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What Not to do in an Interview

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As you are aware, the staff at A+ Resumes for Teachers has the privilege of working closely with many administrators, creating powerful documents that ensure they get the job they deserve, and also helping them prepare for interviews.

During our conversations, we always make an extra effort to find out vital information about both what administrators look for when interviewing teacher candidates and what turns them off in the interview. We use this information to help our teaching clients prepare for their interviews. We always ask administrators what the number one turn-off is in an interview.

Inappropriate Clothing. One candidate came to an interview wearing leopard skin pants and a spaghetti-strap top. The meeting didn't last more than a few minutes.

Ladies should wear either a conservative dress or a two-piece suit. Men will not go wrong with dress slacks and a jacket or a two-piece suit. Wear a tie, just to be on the safe side. Make sure your shoes are polished and not ratted.

Rambling. When candidates talk too much, they reveal too much and bore the interviewer. They may give information that ends up screening them out of the running. Talking too much also shows that the candidate has a difficult time expressing him or herself or that he or she really doesn't know the answer to the question.

Demonstrate your strong communication skills by presenting your response with enthusiasm. Do so clearly and concisely.

Poor Attitude. Criticizing and blaming others (e.g., for problems in your previous job, for the reasons you left or were fired from your previous job, etc.) is a surefire way to eliminate yourself from the interview race. You will be thought of as difficult and hard to get a long with — and we all know the importance of demonstrating team work skills.

A teacher is a role-model, and your ability to be a role model needs to be demonstrated throughout the interview.

Candidates who act too relaxed and disinterested show disrespect to the interviewer. Administrators believe that a person can be taught new skills, but they know they can't change attitudes.

It is critical that you look and sound interested in the meeting and in the conversation. The key is to show great enthusiasm about the position, the school, and the students. Never bad-mouth anyone from another school district.

Failure to Grow. A candidate was once asked, "What educational courses or books have you read recently?" The response was, "I did a lot of reading while in college 10 years ago, but haven't felt the need to take any courses. Furthermore, it seems that students in my class are doing fine."

As a teacher, you must enjoy and promote life-long learning. No exceptions! You must continue to read trade publications, books, relevant Internet sites, take courses, etc. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have stayed current on trends in education.

Lack of Research. Failure to research the school district will make you look unprepared and unprofessional. Furthermore, it will make you look like you are applying to every school district and that you are not being selective as to where you apply. One administrator of a large district explained that he believed only 15% of those candidates interviewed actually did some homework and found out information about the district.

The more you know about the school and district, the stronger will be your connection with the interviewer(s). You will be able to talk about your knowledge of their reading scores, extra curricular activities, community involvement, student attendance, the text books they use, etc.

There are many ways to find this information out, especially with the growing number of school districts that are publishing information on their website.

Lack of Response. Don't just answer questions with a short, no value response. Interviewers want you to tell them what a great candidate you are and what an excellent teacher you would be for them. So, when you're asked questions like, "What would your classroom look like?" don't just say, "It would be neat." Give them details! Tell them about the word wall, reading corner with some great literature, students' work displayed, things organized and labeled, daily schedule, etc.

It is important that you sell yourself to the interviewer. You don't have to brag, but you do have to relate the valuable things you have done in your career.

No Questions. Administrators are impressed with candidates who have relevant and well-thought-out questions. Come up with three to five questions that show your interest and enthusiasm. Try to ask detailed questions whose answers are not easily found on the school or district website.

About the Author

Candace Davies, Owner of A+ Resumes for Teachers, is a Global Career Management Professional dedicated to assisting educators worldwide to leverage their strengths, accomplishments, and unique selling points to help them capture their dream position. Her team has successfully assisted 3000+ education professionals by transforming their talents into concise documents that secure numerous interviews, which have lead to excellent job offers. Candace is dually certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Interview Coach, Certified Electronic Career Coach, and Certified Career Coach. Please visit her website at or send her an email to, or call toll-free 877-738-8052.
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