Author: laronstein

12 TIPS FOR NEW LEADERS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

Congratulations, you got your new leadership job. Now what? What should you do to maximize your success in your new position? You have been a successful teacher or entry-level leader who enjoyed a reputation of being friendly, supportive and collegial. Now, in a new leadership role, you are expected to deal effectively with new and/or old colleagues who may be resistant to your leadership, and parents who are dissatisfied with how their child has been treated in the past, and more senior administrators who assign you new and demanding responsibilities (student discipline, supervising resistant faculty members, revising a curriculum, lunchroom and bus supervision, parent complaints, etc.).

You may be a new principal who has successfully served as an assistant principal. As an assistant principal, you essentially had only one constituent to satisfy, and that was your principal. Now, you are faced with satisfying multiple constituencies, which include the faculty, the student body, parent groups (PTA, athletic booster, music boosters, and special education parents), Central Office administrators, and various unions.

Let’s start with the assumption that the failure of administrators is often rooted in the inability to (1) establish trusting relationships, (2) solve problems by developing and implementing workable solutions, (3) get the staff’s “buy in” to your decision-making process and leadership style, and (4) earn respect. Here are my suggestions as to how you can be a successful new leader:

  1. Conduct one-on-one get acquainted meetings with all faculty members and leaders of each constituent group. Ask, “What in your opinion are the greatest strengths and greatest needs of the school?”
  2. Make yourself visible and accessible to all members of the school-community. This means get out of your office and into the classrooms and corridors, and interact with attendees at school events.
  3. Demonstrate that you respect the school culture and the past practices of those who have preceded you.
  4. Seek out honest feedback and advice from staff. Listen, assess and act based on relevant feedback.
  5. Communicate realistic and fair expectations with clarity; provide opportunities for discussion.
  6. Recruit effective staff members whenever possible who will strengthen your team. This includes secretaries, custodians, and aides.
  7. Keep your personal, political and religious views to yourself.
  8. Limit socializing with the staff after school. Alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions and can lead to inappropriate behavior and speech. Alcohol and leaderships do not mix.
  9. Avoid offering your opinions or take sides in matters of district and/or school politics.
  10.  Do due diligence regarding important problems that you encounter by walking around them 360 degrees and examining the issues and their implications from every perspective before deciding.
  11.  Don’t be reluctant to ask for help or seek advice. Help can come from supervisors, experienced peers and outside coaches.
  12. Keep a reflective journal in order to process and reflect upon your thoughts and actions

THE 3 P’S OF JOB SEEKING: PREPARATION, PERSISTENCE, PATIENCE

“I’ve applied for over thirty leadership jobs over the last two years. I got five screening interviews; two of them were ‘courtesies’ due to contacts inside those districts. I moved on once to a second interview and was then cut. I need your help.” This is a typical email that I often receive. My advice to those of you who are frustrated in your job seeking, and to those who are considering or in the process of getting certified is to practice the 3P’s of job seeking—preparation, persistence, and patience.

Preparation

Financial advisors will tell you that preparing for a secure retirement should begin early in your career, and if not early, then now. Athletic coaches know that good preparation is the key to winning. Similarly, early and sound preparation is essential to your school leadership career, and that includes your education and where you attend graduate school. If you are considering enrolling in a school leadership graduate and/or certification program, you should think about attending the most prestigious university in your area. I understand that tuition costs and commuting long distances are serious concerns. However, a degree or a doctorate from a place like Columbia Teachers College, or even NYU or Fordham, will go a long way in making you a highly attractive candidate in the most desirable and best paying school districts.

Another major component is your accomplishments. Serving on a committee, chaperoning school dances, and participating in the PTA sponsored fashion show, although good things to do, should not be confused with significant professional accomplishments. Accomplishments may include: initiating a new course or program that addresses student needs; chairing an important committee, writing a report, and doing a Board and/or community presentation; winning a prestigious award or gaining community, professional, and/or student recognition; writing and being awarded a significant grant.

Of course, preparation must also include preparing an effective resume, and preparing for job interviews. A great resume requires meticulous crafting and editing. It must be tweaked to make it better and better. Giving a great interview means constructing and delivering a compelling narrative that goes beyond what’s on your resume and letting the interviewers know who you are. Seriously consider getting quality coaching and feedback from a knowledgeable and experienced coach in order to prepare a great resume and giving a winning interview. Just blundering through the search process is a formula for failure. Instead, you must design strategies that are tried and tested and will successfully work.

Persistence

Persistence means you stick with it; you must be determined and diligent. Over the course of my career in public education I could have wall papered every inch of wall space of my living room with letters of rejection from school districts in four different states. I was runner up in scores of jobs. It took me 24 years from the time I got my doctorate until I got my dream job. I jokingly say that I was an “overnight success”. It is terribly disappointing and demoralizing to repeatedly experience rejection. Nevertheless, if you are determined to achieve your career goal, you must be persistent in your belief and your actions. If you are not getting interviews, enhance your qualifications. Chalk up impressive experiences and accomplishments. Become a summer school or evening school principal. Volunteer for important and difficult assignments. Re-write your resume. Have a career coach review your resume and suggest changes. Once you get more interviews, reflect upon and diagnose why you came up short. Adjust your responses to often asked questions. Again, work with a career coach to hone your interviewing skills and strategize your answers.

Patience

Job seeking is not a 100-yard dash. It is usually a marathon. It requires patience and endurance. You must believe in yourself. Your mantra should be, “Sooner or later, my time will come.” When it does come, I predict it will come effortlessly.

Dr. Aronstein is a career coach who works one-on-one with leaders and aspiring leaders in their preparation of resumes and preparing for interviews. You can purchase his ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086HXY8MQ?ref_=k4w_oembed_agX9D63dSYiFsF&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

Learn more about Dr. Aronstein by visiting his website: www.larryaronstein.com

WORDS AND PHRASES NEVER TO BE USED ON YOUR RESUME OR IN AN INTERVIEW

Here is a list of words and phrases you should never use on your resume or during an interview; why you shouldn’t use them; and what to say instead:

1. “UNEMPLOYED”—It makes you sound like a loser and nobody wants to hire a loser. Let potential employers figure out that you are “between jobs” and be prepared to explain what happened.

2. “HARDWORKING”—The word is over-used and therefore trite. Instead, provide accomplishments that document your work ethic and diligence and let the interviewer conclude that you’re hardworking.

3. “AMBITIOUS”—Making personality claims comes off as bragging. You want to project a modest image which is backed up by progressive accomplishments and activities.

4. “OBJECTIVE”—Stating your career objective at the top of your resume is superfluous. It is clear what position you are applying for. Stating an objective in flowery language only slows the reviewer down. He/she is probably speed reading through 100’s of resumes. Just leave it out.

5. “DEDICATED”—This is another over-used, stale personal claim. Describe your passions and your actions over a period of time to fulfill them.

6. “UNION”—Remember that unions often sit on the other side of the table pushing back on leaders’ decisions and actions. Leaders make personnel decisions and may not welcome people who are “union-friendly” on their team. Leave out any mention of unions.

7. “LIFE-LONG LEARNER”—Another trite expression. Your participation in professional development opportunities demonstrates your willingness to learn and grow. During the interview, ask about professional development opportunities and who would be mentoring you. That question implies that you want to grow and learn.

8. “ROCK STAR”—No one likes a braggart. You’re not Elvis, Justin Bieber, or Lady Gaga.

9. “DABBLED”—If it’s important enough to mention, then you know or done something significant . Who wants to hire a dabbler? Use strong verbs like led, created, directed.

10. “EXPERT”—Be careful what you claim. A skillful interviewer may probe or challenge your expertise. “What does the research say on the topic of…? What research and literature have you studied?” If you claim to speak a foreign language, don’t be surprised if an interviewer asks you a complex question in that language and asks that you respond in that language.

11. “A BIG FAN OF…”—Speak like a professional. I’m a big baseball fan, however I wouldn’t tell a group of professions that I was a big fan of differentiating instruction. I would describe how I go about differentiating.

12. “Like”—Using the words “like” or “you know” at the beginning, the middle, and the end of every sentence as a “filler” makes you sound juvenile and will hamper your professional image. Work to change that speech pattern.

These are just a few examples of words and phases to avoid. There are many others. I would also caution you about referencing anything related to politics and religion, or what might be perceived as controversial topics. Needless to say, never use any words even bordering on profanity. Everything you write and say as a candidate creates your narrative and your image. Choose your words carefully.

YOUR REFERENCES CAN BE USED AS ASSETS

You are a finalist; down to two or three candidates. How can you distinguish yourself to become the most attractive contender? You’ve been asked to provide a short list of references. This is what you can do beyond prepping for the last interview.

  • Find out as much as you can about your competitors. Which of their experiences are and/or are not a good fit for the position? Are there gaps or weaknesses in their skill sets? Are the nature and the culture of their workplaces a good match for this school-community?
  • Contact your references and prepare them for the reference call. Ask that they emphasize the experiences, skills and knowledge that you possess that are superior and/or competitive to those of your competitors.
  • Send a follow up email or text message to your references providing each of them with a summary list of characteristics and descriptions of experiences that you’d like for them to speak to.
  • Try to have each reference speak to different aspects of your strengths or express them in different words and phrases so that they describe a coherent and integrated picture of you.
  • Never ask your references to lie or falsify any information about yourself.
  • Ask them to contact you asap after their calls and review the conversation.
  • During your final interview, emphasize the same assets that your references have or will have said about you.

Getting a Teaching Job: When All Else Fails

         “I’ve done everything I can think of; now it’s the summer, and I still don’t have a job. What should I do now?” Well, this calls for extraordinary measures. Basketball coaches motivate their players as the game draws to an end and the score is still close by telling them, “Leave everything you’ve got on the court.” This means exhaust all possibilities. Most school leaders are on vacation during July and the first two weeks of August. Upon return they almost always find that a few staff members have notified the district that they’re not returning. Some staff members decide to retire, others find new jobs or might be re-locating, some decide they want to stay home to raise their family, and still others reach the conclusion that education is not their forte and resign.

         Use your time in June and July to get prepared. Polish up your resume; read a how to get a teaching job guide…https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Your-Teaching-Larry-Aronstein-ebook/dp/B00KWEG2KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527344934&sr=8-1&keywords=larry+aronstein#customerReviews. Get coaching from an experienced educational career coach.

        Administrators are faced with the challenge of filling these jobs within the next two to three weeks before schools open for the new school year. There is a real urgency to find new staff. Therefore, this is a great opportunity to get hired. So, here is my advice. Sit down with a local map and decide how far you are willing to commute. Draw a circle from your location using that maximum commuting distance as the radius. Identify every school district within the circle, find the websites of the districts, research the names of the assistant superintendents for human resources, and try to find the names and phone numbers of their secretaries; you might even call the district to find these names and phone numbers. Put your fear of rejection on hold. Call every one of those secretaries. Introduce yourself: “Good morning, Mrs. Fisher, my name is Carol Hines and I’m a certified elementary school teacher who’s recently graduated from Curtis State College. I understand that you may have several vacancies, including a K-5 position. I would appreciate it if I could make an appointment with Dr. Charlton, so that I could introduce myself, give him my resume, and tell him why I’m the right person to fill that position. I promise not to take more than five minutes of his valuable time.” Now, we really don’t know if there’s a pending K-5 position available. The only thing that’s important is that you get in and meet Dr. Charlton. And yes, this actually works. But, don’t be surprised if the secretary brushes you off, “I’m sorry Ms. Hines, we only accept on-line applications, and I do not believe there’s a vacancy.” Still, you are far from finished.

        If you get an appointment, that’s fantastic. You must then get in there and convince Dr. Charlton that you should get further consideration. He might just pick up his phone and call the principal and tell her that he’s sending you over to meet her. Remember, they are in a hurry to fill that job. But, if your phone calls to the secretaries all result in rejections, you must now take the next step. Put on your most professional looking outfit, plot your route, and visit as many district offices in your circle as possible within the next few days. You may encounter a security guard or will certainly have to go through a receptionist. Now, this is what you say, “Hi, I’m Carol Hines and I’m here to see Mrs. Fisher (remember, she is Dr. Charlton’s secretary).” The receptionist will either direct you to the Human Resources Office, or she’ll pick up her phone and tell Mrs. Fisher that you’re here to see her, or she will tell you that Mrs. Fisher is not available. Even if you can’t get in to see the secretary, ask the receptionist to take your resume and give it to Dr. Charlton. There is a chance that Mrs. Fisher may tell you to come up. If you get to see Mrs. Fisher, be as personable and self-confident as you know how to be and ask her if you can meet Dr. Charlton and personally hand him your resume.

        I have actually hired people who walked in off the street in July and August. I assume that these candidates are committed and are the kind of people who aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to succeed. I like “go getters” and want them to work in my organization. However, there might not be a position available. Nevertheless, you might ask Dr. Charlton about other available opportunities. The following are possibilities: a long-term substitute position; a teaching assistant position; a regular substitute who is permanently assigned to a school. These may not be your dream jobs, but it is a foot in the door and an opportunity to impress school leaders. Just go for it. Nothing to lose; everything to gain.

Dr. Aronstein prepares teachers for interviews and their preparation of resumes. www.larryaronstein.com

Stand Out from Other Applicants

Are you finding that you have re-written your resume and cover letter multiple times over the last year and you applied for every job for which you’re qualified within 40 miles…but still very few interviews? Do the interviews that you do get never advance beyond a screening? What’s wrong? Is it your resume? Do only internal candidates get interviews? Is nepotism at work? Is it that you aren’t well qualified? As a candidate, your goal is to stand out from the rest of the field and be seen as more qualified, competitive and desirable. You need to present yourself as a solid professional who offers valuable knowledge and experience. How do you distinguish yourself?

When you apply for a supervisory job such as an assistant principal, principal, or a department chairperson, you need to demonstrate the following four criteria: (1) significant professional accomplishments; (2) a unique or well-developed skill set and/or knowledge base in line with the qualifications for the position; (3) evidence of leadership potential; and (4) evidence of being highly motivated.

Significant Professional Accomplishments

In your present position, be on the lookout for unique and interesting opportunities. Examples of such opportunities might be piloting a new curriculum, serving on a high profile committee, making a presentation to the Board of Education, field-testing new technologies, participating in a research study, publishing a manuscript in a recognized professional periodical, working in a summer internship or national institute, presenting a paper at a regional or state conference, being recognized and/or honored by a professional educational organization, writing a report, or helping to develop and write a plan to improve school safety or student achievement.

Unique or Well-Developed Skills and Knowledge

The goal is not to have lots of bullets on your resume. The goal is to develop valuable skills and knowledge and present them in the best light on your resume and during your interview. Your prospective principal could always use help in scheduling—master schedule, testing schedules, schedules of professional development activities, and schedules of school-community events. So, take workshops to learn how to use proven technologies and practices in scheduling.

Another key function is student discipline. Learn how experienced professionals handle discipline, volunteer to shadow an administrator. Find an administrator who will allow you to be an unofficial “dean,” and who will supervise you, assign you to routine disciplinary cases, and permit you to assist in supervising lunchrooms and bus duties. 

Leadership

You should consider filling semi-administrative roles such as serving as an administrator in summer school, night school, or alternative school; you will learn supervisory skills and be noticed by your school leaders. Another way to stand out as a leader is by serving on committees. Volunteer to play leadership roles on committees in order to have an impact and get noticed. Volunteer to serve as a committee chairperson, write portions of plans and reports, and present at school board and faculty meetings.

Motivation and Agility

Being an inside candidate is the best and fastest path to advancing as a school leader. Do what you can within your school and district to be visible, cooperative, and useful. Be a team player by voluntarily moving to another grade level and/or school. This also demonstrates your flexibility and cooperation and increases your scope of experience.  

Another avenue for demonstrating your motivation is to take charge of school and community events such as assembly programs, field trips, community service projects, PTA programs, and professional development programs.

Finally, do not be a spectator who stands on the sidelines and expects to be noticed. Be an active presence, make yourself useful, learn all you can, and enhance your skills and knowledge. Get into the game!

Applying for an Assistant Principal Job: What Does the Principal Really Need?

Oftentimes, the entry-level job into school leadership is the assistant principalship. There are more assistant principal jobs than any other leadership roles. In the selection process, the principal is usually the key person in deciding who will get the job. The fact is that the assistant will be the principal’s right arm. What does the principal really need?

In my experience, despite what the job description says, principals need an assistant who can do six things. They are: (1) STUDENT DISCIPLINE; (2) OBSERVATIONS AND EVALUATIONS; (3) LARGE GROUP SUPERVISION (bus duty, cafeteria duty, corridors); (4) PARENT COMPLAINTS; (5) TEACHER SUPERVISION; (6) SCHEDULING. These responsibilities may not be very glamorous, but they are essential in assuring that the school is well organized, safe and orderly.

Of the six responsibilities, STUDENT DISCIPLINE by far is the highest priority. Realistically, the assistant principal’s school day is dominated by dealing with time consuming disciplinary cases, mostly small but sometimes more serious. Therefore, the principal is looking for an assistant principal who exercises good judgement, is thorough, is effective with kids, and knows how to speak with parents in a tactful and respectful manner.

The ability to command respect by just being a presence is vital; some call it “gravitas”. That is the ability to project self-confidence, influence, credibility, and command respect. When you speak, others listen. In order to be an effective supervisor in large group settings, and in dealing with staff or parents, it is a requirement to project gravitas.

You should assume that the reviewer of your resume and your interviewers, and particularly the principal, will be looking for evidence that you have some experience, knowledge and skills in fulfilling most of these six responsibilities. Be aware that these “top six” needs do not include such wants as professional development, curriculum development, personnel or budget management among others, even though these functions might be included in the job description. The principal is going to choose a candidate based on what he/she needs and not what’s wanted.

Your resume should prominently include evidence of performing these six functions, and you should prepare answers to interviewers’ questions pertaining to these areas. Expect “what would you do” scenarios that are aimed at assessing your judgement and practical knowledge of how these various processes work. A few sample questions might be:

  1. Walk us through step-by-step how you would deal with a fight in the corridor?
  2. Role playing the assistant principal who receives a phone call from an irate parent complaining that his child is being treated unfairly by a teacher.
  3. How would you deal with a veteran teacher who is not addressing recommendations you made on his/her observation report?
  4. How would you go about doing a formal teacher observation?

The key to be a successful candidate is preparation. Focus your preparation on the real priorities of the person to whom you’ll be assisting.

BODY LANGUAGE

Some experts say that ninety percent of what we communicate is expressed through body language. Body language is a two-way street between the candidate and the interviewers as well as among the interviewers. An effective candidate must be aware of, and try to control his or her own body language. You should also try to observe, interpret, and respond to the body language of the interviewers.

I learned the importance of my body language the hard way. I was interviewed by a small group of search firm consultants. They seemed friendly and nodded their approval to my responses throughout the interview. I recall feeling relaxed and confident, sitting back in my seat, crossing my legs (which are a little long), and balancing my knee on the edge of the table. I left with a sense of self-assurance that I had aced the interview and would be called back. That didn’t happen.

 I reported my rejection to my mentor with a sense of defeat and reviewed the highlights of the interview. My mentor could not diagnose any deficiencies. However, he did know the search consultants and promised to get their feedback the next time he saw them. Several months passed by.

“Guess who I just saw? You’re not going to believe the feedback,” he reported. “They loved your answers. But one of them said that you were too relaxed. She said you sat back and put your knee on the table. You appeared cocky.”

About a year passed. There I was again interviewing with the same group of search consultants for a new position. Needless to say, I leaned forward this time. No sitting back for me, this time. They moved me on in the process, and I landed the job!

Just your posture and manner in which you walk into the room has significance. Stride with an air of confidence and smile at your audience. Your posture should reflect self-assurance, not arrogance. Your smile should reflect that you’re pleased to be there. Your first impression means everything. You must get off to a good start. Most people begin forming an impression of you within the first thirty seconds

My advice concerning body language over the course of your interview is to lean forward in your seat. Slowly scan the faces and eyes of the interviewers as you speak. If they like what you are saying, they will tend to nod and smile subtly.  Nod back even more subtly. Focus a bit more on the people who are not sending off non-verbal feedback. Watch to see if they exchange knowing looks to one another. Often, you might say something that resonates with an issue they may have previously considered. A glance, a smile, a wink, a frown, a nod, a negative shake of the head between interviewers means you may have confirmed or disagreed with something of interest to them. A negative shake of the head probably means that you have stepped on a potentially explosive issue. Quickly backtrack and clarify your statement, if you can, to neutralize the potential damage.

Your ability to mimic other people’s gestures and postures also indicates you are in sync with them. If someone leans forward, lean towards him or her. If someone smiles and nods, then smile and nod back. Practice mimicking at meetings and social gatherings. You’ll find it really works.

Larry Aronstein provides one-on-one coaching in preparing candidates for interviews and in resume preparation. Visit his website at http://www.larryaronstein.com

INTERVIEWING: OVERCOMING NERVOUSNESS

“I get so nervous when I interview that I freeze.” For most of us, interviewing is an unfamiliar, somewhat intimidating, and uncomfortable experience. It is natural that interviewees feel nervous. There’s a lot at stake. You have invested a great deal of time, effort and money in trying to take the next step in your career. You’re walking into a room all alone to meet a group of strangers who are going to ask you difficult questions and make judgments whether they like you, if you’re a good fit, and as to your qualifications and readiness. Feelings of rejection are a real possibility. So, what do you do to calm your nerves and become more effective?

You should take some comfort in knowing that the interviewers who are seated across the table have also been on your side of the table and understand your nervousness. They are quite forgiving of a shaky voice and a little perspiration. But how do you avoid freezing? My formula for shedding your nervousness is:

(1) be familiar with each step of the interview process so that there are no unnerving surprises;

(2) be prepared by anticipating many of the questions and practicing your answers;

(3) learn how to read and respond to the interviewers’ body language and non-verb clues;

(4) find comfort in knowing that your knowledge and skillfulness are well-developed;

(5) stay out of “your own head” (how am I doing; are they liking me) by just focusing on answering the question;

(6) direct your response to the individual who asked the question (avoid looking at the large group);

(7) plant seeds in your answers that will lead the interviewers to ask a follow up question for which you will be well prepared, thus gaining some control over the direction of the course of the interview.

Perhaps an analogous situation might serve to illustrate my approach. I must confess that sometimes I get anxious when I travel. I imagine that the taxi is going to drop me at the wrong terminal; the flight will be over-booked and I’ll get bumped; the plane will leave late and I’ll miss my connecting flight; upon arrival I’ll be told that my hotel reservation was for last week and they are now all booked up. However, I’m happy to report that over time I have figured out ways to alleviate most of my anxieties. I take a page from my own formula. I familiarize myself in advance with my ticket which identifies the terminal; I try to book non-stop direct flights; I re-confirm my hotel reservation; and if unanticipated problems arise, I have copies of all the documentation and contact phone numbers in my possession—you get the idea.

A good coach will walk you through the interview process step-by-step. You will learn what forms of body language to look for and how you should respond verbally and non-verbally. You will analyze and practice answering the most often asked questions. You will role play and have a dress rehearsal. You will report back to your coach as to your actual performance and get feedback on how you might improve. You will find comfort and self-confidence in the knowledge that you are well prepared, and as a result your nervousness will be minimized.

Dr. Aronstein coaches aspiring leaders and school leaders in preparing for interviews and in the preparation of resumes. Learn more by visiting www.larryaronstein.com

ARE YOU GETTING YOUR FAIR SHARE OF INTERVIEWS?

Are you sending out your resume but only getting few interviews? Are you getting interviews but are not being called back? What should you do to get your fair share of interviews? What are the factors that determine your success?

Factors to Consider:

  1. Attractiveness of the District—stereotypically, highly attractive districts or schools are usually affluent, high paying, and high achieving. They are highly selective in choosing candidates. Unless you are well-qualified, that is looking for a parallel position, a graduate from a prestigious university, hold a doctorate, and/or have significant accomplishments, your chances of getting an interview are slim. That is not to say that you should not apply, but your expectations should be realistic.
  2. Quality of Your Resume—if you’re a qualified candidate but are getting less than a 25 to 30 percent positive return (initial interview per resume submitted), then you probably have a resume problem. Your resume’s job is to tell your story in a compelling manner and get you an interview. You might have your resume evaluated and edited by a highly credible and reputable coach. Educational resumes are somewhat unique; so be wary of having a well-meaning friend from the business-world review it.
  3. Effectiveness of Your Screening Interview—typically an average of about 15 screening interviews are scheduled for a leadership position. Sometimes they only last 10 to 15 minutes. Obviously, there are a limited number of questions that can be asked and answered. The interviewers are trying to get a sense of who you are by evaluating your narrative (your story), how you present yourself, your likeability, and how you would fit into their school-community. About 6 of the candidates will move on to the next round. If you get a screening interview and habitually do not move to the next step, then you need to evaluate your narrative and how you present yourself. You probably should be coached rather than trying to adjust on a trial and error basis.
  4. Quality of Your Answers—the next step is The Committee Interview composed of around 7 stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators), which will run about 30 minutes. There is ample time for them to ask about 10 questions encompassing many aspects of educational practices. The Committee will likely narrow the field down to about 3 finalists. The candidate needs to perform a precarious balancing act. She/he must satisfy the vested and oftentimes competing interests of parents who are demanding greater sensitivity to their child’s needs and accountability, administrators who are seeking higher academic achievement, and teacher unions who are looking for teacher-friendly leaders. At the same time, the candidate must maintain a positive, thoughtful, sensitive, knowledgeable and diplomatic demeaner. This demands extensive preparation which includes becoming familiar with the strengths, needs, nature and values of the school-community. A successful candidate must do his/her homework and be ready to present him/herself appropriately.
  5. Flexibility—the final interview, usually 2 or 3 finalists, involves a 30 to 45-minute session with Central Office Administrators. Again, there is a shift in strategy for this interview. These leaders are trying to determine who is the best equipped to fulfill their agenda, solve existing problems, and represent the proper image that will satisfy the community and particularly the Board of Education. I often use the metaphor of a tennis match. Up until this interview, the candidate’s job is to “return serve” to each questioner. However, this match requires the candidate to be flexible in switching the “game” by creating a “volley”—a back and forth, give and take conversation. This calls for asking clarification as to the district’s issues and priorities, offering your related experiences, and as a result building a professional rapport.

These are the major factors you should be aware of and act upon if you are going to get your fair share of interviews and successfully move forward in the process