Interview Tips

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15 thoughts on “Interview Tips”

  1. A few things that come to my mind are:
    1. Square up the shoulders
    2. Meet their eyes
    3. Don’t over-explain. Sentences must be short and limited in quantity. They don’t know or really care about TPRS, and many principals – like the other Jen’s from a few days ago – have probably heard negative things from traditional teachers on the staff, so they won’t hire you because you use TPRS but they will want to listen to what you have to say about how kids acquire languages and what your overall goal is in reaching them. Do not bash grammar teachers, of course, because chances are high they will be sitting in there as well.

  2. Jen –
    we’ve talked. you’re armed from all the info you have. your resume and cover letter look awesome. Remain your bright, enthusiastic, KNOWLEDGEABLE self. You’re ready.
    I would add more, but you’ve already tapped all of my knowledge base! 🙂
    Positive vibes and all happy thoughts are being sent your way! Love ya, ¡Buena suerte!

  3. Jen, I had the pleasure of attending your Creole session at FLAME in Portland, ME, March 2013. You generously answered an anxious email of mine. I saved it and still refer to it when I need a boost. I agree with Ben and would add…be true to yourself…be honest…be the wonderful person you are. Good luck! Any school would be lucky to have you!

  4. I would add two things:
    1. Learn about the school and district before going to the interview. Show them you understand who they are and know something about the culture of the school. (What’s important to them, really?)
    2. Talk about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. Do they want to address D/F rates? Do they want to have more students taking and passing AP courses (and tests)? Is keeping athletes eligible for sports a problem? Tell them how you can help them overcome whatever the problem is: D/F rate – students learn and thrive under your instruction; AP – with your program of teaching, more students continue to the upper levels of language; athletes – by addressing kinesthetic learners, you create an atmosphere in which they acquire language and do well. Or whatever the school’s concern(s) is (are).

  5. Dearest Jen,
    You will be great because you have so much experience behind you and because you are a great teacher.
    OK, all the suggestions above are of course extremely helpful.
    My suggestion to you is to include all the education buzzwords such as :
    1) Collaboration (tell them how important it is to you and include examples such as your voice on the blog and other collaborative endeavors you’ve done).
    2) Equity (especially important if you are going to work in a need school with low socio-economics, and how bridging the gap starts with education)
    3) Data (here you can BS and tell them you think Data is important because it informs your practice)
    4) Life-long Learning: tell them the truth, you are a lifelong learner
    Look at how much you’ve learn just on this blog!
    5) Literacy
    I know I’m forgetting some but I’m sure other bloggers will chime in.
    Jen, tu vas les conquérir!
    Je te dis merde! (Break a leg en Frenchie)

    1. The life long learner part is so important. I wish, when I taught middle school kids for eight years, that most of them, those who weren’t four percenters, had never gone to high school French. Because most quit, defeated. It would have been better if they just stopped their language learning in eighth grade, because then, since many didn’t go to college, they would have always kept their confidence and then when they had a chance to maybe travel they would have enjoyed it more. All that input would still be there, sleeping, ready to be re-awakened. Then joy would be there, in their travels, and not a feeling of having failed at something.

      1. Robert Harrell

        Word. (Nearly) every school that I know of has as one of its goals the creation of life-long learners. How can a program be considered successful if a majority of students leave it hating the subject? How can a school be considered successful if a majority of students hate learning? How can an educational system be considered successful if a majority of student have lost their curiosity and enthusiasm for discovery by middle school?

        1. Damn straight! This is the big picture: life-long learners. We (not us) have lost sight of that. The standardized testing and all that goes with it directly conflicts with that goal. And then all those grammar-oriented programs fail the majority, because they end up feeling like learning a language is hard, if not impossible. If taught with TCI/TPRS I would like to believe that we would then have more graduates who continue their language acquisition (even if informally). And THAT is the ultimate goal.

  6. A slam-dunk move is to get in touch with one of the language teachers at the school and ask to observe their class.
    Aside from a massive initiative, it shows you know there’s more to a school than its [often vague] website and [edubabblicious] mission statement. Any fool can parrot back core values and give an example of how they align, but you can talk specifically about how you might fit in given what you observed. It’s all about fitting in somewhere.
    Surprisingly, that move didn’t work out for me recently, but I’m not upset and will probably repeat the strategy next time; they don’t know what they’re missing. If given the choice to walk through an “Highly Effective” or “Average” teacher door (, I’d choose the former and feel good about myself.

  7. I agree about the importance of emphasizing your ability to collaborate with other teachers. In my department (mostly Spanish teachers), the conflicts I see are when the teachers bicker over a common assessment. It’s a delicate balance between letting each teacher do his/her own thing, and getting all students to the “same place” or ready for the next level teachers. It would be good going in, to know how this dynamic is (especially if you’re going to be in the minority as a CI teacher), and then talk about your interpersonal skills for collaboration.
    It all depends on the school: the same strategy can get you the job at one school, and flop at another. Last year, I emphasized being able to demonstrate a “toolbox” and do a sample lesson that showcases a bit of everything. That’s probably the best bet for most schools, unless they have a bias that you are aware of.
    Good luck, and ultimately remember that if it doesn’t work out, it’s probably not the school for you.

  8. Harrel’s point– research them– is good. Even better, at some point jump in and say “I understand that [something specific you learned about the school/dept in question], and this interests me, because in my practice [something you do].” They are psyched about ppl who have done homework.
    When I hired for my planting contractor years ago, one general theme came through: the worst employees were the ones who showed up clueless about the job and about us. Much better ones had done research, had questions, etc.

  9. Thank you all for the pointers! It was interesting and fun. I will keep you posted. Was surprised that they didn’t ask me more questions. I feel like I asked them more. They definitely did not really grill me. I think it’s more like, “ok, she’s not an ax murderer, seems very clear and confident about how she teaches. I think he liked it when I said “relevant to the students’ lives.” We’ll see what happens. I’m not attached to the outcome, which helps immensely. It could be a really cool place for me, and I also have other opportunities so just staying open. Another interview Monday will be more challenging–k-6 which I have never done. But I’ve got all kinds of support from the best world language teachers on the planet, so let’s see what happens. 😀

    1. Good to hear, Jen. I guess I missed the opportunity to add my 2 cents.
      1) I agree with Ben about being clear and concise. Think about 3 bullet points to cover for each question, and done.
      2) Refer to authoritative texts, like what the ACTFL says, or Krashen says. This shows you are a life-long learner, as people above mention, in that you enjoy studying the principles and theories behind the practice.
      3) Try to sneak in a quick story about how you’ve connected with a student or students and touched their lives.
      4) Put on the charm. Try to make them smile, maybe even laugh.
      I’ve been on so many interviews in my 12 years! And yet, I notice that I often need to go through one interview before I figure out how to put on that interviewee persona. Sounds like you found your interviewing grove on your first go, though, Jen. Nice work.

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