03/22/2022 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Landing the Job
5 Things Not to Do in a First Interview
It happened. A school you were referred to by your CS&A Placement Associate reached out and wants to schedule an interview with you.
Right now, you're probably:
all at once. We see you.
Interviews, and especially first interviews, can be stressful.
But as you prepare for your next phone, Zoom, or on-campus interview, what are some things you should never do?
Here are five don'ts.
1. Not know anything about the school
No interviewer will expect you to know the ins and outs of their specific school — but you should know the basics. Even if you have a dozen interviews scheduled at a dozen different schools, find the time to conduct basic research on each one. Peruse the website, paying particular attention to the department or area that’s most relevant to you. Not having a basic understanding of the school suggests two things to a school: first, you didn’t prepare adequately, and second, you’re not particularly passionate about this specific program. Don’t take yourself out of the running before you’ve even begun — do your homework.
2. Badmouth your current school
It doesn’t matter what the situation is at your current school — don’t badmouth the institution or your colleagues while interviewing for another position. This only reflects poorly on you, and it could make your interviewer wonder about your loyalty. If asked why you’re looking for new opportunities, give a diplomatic answer that’s equally true: you’re interested in a new challenge, you’re looking to move to a new and different environment, etc.
3. Be offline
Over the last several years, hiring contacts at top independent schools have become increasingly aware of candidate's professional digital presence. A lack of digital presence can be a turnoff to many schools. In the 21st century, it’s important for educators to be tech and information media savvy — whether you’re developing a personal learning network on Twitter, facilitating class discussions on a blog, or flipping your classroom, you should be able to speak to your use of 21st century tools in your classroom.
4. Talk too much about yourself
It’s an instant mood-killer in any kind of conversation: one party who talks at length about themself, unaware of signs and signals from the other party. It can be easy to get carried away on a tangent, particularly if you’ve been asked about yourself and you want to fit all your talking points into your response. But ease up a bit on the self-promotion: mention too many of your accolades and you’ll risk coming off as obnoxious or out-of-touch. Make sure the interview is a conversation, with both the interviewer and yourself participating in comparable amounts. Use your achievements to demonstrate ways you bring value specifically to the school by tying them into the school's mission or programs.
5. Ask about salary
Don’t get us wrong: salary is an important issue, and we fully understand a candidate’s need to know if pursuing a position will really be worthwhile. But the time to ask about salary is not in an initial interview, whether that’s on the phone, on Zoom, or at a CS&A conference. Questions about salary and benefits are appropriate later on in the process, when mutual interest has been indicated by the school and the candidate. Ask earlier than that, and you’ll risk leaving a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth.
Have other suggestions for what not to do while navigating the initial interview process? Comment below!
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