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Interviewing for a Teaching Position

Author(s): Tracy Volz, PhD


Practice answering common interview questions out loud. Most people are more comfortable rehearsing silently, but rehearsing aloud builds fluency and familiarity with your thoughts, identifies organizational problems, and can reveal places where concrete examples are needed to support your claim.

Mock interview with several different people so that you learn how to adjust to different types of interviewing styles. Ask the person mock interviewing you to provide feedback to help you improve your interviewing skills. Get videotaped during a mock interview session, and then review the tape and note strengths and weaknesses in the quality of your responses as well as your non-verbal mannerisms.

While practicing is crucial, you should not try to memorize answers to common questions. There are several reasons for this. First, people who have memorized their responses usually speak too fast, or in a monotone robotic voice. Even worse, they may sound insincere because they are not really interacting, but merely playing back a mental recording. Second, memorization causes speakers to trip up because they have memorized answers to questions which may not be precisely those being asked in the interview. Thus, memorized responses may not be appropriate for the actual questions posed by the interviewer. Third, relying on memorized answers will make you less able and prepared to “think on your feet” and more likely to provide clumsy, ineffective responses. So rather than a set of “canned” answers, it is far better to enter the interview with comprehensive knowledge of your qualifications, interests and goals, and a thorough understanding of how they relate to the position for which you are interviewing. This will allow you to adapt with confidence and provide solid, timely answers within the flow of the conversation.

After the interview, it is very useful to reflect on the experience by keeping a journal. Note the various people you met and record what you learned about them and the school. Describe in your journal how you felt before and after the interview. What did you do to relax? Did any questions catch you by surprise? Which ones were most difficult? Write them down so that you are better prepared next time. Did any questions occur to you after you left the interview?

As a separate, final point, write a brief thank you note after your interview, expressing your appreciation for the time and consideration of the people you met. This letter also provides an opportunity to ask any follow-up questions you may have, and to offer small pieces of information you may not have mentioned during the interview. Keep the letter short (less than one page). Address it to the interviewer(s), but copy anyone else who played a key role in your interview process. It is a nice touch to include some form of personal notation in the note (“good luck with your bass fishing!”), possibly based on something written in your journal. This will indicate that you were paying attention, and it helps to personalize the relationship between you and the interviewer(s).