Wednesday, January 9

Interviewing With St. Johns County Schools - Part I - Before The Interview

Interview with St. Johns County schools
Truth be told, I am only in the process of getting materials together so that I might apply to teach or otherwise work in the St. Johns schools. However, in the process, I saw the interview advice given on the school district website, so I thought I'd pass that along to any of you looking to interview in St. Johns or anywhere else. The advice listed comes from a quick job interview guide published by another website, but I am certain interviewers in St. Johns know that future employees will be looking at the image (rather than reading the links on the page). Let's see if these will all work for me.

Before the Interview

1. "Dress and groom better than how you expect the interviewer to dress and groom." 
I just got done telling some ladies at a book club meeting about how my only suit is from a thrift store and that my tie is still one tied by my dad for me for my cousin's first (of three) wedding. Or my first job interview requiring a tie. Both happened around the year 2000. It's a decent suit and a nice tie. As far as grooming, I suppose I ought to take two showers? Comb my hair? Shave? most principals groom themselves in an appropriate manner, so it's hard to imagine out-grooming a principal. In fact, Grooming for Success is probably a class in the administrator curriculum. Still, I did lose a job to some totally lame teacher in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, just because I did not wear a suit. It's a fact, since my sister knew the principal...I won on every element except dress, which accounted for like 20% of the total, and I totally lost that one. It was probably because I'd been practice teaching alongside a teacher who wore a different Hawaiian shirt each day, but I'm not a blamer, so I fixed it and got the next job. And ladies, I have no idea. Probably not that hot little dress you wear out with your friends, even if you know it's going to be an all-male interview party. But I could be wrong.

2. "Research the industry, company, and job."
I guess the company is the school district, but that whole business model for public schools is confusing. The industry is education, if that's an industry. Maybe the job is education, or teaching. Most schools want super-teachers with multiple certifications, but I taught for twelve years, so I probably know how to navigate this one. The school district does use six or ten or twelve pillars of excellence, so you might want to pepper your interview with those, assuming the interviewers might recognize some of the key words from posters in the halls. 
3. "Be on time."
The little graphic says to arrive 5-10 minutes early, allowing for traffic. Around Jacksonville, that means leaving a half-hour before your navigation device says you should leave. Or just stay overnight in the parking lot, as long that does not affect your grooming.
4. "Relax. Be polite to the receptionist..."
I cannot imagine what inappropriate job interview waiting room behavior looks like. Do some people actually show up and act rudely to the people in the waiting room? If so, then those people probably will show their true colors in the actual interview. 
5. "Turn off your cell phone."
Again, it's funny that it needs to be mentioned, but I bet this one has happened. I was in a meeting with a client recently when I got a spam phone call. That's silly, but it's acceptable given the situation. Just silence it and leave it in your briefcase (that you only use for job interviews). 
6. "Shake hands firmly and maintain good eye contact."
Make sure you read the snippet underneath this one. The firm handshake and eye contact could be taken as just during the initial handshake, in which case you might look like some kind of intimidation psycho. Maintain eye contact when people are speaking to you (or you to them), not just to stare at them when you offer your death-grip handshake. The advice also says to avoid staring. Just a few weeks ago, our family had a waiter with one eye that always seemed to look at you when he was talking to someone else; I do not know what the advice is if that's the case for you. In general, look around a little. Teaching jobs generally have two or more interviewers, probably because of how much pay you'll be getting.
7. "Act interested and alert."
Once again, it's amazing this needs to be advice. Presumably, some people are totally bored during a job interview, like when the principal starts telling you about how highly-ranked the school is or something. Or the history of the city. I like the word "act" here. It implies interviewees are neither interested nor alert, but just be sure to fool them.  

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