Job Interviews Tips amid COVID-19 (for ZOOM)

Hi teacher friends!

It’s me and I’m back with a blog post after a reeeeeeally long blogging hiatus. I finished up my last semester of graduate school and moved back home to California. My family traveled to the states to spend Christmas and I had a good few months off. When I was dropping them off at the airport in February, I got interviewed by the local news about my thoughts on Coronavirus! I expressed my worries because my baby cousins and grandparents were traveling, but looking back I feel a little silly. Little did I know what was to come…

I was planning on starting to sub in March or so to get a few months of classroom experience under my belt before interviewing for full-time positions for the coming 2020-2021 school year. However, school closures made that almost impossible. I heard a lot of complaints from members of my cohort that their credentials weren’t coming through and they were having a lot of trouble interviewing through Zoom and Skype. I’ve been lucky to have been offered a position that I’m very much looking forward to despite the uncertainty facing me as a first-year teacher in this climate. Below are the realizations I had while interviewing for jobs.

1. Have an action plan

Did your credential clear? Do you have any holds and or paperwork that you need to complete? Call and email the necessary people to clear your way across all the red-tape. It’ll make you feel way better when you don’t have this to worry about. (TIP: Most education schools have an office just for credentialing. Call that office and get a point of contact if you don’t have one already)

2. Have a few virtual lessons and/or videos up your sleeve

With interviews being online, most schools are asking for one or more of the following: a lesson plan + a video of you teaching it or for you to teach it while on Zoom. It’s SO weird trying to teach a group of admin that you just met while you’re worried about the internet being slow and audio crackling. Prepare a video of yourself teaching and ask to send it beforehand so the interviewers have an idea of your teaching style before having to do it live. It’s much better to be able to edit and have multiple takes! Also, if you took the edTPA already, you should already have some videos that you can ask to send beforehand

3. Tailor your resume

If you think about it, since we don’t have to travel to the school sites or district offices to interview, you have a little bit more time! Use it to trim and clean up your resume to each school you are applying to and make sure it is appropriate for the grade level you are applying for. Know more about the school site and do more research. It’s worth it and your effort will show.

4. Be MORE prepared

Usually, for in-person interviews, you have a panel of interviewers. For Zoom interviews, the panel might be EVEN bigger and nerve-wracking. You’ll get asked questions from higher-ups that you weren’t expecting (at least I wasn’t). You may have to role play, so be prepared for that. The questions are pretty predictable but the range is wider as the interview may be longer. Check out my upcoming blog post for sample interview questions. I’ll link it HERE once finished.

5. Do a dry run

A couple of hours before you go live, or maybe even just when you have time during the week before, do a dry run. Make sure your audio works. It’s a good idea to use earphones as the mic is much crisper. Make sure your background is tidy and bright. Don’t look like you’re in a cave with only the glow of your laptop to light your face. Know where to look to have a natural gaze. Don’t be looking around, up, or down… it’s just a little weird-looking. Have a glass of water nearby (or iced coffee if you’re like me) to make sure your voice doesn’t get raspy. Have a paper and pen nearby for notes! I know you can type, but it looks kind of weird if your eyes are moving. If you’re not wearing your interview slacks/skirt, make sure the frame doesn’t catch your sweatpants. With virtual interviews, I’ve found that people dress more casual than business casual but still look professional! I wore a blue button-up and slacks. Remember that the interviewers are deciding to hire you without seeing your bottom half. Try to assuage their concerns the best you can.

6. Apply to a lot of school sites. Branch out from your preferences.

With the situation being so uncertain. School districts may decide to not hire as many new teachers. Even if you only want to teach Biology, branch out to Chemistry and more. Even if you prefer teaching high school, think about teaching middle!

7. DON’T be late

Keep your scheduling organized. Don’t schedule interviews on the same day and keep track of the times well. Don’t be over 1 minute late and try to blame your internet connection!

8. Smile and nod

I don’t like phone or video interviews because people can’t read each other’s eyes or bodily cues. To mitigate the effects of this, don’t just blankly stare. When someone is talking to you, smile and nod. Remember that you’re muted when not speaking, so your voice can’t be heard. To go along with this. Be sure to unmute when it’s your turn to speak and avoid the awkwardness of “oops, you’re muted.”

9. Attend PDs and/or get some experience with online teaching

A huge issue at hand is how teachers are adjusting to teaching online. My program was mostly online and I had been tutoring distantly for a while so I had that to speak about during my interview. There are a ton of free webinars about online teaching and this will be a huge plus and topic of conversation during your interview. THIS is a great resource from National Geographic.

10. Stay professional

Even though your interview is different and can feel super awkward or informal, it’s still an interview. Try to make the right impression. Don’t be texting or online shopping. Also, don’t private message the other interviewees weird stuff! You never know if the whole thing is being recorded

I think those are all of my tips for now! If I remember any more, I’ll go back and edit. If you have any of your own tips, please leave them in the comments and as usual, please feel free to send me an email at PeachClassroom@gmail.com. I hope this helps and let’s hustle to get jobs and get ready for Fall 2020!

Best,
Linda

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