It's that time of year again...interviewing season! Whether you are a new graduate looking for a counseling job or a seasoned counselor looking for a change, I hope these tips will be beneficial.
I had a sweet reader ask me to do a post on this topic now that I am an interim assistant principal. Well, let me say I have so much to learn and am definitely no expert as an administrator, I am merely learning the ropes. I will say I have thankfully had a lot of successful interviews and have sat on plenty of committees hiring counselors. I am not sharing specific questions or anything like that but tips I have felt have made a huge difference for me, personally.
This may seem like a no brainer but being late to an interview gives an automatic "no bueno" signal. Anytime I have an interview, I print directions the night before, put gas in the car (well my hubby does it), and make sure I fully understand how to get there. I set my clothes out the night before like it's the first day at school so that I am as ready as can be. You never want to rush and be in an irritated mind set at your interview. You want to be on your A game!
Don't be afraid to highlight your skills! An interview is your moment to shine and to let them know how awesome you are. When I had my first interview in education for my first teaching job, I felt super uncomfortable saying anything good that I had done and I felt silly talking about my experiences because I had none other than student teaching. My mom and mother in law told me that I need to find experiences that related to the job, it may not be the exact same thing but could show I had some related experience and it could give a glimpse into my background (ex. volunteering at a nursing home may show relationship skills and compassion or working at a summer camp teaching art classes could show you have a creative side). I always created a colorful, mini highlight sheet to quickly show a glimpse into my experience. Below is an example. Don't get my wrong, I did NOT want to brag about myself and I believe in being humble so I had to find a balance with wanting to share highlights and not coming off as a know it all rascal.
This sounds quite cheesy but is probably the most important tip of all. Sometimes we really want to be at a certain school or in a certain position that we adjust who we are and what our goals are for that position but it usually doesn't work out. There is a difference between being flexible and adjusting to your surroundings and... not giving a genuine glimpse of yourself in an interview. You have to remember not only should you be the right fit for them but they should be the right fit for you. Be YOU, look at your goals, look at how you can grow at that campus and how you can serve your students and staff!
It is so vital to know the school before you go to the interview. I always get online and research their demographics, history, programs, and even google the school's name to see what stories and issues they may have faced. I know you're probably thinking I am such a creepster but it helps understand the environment and things that the students and staff may be facing and also what kind of person they may be needing.
If you are still reading this, you probably think I am an OCD nerd.....well I am. Before every interview (after researching the school), I create a list of questions that I may have whether it's about the students or about programs and I bring them with me. Sometimes throughout the interview, some of those questions may get answered. At the end when they ask "What questions do you have for us?" I can ask any questions I still have or I may reflect on something they answered, like, "I did have a question about what your ELL population was and what support programs you have on campus, but I think you answered that plus so much more throughout our conversation." I want administrators to know I care and have invested my time into this interview. This is also a great time to clarify expectations for the position or ask about what the campus' goals and beliefs are. I will say, from interviews I have sat in on, that only asking when they will make a decision on who gets the job does not look so well. It's a great question to ask but not alone...add a question about the school.
When you walk into an interview, you want to give your best "you." Having a positive attitude is such a great quality. In education, there will be rough days and days where you want to cry and eat half a gallon of ice cream (not that I ever do that...hehe) but I would have to say the amazing days way out number the rough days. An interview is not a place to bash your past boss or talk about how much you don't like your current job...yikes....and I have unfortunately seen that happen. Coming into an interview with a positive outlook can really set you apart. In whatever field you may be in, being able to roll with the punches with a smile on your face is always a plus.
I wish you all the best of luck with interviews and hope this is even a teensy bit helpful. Remember to be yourself and that you are interviewing them, too, to see if they are a fit for you! Take care of yourself and breathe....it will all work out how it is supposed to.