Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that gets you the job. Find out the three things administrators and hiring managers say are absolute no-nos during an interview, and would likely get a candidate immediately disqualified.
Misrepresenting yourself in any way
That means pretending to be someone you’re not, inflating the truth, or flat-out lying. As good as you may think you are at “stretching the truth,” chances are, at least one person interviewing you will notice either your tells, or the discrepancies in your story. When the interviewers debrief, those feelings will likely be shared with the rest of the team. And if that happens you’re sunk.
It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t have to lie. The school where you are interviewing should be a school that is a good fit for you. This way, no one’s time is wasted – most importantly yours.
Speaking negatively about past or current school experiences
Topics include administration, curriculum, students, parents or other teachers. It sounds like complaining, and it isn’t a good look as a potential new hire. You want to position yourself as a problem-solver and assets-based thinker.
Let’s take this from the school’s perspective: imagine you are on a hiring team. The candidate who is being interviewed is going into detail about how their Assistant Principal never gives them feedback, seldom reads their lesson plans, and has terrible bedside manner. You are sitting across from them. What are you thinking? In addition to being annoyed by their negative attitude, you might also feel threatened, even asking yourself: I wonder what this teacher would say about me?
Don’t get us wrong, we recognize that every teacher has had challenging experiences. In fact, if you haven’t, you aren’t doing it right. Your job during the interview isn’t to glaze over these experiences, it’s to turn lemons into lemonade. Speak about what you learned or are learning from the experience, and focus on the positive. It makes you seem solutions-oriented, and people enjoy working with solutions-oriented people. Don’t you?
We beg of you – just don’t do it. They are children, and you are the adult. We’ve heard teachers blame their students and/or make excuses for their students’ behavior or low academic performance, and it's almost always an immediate disqualification. Common excuses include students’ low socioeconomic status, newly developing language skills, cognitive abilities, limited parent involvement, or a variety of other factors. Yes; all of these things tend to affect a student’s performance in school, but none of them should be used as an excuse for anything.
We’ve been there, and we know how incredibly difficult teaching can be. We also know that sometimes it feels like you are doing absolutely every single thing you can do to get your students where they need to be, and sometimes yes, it can feel like they aren’t doing their part. But that’s not something you should express during an interview.
Why? It sends the message that you don’t hold yourself accountable. School leaders are looking for teachers who will do whatever it takes to get their students where they need to be – not blame them, or their circumstances, for underperforming.
You’ve got this!
Good luck on your interview. If you can avoid these three things, and show up as your most authentic self, then you are on the right track! Go get ‘em.
Selected helps teachers find jobs at schools they love. We offer a free school matching and career support platform for teachers that connects them with 1,200+ PK-12 public and independent schools in urban metro areas in the Northeast and West Coast, including New York City, NJ, CT, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, and Los Angeles. Create a FREE profile and start speaking with hiring schools immediately!