02/07/2023 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Time to Shine: Rocking a 30-Minute Interview

girl smiling across the table from her interviewer

Landing an interview is the primary goal of any job-seeker. It’s a foot in the door, an opportunity to enliven your candidate file, a real-life shot at a job. It’s a way to explain in-person your qualities and skills that will add value to a school community.

An interview is enough pressure and excitement as it is. So what do you do when it’s cut short?

Our hiring conferences are wonderful ways to interview with multiple schools in one place. But each conference interview slot is only 30 minutes long — how do you condense your candidacy into half an hour?

We've got you covered. Here are some steps to help you rock your conference interviews.

1. Write It Down

The best way to squeeze a lot of information into a short time span is to know ahead of time what you want to say. Putting pen to paper will help you crystallize your thoughts and separate the key information from the clutter. Take a few minutes to write down the most salient parts of your background. As your interviewer questions you on conference day, you’ll be able to draw upon phrases that you’ve already written — this will calm your nerves, make you more articulate, and speed the interview process so you can maximize the potential in the conversation.

One of the most helpful ways to distill this information is in a cover letter or personal statement. Ideally, those documents present a succinct, page-long impression of who you are.

2. Broad Picture > Details

We know: 30 minutes can really fly when you’re trying to present a broad picture of yourself to a prospective employer. But don’t worry — every candidate will struggle with the same time constraints as you. Remember that the schools already have your resume — they have a broad understanding of your skills and experiences. What they won’t know is the bigger picture: the causes and motivators that link the events on your resume and why you want to work at their particular school. So don’t get bogged down in the details — there’s no need to explain everything.

3. Distinguish Yourself

On conference days, school hiring contacts will be meeting with dozens of candidates. At the end of the day, resumes and cover letters might blur together. Make sure you make yourself memorable. Prior to the conference, think of something unique about yourself that you’d like to share — an unexpected lesson you learned, a travel adventure, the moment you realized you wanted to teach.

Ultimately, the successful candidate will be selected because of their skills, but also because of the inexplicable personal qualities that add value to the school. Set yourself apart!

4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

When a school sends you an interview request in the Conference Module, do your homework. Spend some time reviewing the school’s website and prepare a question or two about the community and/or the position in advance. At the conference, you’ll be able to cut to the most important questions — and your research will demonstrate your interest to the school. Don’t waste time with general questions — use the interview as an opportunity to find out what you really want to know!

Some schools wait to schedule interviews until just before the conference, and some schools schedule interviews at the conference itself. When you gain access to the Conference Module, review the list of schools attending. Do some basic research — and prepare some questions — about the schools that interest you, even if they haven’t scheduled an interview with you yet.

If while during the conference you suddenly get an interview request from a school you haven't researched or aren't familiar with, don't panic. Since the interview was scheduled last-minute, the hiring contact won't expect you to know much about their school.

5. Don’t Know? Ask!

That said, you might have an unexpected, last-minute interview that you hadn’t prepared for. In that case, don’t worry if you don’t know much about the school or the position. You can use this opportunity to listen to what the school contact has to say. Ultimately, you want to find the right job for you.

You can still have a comprehensive, detailed, effective interview — even in just 30 minutes. Use these tips as you prepare for our hiring conferences.

Want to register for one of our upcoming conferences? Click here! Registration is free for active CS&A candidates.

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