How to Lock in Your First Teaching Job
Many of us are left wondering what the next steps are as COVID-19 continues to spread. Let us provide some answers. School districts still need to hire teachers. This means they will rely heavily on virtual interviews during this time. There’s no need to be wary of this; the key is to be prepared. We’ve compiled some helpful tips and tricks to help you prepare.
First things first, download and set up a Skype account or a Zoom account, if you don’t have one already. Once you download, click “Create a free account”. Next, you’ll sign in to Skype or Zoom to get started. If you’re unfamiliar with Skype or Zoom, consider viewing the Skype support page or Zoom support page which will help you navigate the platform. To learn about other online resources, read this post about transiting to the digital classroom.
With your Skype or Zoom application ready to go, you can now start preparing for your virtual interview. Here’s a list of best practices:
- Dress for success. There are stories about candidates who only put on a shirt, tie and coat and sit in boxers, then stand up accidentally to reveal limited clothing – oops. Save yourself the embarrassment and put on some pants. Treat this no differently than an in-person interview: wear professional clothing and jewelry (from head to toe).
- Find a quiet, private, well-lit place, free from possible interruptions. Before starting your interview, test your camera, and make sure your background is neat and tidy. Poor lighting can ruin a virtual interview. To avoid this, make sure the light source is in front of you.
- Ensure your internet connection is stable. Google “Internet Speed Test” and a blue button will appear, which says “RUN SPEED TEST”. This will give you a good idea of how fast your internet is. You’ll need around 128Kpbs for Skype or Zoom. If your internet speed does not meet this requirement, either purchase an Ethernet cable or go someone else with fast and reliable internet (make sure it’s a quiet place, too).
- Test your audio. You’ll want to do this before you begin. There’s nothing more panic-inducing than trying to troubleshoot technical issues at the beginning of a job interview. You may also want to consider using headphones to improve voice quality when speaking.
- Test your webcam. Again, do this before the interview. Try turning on the camera and view where it’s pointed. You want your head in the top half of the screen. It’s also appropriate to show your shoulders. Adjust the camera to find the sweet spot – not too close, not too far.
- Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications. Keep your screen clean. You don’t want pop-up ads from other sites with loud audio to start abruptly.
- Take notes. This is just good sense. Remember, it’s an interview so have a pen, notepad, and copy of your resume handy.
- Have a glass of water. You’ll be talking a lot, so take a drink when you need to.
- Remain engaged. You won’t be able to rely as much on body language, so make sure to use head cues such as nodding and smiling when listening to your interviewer. When appropriate, use hand gestures.
- Put your phone on silent. Or better yet, leave it in the other room so you are not tempted to look at it.
- Eliminate external noise. Make sure you won’t be disrupted by any pets, children, or others in the area.
- Practice. Participating in a virtual interview may be new to you. Ask a friend to video call you so you can practice. Send your friend a list of questions you’ll likely be asked and prepare your answers. If you’re unsure of what you’ll be asked, check out this list of teacher interview questions.
- Research the school district. Do your homework. Research the district and demonstrate to them why you want the job. These are steps you would take for an in-person interview, so don’t think of a virtual interview any differently. Keep in mind that if you try to look something up quickly on your computer during the call, they’ll likely be able to hear your keyboard.
- Don’t read from your screen. Much like being able to hear the clicking of your keyboard, it’s a dead giveaway if you’re reading off the screen as your eyes trail horizontally from left to right, and back again. Please, don’t do this. Be authentic and provide thoughtful responses.
- Ask questions. It’s okay to ask to repeat a question; it’s much better than talking just to talk (or saying nothing at all). If you’re truly stumped on a question, it’s even okay to say, “that’s a great question. Let’s move on the next one while I think about this and I’ll get back to you.” This will prove that you want to provide a thorough response. At the end of the interview, make sure to ask the recruiter questions – three is a nice number to aim for.
Again, here’s are the biggest takeaways worth repeating:
- Maintain Your Professionalism. This is a real interview. Remember to speak professionally throughout the entire call.
- Set the Environment. Clean background, natural lighting, no distractions.
- Be Personable. Take this opportunity to introduce yourself. Remember, your personality comes through whether it’s in person or through a screen. Be courteous, inquisitive, and professional.
And there you have it!
Study these tips and you’ll master your virtual teacher job interview. You’ve got this!