A week ago someone e-mailed me about finishing college and interviewing for positions in Florida. I thought I’d share my response, but before I do. I have to remind you that the economy is not on the up and up, and college grads with degrees in a variety of subjects are having a really hard time finding positions in their field. It sucks, but I point it out so you’re not too hard on yourselves.
I’m going to be honest with you. Getting a teaching job straight out of college is difficult. It took me 1 1/2 years of subbing before I landed one. If I had been willing to expand the areas I looked, it probably would have happened a lot sooner. Also, I refused to use connections I had to get a job. Well, everyone else used their connections, and in hindsight, I should have too. I was just a bit stubborn. So, my first suggestions are to cast your nets wide and far, and to use any and all connections possible.
As far as interviews go, it is likely that most college grads are giving very similar answers. All wonderful, but very similar. Find ways to make yourself stand out, and show your personality. At the end of the interview, if they ask if there is anything else you think they should know about you — make sure to take advantage of that. For example, when I interview I take that opportunity to discuss how I student taught abroad, have worked in special education, and how I use technology as a form of professional development (yes, I talk about Tumblr, they eat it up and is a big part of how I landed the job I have now). I talk about how those things make me a strong teacher and how I am always willing to share with others.
Bring a portfolio, and even if they do not directly ask to see it — open it up as you answer questions. Make sure you have questions to ask them. Research the district’s biggest struggles, and figure out what role you can play in helping out in that area. I also suggest bringing up any scholarly journal articles you’ve recently read if they pertain to a question you are asked. It shows you’re a life long learner, and that you always want to improve and stay current on teaching.
I’m not sure how familiar you are with Marzano’s framework, but it is a huge issue at my district. Our district uses questions directly from the observation tool in interviews, so you might want to read his book where he discusses different teaching strategies. I don’t always agree with Marzano, but you should know what the districts are working with — it will be how they evaluate you both as a candidate and a teacher if hired.