Monthly Archives: December 2014

10 Interviewing DO’s and DON’T’s

Let me preface this by saying that I’m an international school principal, so these are my recommendations when interviewing for an overseas position, although many are transferrable to local positions.

1. DON’T wear your pajamas.
International schools conduct many of their interviews via Skype. While you don’t need to wear a suit and tie, appropriate clothing is appreciated. Take that little bit of extra time to at least make sure the top half of you looks professional and presentable. If you want to wear your flannel panama bottoms, I won’t judge— I’m probably wearing them, too.

2. DO use your real name.
While you may have a cutesy nickname that your friends and family call you, go by your real name during the interview. Unless it’s a name you go by all the time, like Mike for Michael, refrain from sharing on that first interview.

“Hello Hannah, how are you?”
“I’m fine. By the way, my friends call me Heavenly.”
“Oh really? Why’s that?”
“They say I’m like an angel from Heaven.”
“Okay…I think I’ll stick with Hannah.”

3. DON’T tell the interviewer what to do.
Interviewers appreciate feedback and questions, however telling us what to do is a sure way to guarantee we won’t call you for a second interview.

“Have you read all of my recommendation letters?”
“No, that’s usually something we do when we want to offer someone a job, not for the first interview.”
“Well, I suggest you read them all so that you know who you’re talking to.”
“Noted.”

4. DO your research.
Before your interview, take the time to get to know a little something about the school. Peruse their website, read their mission statement and values, find out about the curriculum the school uses, write down any questions you have. Employers are impressed that you took that little bit of extra time to find out more about their school. There’s an added benefit for you, too. You’ll get to know whether this school is a good fit for you or not. Do you believe in their mission and values? What about the curriculum? Is it one you are familiar with or one that you believe is best for students?

5. DON’T ask about salary details during the first interview.
The first interview is a time for both the employer and the potential employee to get to know one another, determine if it would be a good match (getting a job goes both ways), and ask some preliminary questions. Asking about the salary right away tells your potential employer that you’re only in it for the money, and not really interested in much else. Of course, salary and benefits are important, but this is something we save until later, when we are interested in making an offer.

6. DO display confidence, not cockiness.
Confidence is great—showing what you have to offer, highlighting your strengths, and selling yourself—but cockiness is not. A cocky attitude is such a turn-off for an interviewer. Look at it this way, if you are this cocky now, what will you be like when you work here?

“So, Sam, what are you looking for in a school?”
“I’m looking for a school that recognizes that I’m the whole package.”
“Oh, okay…”

Pretty sure I was looking for something along the lines of…collaborative, good sense of community, a place to grow professionally, but okay.

7. DON’T bad-mouth your current school.
We get it. You don’t like where you work now. This is probably the reason you are searching for a new job. But please, don’t complain about your current school. While you may think this makes the school look bad, it really just makes you look bad. What goes through my head when someone does this is, “What are they going to say about us if I hire them?”. It’s kind of like when your friend gossips to you about another friend. You have to worry about what they say about you when you’re not around. You don’t have to paint a flowery image that doesn’t exist, but avoid blatant complaining.

8. DO ask questions.
Most people think the interviewers are the only ones to ask the questions, but especially when looking for a position overseas, the interviewee should ask some questions, too. After all, you would be committing two years of your life to this school should you get the job. Preparing questions ahead of time will help you remember what you want to ask. Common question themes include: specific curriculum-related questions, demographics of student body and staff, what life is like there, professional development opportunities (particularly if it’s a new curriculum to you), support and resources available at the school, and school culture. Don’t bombard your interviewer with questions, but ask ones that you truly important to you.

9. DON’T be boring.
Interviewing on Skype is different than in person. I get that. But that’s no excuse to be boring. Let your personality shine through. Be engaged, listen thoughtfully, and show us who you are. The saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression” is true. If you’re a dud during the interview, it won’t matter how impressive your resume is, because we won’t be calling you back.

10. DO follow up the interview with an email.
Employers appreciate a short email after the interview, thanking them for taking the time to interview you, expressing your continued interest in the position, and even asking a question or two you might not have had the chance to ask during the interview.

Anyone else have any interviewing tips to share?