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Interviewing for a Teaching Position

Author(s): Tracy Volz, PhD

Know Your Work

As you compile your resume and teaching portfolio and ready yourself for interviews, it is important to analyze, in depth, your past work experiences. How do your experiences and skills qualify you to be a teacher? Perhaps they have provided extensive content knowledge in your discipline, or considerable experience managing a laboratory and training new employees how to work in the lab? Be prepared to emphasize any special skills you possess—such as expertise in certain computers/software, or high-level laboratory techniques or communication skills—and to explain how they relate to the teaching position for which you are interviewing. Also, be prepared to discuss any item on your resume, even the most obscure.

In addition to your thoughtfully-prepared resume, a successful teaching portfolio will include some or all of the following. Be prepared to elaborate upon all of these items verbally during the interview.

  • A written articulation of your general philosophy of teaching.
  • A list of courses you are most prepared to teach, as well as those that you could teach after building up your knowledge base (see the state approved courses that match the teaching certification that you have and familiarize yourself with the requirements for adding additional certifications to your certificate).
  • Sample syllabi, lesson plans, and/or assignments that you have developed. For each, describe the goals you are trying to accomplish and the rationale behind your approach. If it is an assignment, explain how you would evaluate student performance.
  • A warm-up activity that you have created using state or district level learning objectives.
  • Plans for a new course that you would like to design.
  • Details of any classroom observations you have undergone in a teaching role, the feedback you received, and your strategies for incorporating the observer’s suggestions into future teaching situations.

An interviewer will want to assess your ability to manage a classroom. Therefore, be sure your portfolio emphasizes any prior experiences in which you supervised or mentored adults, or preferably, school-age children. Be prepared to discuss what you learned. Give specific examples of the challenges you faced as a leader, and how you dealt with them. In what ways have your previous experiences prepared you to manage a room full of high school students? In what ways did it not prepare you? What did you find rewarding about your opportunities to mentor individuals or lead teams of people?

Many schools seek to engage the local community in their activities or to contribute to the community through outreach efforts. Have you done any volunteer work? Anything related to schools or education? What motivated you to get involved? What was your role? How long did you serve? What did you find most difficult and rewarding about the experience?