Congratulations, you’ve obtained an interview for a position you really want. What’s next? Well, you obviously need to coach yourself thoroughly for the process ahead. In this article, we will discuss the three major do’s and don’ts of any interview process so that you will be ready to make an excellent first impression on any prospective employer.
1. Research the School or College
Being prepared for anything at an interview is perhaps the most important asset to exhibit other than your qualifications and educational background. To achieve this, you will have to research the school - thoroughly beforehand. Don’t just waltz into the interview room without knowing anything about its values, culture, and mission statement.
The establishment’s official website is a good place to start. Read up on its history and find out what they value most in their staff. Check their career site if they have one. In addition to this, it is always a good idea to search for some employee testimonials online and see what those who have worked or are working there currently have to say about the place.
By doing this, you will know more or less what to expect during the actual recruitment and selection process. Some schools and colleges are more relaxed and approachable, while others prefer to promote a conservative and elegant atmosphere. Knowing how to fit in from the get-go is crucial for the first impression you will make on the interviewer.
2. Highlight Your Skills
The entire point of a job interview from your end is selling your most relevant aptitudes and doing it well. Don’t be afraid to highlight your skills with examples of success, but be honest about your misgivings as well. To put a positive spin on this, always show that you have learned from your mistakes and furthered your education in the field with their help.
Practice your answers to the most common interview questions you might be confronted with, then expect to be thrown some curveballs nonetheless. Nowadays, deciding what type of kitchen utensil you would be and why is as important as knowing how to balance your strengths and weaknesses so that neither cancels each other out.
3. Dress Appropriately
What you choose to wear for your first interview says more about you than you’d think. In fact, according to Indeed.com, your outfit is the final touch that sets all your efforts into place. Needless to say, ill-fitting or revealing items of clothing are out of the question. Ladies, short and skin-tight dresses might work their magic in the club, but keep them in the closet for now.
Shorts or any other type of trousers above the ankle are out of the question as well, regardless of the temperature outside. Of course, some schools are open to the casual look, while other appreciate formal attire among candidates. To ensure that you are making the right call, find out more about the school dress code before attending the interview.
When in doubt, always choose the elegant route. Dressing in a presentable shirt and some neutral bottoms such as a minimalistic trousers or knee-length skirt is relaxed enough to ensure your comfort but doesn’t come across as too laid back either. It is the perfect middle ground in case of uncertainty.
1. Criticize Past Employers
Giving a diplomatic answer to the age-old question of why you left your previous place of work can be tricky for anyone, especially when there’s some bad blood involved. However, you should refrain from expressing overly critical or negative opinions on your former employers, as this will come across as irritating, whiny, and tiresome.
A simple answer expressing diverging views on teacher autonomy or the structure of the day or a similar working practice is more than enough to imply the lack of common grounds without making you sound ungrateful for the opportunity you were offered.
2. Over-inflate the Truth
As mentioned above, speaking about your aptitudes candidly and not being afraid to highlight your most relevant skills is always desirable during an interview. However, as you may already know by now, there is a fine line between selling yourself well and over-inflating the truth. Still, you should always remember not to lie.
Employers have ways of fact checking everything you tell the recruiter about yourself and your accomplishments. What is more, most of them automatically perform a routine background check after meeting with you for the first time. Why lower your chances of securing a position with dishonesty? You have nothing to gain from it in the long run.
3. Be Late or Early
Being late to an interview is a sure way towards failure, unless you have an incredibly good excuse. Even so, you should avoid it at all costs. The perfect time to arrive is 10 to 15 minutes early. Anything more than that will seem desperate, so if you happen to get there too early, it’s best to hang out nearby until the proper moment for your entrance comes. Remember to find out in advance if there is parking or public transport links. If you can’t organize yourself for such an outing, how can you be expected to also take 33 children?
If you can’t make it 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time, aim for at least five. Punctuality is a quality all schools and colleges value, so why not prove that you possess it? After all, this initial interview will dictate the entire course of your career with them, provided you ace it as expected.
Holding the necessary qualifications to fill a position is merely the first step towards securing a successful job. Before attending the interview, show interest and responsibility by researching the establishment. This includes its dress code, as you don’t want to wear the wrong clothes. Market your skills, but don’t lie about them, and always keep a positive attitude. Good luck!
About the author
Diana Howell is an HR Manager. She runs JobInterviewAdvice, a collection of job interview resources for career searchers. Diana graduated from MBA Managerial and Organizational Behavior, the University of Chicago.