The interview process for any job never goes quite as smoothly in real life as it does in the movies. First, you time it out on Google Maps to make sure you arrive a few minutes early – but not too early, because you don’t want to seem too eager. Then, you wait for them to call your name, wondering all the while what they are going to ask and if you have food in your teeth. When you finally enter the interview room, they ask every question you skipped over in the planning process, and you just hope you make sense.
My interview process for my instructional coach job had some of these elements, but I used a few tips and tricks to help leave the best impression possible and make sure that my true potential was evident. Looking to make that transition from the classroom to instructional coaching? These tips will ease your mind and help you prepare when it is your turn.
Dress for success.
I had a college professor once tell me that you should always dress up as if you were interviewing for a role above the one you’re actually interviewing for. Save your trusty cardigan for another time and bust out a business suit! Lean into your teaching experience and leadership skills to show that you are ready and able.
As you are waiting to be called back, pick up materials that are available in the office to read.
This shows you are interested in the school and can provide you with talking points to use during the interview. Showing that you are already well-informed about the school leaves a lasting impression.
If you have an opportunity to work it into the conversation organically, share facts that you know about the school. For example, you might say “I see that you follow the Daily 5 in your school. I have experience with the Daily 5 and have found it to be beneficial in learning how to conference with readers.” I know I’ve personally received feedback that my knowledge of school initiatives was noted and appreciated in interviews.
Bring a list of what you can offer and outline how those things sets you apart.
The interview is your chance to shine and share what unique skills you have, so you’ll want to showcase how you would be an asset at the school. In taking the initiative to draft a list, I captivated the attention of my principal—so much so that she asked to keep the list at the end of the interview.
How you choose to outline your skills is up to you, but I used the space to make a list of different programs and trainings that I could offer to teachers in the school. I also listed online programs, parent communication tools, and the technological experience I’ve picked up over the years. I even shared ideas of events that I would like to bring to the school and described how I could help coordinate them. This shows that you are eager to work hard, make a difference.
Come armed with questions.
In every interview I have ever been in, I have been asked if I have any questions. Save pay and benefit questions for later. Use this time to ask about instruction. For an instructional coaching role, ask about the past experience teachers in the school have had with coaches, or what the principal’s idea of an ideal coaching experience would look like for their teachers.
Brace yourself for the waiting game… a.k.a everyone’s favorite part.
A few days after the interview, send a thank you note. Thank the principal for their time and include something fun you spoke about in the interview to remind them of who you are. Thank you letters add a special touch that is often forgotten.
Most importantly, be confident! You were hand-picked from a pile of resumes; you deserve to be sitting in that chair. Share your skills and experience. Remain humble, but do not dull your shine and passion. You’ve got this!
American College of Education has online degree programs for educators who are ready to take on instructional coaching or other leadership roles. Our online programs include M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Ed.D. in Leadership.