As a candidate, everything you write and say contribute to building your narrative; the story you tell about yourself. This includes your resume and cover letter, how you present yourself in person or virtually, your answers to the interviewers’ questions, the questions you ask, your letters of reference, and what your references say about you. It’s about developing a picture of yourself, creating a chemistry, demonstrating you are a good match, an easy good fit for what they’re really looking for, and what their community wants.
Creating an attractive narrative requires many strategies for each unique position. However, the commonalities out-weigh the differences. Before describing some of the strategies that go into building your narrative, we first must understand what the interviewers are really looking for.
What They Really Want
- They want to know who you are, and what you’ve accomplished.
- They want to like you. Too often interviews are sterile; you must create an emotional and compelling context through your story telling.
- They want to be assured that you share their values and aspirations.
- They want to see that you look and act the role.
- They want to be sure that you’ll easily fit in and not cause conflict.
- You need to come across as humble, self-effacing, sincere, direct, plain spoken, good humored, and authentic.
If this is what the interviewers want, then how do you go about creating a narrative and presenting yourself as that candidate? What strategies should you employee?
- Find out everything you can about the school-community from a variety of sources. How many students do they have; what are the demographics; what are they proud of; who are their leaders; what is their reputation; what is their fiscal and physical status.
- Figure out what they really want you to do. Do not solely rely upon their job description—that’s what they think they want; it may not be what they really want. Do they want a change agent? Are they happy with their current status?
- What problems do they have? Speak to how you have addressed similar problems and solved them.
- Analyze your resume, particularly your accomplishments, and emphasize those aspects that they are looking for and that are consistent with their values as a community, and their needs. It is not enough to assert, “I’m creative and hardworking”. Provide specific and vivid examples of your accomplishments, both professional and personal. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible.
- Elude to some personal information, which is not on your resume and which they can’t ask you about. If you are married and a parent, let them know. School people love family-oriented candidates who can relate to children and parents.
The tactics as to how you go about carrying out these strategies requires careful planning and practice. However, the reward of moving through the steps of your candidacy and winning the job will be worth all of the effort.
Dr. Larry Aronstein is an experienced career coach who assists school leaders, aspiring leaders, and teachers in their resume and interviewing preparation. Find out more at www.larryaronstein.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org