First of all, let's assume that I am the head of school at a private school in the suburbs of a major American city. We serve students from Prekindergarten through Post Graduate year. We offer a fairly traditional college preparatory program in our high school. There are esentially three schools within our community: a lower, a middle and an upper school. While the academic programs have their own distinctive components, we share facilities and staff across the curriculum as needed. We offer an extensive range of clubs and extracurricular activities which are guided by our faculty. Our sports program is professionally directed but faculty are expected to assist with sports they have played or coach a team where we do not have a professional coach.
Now why should I hire you?
For starters we have received well over 150 applications for the position of English teacher in the high school. Was your application submitted on time? Was it submitted using the format which we specified? Does it have the names of three professional references which we can contact after we interview you? My administrative assistant will look for those things as we receive applications. Any applications which are missing required information will be put in a secondary group of applications. Meaning, we will review applications which are complete and select
Find Job Listings
The advantage jobseekers in the 21st century have over previous generations is without doubt the Web. The Internet allows you to learn about job openings immediately they are posted online. This also applies to teachers and administrators looking for employment in private schools. Most schools will at the very least have an Employment link on their sites. There may not be much on it at certain times of the year when there are no vacancies. But at least it's a link to which you can return from time to time to see what openings a school has. Job boards and agencies provide online listings as well. Bear in mind that there are peak times to the private school job search process. Typically November through February is the
time when your colleagues are out there looking as well. Schools generally like to have contracts for the next academic year signed and sealed by the beginning of March. As a result you will probably find the most online listings beginning in the fall. Are there exceptions? Of course, but they are just that: exceptions. Schools will always have unexpected openings. Teachers and administrators will occasionally find themselves in the midst of unexpected and unplanned for life events
On the other hand, if you are faced with a free form situation with little or no guidance from the school as to what to present, then the tough choices are yours to make. The guiding principle in any free form employment application is to make the best possible impression. You can do that by making sure your employment application is clear, perfect and tailored to suit the specific position for which you are applying.
Creating a clear, compelling resume sounds simple enough. Unfortunately most people do not craft a resume which presents them in the best possible light. The trick to writing a good resume is to write it knowing that somebody who has never met you and knows nothing about you is going to read it and make a judgement about whether to interview you or not. Second chances are unlikely. You need to get it right the first time.
Nowhere is clarity more important than in that small paragraph which most resumes caption as "Objective". This is where you state why you want the job
First of all, let's get the bad questions out of the way. That will help you focus on the good questions.
Never ask questions which impute anything negative about your present or former schools. The private school community is small. Everybody knows everybody. It just doesn't make sense to speak ill of colleagues, even though what you say may well be true. Any display of negative energy will be a potential red flag in your interview. Too many red flags will eliminate you from further consideration. A single red flag, no matter how minor or insignificant, could still be something your future employer might ask about when he checks your references. You certainly don't want to unleash a torrent of criticism from your old boss when he is asked why you disliked the faculty meal arrangements.
Do your homework carefully before asking any question which could even remotely be considered negative. That means you need to find that trusted friend or mentor who helped you with your interview attire and did some role-playing with you. Ask him those questions which you aren't sure about. See if they sound negative to him.
Avoid questions which are irrelevant to the position which you seek.