Congratulations! You’ve secured a virtual job interview! Way to go! Here are some things you should know so you can rock the interview and secure your first teaching position:
BEFORE the Interview
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Take some time to get to know your prospective employer before your interview. It can go a long way to identify their mission statement and also give you a better picture of what kind of organization they are. Even a simple Google search can give you basic information about demographics (how large the district is, how many schools, last year’s test scores, etc) and what they are known for (did they pioneer a new behavior intervention system? Are they fans of STEM?) Jot down a few notes so you can reference them in your interview.
PRINT OUT YOUR RESUME
Even though you have a virtual interview, it is still good to have a physical copy of your resume printed out to reference during the interview. But this time, it can be printed on regular printer paper. Save the fancy paper for an in-person interview.
PRACTICE ANSWERING COMMON QUESTIONS
Google has a plethora of resources, and so do we! Start with our 8 most common interview questions for teachers guide! Be prepared to answer questions ranging from pedagogy, methodology, and behavior management, to your typical lesson structure. Interviewers love to find out if you know the difference between formative and summative assessment – make sure you do! Another common question is, “Tell us about a challenging situation with a student and how it was resolved.” Any time spent thinking through your responses to those hypothetical questions will build your confidence for the day of.
STAGE YOUR BACKGROUND
Most computers have a “video camera” program installed. Search for yours on your device and open it up. It’s very important that you know what interviewers will see when that light goes on signaling that you’re LIVE. Make sure it looks professional. It’s better to have a blank wall behind you than a shelving unit with questionable knick nacks. Prefer not to tidy up your space? Get familiar with the green screen function if available in the video conferencing program. Zoom has a virtual background function that works well. If you choose to use this function, make sure you avoid wearing green, or you might look like a floating head.
PRACTICE USING YOUR VIDEO PLATFORM
If you are able, get comfortable with the video conferencing program. Ask someone close to you to hop on a practice Zoom meeting, or whichever program is being used for your interview. Make sure your mic, and camera work. It’s also good to prepare earbuds and test those out as well. It’s important they can hear your well-thought-out answers.
USE PROPER LIGHTING
How the space is lit around you and your device is often forgotten, but it can help tremendously! If you can situate your device in front of a window, natural light will be most flattering. The second and third options include turning your device’s screen brightness to the highest setting and bringing in some extra lamps to light your face. Remember, you are the focus! The easier it is to see your face as you answer, and lips moving as you talk, the more natural the interview will seem. If you wear glasses, be sure to check to see if the light reflects off your lenses. If so, you may want to angle your glasses down or up a bit so you keep away the glare.
DAY-OF the Interview
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST
Just like you would prepare to take an exam, performing well in an interview requires optimal physical and mental conditions. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wind down and sleep well before your interview the next day.
EAT A HEALTHY MEAL
Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner, do your best to eat a healthy meal a few hours before the interview. Allow enough time to digest beforehand so you can focus on the interview and not your stomach. Eating a healthy meal will help you be alert and focused during the interview.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Again, consume plenty of water the days leading up to your interview. Drinking water is another way to stay at your best and stay focused for the event.
STICK TO YOUR ROUTINES
The last thing you want to do before an important interview is to feel “off” by doing something different from your routine. Do your best to stick to your usual routine. If you normally exercise or journal, make sure you take time to do those things. The goal is to feel yourself and sticking to your routine will help you achieve that.
Wear the clothes you would normally wear to an in-person interview. Yes! That means absolutely means pants. By dressing well, you give the impression that you take yourself, and this job opportunity seriously. It is a good rule of thumb to dress better than the position you are interviewing for. For example, if you are interviewing for a teaching position, wear what a principal would wear. It is better to assume formality than be too casual. Also, dressing well signals to your brain that this is an important situation, that you want to take seriously. Your frame of mind can be influenced by the way you dress.
ARRIVE ON TIME
Allow yourself an extra 10-15 minutes before the interview to make sure all systems are “go”. Check your internet connection, sound, and video camera. Do a last-minute check to ensure that you have everything ready to go: 1. Printed resume 2. Paper & pen to take notes 3. Questions are written down to ask at the end of your interview.
DURING the Interview
PRACTICE GOOD EYE CONTACT
While maintaining eye contact is of extreme importance in an in-person interview, making “virtual” eye contact is also important. Many lack this skill when taking part in virtual interviews. Be the candidate that stands apart. Practice looking directly into the camera on your computer while answering questions you have practiced. It will probably feel strange at first, but the result is a much more real connection on the other end of the screen. It will take some practice to avoid looking down at the computer screen, but it will pay dividends. This will make you feel more “human” in a virtual interview that may already feel flat. In a physical room, it is easier to “read” the room emotionally. It is more challenging to do that through a screen.
SIT IN A SECURE POSITION
Be selective with your seating. Choose a chair that is a sturdy chair so that you avoid rolling, or swaying while on camera. Your goal is to come off as confident and grounded. Your seating should help you achieve that.
Typically during the beginning of an interview, the potential employer will tell you a bit about the organization, their history, goals, and details of the position. Take the time to jot down some notes while listening to their response. They may come in handy when it is your turn to ask questions. You might have some questions that come up during this portion of the process. Make a note of your questions so you can revisit them later. It can be a deal-breaker to come to the interview and not have questions prepared to ask.
ASK THOUGHTFUL QUESTIONS
Prepare 2-3 well-thought-out questions to ask after you’re out of the hot seat. The interviewer will want to know what your thoughts are about the position and if you have questions. Use this opportunity to craft some questions that give them more depth into who you are and what you care about. Are you curious about the work culture? Do you want to know if there are professional development opportunities? Reserve financial questions for their HR department.
THANK THEM FOR THEIR TIME
Just like you would in person when your virtual interview comes to a close, thank them by name for the opportunity and their time. They will most likely follow up by giving you a timeline of when to expect communication from them about the position and thank you for your time as well. End on a confident note, making sure to make “virtual” eye contact with that camera lens.
AFTER the Interview
Most candidates forget to follow up after the interview. Be the exception! Send a short thank-you email, send them your resume/cover letter again. You might even mention something specifically from the interview to help remind them of their time with you. Some employers will only hire candidates who have followed up with them after the interview. Make sure you keep their gaze on you!
That’s it! Now you are ready! We know you will have an extremely successful virtual interview after taking the time to work through these steps in preparation. Good luck! We’re rooting for you, teacher!