You've spent at least four years studying to become a teacher -- now it's time to show your future employers what you know. Whether you're just getting out of teacher training or you have years of experience under your belt, you already have a body of work on which you can demonstrate your expertise. The key is proper planning ahead of the interview.
In order to demonstrate that you're the best person for the job, you need to know the job and the school. Before the interview, research the school as much as you can. Read the school's website to get information about its educational philosophy, student demographics and teacher backgrounds. Also, check out newspaper articles or online forums about the school to get more information about school activities. During the interview, this could help you ask more detailed questions or show enthusiasm for participating in special events.
Every teacher needs to have a portfolio that shows work she's done in school or in the classroom -- and if you've just completed teacher education you probably needed that portfolio to graduate. Following your research on the job and the school, look over your portfolio again and try to tailor it to the job at hand. Your portfolio should have an "educational philosophy" section that details your beliefs about fundamental education issues. If the school has a specific educational philosophy, amend your philosophy section to make mention of your thoughts on the school's philosophy. Also make sure you include any lesson plans or student work that match the type of teaching you'd do in the postion in question. For example, if you teach both music and art and you're applying for an art teacher job, place more art lesson plans and student work in the "Artifacts" section.
Some teaching interviews may include a hands-on or "working" section of the interview. For a teacher, this means you may be asked to give a mock lesson to the interviewers. Hopefully, the interviewers will let you know about this ahead of time, but in any case, come to the interview prepared with a lesson in the subject area you'll be teaching. Look back to lessons you did in school or in other classrooms that worked really well, and then print out a few copies of the lesson plan to bring to the interview. Also bring along any materials you may need to complete the lesson.
At some point during the interview, you may get the chance to ask questions about the position. Use this time to demonstrate your interest and dedication to the position by asking well thought out questions. Before the interview, think of as many questions as you can about the position, department, management and organization, instead of questions about the salary, benefits or sick leave, advises the AARP Foundation. Depending on the type of teaching you'll be doing, you may also ask questions about the specific curriculum, your schedule, staff workflow or collaboration among teachers. Practice these questions, as well as questions about your content area, your relationships with students, your teaching techniques and dealing with behavior issues. Write down all the questions and then have a friend rehearse the interview process with you.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.