This weekend, UVEI held mock interviews. I was one of three volunteers to go in front of the panel and receive feedback. Here are some general tips from the panel arising out of all three mock interview sessions about what to do during an interview:
Do your homework
Research the school by looking at their website, visit places in the community like the grocery store, ask people in the community and in your network about the school. Show the panel that you did your homework by mentioning school specifics in your answers. Even though you did your homework, don’t point out problems or offer solutions. Don’t use high inference statements.
Before (or during) answering a question, take a moment to gather your thoughts. It’s okay to say, “That’s a difficult question, let me think about that for a minute”. Take a deep breathe and relax before diving in. You can lighten the mood by adding humor, but I’m not very good at improve. A kid coughed and I asked him if he was okay which put everyone at ease. It was just something to break the routine. Be confident and be yourself. You got the interview, so they must think you are capable. You just need to show them that you are the best fit. As a young female, I need to let them know that I am assertive and willing to make hard decisions.
Tell a story
Don’t pontificate and don’t drag on, but provide details drawing from personal experience. The mock panel reminded us to “tell a story”. I found it calming to draw on past experience as evidence because it was something I knew and felt confident talking about. When talking about past experiences, use WE instead of I. You want them to be impressed by what you have done, but you also want them to know that you are a team player. Use your weaknesses as an opportunity to talk about areas that you would like to grow in. Use buzz words like equity, Project Based Learning, trauma informed, etc.
Be mindful of who is on the panel
Who is represented says a lot about the district. Are there students, parents, teachers? Don’t use acronyms; educators love their acronyms, but not everyone there will be familiar with them. Make eye contact. Use their names. Value everyone’s questions. Use who is represented to remind yourself to talk about key stakeholders. For example, talk about community involvement. Don’t only talk about test scores and leave out the social studies teachers. At the end, ask direct questions of the people you would be working most closely with.
Honesty is the best policy. However, that doesn’t mean you should divulge a lot of personal information. While I consider myself a stand up citizen, I don’t want them to pass judgement on my ability to do the job based on whether or not I have children.
When it’s time for you to ask questions, take notes on the responses from the interview panel, then respond to their responses. Take notes on any strengths, weaknesses, or important items that the panel members may talk about so that you can bring them up during round 2.
Practice makes perfect!
I spent the night before looking up principal interview questions. Hubs helped by asking me questions and telling me to start over when I’d run amok. I’m so glad I did the mock interview because it really can’t get any more nerve wracking than being on the spot in front of all of your peers. I think I will use the next few weeks of blog posts to sort out my answers to common interview questions. I’m also going to look up application essay questions on school spring and answer them here.