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Get a Teaching Job: Surviving a Group Interview

Janelle Cox

The trend in hiring teachers these days seems to conduct “group interviews,” where all the teachers you could be working with are in on the hiring process. This isn’t anything new, but for some reason school districts have started using them in their hiring process more frequently. What is the best way to prepare for these types of interviews when you are trying to get a teaching job, and how can you stand out?

Here we will answer these questions for potential teachers attempting to get a teaching job, plus tell you what to expect in this type of interview, and what employees are looking for in their candidates.

What is a Group Teaching Interview?

A group teaching interview is when classroom teachers are in on the hiring process of new teachers for their school district. Research has shown that when teachers are in on the hiring process, they not only find the best teacher for that position, but it also helps grow teacher leadership as well. Teachers are able to determine a candidate’s knowledge in a way that administrators can’t. Teachers hiring teachers can strengthen the hiring process, and who’s better to interview a second grade teacher then the teacher who they will be working with?

What Happens in a Group Teaching Interview?

Group interviews are a process. Candidates may be required to partake in several group interviews until the final candidates are narrowed down. One stage of the process may include candidates just sitting down in front of a committee for 15-20 minutes answering questions to help narrow down the candidate list. Questions are usually picked beforehand, and each member of the committee asks the candidate one question from the list.

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Once the list is narrowed down, the next stage may be a follow-up interview where candidates are probed on curriculum, best practices, how to differentiate learning, and so on. While during another stage, the committee may ask candidates to demonstrate their teaching skills. All of these stages will help the committee determine who is best suited for their school district.

What is the Teaching Committee Looking for in a Candidate?

Usually the hiring committee would include an administrator or two, and the classroom teachers that the potential employee would be working with. In this case each member of the committee would be looking for something different from the candidate. Administrators would be looking to see if the candidates’ personality and depth of knowledge would be a fit with their school district. While the classroom teachers would be looking to see if the candidate would be a good “fit” with their team.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare?

Prepare the same way you would if you were getting interviewed one on one. The only thing that you should prepare differently would be the questions that you ask the teachers. Here are a few questions to consider asking.

Potential Questions to Ask the Committee

  • What type of teaching style do you have?
  • How do you give support to a new teacher?
  • What do you look for in a new teacher joining your team?
  • How do you support each other when a problem arises with a student?
  • How do you collaborate with your team?

In addition to preparing questions for the committee, you should also perfect your teaching portfolio so that you can refer to it throughout the interview. Teaching portfolios are a great way to physically show what you are talking about. For example, during the interview you are asked “How do you incorporate technology into your lessons?” You can respond by showing them examples and pictures from your portfolio. Since there will be a panel of people on the committee it is also best to make enough copies of your resume and such so that each member can have one.

Learn all about the school that you are interviewing for. Research their school policies, classroom materials that they use, school discipline plan, etc. This will help you personalize your answers when the committee asks you specific questions about their school.

How Can You Stand Out?

The best way to stand out in a group interview is to be yourself. The committee is not only looking for someone who is a great teacher, but they are also looking for someone who will mesh well with their team. Be confident, straightforward, and ask a lot of questions. Refer to your portfolio and make eye contact with every member on the committee. Try to ask enough questions so that all of the members of the committee can answer at least one. This will show that you are good at interacting with your coworkers. When asking or answering questions try and incorporate each member’s name. For example, you can say “That’s a great question Marcy, I would differentiate learning by …”

Another way that you can prepare for an interview is to find something to wear that is professional, as well as memorable. People tend to remember others by their physical appearance, so try and wear something bright. If you really want to stand out, make a business card to leave with each member. On this card, have your picture with a link to your website where they can find additional information about you, and classroom examples.

Remember to be yourself and ask a lot of questions. You are interviewing them too! Follow this advice and your group teaching interview will be a positive experience.

What is your take on group teaching interviews? Do you have experience with them? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators