"You're a great candidate, but we went with someone else."

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NewSoCalTeacher2017, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2017

    Hi everyone!

    I'm hoping to get some advice or encouragement here. I'm recently credentialed and am having such a hard time getting interviews. The two that I have gotten have gone well, but I got the same rejection message each time. "We all thought you were a great candidate, but we decided to go with someone else. Good luck with your job search." When I speak to someone who was on the panel, I'm not getting any feedback that would make me a stronger candidate and I'm at a loss. I'm thinking that it might be more of a "fit" issue with me blending in with the campus. I just find myself frustrated because I don't want to try to be someone I'm not, but I find that I'm not getting any constructive criticism and just don't know what to think or do anymore. What's adding to my frustration is that I can't seem to get passed the initial screening process for most other districts, even to be a sub. My experience in education and working in classrooms isn't limited either.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
     
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  3. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Aug 22, 2017

    Hi NewSoCal,

    It can be really frustrating to get this kind of feedback. I know you may get some comments from teachers who will say that the feedback is disingenuous or that it is a sign of nepotism and that may be true to a degree, but you only have control over yourself so I would say if you are serious about your job hunt (which you sound to be) the best thing you can do is focus on you.

    First, I'd say that there are 2 possibilities. One is that they have a specific reason they don't want to hire you and just don't want to give specific feedback because they do not think it will be well received. The other is that they genuinely think you are a good candidate, but someone else was better.

    In that context, I think it is important to recognize that as a society we are not great at providing growth oriented feedback. Administrators are no different. In my experience to get feedback, even from others in education who know you really well, you have to ask very specific questions, so I think is likely that you will never get feedback that is super helpful during your job hunt.

    Do you have anyone in education from whom you can ask for honest feedback? There may be something about how you interview or something your references are saying or one characteristic that you are displaying that leads you to being not quite the best.

    I would also look at the qualities your state is looking for in teachers and really think about where you can grow. This isn't to say you are not great right now but we all always can grow. I know several teachers who keep getting turned down and it is obvious to everyone around them why but they do not see it. It takes a lot of bravery to tell someone where their blind spot is when they don't ever ask specifically for feedback. You mentioned that you wonder about "fit". What about "fit"? Do you have an idea about what your road block might be? That would be a great starting point for getting feedback from someone who knows you.

    Good luck with the job hunt.
     
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  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I know my school didn't hire an acquaintance of mine for this upcoming school year. When I asked why, my principal told me she was qualified on paper, but her particular strengths didn't balance out with the people already on staff. I wasn't happy, but I understood.
     
  6. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Many people on here have heard those same words...it's frustrating, but use it as motivation. I know I was very cynical about it last year before I found my job in late August...so I took it as a challenge to be better across the board.

    Good luck to you in the search.
     
  7. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 23, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  8. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2017

    That's a great idea! I can't believe it didn't cross my mind before. I am in regular contact with a principal I worked with when I was a classroom aide. Hopefully when the beginning of the school year calms down she can find time to give me some honest feedback hopefully after a mock interview.

    In terms of fit, I've been asked how I would describe myself. I answer the question honestly and say that I am an introverted person. I'm a sociable person and get along with people but I need time to warm up to people and I wonder if this comes across as a bad trait. I don't lead with this but I do want it known because I've been told many times throughout my life that I come across as rude or closed off at first and I don't want that to be the first impression I make to future co-workers.
     
  9. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    For me, I just wish they would tell me that in their feedback. I can understand the rejection more if I'm told my abilities aren't a good match with the school's goals or faculty. Then I might not second guess my responses so much. I hope your friend finds something soon!
     
  10. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Was there anything in particular that you think helped you become a stronger candidate?
     
  11. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    I do find it comforting to know I'm not alone in this process. I'm keeping my hopes up and looking forward to subbing.
     
  12. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    I reworked my resume and practiced interviewing with school personnel I knew. I also added more diverse experience to my resume. I'm super competitive, and it has helped me get one teaching job, and I'm in the final 3 for another one right now.
     
  13. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    I went through this for years in MA where the number of candidates greatly outnumbers the number of open positions. Like someone else mentioned, nepotism is a likely cause. One school I worked at knew who they were going to hire before any interviews. But they have to have interviews to seem impartial. It's not the most helpful response, but I feel like luck has a lot to do with it. I felt like I nailed interviews before and never got a call back. I felt like I just got lucky when I was offered my current position because I thought I blew the 1st interview. The principal said there were 174 applications submitted.

    Interviewers do not need to tell you you are a great candidate- they could just not bother calling you back at all. So if they are telling you this, you probably are a great candidate. The more frequently you get this feedback, the closer you probably are to an offer. If you just got your credentials remember there are a lot of candidates with more experience which is a big factor for principals because parents like experience. I found subbing to be a great in. Even consider positions you're not crazy about. I taught preK for two years even though I liked older elementary much better, but nobody wanted to teach preK so it was easier to get offered. I would not recommend taking a para position though. In MA so many schools take advantage of the number of newly credentialed teachers with no lead teacher experience. It doesn't benefit the school to move them into teaching positions after a year or two because they basically have two teachers for the price of one. I know many friends who are still stuck as paras because they've put so many years into one school district they won't get moved in and are not being considered in other districts because para experience is not teaching experience.

    You could always inquire at the end of an interview when they ask if you have any questions: "Do you think I would fit the grade level (or staff) well?" "Is there anything I can clarify about my teaching abilities?" Pretty much questions that require the interviewer to give you a sense of their perception of you.
     
  14. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2017

    Hi Again,

    So for what it's worth, here is my 2 cents about your comments on "fit." Being introverted and being "rude" or "closed off" are in my view two different things. I know teachers who are introverted and super wonderful listeners and really warm and others who are introverted and come across as rude, so as I said before, we all have things to work on. If you do think you sometimes are interpreted as "rude" or "closed off" I would consider reflecting on how to work on this. Again, it isn't to say you aren't already great but there are certain things that if an interview team senses in an interview or a reference says in a check that are basically an immediate write off and I would say in my District anyone who comes across as rude towards colleagues/ peers wouldn't be hired. I would say the key thing is that this is something you totally can get better at. You may always be introverted but you can work on that first impression/ getting to know you stage so you come across as quiet but warm.

    I also think there is a difference between being honest and highlighting your weaknesses. If you are asked to describe yourself I would consider doing one of two things. Either figure out how being introverted in a strength (and actually there is lots of evidence that suggests that being introverted can be good both in teaching and in leading) or focus on the other stuff you said about being social and collaborative. I wouldn't focus on your weaknesses when asked to describe yourself. If they specifically ask about weaknesses, that requires a different type of prep - but I don't gather that's what is coming up in your interviews.

    Always__Learning
     
  15. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Never be taken as rude. No one wants to work with that.

    This is what comes with trying to bust into the field. It's like Hollywood casting. You walk in, there are 10 waiting room seats already filled with 10 identical people wanting the same job. That's not even counting the 5 who are standing up, the 20 who are out in the hallway, and the 200 outside waiting in the heat because they weren't even invited.

    Add certs like ESL, SPED, Bilingual, Science, coaching, etc to check more boxes.
     
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  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    This could be your issue. If you aren't coming across as warm, open and excited/motivated, you are not going to be perceived as a good fit regardless of your resume. Can you 'fake it'?
     
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  17. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I can certainly understand not being able to move if you have no money/job.

    Personally, i think it would take 2 hiring cycles before I'd decide to move.
     
  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  19. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  20. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Whenever I've been told this, it's because they've hired someone with more seniority.
     
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  21. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    So you've been given a critique by your friends who it was probably more difficult to say than a stranger and you have ignored it. What would be different if that same advice was delivered by a stranger?

    I would contact the Ed Leadership department and see if they have their grad students do practice interviews. If not, maybe an adunct who is a school leader does them.

    I would avoid generic ones from the campus jobs office.
     
  22. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  23. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    They told you to tone it down because you're too much and you felt like that was causing you to not be selected as you come across as inflexible. That implies you are not toning it down no?
     
  24. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  25. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    [QUOTE="NewSoCalTeacher2017,
    • I'm hoping to get some advice or encouragement here.
    • having such a hard time getting interviews.
    • I got the same rejection message each time. [/QUOTE]
    Hello NewSoCal: Unfortunately, first impressions are sometimes key. Because everyone who walks through the door has a Masters degree.

    My question is, 'WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?' It may seem like an insignificant thing, compared to qualifications, experience, and education, but I think WHAT YOU WEAR can present you in a more positive light.

    When you walk through the door, the first thing that SPEAKS is "how you look" (which includes your demeanor :), so smile).
    Even if the interviewer is unaware of it, they have made a SUBCONSCIOUS judgement about you before you even sit down in the chair. It's like telepathic communication.
    --Use this to your advantage!

    You may need to find-out something about the school culture before interviewing with them. Schools are different, have different values, and you would want to fit-in with their model.
    Good luck

     
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  26. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Something I want to throw out there (and maybe you're already doing), but when ever I've had to go on interviews I will spend a good deal of time getting to know the school:

    - I go through their web-site and read everything I can about their school, download newsletters to see what they have going on, etc. From there I've pulled their teaching philosophy, what they are doing their classrooms, what kind of technology they are using. I gear myself towards what they are already doing (honestly - I don't pretend to be a fake I'm just like you kind of deal).

    - I find everything that I can about how the school is growing and changing - diversity, new technology in classrooms, new programs they have brought into the classrooms, new classroom management, anything to show that I can help them grow as a school.

    - I also suggest (because this is what earned me my second job) that you talk to different supervisors in your subject. I was blessed with a science curriculum mentor the year that I was laid off. Before interviewing, I asked to talk with her about what I should say or suggest during an interview and she had amazing ideas. The principal who hired me for my second job said she was really impressed with how I spoke about all of the things she wanted for the science curriculum. While you probably can't directly email the supervisors at the school you're interviewing (well maybe you can if you're brave :) ), you can join professional groups via online and contact supervisors through there.

    I hope this helps!
     
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  27. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    This might be a little off topic but something else I wanted to add to extend my thinking was that I wasn't actually meaning to suggest that candidates should just figure out how to address our weaknesses in interviews, but as a whole person. So, if NewSoCal is being perceived as rude or standoffish in interviews, there is a good chance that this will also surface once they get through the interview into a first job with their interactions with colleagues and in terms of how others will characterize them in future reference checks. In my experience, the character traits people have a hard time hiding in interviews show up in full force once they are in the job and this can have a bigger impact on their career. So, yes practice interviewing skills but also think about how to work on the skill throughout one's life.

    Leaborb, one great tip regarding intensity that I'll share (and you can choose to embrace it or reject it) is that if we think of having conversations in green, yellow and red zones, when we are in an interview, we want to be in a green zone - we want to present a version of ourselves that makes everyone in the room comfortable. When we are trying to talk about something tough, we want to be in yellow - if we are trying to learn from others/ grow/ change our own perspectives it should be a bit uncomfortable. But if we get into the red zone - excited, agitated, etc - positive or negative - but overly energetic - we are being unproductive both for ourselves and for the person with whom we are conversing and we need to take a break from the conversation. I use this scale a lot. It helps me gauge when a conversation is productive and when it has enervated the unproductive stage.
     
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  28. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I like it. My feelings wheel is now set on thoughtful. I use the feelings wheel as a deflecting joke but I actually really like your discussion framing.
     
  29. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  30. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Leaborb,

    Again, for what it's worth, to take or leave, if you are finding you can't "catch yourself" when you are going into red "in the moment", I'd recommend mindfulness. Specifically the Mindful Schools courses (you can Google them). I have no affiliation but I've taken their Fundamentals, Communications and Emotion courses (3 courses, each about 125$ I think?) and they are awesome. I am a horrible mindful practitioner. I tell you that not to be self deprecating but to point out that it is doing it (rather than being a rock star) that is important. What I've found since I've started is I am much more likely to notice how I'm feeling, how I'm reacting and how I'm impacting others since I started practicing mindfulness.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
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  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    This was my original post. I merely point that I wasn't coming off as flexible in interviews and then my friends (and others) told me to turn it down. Since the advice, yeah, I've tried to be more calm and humble... actually pause and think about answers before I start talking. I try to think of my one friend who is very calm and passive and channel her when I interview. It's just hard because I get excitable, but I'm not as obnoxious as I used to be in interviews. I merely suggested that the poster get mock interview feedback as well.[/QUOTE]
    Did toning it down help you be more successful in your interviews in terms of getting offers?
     
  32. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  33. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    It it's two interviews, I wouldn't assume anything. It definitely could be that they simply found someone they went with (which doesn't mean even they thought that person was necessarily, "better". Be grateful for the practice. And get feedback from mock interviews, as someone suggested -- if I were advising a school is tell them never to give interview feedback. All it does is open then to legal liability if they in any way imply it was for a prohibited reason.
     

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