Tips to ace your job interview- and my interview story too!

I had always known that I wanted two children that were closer in age. I was also eager to be a central part of their formative years, so I opted to take a five-year sabbatical from teaching to have my boys. Although I had them sixteen months apart, I waited for my youngest to be eligible for pre-nursery before I began surveying teaching positions in the vicinity.

My expectations

I was convinced that I wanted to work in an IB school as they embraced the values that I wanted my children to absorb. In addition, I wanted to ensure that the curriculum taught to my sons effortlessly wove empathy and compassion into teaching while expanding upon skills essential to surviving in this transforming world. The icing on the cake was that I needed my sons to attend the same school to enjoy the perks of being a staff parent.

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My Fears

I knew that my demands were a tall order. I had been on a hiatus for over five years, and it was a significant blip in my career. Although I aspired to work in an international (preferably IB) school, I was unsure that I was qualified enough. I was also uncertain whether I could make requests about having my children admitted to school while still appearing grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed. I was in turmoil with the feelings of doubt, guilt, and under confidence swirling inside my system. 

My interview

When I finally sent out my application to a school five minutes away from my house that met all the criteria, I got a call within a day. The first interview that I had was with the principal, and it was an unmitigated disaster. I had been on a long break and could not remember answers to most of her pedagogical questions. I recognized that she was testing knowledge that would be essential to work at this well-regarded school, and yet, I told her that I did not have the answers that she desired. I must have said, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know” more times than I could count. However, I kept the tone light and tried to let her know that I was a lifelong learner and had good communication skills. Unfortunately, the school was on summer break, so I couldn’t even demonstrate my skills in a classroom. I left the interview dejected and convinced that I would never allow myself to be so underprepared again. I had written the job off until I got a call that afternoon asking me to come back to meet with the Head of School and complete all formalities. I was overjoyed at being given a chance despite an abysmal interview and was quite embarrassed to look the principal in the eye again. I would certainly like to believe that I have made up for that day during the last few years by giving my best everyday to my job!

A few pointers-

After my own experience and hearing about others’ struggles with interviews, I do believe keeping a few points in mind beforehand is of utmost importance.

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Display your work ethic

Put across your workstyle by coming to the interview on time and carry all necessary materials with you. Keep your phone on silent to avoid interruptions and give your full attention to the discussion. These steps may seem inconsequential until you find your train of thought broken because of a clanging phone in your bag that will not silence itself in the middle of cross-questioning. Prepare for disasters in advance.

Dress well

Dress as professionally as you can, as management will respect it. You cannot be overdressed for an interview, but you can undoubtedly be underdressed. Wearing a tee or sneakers to a critical interview may give the impression that you take your work casually. If you decide to grunge it out when meeting prominent people from the organization, make sure that you know your stuff to secure their attention and appreciation. 

Be honest

Everyone cannot know everything, and if you find yourself in doubt, do not hesitate to admit it. It generates an aura of humility.

Moreover, accepting that you do not know something shows a strength of character rather than weakness. This may have played a massive factor in securing my job as I was honest instead of concocting answers that would not have fooled anyone with extensive knowledge on the subject matter.

Know your strengths

While all of us have ‘areas we would like to improve’, aka weaknesses, we must recognize and concentrate on what we do well. If you cannot answer technical questions like I me during my interview, steer the dialogue towards your tech or communication skills, accomplishments, or focus on well-being. Whatever your strength is, make sure that your future employer knows it to hire you for it and make use of that very trait when you join the organization.

Be YOU

Don’t be the person you think management wants to hire. Just be yourself so that you can know that you have done your best and been authentic throughout. It’s better not to regret bungling an interview by being fake. Instead, if you don’t get a call back after being true to yourself, you can analyze what you could genuinely do better next time.

Takeaway-

Interviews are a tumultuous time of stress and hope. Advice is aplenty, and numerous inputs may phase you, but always go into it being confident and optimistic. If you do not get a second interview, you probably were not a perfect match for them anyway, so don’t let it get you down. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect and you will start to be more intuitive about what people need from you in the moment. All the best for your upcoming interviews! If I can help you in any way, please contact me and I’ll be in touch.

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