Applying and Interviewing

Learn more about applying and interviewing for jobs in a private school. Here we'll cover everything from cover letters to interview questions. Get tips on common application mistakes, how to ask good questions during your interview, and marketing yourself.
View the most popular articles in Applying and Interviewing:
Updated August 05, 2016 |
Are You the Right Person for Our Job?
For starters we won't know unless you present your application in the format and in the manner we specify.

In this article, I will assume the role of the school which is advertising a position. I want you to see and understand what goes on behind the scenes as applications come in online, via email or snail mail.  With that knowledge, I know that you will take the extra time and care necessary to submit the kind of application which will make the first cut. After all, you need to make it to the interview stage. Otherwise, all bets are off. I will present the school and its thinking. I will follow that with my editorial comments and advice.

The School: When we advertise a position, we expect to receive hundreds of applications and resumes. Some of these are from people whom we know; however, most of the applications are from people we do not know. Tell me now, why should I look at your resume? Here are some reasons why your application will go onto the "Review" pile.

1. You presented your application in the format which we specified.

School: Following instructions is a trait most employers value. As a result, a simple thing like following the instructions on how to apply for the job opening at our school speaks well of you. We use a standardized application form at our school in order to comply with all sorts of legal requirements. So, if you use something other than the form which we specify, your chances of making the first cut are fairly slim. While some schools will let you

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Updated June 30, 2016 |
Why Should I Hire You?
Let's think about the employment process from the point of view of your making me want to hire you. Here are some points to ponder.

Let's think about the employment process from the employer's point of view. The person who will interview you has a list of reasons why she might want to hire you. Your task is to convince her that she can safely check all the boxes and report to her superior that you are ideal for the opening. To make that happen, here are some points to ponder.

The premise

First of all, assume that I am the head of school at a private school in the suburbs of a major American city. Our school serves students in grades Prekindergarten through Post Graduate year. There are essentially three schools within our community: a lower, a middle and an upper school. We offer a fairly traditional college preparatory program in our high school. We currently have 16 Advanced Placement courses. 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; however, we expect our faculty to assist with sports which they have played or to coach a team where we do not have a professional coach.

Note: You should be able to discover all of this information from the school's website. It is relatively easy to discern the main features of the various programs at that source. Do this as part of your preparation for the interview. You will be able to ask better

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Updated October 19, 2016 |
Your Job Application: Making It Easy to Read
Making your job application easy to read will help your application make the first cut.

This is another article in a series which focuses on how to apply for private school employment. You are probably reading this, and thinking that applying for a job at a private school is just like applying for any other job.  In some respects you are right. The actual application process will be similar. However, the questions which you will have to answer will require in-depth responses. Also, you will have to supply three references which the school will call if you make it to the shortlist of candidates. Understand these differences and distinctions so that you can beat out the competition. Yes, private school teaching positions are very competitive in most areas of the country. 

When you apply for a private school teaching or administrative position, you will encounter several ways of presenting your personal data and information. If you are instructed to complete an online application or a downloadable application form, that resolves the issue of making your application easy to read. The school will have removed all those decisions from you and the other applicants. Here is an example of an online application used by a Chicago private school.

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, or where the school expects you to write short answers or essays, then the tough choices are yours to make. The guiding principle for any free form

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Updated May 25, 2016 |
Asking Good Questions
Asking good questions at your job interview will improve your chances. Conversely asking bad questions will damage them.
Every interviewer appreciates being asked questions. Just remember that you will be judged, as indeed you are being judged constantly, on the quality of questions you ask. So, what would be considered good questions in a private school job interview situation?

First of all, let's get the bad questions out of the way. That will help you focus on the good questions.

Bad 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.
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Updated March 21, 2016 |
Answering the Expected Questions
Be prepared for questions which you know will be part of any interview for a private school position.
Part of any private school interview process is answering questions which you know will be asked. Having said that, you need to prepare for your interviews with the same care and attention as you might give your lesson plans. Think through the entire interview. Imagine the questions being asked. Imagine your answers. Remember: not only does the content have to be the best it possibly can be but also the style and delivery which you use must present you in the best possible light.

Some of the more obvious questions include:
  • Why do you want to work at St. Swithin's?
  • Why do you want to leave St. Hilda's?
  • What is the most enjoyable part of your teaching day?
  • What books have you read lately?
  • When do you plan to finish your master's degree?

Regardless of what the actual questions are or the precise wording is, you must try to figure out why the interviewer is asking the question in the first place. Let's use the questions listed above to give you an idea of the sort of thing an interviewer might be looking for.

Why do you want to work at St. Swithin's?

This question or some variation of it generally is used by interviewers to determine what you know about the school. In other words, you need to have done your research about St. Swithin's, its philosophy, its mission and its accomplishments. The school's website is the place to start. Just about everything you might need or want to know is

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Jobs in Private Schools

APPLYING AND INTERVIEWING