Saturday, February 11, 2017

What Would You Like to Improve About Yourself?

One of the most important things a principal wants to learn about you is your philosophy.  What do you believe and why do you believe those things?  Your philosophy will reveal personality traits that will determine how successful you will be as a classroom teacher.  Now is the time to make sure your philosophy is well-grounded, robust, and genuine.  Here's a philosophical question frequently asked in interviews:

     What two things would you like to improve about yourself?

     A:   The two things I would like to improve on over the next few years are my computer skills and my time management skills.  I’m currently addressing my computer skills in a course I plan to take this summer at Prestigious University.  While I can effectively integrate technology into all my subject areas, the field is changing so rapidly that I should make sure I’m getting the latest information.  It’s a process I plan to continue throughout my teaching career.  I’d also like to improve my time management.  I tend to be one of those people who always tries to do too much.  I often find that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished.  I need to prioritize my work better and give myself some time for reflection and inquiry.

Interviewers often ask this question in order to find out about some of your weaknesses.  It’s always a good idea to respond with “deficits” that everyone wrestles with.  Things like time management, patience, technological skills, and attitude are items we all could improve.  The best answer for this question is one that focuses on “improvements” related directly to teaching.  In other words, don’t tell the interviewer that you’d like to improve the quality of the beverages at your Friday night poker game or that you’d like to have more time to update your Facebook page this week.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Why Did You Apply for This Position?

One of the key pieces of advice offered in Ace Your Teacher Interview: 149 Fantastic Answers to Tough Interview Questions ( is that candidates should do some research on the school or district to whom they are applying.  This includes checking out the district or school web site and learning everything you can about school/district standards, school funding issues, parent involvement, how many students are served, student attendance policies, number of schools, size of staff, availability of teacher training programs, results of student achievement tests, descriptions of the facilities, and student support services.  If you don't think this is important, please read what one reader of the book posted on "...I've been told by everyone on my interview panel how great my answers were and how well prepared I was (don't forget to RESEARCH YOUR SCHOOL, that was a big seller that tipped the odds from one candidate to me)." [5-star review].  Here's a typical question often asked in interviews:

     Why did you apply for this position?

     A:   Dinosaur Elementary School has an excellent reputation in the community.  According to your web page your overall reading tests scores are up significantly and your math scores in third and fifth grades show significant improvement over last year.  You obviously have a committed staff and I like to be part of a winning team.  You also have a dynamic and eclectic staff development program for teachers.  In my conversations with some of the teachers they remarked on the variety of workshops that have been offered – workshops geared for their specific needs.  While the emphasis has been on reading instruction, there have been sessions devoted to math and science as well.  I believe every teacher, no matter what their experience, can profit from additional training.  That’s something else that has also impressed me about Dinosaur. 
This is an opportunity for you to highlight your special knowledge about the school or district.  It signals to the interviewer that you took the time to do your homework – learning specific details other candidates may not have investigated.