Need a new job, or just starting out as a new teacher and trying to land an
interview? Trying to land a job, whether the first time, or third time, is HARD. I’ve been
holding interviews and helping to hire for special education teacher positions for
more than four years now. In the end, I have the final say in who we hire, so I’ve seen
a lot of ways people have easily secured jobs, and ways that people have made me
want to run for the hills! Below I’ve listed some tips to help land an interview, and
what to do once you have that interview.
How to LAND that Interview!
Make sure everything in your resume is spelled correctly. I once had someone write
in their resume they “obtained an Batchelor’s degree.” #IcantMakeThisStuffUp
If your resume is riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes on a document you
should have taken extreme care with, I can only assume that when you are rushing
to complete documents, you will put even less care into those. It sets you off on a
bad foot right away. There’s no need for that!
Make your resume stand out. Everyone uses the Microsoft Office template. Seriously.
I’ve seen about 300 or more resumes. I can tell you the ones whose resumes stood
out still. I have about three a year. Those people ALWAYS got an interview. If you
don’t think you could possibly get creative with your resume, look at perfecting the
cover letter. But, why hang all your hopes on your cover letter. Have your resume
stick out. And your cover letter too, for that matter. Cover letters are another
pet peeve of mine. Make sure you TAKE THE TIME to make the cover letter unique to
the place you are applying to. I get so many resumes where it is blatant that no effort
was made to make it different from all the others they are probably sending out.
It starts off:
I would love to work for your school. I have this experience, and can do this. Call me
for an interview because I’m a great fit for your school.
The recipe for a great cover letter is the following.
I’m writing about the current opening you have for this grade. I would love to work
for Mount Union School District. I’ve heard great things about your (Specialized
program/good stat).I’ve had these experiences X, Y, Z. I have these expert skills
because of these experiences. I know I would be a great addition to your staff
because I have these skills. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss the
Do you see the difference between them? Often times the cover letter I receive are
basically sent to say, look, I gave you a cover letter!
You Landed The Interview! Congrats!
– Dress for the job you want. 9 times out of 10 people dress nicely. So this is an easy
one. Make sure you shake hands, and make eye contact. It doesn’t happen all the
time. Trust me. I’d say only 60% of the time I get eye contact, an introduction, and
– Always take a moment to think before you answer questions. Slow down, don’t let
yourself get flustered. It’s okay to take a few minutes before formulating a response.
– If you don’t know an answer, it’s okay to say you don’t know. I like the response I
heard from someone one time. She said, “you know, I don’t know the answer to that
question, but to find out I would …. ” And she followed that up with an email after the
interview with the perfect answer. I offered her a position.
– Don’t talk about salary. It’s poor taste. I seriously get this question ALL. THE. TIME. I
know you want to know the salary, but if you are the person that is chosen, OR even
chosen for the second interview, you’ll get to find out what the salary is eventually.
– After you’re done write a quick thank you email. If you need to correct anything
you said do it here, if you didn’t know the answer to a question, answer it here. Go
this route especially if you know that the turnaround time for picking the employee is
quick. After that, write a handwritten thank you note and drop it in the mail. DO this
even if you don’t get the job, or if you already wrote an email note. Seriously. This act
right here has caused me to call up that person later in the summer when I had a
position become open unexpectedly. The actions you take towards your co-workers,
(or future co-workers) when you aren’t getting paid, speak to the character you have.
– Be able to answer how you will set up a good classroom management program for
your class. When I ask this question, only two times have a gotten an answer that was
thorough and complete. I typically get strategies that teachers would use, not a
program or the foundation of all good classroom management systems. The people
who answered it correctly, got a job offer. Behavior management is huge. I can’t be
in every classroom all of the time. I can help you tweak your classroom wide plan,
help plan target interventions, and coach you to improve certain areas of your
As for a list of questions you’ll get asked?
Here’s a nice list I came up with and use frequently.
1.Tell me about yourself. (It’s open ended, for you overshare-ers.) But don’t share too
much. This is a thing. I don’t need your life story. Just the cliff notes version.
2.What is your greatest strength?
3.What is your greatest weakness? (I always give a negative that I am aware of, and
steps I take to work on it)
4. Please tell me about your special education background.
5. Why are you interested in this position/ why do you want to leave your current position/district?
6. What do you think are the 3 major challenges facing special education teachers today?
7. How do you differentiate for all of your students?
8. How do you communicate with parents?
9. How do you work with your peers?
10. Tell about a time you collaborated with your colleagues?
11. How do you get your students excited about learning? Give an example.
12. What behavior management strategies do you use?
13. Tell me about the technology you currently use.
14. Intervention Specialists (Sped Teachers) document daily. How do you keep documentation on your whole case load?
15. Tell me about a lesson you did that was a success.
16. Tell me about a lesson that was a failure? Did you learn anything from it?
17. Is there anything else about you that I should know?
18. Do you have any questions for me? (you should always think of one question…. even if that is, what are you looking for in the
This isn’t all the questions I ask, but a pretty good start. I hope that it helps you to think and get your head in the interview game
before you head off to that interview!