Hundreds of aspiring, beginning, and RIF’d teachers attended a local teacher job fair. There was a line of teachers that streched around the block to enter this job fair. It was record attendance! “Hiring” principals were ready to greet each perspective candidate and then rank them on a predetermined scale. The scale is different for each principal, but its basically from the low end of do not to call back this candidate to, as one principal said, candidate “walks on water” and must be called to interview.
I listened to several principals talk about their experiences at this job fair. Some were funny and some were scary. Each principal had their own approach when interacting with each prospective candidate. One principals said he listens to candidates, only asking a few questions here and there. Another principal said she asks the prospective candidates interview questions. Her favorite questions was, “What is your ideal classroom?” She said that many of the candidates would be stumped and just say “ummmmm.”
How do you think these candidates were ranked?
I solicited advice from the principals on what candidates should do to help improve their chances of being called back on an interview.
Remember your manners and how to properly greet someone. When you (the teacher candidate) approach a hiring principal at a job fair be sure to shake their hand, introduce yourself, and make eye contact. From the start you need to establish a personal connection with the principal. Next, ask the principal if they would like a copy of your resume. A principal told me that too many candidates would come up, not introduce themselves, and hand them their resume without asking. This is a no-no. Start off your interaction on the right foot.
Do Your Homework
When you get notice of an upcoming teacher job fair do some basic homework. Make a list of school districts and schools that interest you. Then, do research on the schools (see my book for research strategies/tips). Copy down your notes and review them right before you speak with the principal from that respective school. This demonstrates to the hiring principal at the job fair that you have a strong interest in their school and you are familiar with it. This will set you apart from other candidates, improving your ranking. Also, it will give you some conversation material when it’s your turn to talk.
Another tip the principals told me was that job candidates should come to the fair with their resumes and, if possible, a few letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation give the prinicpal greater insight into who you are.