Monday, January 28, 2013

8 Tips for Conquering a Teacher or Administrator Panel Job Interview

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Interviews can be nerve-wracking enough with just one person asking questions, but what about with a whole committee or panel? Do not let numbers scare you. You and the interviewers are there for the same purpose - they want to know if you will be the correct fit for their school district, and you want to know if they will be the right fit for you. Follow these eight simple steps to have a successful panel interview.

1. Treat this interview the same as you would a one-on-one. Prepare for your interview by researching the school and position. Practice with a friend, with an interview preparation coach, or in front of a mirror. Regardless of how many people are on the committee, your answers will be the same, and so must your appearance, confidence, poise, and professionalism. You have one shot at making a good first impression - make sure you don't blow it!

2. Greet each interviewer. Find out the name of each interviewer and repeat it back so you have it correct. You may be able to get this information from the receptionist, prior to entering the interview room. Shake each person's hand, smile, and give equal attention to all involved. Use their names periodically throughout the interview, when appropriate, but don't put anyone one "on the spot". Not only is this a good way to help you retain the names, but it also shows each person that you are able to pay special attention to them.

3. Relax and remain confident. Even though any interview can make for a nervous situation, make absolutely certain that you are able to remain calm and show confidence right from the start. If you are stressed or nervous, your interviewers will pick up on it. Take a deep breath before you begin and pause whenever you need a moment. Do not rush your answers. It is also essential that you remain enthusiastic when answering each and every person on the committee. Enthusiasm will truly convey your desire to gain this job and work for that particular school or district.

4. Maintain good posture and body language. The more a person relaxes, the more they tend to let their posture slip. Maintain good posture at all times, but not so much that you appear stiff or un-relaxed. Use the motion of your hands occasionally to emphasize a point or demonstrate interest. Make sure to smile often and portray yourself as a genuine, energetic, and goal-driven educator.

5. Direct your answer to each person. The panel members may take turns asking you questions, or just one person will ask questions. Direct most of your answer to the person who has asked the question, while still turning and speaking to the other people in the room. Smile and make eye contact with each person. Devote equal amounts of time to each person throughout the interview; thus treating them as equals.

6. Ask questions. Prepare several meaningful questions the night before. These may include topics such as extracurricular activities, outreach programs, special education instruction, what and when the next stage of the hiring progress is, etc. Do not direct all of your questions to one person, and as mention earlier don't ask any uncomfortable questions to the individuals. You may ask each person a question or deliver it generally so that any person may answer.

7. Ask for business cards before you leave. If your interview is in front of a large panel or committee, chances are you will not remember every single person's name or position after you have left the room. Make sure to ask for business cards so you have their correct contact information. You may wish to use these cards in the future, particularly to create thank you letters or if you have a follow-up question or if you noticed that one person has a keen interest that you share, for instance special education.

8. Send a thank you letter to each interviewer. Regardless of the type of interview you attend, it is a good idea to send a thank you letter within the next day or two. The difference between a one-on-one interview and a panel interview is that you must send a thank you to each and every person. In your letter convey your enthusiasm for the position and school, highlight your outstanding qualities, and thank the person for the opportunity of an interview. Tailor each one to be different for each person. This does not mean that all of the thank you letters much be completely unique, but at least a little different so it does not seem that you are not genuine or committed.

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