"Right match"

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NewSoCalTeacher2017, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2018

    Hi everyone!
    For this round of my job hunt, I've had 20 interviews in some way, shape, or form. Several of them have gone well. Some of the jobs I wanted most, I did not get. However, I've had two recently that I would be very happy to have. I think they went well. I felt a rapport between me and my interviewers, I believe they liked my responses to their questions, and we had a few good laughs. I'm waiting in agony to hear back from them. Anyway, from the job interviews I did not get, I always was told that I was a strong interviewer and a strong candidate but that someone else was a better match. If these two don't work out, is there any advice on making myself the "right match?"
    Thanks!
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I'll cede to others who have sat on interviewing committees, but here's my best thoughts:

    Study the school, district, and community, and see what their values, teaching philosophies, focuses, and strengths/weaknesses are. Using that, before you go into the interview, be prepared to share how your values match theirs, how the philosophies align (if they don't, you probably shouldn't interview there anyways!), and how your own strengths can play to what the school/district/community needs. Tailor the experiences and moments that you share to highlight those elements.

    For example, a school with a high ELL population will require a different skill set than a school that perhaps has a high percentage of gifted students. A school that is focused on management of behaviors through PBIS may require a different set of answers than a school that has a focus around Whole Brain Teaching (ok, not a perfect example, but you get where I'm going :))
     
  4. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Not to be happy about your misfortune of interviews, but it does make me feel a little better that I am not the only one. I have had 6 so far, and I am feeling bummed. The same as you, I get comments in the panel about how much they liked my responses, so I must not be doing that bad.
    This whole interview process is mentally exhausting though.
     
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  5. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Thanks!
     
  6. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    It's strangely comforting knowing I'm not the only one. I get bummed out too but right now I'm mostly frustrated. I would prefer if they gave me something to work on, but when they don't have anything negative to say it's harder to take the rejection. Good Luck!!!!
     
  7. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    :yeahthat:

    When I interviewed at my current school, I did tons of research beforehand and one of the things I found out is that it’s VERY multicurially diverse. For example, 10% of the student body are international students, not considering all of the different people groups that live here in the States. This proved to be useful because I am conversationally fluent in Mandarin Chinese and I am fluent in both English and Spanish. This greatly appealed to my interview panel and they made it known that they appreciated my wide range of skills, mathematical and otherwise. Inside my head, I was like, “Because I knew you were looking for someone with my talents and that’s why I mentioned it, lol!”

    Butter up the people and make them laugh. That’s what I did and I complimented people without seeming like a suck up. It worked wonders for me and it should for you, too.

    Remember, flattery will get you... everywhere.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
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  8. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Jun 18, 2018

    Good stuff! Thanks!
     
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  9. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I served on several interview committees last summer and my best advice is to be yourself. Sometimes it really is out of your control about who they are looking for. For my team, it was a matter of chemistry. After eliminating several candidates, we had 3 remaining who all would have been successful. We picked the ones who had talents that would help the team and who had let their personality show through.
     
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  10. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    I know how frustrating and stressful interviewing for jobs can be and would like to offer a contrarian perspective for you to think about. While many people will tell you to just "be yourself", IMO, that may actually do more harm than good. I would think that being oneself would naturally mean to show the good, bad and the ugly - not only your sterling character traits. Does being oneself also mean not to make any effort to suppress the urge to nervously bounce your knee up and down or bite your fingernails as you may be prone to do in stressful situations? Someone who tends to be shy or is an introvert may not want to exhibit such behaviors in an interview.

    I recall reading about the results of a nationwide survey that focused on interview technique - it found that half of all employers know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position. In other words, first impressions are extremely important.

    It's not just what you say, but what you do and how you look that influences the panel within the first few minutes. That same survey also pointed to several things people do that can negatively affect the outcome of their interview:
    • Playing with something on the table
    • Having bad posture
    • Fidgeting too much in their seats
    • Crossing their arms over their chests
    • Playing with their hair or touching their faces
    • Having a weak handshake
    • Using too many hand gestures
    • Having a handshake that was too strong
    Giving all the right answers and making the panel laugh a few times may earn you lots of points, but may not be enough to get the job! Wouldn't it be great if interviewees could remain out of sight and just be evaluated on their responses to the questions?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I understand the comment to be yourself. If you overplay your "teacher" character to the point that the school won't be hiring that "teacher", you are setting yourself up for potential failure in the job. But if you are more true to yourself by not creating a persona and you get hired, you are more likely to be who they are looking for.

    Some of the things like good posture, good handshake, and not fidgeting are just expected behavior for anyone in an interview.

    I think be yourself means to not go looking elsewhere for answers to interview questions, don't tell them your greatest strength is really what you are weakest at, etc.
     
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  12. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I would never disregard a candidate based on a too weak or too strong handshake. I agree there are certain gestures that are attributed to nervousness. That is to be expected. Certainly you want to put your best foot forward,but I want to see who you are as a person as well as your professional self. I did, however, stop listening to a candidate who had so much cologne on that I couldn’t focus. Tiny room,way too strong! I couldn’t imagine working with that every single day.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Do you see what you just said though? You kind of reinforced Been There’s post when you stopped listening to a candidate for an innocuous reason like the scent of his cologne. This further demonstrates how little idiosyncrasies can make or break an interview, like too strong of a handshake. The too-firm handshake might annoy or unnerve some people in the same way that the strong cologne bothered you and made you not want to hire the person.
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I’m going to have to disagree. There is nothing wrong with Been There’s list of habits to avoid. By all means, try to control bad habits and emphasize your positive aspects. But, as team leader, I meet closely with my teachers on a daily basis. I want a teacher whose personality will blend with existing teachers on the team, or who can bring something to the team. Therefore I need to feel some of that personality. I need to imagine your personality in the classroom but also in meetings. And I really don’t think I’m an outlier to be annoyed by strong perfume, but not by a weak handshake or nervous mannerisms.
     
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  15. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    According to the many posts from job hunters on this forum, prospective teachers often have good reason to be extremely anxious and nervous in the interview room. In many cases, they've invested thousands of dollars, successfully passed through a gauntlet of tough tests, sacrificed time with family and friends, and spent untold number of hours preparing for high-stakes interviews. I believe that those of us that lack movie star good looks and natural charisma (i.e. a charming personality) can rise to the top of the list by showing our self-confidence, knowledge, wit along with a bit of showmanship and humor (even if the latter are not part of one's personality).

    In the final analysis, successful candidates must be able to put on an impressive performance for the panel. Through their astute responses, mannerisms and appearance they display the winning attributes that are expected in the private sector, but often not well-understood or acknowledged (e.g. handshake) by educators. Perhaps this is part of the problem in our education system.

    P.S. Don't think my family members would have recognized me in the interview room, classroom or principal's office with my educator's hat on! I doubt if most people act the same at home as they do in their workplace. So much for being oneself.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You are missing the point. I, too, would be annoyed by strong cologne, but I would not refuse to hire someone because of it.

    I actually agree with Been There’s post.

    I’m saying if you can decline an application for something insignificant, then so can other people for something as silly as too strong of a handshake. For example, what if the firm handshake jolted someone’s shoulder and they experienced minor pain. This could annoy them — it’s within the realm of possibility — and as retaliation they could refuse to hire the person because they were annoyed. See what I mean now?
     
  17. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I agree with this. When I observe someone being nervous during an interview, I don't let that work against them. I know I would be nervous in an interview, too, and I expect others to feel that way. I don't think too much cologne (or cigarette smoke, as was the case with a guy who interviewed for an opening at my former school) is quite the same. If someone doesn't have enough common sense to have a neutral or faint but good smell, then they probably also don't have the common sense we're looking for in the classroom. I don't expect that someone who is nervous in an interview will have that same issue in the classroom. They might, but the chances are good that they're only nervous because they're in a high-stakes situation with all eyes on them.
     
  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I'm going to disagree with most of your post. I DO agree that I may behave differently in my home compared to my school, but I think a lot of people have differing personal versus professional personas - especially introverts. I am not a funny person. I don't tell jokes or make people laugh. It's just in my personality. I don't like to put on a show. I like to let people know who I am and what they can expect from me right up front. And, in my experience being on both sides of the interview table, that's appreciated. I don't want to "perform" at an interview. I want to be me. And, if I'm interviewing others, I don't want them performing either. I want to know who I'm getting.

    The way I see it, anyone who is truly looking for "a good fit", needs to be themselves. I guess if you just want any job, then, sure, perform. Put on a show. Pretend you are someone who you are not. But if you are looking for a school that suits you and values your strengths, then just be yourself. I always assume that, if I don't get a job, it's probably because it wasn't a good fit for me. I'm confident in myself as an educator, but I'm not naive enough to think that I'm going to fit in at every school where I interview.

    I aim to be genuine, and I want to work with others who are genuine, not someone who pretends to be someone who they are not.
     
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  19. Been There

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    Truth be told, the term "right fit" tends to give me the heebie jeebies. The term should be restricted to clothing and not applied to people! My uneasy feeling that came on while reading the responses to this thread got me to thinking about the underlying dynamics of the interview process and possible insidious implications for our education system.

    First and foremost, having worked for over three decades in public education, I don't recall any Personnel Director/Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources possessing an HR degree. Without exception, these administrators typically rose up through the ranks starting in the classroom. This widespread practice can easily lead to myopic thinking and the same problems caused by inbreeding! So, it should be no surprise that the hiring practices, policies and perspectives that they promote are far different from what one might expect of their counterparts in the private sector.

    After numerous failed attempts to hire successful superintendents, many districts actually pay outside consultants to lead them through the process. Others pay tens of thousands of dollars for software programs that: a) tell them what to ask in interviews, b) score the results and c) offer recommendations for hiring teachers and administrators.

    Just for fun, I would sometimes "flip" the interview panel by conducting an informal evaluation of their interview questions. In addition to content knowledge, my scoresheet included areas such as: innovation, resourcefulness, humility, analytical proficiency and social skills. As you might have guessed, most panels received low marks from me!

    Consider those panels that "picked the ones who had talents that would help the team and who had let their personality show through". How does one assess a candidate's potential to relate well to the existing members on a given team (every team is different)? Do you really want someone is "like the rest of us", or would your team be better off with a new member with fresh perspectives and dare I say divergent viewpoints? Noteworthy individuals like Einstein, Jobs and President Trump would probably not be well received by interview panels in search of the "right fit".

    In sharp contrast to the self-limiting mindset described above, commonly found in education, I once read an interesting article describing a growing trend among some Silicon Valley companies to actively recruit individuals with autism. These progressive businesses recognize the value of hiring people who can think outside the box and provide new ideas to outperform the competition. They obviously place a high priority on innovation, resourcefulness and analytical proficiency and are less concerned about "fitting in".

    Don't you think that failing school districts would do well to emulate the effective practices of the private sector that repeatedly have produced positive results? Why continue to uphold that absurd definition of insanity? Where there's a will there's a way - and vice versa.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    No, I actually don't think that schools should emulate the hiring practices of businesses. I don't think you can compare Silicon Valley companies to education so easily. Working with technology and working with developing human beings require different skillsets.

    In regards to your question about how you assess that someone will fit in with a team, I tend to think of it as a gut feeling. If the team is present on the interview panel, they can collaboratively make that decision about who they will work well with. On the panel that I was most recently a part of, we were not looking for someone who was just like the rest of us. All of the people on my team are very different from one another, and we were looking for someone else who would be different. As we thought about who would be a good fit, we were looking for someone who was different but would complement the make-up of our team. We didn't want a duplicate of someone we already had, and we also didn't want someone who we just couldn't imagine working with. My teammate asked herself "What would this person bring to us that is new?" about every single person who we interviewed, and then she shared her thoughts with us. We declined the people who had strengths that were already present on our team.
     
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  21. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    When hiring someone for a job, it's undoubtedly all about finding the right fit! Case in point: a few weeks ago, one of our principals announced her retirement. Her position was posted for all current APs in our district (in-house applicants only). I believe 6-7 of us applied (no, I wasn't one of them). Although I was rooting for my colleague/friend who is one of the hardest working people I've ever met, I knew she wouldn't get the principalship for that particular school because she wouldn't be the right fit. The guy my principal and I both predicted would get the job got it (we talked about it long before they interviewed). He just happened to be the right fit for that school.
     
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  22. Been There

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    Hi Bella,
    I don't mind if you disagree with my comments. The important thing is that the process you use works for your school and you were able to find someone to strengthen your team. I'm just leery of depending on people's gut feelings to make important hiring decisions. What is your success rate?
     
  23. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Well, a gut feeling isn’t the only thing we use to make decisions. It works well as a tiebreaker though. As for success rate, I can say that my school has some of the best teachers whom I’ve ever worked with. When I first started there, it reminded me of how a lot of students who were top of their class in high school all go to the same university and experience a reality check when they realize that everyone was top of their class. It was that way at my school, only with top teachers. So, for my current school, I’d say that it works well, in general. Of course, there are always exceptions.
     
  24. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    While some may refer to the "right match" as a nebulous chemical reaction, I prefer to think that the successful candidate has effectively used specific strategies that even those on the interview panel may not aware of. Of course, knowing the subject matter, having some experience and being somewhat articulate are all necessary prerequisites, but I wouldn't leave anything to chance or gut feelings. Here are a couple of TED talks that may provide you with some insight that may be helpful. Click here to learn about the importance of communicating one's passion and purpose in an interview or here to see what one expert calls "faking it until you make it".
     
  25. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I guess it’s just a matter of different philosophies. I don’t ever want to be in a position of “faking it until I make it”. I’m very reflective and aware of my own strengths and weaknesses, and I make every attempt to genuinely portray this in interviews. I don’t want the people hiring me to think they’re getting one person and then ending up with someone else. I wouldn’t want that coming from the opposite side of the table either. I mean, I have strategies that I employ during interviews, but I’m still the real me. I’m an introvert, and I just don’t have it in me to put on a show with wit and humor simply to get a job. That’s why I would never go into sales. You have to be too phony for my level of comfort.
     
  26. MAteacher

    MAteacher Rookie

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    I completely understand your pain, I've been job searching after teaching for two years and I've only had one interview. The interview went really well and I felt great, except for the fact that one candidate the went before me had the whole team laughing loudly the whole time. I could hear them from my seat because the interview had gone over. I knew I wasn't going to get it then.

    Still I did the interview and it went great. I did a video lesson that I felt great about. In the end, I got rejected with a very sincere email that it basically came down to being the right fit and having different strengths.

    I personally agree with alot of what was said, I don't want to get hired based on something that is not me because thats what they'll expect and I feel like it'd just make it more difficult in the long run. I too like to be as genuine as possible in interviews. I also wouldn't want people on the interview team to play it up either, if I accepted a job that looks like a really great environment, but it was all show...I wouldn't be too happy.

    But, it's hard when you're facing the reality that you may not get a job at all and have to find something else.
     
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  27. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    It's one thing for you to proudly hang on to your personal values and set high standards for yourself and others. Many believe that their virtue of personal integrity is not negotiable. However, in such a competitive job market, I would take the low road and "fake it until I make it" for the purpose of achieving my ultimate goal which I worked extremely hard to reach with many sacrifices along the way. I would prefer to be the chosen one having successfully "fooled" the interview panel instead of going home for the nth time feeling deflated and depressed. At least, that would give me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher and reveal my true self with all my virtues intact. After all, many of the best teachers give outstanding "performances" for their students every day. Why should giving your performance of a lifetime in a high-stakes interview be any different? I guess it boils down to what's most important to you.

    You are not the only one here who strongly believes in being as genuine as possible in interviews. Do you seriously believe that you wouldn't be too happy if you got the job after putting on a good show? I wonder if people who are trying to enter into other professions are confronted with a similar dilemma in the interview room. Perhaps those that are willing to do what it takes to get the job, even if it means a bit of acting, are the ones who get hired. There's too much at stake to take the narrow attitude of "what you see is what you get".
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  28. RaiderFan87

    RaiderFan87 Rookie

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    I will always stay true to myself. I don't believe in the dog and pony show, nor will I ever fake it to make it. I expect the same from the people who are interviewing me. Be upfront about expectations, be clear about what my role will be, and don't sugarcoat things for me.

    I've never had a problem landing a job being my genuine self.
     
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  29. Been There

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    It just seems that using the highly ambiguous term "right fit", is a convenient way of not having to justify or explain the specific underlying reasons or biases involved in a hiring (or firing) decision. IMO, it's a catch-all term used whenever it may be inappropriate and sometimes even illegal to mention the actual reasons why someone was or wasn't hired. It also provides no clues to those who were not hired regarding areas needing improvement - most likely not easily changed (e.g. physical appearance, personality). Telling someone that they were or were not the right fit is code for "we liked you more" or "we didn't like you as much". In other words, you just happened to be the right fit = we liked you more.

    Our schools would be better off if they would focus more on the competencies of those that are hired (both teachers and administrators) and less on whether they would be a "good fit". How would you like to have major surgery performed at a hospital in which ultimate hiring decisions were made on the "good fit" principle rather than on the professional expertise of applicants? I'm done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  30. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Same here. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I have had more and better opportunities open up to me once I just started showing up to interviews with no more preparation than researching the school and reflecting on myself as an educator. Instead of guessing what questions I might be asked and having prepared answers for them, I would go into interviews ready to just talk conversationally, in a very genuine way, with the people interviewing me. This has led me down a path of having the privilege of making tough choices between multiple offers rather than being desperate and accepting of any offer I get. The one caveat here is that I was only able to do this after gaining some experience. Without experience, I'm not sure that I would have the background knowledge to confidently go into an interview unrehearsed.
     
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  31. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I don't entirely disagree with you here. I just don't see the problem with it. In any given school, there needs to be a culture where people bring different strengths to the table and work well together. Sometimes that does come down to who the interview team "liked better" based on personality. As I have stated before, I don't think that this should necessarily put a weak candidate over a stronger one, but I do think that it works well for a tie-breaker situation, when you are choosing between multiple strong candidates.

    I've never experienced anyone getting clues as to why they were not hired - from either side of the table. I have, though, been on an interview panel where we just flat out didn't want a candidate and the HR rep made us come up with appropriate reasons to justify it, just in case the candidate sued. They were all legitimate reasons, but none of them were the main reason that we didn't want to hire him. The main reason was that, personality-wise, he just wasn't going to fit in with our staff.
     
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  32. Kelster95

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    I was a more successful and less nervous candidate in interviews when I stopped being who I thought the panel wanted and was just myself.
     
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  33. NewSoCalTeacher2017

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    I appreciate all the advice. I'm just extremely frustrated because on multiple occasions I've been turned down because someone else was the "better match." I imagine I won't understand what that means until I'm on the other side, but right now it's a bitter pill to swallow. I won't be able to search for a teaching job much longer because I can't live on subbing and student loans are piling up. I want real feedback. Like what was it about the other candidate that made them a better fit? And what was it about my answers that doesn't make me a good fit. And why not just put it out there in the beginning? Why the whole song and dance?

    I'm so frustrated and getting more and more discouraged with each rejection.
     
  34. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    I agree with you. I am so over that phrase, "not the right fit" which is code for we liked you less. Not the right fit is way over used by principals.

    I am one of those candidates where I cannot truley be myself in an interview. If I am, I would not get hired. I am very awkward and odd, but I am a hard worker and I care for my students, but I need to get pass the interview to show them that once I get the job. Yes, I accepted an offer this summer, but that was after about 10 interviews and hours of practicing my answers and not sound akward. In a way I did have to "fake it until I made it" to receive my job. You are right.
     
  35. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    If interviews do not come easy to you, then do what I did. This is exactly how I received my job a week ago. I wrote down a bunch of questions that they asked and wrote down my EXACT answers how I would respond. Keep practicing over and over again with your responses out loud. I did this for about 2 months where I wouldn't ramble or become blank at all when they asked difficult questions.
     
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  36. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Yep, I have had that happen before where I can hear them having a grand ol time with the person they are interviewing before me. It's not a good feeling.
     
  37. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    What about your interviews has felt like a song and dance?

    Unfortunately for candidates like you, it's not in the interest of the school interview panel or administrator to give feedback to candidates. Their purpose is to find the best person to join their team, not to serve as support to candidates by offering each one feedback. There isn't any value in that for school, and it takes up time that they don't have. Feedback is something you are better off getting from a cooperating teacher, mentor, or someone else whose role is to help you hone your skills as an educator.
     
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  38. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think one of the reasons that you often won't hear why you didn't get selected is to reduce the likelihood of legal issues, at least from what I heard at some point.
     
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  39. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    . . . and I was most successful on multiple occasions when I purposely gave them everything I thought they wanted to hear and see with my own special twist! Had I not taken this approach I honestly don't think I ever would have been hired. Different strokes for different folks - there's no one secret formula. It helps to know one's audience.

    BTW, those who advocate for just being your genuine self and have experienced success by doing so, probably have their own natural "song and dance" - they may not even be aware of - that accounted for their success in interviews. However, not everyone is so gifted that they can just be themselves and that may be the reason that interviews are so difficult for them. Being themselves may actually serve to ensure that they remain jobless! It's quite possible - if you think about it before simply dismissing different perspectives, as some people are prone to do.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  40. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    When I was in the credential program, we had mock interviews in which we would give each other constructive feedback. Perhaps you can round up a bunch of aspiring teachers and/or teacher friends who wouldn't mind being a part of your mock interview panel. You can develop a list of standard questions that everyone can take turns answering. The more realistic the practice session (not just informal conversation), the more likely you will receive real feedback that you can use in your next interview. This would mean having a score sheet for each interviewee. Be sure that the role-playing includes walking into the room and introductions and parting words and behavior. (Snacks or maybe dinner may attract more participants!)
     
  41. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    You've compared the hiring practices in the world of education to hiring practices used in healthcare and throughout Silicon Valley. Not all professions are created equal; therefore, not all interview processes should operate parallel.

    I doubt we'll ever see eye to eye on this topic, but I value your opinion.
     
    Maryhf, RaiderFan87 and bella84 like this.

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