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Nailing the Education Interview

May 9, 2022 | By Dan Golub

It’s spring, which means that school districts and education non-profits like Blueprint are already interviewing for the upcoming school year. Blueprint has interviewed over 1000 candidates over the past decade and we’d like to share some best practices and tips that bring the right people into the classroom!

Tips for Math Fellow Applicants

  • Do your homework. Before the interview, read through the Blueprint (or school) website, social media accounts, and job description. Make a list of organizational values, cater your resume to those values, and practice speaking about how your experience would make you a quality candidate. Come prepared with genuine questions that show you’re paying attention to the details of the job or organization!
  • Showcase your passion. Math teachers don’t teach math; they teach people! Don’t hide that passion!
  • Be reflective. One of the questions we ask Math Fellow candidates is tell us about a piece of feedback you received and how it helped you grow. We’re not looking for any specific knowledge but rather your mindset. Education is a field that requires you to be constantly reflecting and acting on that reflection to refine your craft.
  • Be professional. Respond to all emails and calls in a timely manner and troubleshoot all tech ahead of time. Wear professional attire, and if you are unsure about something – ask!
  • Pro tip: show a portfolio of work. Build a digital or hard copy (think: 3-ring binder) portfolio that showcases the various dimensions of you as an educator or professional. Sections could include an educational philosophy statement, lesson plans, unit plans, assessments, student work samples, and formal evaluations. If you’re coming from another field, the portfolio could include projects, spreadsheets, or aspirational statements.

Tips for School Principals and Leaders

Teaching educators to use Desmos or streamline their grading is easy; building school culture is hard! Getting the right people is key to establishing the desired school culture– and it all starts with your hiring practices.

  • Invite candidates to observe at your school. This practice allows candidates to make sure the school is a good fit for them (and saves you the headache of an early resignation) and gives you the opportunity to see how reflective the candidate is. Have the candidate complete a graphic organizer based on their observations and follow this up with a one-on-one or group debrief. This debrief could be with you or a teacher or coach – leverage the leadership in your building!
  • Involve teachers, students, and families in the interview process. This may not seem efficient, but involving multiple stakeholders is a great way to develop a sense of community and build in leadership opportunities. Consider setting up an interview committee and taking input from others seriously.
  • Develop an observable set of look-fors for any demo lessons. The demo lesson is a great way to see how a candidate teaches. But what exactly are you looking for? And to what extent does a cherry-picked lesson represent this candidate’s teaching practice? Avoid these pitfalls by clarifying what you (and other stakeholders) are looking for. Follow up on lingering questions in a conversation with the candidate.
  • Include scenarios in your interview questions. This is a great way to uncover values held by the candidate. For example, at Blueprint, we ask potential fellows: what would you do if, after one lesson, none of your students demonstrated mastery on their exit tickets? This question lets us see to what extent the candidate values student learning.