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
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.
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
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.
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