Interview Advice

Discussion in 'Special Interests' started by Fleurdelis, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Fleurdelis

    Fleurdelis Rookie

    Jun 21, 2017
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    Jan 13, 2021

    So I recently had an interview for a Middle School Drama teacher position (for the Spring only,) since the teacher is leaving due to concerns over COVID. It will be re-advertised this summer. It was virtual, so I had my husband sit in the room and listen. (they didn't know he was there.) He thought I did well, but I did not get the position.

    Now things I noticed (he didn't think could be an issue), and I'd like opinions on this from teachers who have been through this process. What could be the deciding factor?

    A)I have 19 years of teaching experience and 3 degrees in theatre (MA in Performance Studies and MFA in Theatre Pedagogy). Most of my teaching experience is teaching in a the professional theatre setting. (5 years teaching college and 1 year as a HS teacher. I left the HS position after a year to pursue my graduate degree full time, which I stated.) She brought the 1 year in school system up, which I pointed out I taught 5 years in college.

    B) When asked if I had taught on line before I said, "No, but I am a quick learner, but I will be honest, it would be a learning curve." (Building modules) It is an honest answer for the situation we're in.

    C) When asked what type of speciality courses I'd like to teach (because its a developing program) I said I have ideas, but I'd really like to find out what interests the students. (Yes, I have ideas, I guess I should have just given them.)

    This school system is supposed to be one of the best in our region. I'm wondering if my lack of years teaching in a school system is the problem? Would it be advisable to apply with "lesser" school systems to get hired for experience? (I also just turned 50 so I'm wondering if that's an issue.)

    She said the position would be re-advertised in the summer, and encouraged me to apply if I wasn't hired then, bit I don't want to waste my time just to be a tic mark.

    Thoughts? Advice?
  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Aug 23, 2005
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    Jan 18, 2021 at 8:07 PM

    Becoming a drama teacher is very hard. There are very few jobs, and a ton of qualified and experienced applicants vying for those elusive jobs.

    Here are the things I noticed from your post. You have not one, but two Master's degrees. This can be the kiss-of-death when hiring a new teacher, because in most places, it makes you more expensive than the other candidates. It is hard to realize that in many fields (drama included) it is actually a negative, not a positive.

    Your answer about online teaching "I'm a quick learner" was great, but then you negated it by saying "there will be a learning curve." Stick with the "I'm a quick learner" response.

    This is the hard the part -- you have to realize that every single candidate they interview completely meets their listed requirements. They already know that. They are looking for that energetic person with a spark, who is full of ideas and enthusiasm. Your vague response (which may have come across as if you were not prepared) saying "I'd like to find out what interests the students" could have been a deal-breaker. Student involvement is, of course, important, but you need to immediately give them some examples of your ideas, and maybe end that with telling them that you want the students to take part in the final idea.

    Not only is every single candidate they interview qualified and able to meet the requirements, when it comes to drama jobs, they probably have another 50+ equally qualified candidates they didn't select for the interview -- so if you don't wow-them, and convince them that you are the only person they want for the job, then they will simply decide to just re-interview (which is exactly what they did.)

    There is also the issue that you are older than most beginning drama teachers (new to teaching middle school, that is) and there is an unsaid bias for younger new teachers because they are seen as being more energetic, being more in-touch with middle school and high school students, and more able to commit the required afterschool time to the drama program.

    Does that mean you are out of luck? No. It simply means you have to find "your angle." What is it about YOU that makes above all of the others? You need for your answers to present and support what makes YOU a cut above the rest.

    Before your next interview, you need to come up with at least 4 ideas of what you could do that would be unique and exciting, and would foster high levels of student involvement, at the middle school level. Then you need to focus your answers on those traits, and how you've used them in the past, and how that past experience will translate to your future.

    It is really rare for drama teacher positions to come available, and there are tons of people who want these jobs, who all meet the basic requirements. You have to find out what makes you different and more desirable than the others. If you can't put it into words, how will they ever know?

    Before you think I'm telling you to do the impossible, I want to share this with you. I went into teaching later in life. I already had a Master's degree, which made me more expensive. I am also disabled and need an assistive device, and many accommodations to do my job. You would think I would have had a hard time getting a job teaching elementary education. But I didn't. You see, I went in telling them "Let me tell you why having a disabled teacher will benefit your school!" I explained that I had the ability to relate to kids who felt "different" and win their trust. I felt a calling to help children understand that just because someone does things differently, doesn't make them weird or strange, and that anybody can find a way to be a productive member of society, and to live their dreams. I also made being an older teacher look good, as I explained, I wouldn't have to go through that first year with every parent knowing I was a brand new teacher, because at my age, they all just assumed I came from a different school, not that I was a new teacher. I played up how my age made me a "Mama figure" to the students and that was just as helpful and needed as the very young, energetic new teachers. I also told the interview committee how I had ADD, and how children with ADD/ADHD had a special place in my heart, because I had experienced the difficulties they face.

    What I'm saying is that just being a qualified teacher isn't enough to get a highly desirable, highly competitive teaching position when there is a glut of applicants in that field. You have got to sit down and truly analyze what you bring to the table that others don't have, and how you can put those traits on display.

    I'm sending you best wishes.

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