In the last few weeks, I have been holding interviews for a few positions within our grant. I also participate in our local counseling program's mock interviews for their graduate students. Being on the other side of the table isn't something elementary counselors often experience because we can be the only counselor in our building. I have learned so much in these interviews and here's my Top Five Tips:
Please, please, please don't wear a black business suit. Wear something that stands out a bit but still looks professional. Sometimes when interviewing several people in a row, I remember something about their appearance to help me separate candidates in my mind. I might say "the woman with the blue shirt," or "the guy with the striped tie." If you look exactly the same as every other candidate, you don't stand out. That said, don't go crazytown either. You can check out my pinterest board for interview outfits (guys too!).
Make a statement when you walk in the room. Greet each person and shake their hand. I was once interviewed by a panel of 10 people around a giant table and shaking hands would have been awkward but as the principal introduced each person, I smiled and said a hello to each one. I always bring copies of my resume just in case anyone needs one. I know exactly what it feels like to race into a meeting and realize you forgot the materials you need in your classroom.
When asked a question, answer specifically. Include details from your previous experience but always relate back to the job you are seeking. This is especially important if you are changing careers or even counseling levels. It's great that you worked with first generation college bound students but if you are applying for an elementary position, that won't be very relevant. However, collaborating with community resources to meet the needs of students and parents is. Also research the school where you will be working so that you can include that knowledge in your answers.
Not everyone will agree with me here but I say bring a portfolio. The best candidates have something to relate back to what they are speaking about. They can show you specific data from the academic intervention that they implemented, they can share pictures from the career day they planned, or they can show you student work that resulted from a student group on organization. In your portfolio: print in color, keep it short (15 pages max), and use examples that don't require close reading.
Send an email to each person in your interview. Share an example of the connection you made with them. It can be short but make it specific. If you have a website, include it in your signature line to make it easy for them to click and find out more about you. Every person in your interview is significant so email each one.
Job hunts are hard- hang in there! Need more tips - check out my best resume tips!
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