcase YOUR teaching style and unique activities
    • References (and close contacts)
      • Inform them of your application so they know to expect contact
    • Social Media/Online Presence Checks
      • This is so important!
    • Submitting a Lesson Plan
      • You may be asked to teach and/or submit a lesson plan. This is a great opportunity for you to share YOUR fantastic ideas!
    • Teaching Philosophy
      • This is All. About. You!
    • Performance on Primary and/or Secondary Instruments (video or live)
      • Show off YOUR musical side!
  • Prepare YOURSELF to interview by phone, videoconference, or live
    • Consider your location, background noise, and ability to focus
      • How to stage your space
    • Download & test the app
      • Etiquette and how to deal with tech failures
    • The interview panel size may vary (work the room vs have a conversation). Know who will be in the room before you call.
    • Find out the names of those who will be on the interview committee.
      • Research them on the school website
      • Social media
    • Research the school, school district, region, and state. 
  • Prepare YOUR Interview Attire
    • Take a friend with you to buy interview clothes before interview season starts
    • Step above “teacher clothes,” but be comfortable and confident!
    • If interviewing outside of your current location, do a little research on what business attire is for that area. Charleston, SC is different than Boulder, CO.
    • Dress for the activities that are planned, but be prepared for spontaneous teaching activities; consider how much walking you will do and plan your footwear accordingly!
    • Oscar Wilde: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

Invitation to the Interview

  • Phone call or email from committee chair or HR
  • Will inquire about a date/time for initial interview
  • If you are unable to take the call, return the voicemail as soon as possible, but have your calendar open and ready to check available dates/times.
  • If by email, respond as soon as you can, professionally.

Initial Interview

  • Arrive early (or log in early).
  • Make sure to have a notebook and writing utensil
    • Write down the names of the interviewers as they introduce themselves in the shape of the table and reference it during the interview
  • Categories of questions they SHOULD NOT ask
    • Age
    • Race, ethnicity, or color
    • Gender or sex
    • Country of national origin or birth place
    • Religion
    • Disability
    • Marital or family status or pregnancy
  • Categories of questions you should ASK at the interview
    • School/Community/Parental interaction (Boosters or other)
    • Traditions/Performances/Fundraisers/Budgets
    • Health Insurance/Benefits/Retirement
    • Curriculum/Textbook/District curriculum alignment
    • Teaching Schedule/Travel
    • Teaching Methodology/Philosophy of school/district
    • Facilities/Room/Equipment
    • Salary/Stipends -- later in the process, but prepare now (might research this on website)
    • CDL requirements
    • FINAL QUESTION: What is the next step in the hiring process? When do you hope to make a decision?

Second Interview

  • Often in-person, additional suggestions
    • Research! Know as much about the program as possible before stepping on their turf.
    • Trial run - drive the route, at the time of day. Keep a paper copy of all phone numbers & driving directions on hand.
    • Ask ahead: what exactly is the interview schedule? Who will be there?
    • Bring a few copies of your resume. Consider whether to bring other evidence. (Flashdrive or hard-copy)
  • Expect questions to be specific to YOU and in-depth (about the position you are applying for)
    • Why do you think you are the right fit for THIS position?
    • What can you bring to this position that no one else can?
    • If you are hired, what will this program/ensemble look like in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
    • What experiences have you had that have prepared you for this position?
    • How has your teaching changed in the last 2 years?
    • What does it mean to have a learner-centered classroom?
    • How do you implement the state and national standards into your lesson plans?
    • How do you tune Ensemble X? What warm-up procedures would you use with that ensemble?

After the Interview

  • Mail/Email a thank you note that same day
  • Follow-up by email or phone call with HR about a week later
  • Continue applying and interviewing for other positions no matter how well the interview went! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Once you accept a position, inform other districts/schools to which you have applied to remove your application from consideration. Thank them for their time and consideration.

Additional Resources

  • Professional associations often have “Career Help” on their websites or within Facebook groups
  • There are many additional websites and resources. Look specifically for “teacher” and “music” interviews to gather the most pertinent information.
  • Talk to friends and colleagues about their interviews and their experiences.

NOW---Why Would YOU Hire YOU?