Do Not Mess Up Your Interview
- Don’t talk too much. Answer each question within two to two and one-half minutes. Give one good example. The panel is working within a tight schedule. Nobody likes a chatter box.
- Answer the question. Stick to the interviewers’ questions. Stay on topic. Panelists usually ask the same questions to every candidate in order to compare and contrast answers. Be careful about getting on a roll and going off on tangents which results in not answering the question. Not answering the question will be noticed.
- Never fake an answer. If you’re asked about something that you don’t know, simply admit that you don’t know. Nobody likes a faker. You should add, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I am a quick learner, and will learn whatever I need to know in order to get the job done.”
- Don’t over do It. Laughing too long and too loud at a joke that’s not all that funny, becoming overly enthusiastic about one of your own answers, being argumentative and emphatic about a minor issue, are all examples of “over doing it.” Professionals maintain an even keel. Act like an adult. Being over-the-top just raises eye brows and generates side glances.
- Direct yourself to the whole table. In a group interview, you have to try to please everyone who’s sitting around the table. You can’t afford to please administrators but alienate the teachers. Seek out the middle ground and demonstrate your diplomatic skills. As you speak, slowly look at all of the panelists.
- Don’t misrepresent yourself. With the availability of Google, Facebook, and on-line newspapers, it is pretty easy to check out your background. Stretching the truth and being found out is fatal. The regional educational community is a small circle. You will be checked out.
- Say calm. Don’t expect that every answer will be a homerun. Try not to get rattled if your answer to a question is weak. As the song says, “Just keep on keepin’ on!” Interviewers are people too. They know that you’re nervous, and they are forgiving. They will recognize it if you redeem yourself.
- Act like a guest. I’ve witnessed candidates come into the room and move their table and chair to be closer to the panel. I’ve encountered several candidates who became insistent about setting up a PowerPoint presentation, even after they were told not to do so. Most commonly, there are candidates who drone on and on, despite being told, “Thank you. Now, let’s go on to the next question.” You’re not throwing the party. Act like a guest.
- Be respectful. No matter how disrespected you might feel, always remain respectful. As a candidate, I have sat out in a waiting room for up to an hour and a half. I have been asked to do a writing sample, even though I’ve been published dozens of times. A questioner has criticized my current employer. Through it all, hold your tongue, smile, and be polite.
- Leave your baggage home. Question: “What do you expect from us in order for you to be successful?” The best response would be to say, “I work best as a member of a mutually supportive team.” Unfortunately, I’ve actually had candidates say, “My last boss was verbally abusive, I could not work under those conditions.” Another response was, “I need to have flexibility. As a parent, I have to be home by 4:30, and I can’t attend evening functions.”
The best advice that anyone can give you is to just be yourself, let them know who you are and what you stand for, speak from the heart, and be appropriate.