When you successfully complete your student teaching and walk out with a degree in hand, you should feel empowered, proud, and eager to earn that first job. But the hard truth is, you’re not alone. Over the last 17 years I have had the chance to be a part of many interview teams looking for qualified candidates in specialized fields such as physical education, as well as, classroom teaching and administration.
During this time, I have also had the opportunity to bomb interviews of my own in front of both small and large crowds. While there have been successes I have learned more from my failures.
So, what is an administrator or an interview team looking for as they search for the ideal teacher? In short, they are looking for an enthusiastic, caring, child-centered teacher that is able to work with a team and make a positive impact on the school’s culture.
7 Physical Education Interview Strategies You Need to Know!
1. Dress for success.
It may sound like common sense, but your appearance matters, and too often young professionals over look this simple step. Look your best and save your sneakers, polo, or hoodie for after you get hired.
2. Make it personal.
The interview team wants to feel a connection. Give them insight into who you are during the interview, however, don’t overdo it. They don’t want to hear your life story. If the first question is, “please tell us about yourself,” don’t take the first 15 minutes of the interview to explain.
Throughout the interview they are deciding if your personality is a good fit with the school, staff, and community. Make sure you smile and show you have a sense of humor, but remember that it is not open mic. night at the Apollo.
3. It’s all about the kids.
Common sense tells us that the candidate needs to love working with children but you have to convince us that the students will actually like working with you, too! It is the bottom line. If this doesn’t come across, you won’t be coming back, so make it evident throughout the interview.
4. Beyond the box.
During the interview, you need to demonstrate that you think outside of the box, have dreams and aspirations, and continually seek out new ideas. Your answers need to convey to the interview team that you have plans and ideas that are broad and extend beyond the walls of the gym with involvement from all stakeholders. What sets you and your ideal program apart from anyone else walking through that door?
5. Know why you teach.
They want to know why you want to be a teacher but they really want to hear why you want to teach physical education. You may have a passion for working with children but why did you choose this specialized field? Why is your program as important as any core subject or the fine arts? Be confident in your answer and believe in what you do.
6. Decipher the code.
One of the most challenging parts of the physical education interview is figuring out what they are really asking, what they really want to hear. Sometimes a question can seem so simple it throws you off and you fail to produce a quality answer.
For example, “What is something you are good at?” sends my mind into a spiral- I make good chili and I am really good at sleeping. (Not what they want to hear). They want to know that you have something to offer to the staff and what strengths will shine on a daily basis. Do not simply answer “technology.” Explain how technology will impact your teaching and how you will utilize this knowledge to be a positive part of the teaching team.
To help decipher what they may be listening for, do your research before the interview. Learn about the school, it’s programs, and the community.
7. When it’s over.
Have 3-5 questions prepared ahead of time and ask 2 or 3 good questions at the end of the interview. Shake hands, smile, and tell them you appreciate the opportunity. As soon as possible after the interview write down key questions that you heard and take time to reflect on your answers. This will be beneficial with future interviews. Broaden your horizon and apply for positions that may not be next door. You want experience interviewing and you need that first job!
Do not get discouraged. As an administrator I have interviewed three amazing teachers in one evening and wondered how we could pick just one out of the group.
Sometimes it can come down to a single answer or a gut feeling. Know that you are not alone when you let out a primal scream while pumping gas during the two-hour drive home in the dark realizing what they really wanted to hear during the 5th question. Take a deep breath, reflect, and move on. Learn from your mistakes, seek out more experience and knowledge, and know that everyone on the other side of the table has been there too.