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:
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Making It Accurate and Truthful
You must not fudge the facts on your private school employment application. Tell the truth. Put a positive spin on any potentially negative areas. More here.
An employment application is no place for half-truths. You have to understand that private schools have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. They cannot afford to hire somebody who might jeopardize the school's reputation or, worse yet, cause harm to students. That is why it is so important to answer all the questions on an employment application truthfully.
 
Background Checks
 
Most private schools will use a service to do background checks on any potential new hires. They will not run the background check until they have interviewed you because background checks are expensive. That's another reason why you need to be truthful about anything in your resume which will arouse probing questions and nix your chances of even being interviewed. Here is what is involved in a background check.
What the background check really examines is your criminal and credit history. If you were charged with a criminal offence or have bad credit, that will show on your background check. Take the offensive and point out that your credit was destroyed by huge medical bills as a result of your mother suffering from Alzheimer's. Don't be creative. Just tell the truth.
 
Expect a drug test at some point in the hiring process. Since views about pot and even alcohol vary widely from one part of the country to another, make sure those tests come out clean. If you have been prescribed a controlled substance which will show up in a drug test, mention it proactively and file a
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Job Search: Matching Your Qualifications
Matching your qualifications with what the school is looking for is one of the most important parts of the job process. Get it wrong and you might miss getting an interview.

Finding a private high school teaching position is similar to finding any other job with specific requirements for experience and education. The difference lies in the fact that most private schools will expect you to be an active member of their school community. Put another way it is not enough simply to teach your subject and go home. You will be expected to be a leader in the school community. Your willingness to be involved in an extracurricular activity and an athletic activity is a job requirement for private school teachers.

It sounds simple enough, but one of the most important things you must do when looking for a teaching job is to make sure your qualifications match the requirements of the position being offered. If you don't make that crystal clear in your resume and cover letter, you might not even make the first cut when your application is opened and reviewed.

Let's look at a typical job posting and review how it should be handled. This is a real job posting. The name of the school has been changed to protect its identity. 

Upper School Mathematics Teacher beginning Fall 2016

Job Responsibilities

St Swithins seeks an energetic and committed Mathematics teacher for grades 9 - 12 to teach a range of courses in a comprehensive curriculum offering Algebra I through Calculus. This is a full-time, benefited faculty position.

Qualities of a successful candidate will include:

* Ability to inspire students' love of learning
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What To Wear at Your Job Interview
First impressions are lasting impressions. What you wear at an interview for a teaching job is important. Almost as important as your qualifications and credentials.

It's tough enough getting an interview in the first place. So, why destroy your chances by turning up in the wrong attire? Because you are applying for a teaching position in a private school, you must be particularly aware of how you dress. Why is how you look important? The first impression any interviewer has of you is a lasting one. This snapshot of you must convey a positive image of who you are as well as the value which you bring to the situation. Indeed, many hiring decisions are made subconsciously as soon as the interviewer looks at you. The following short video illustrates my point.

Because the job market is highly competitive, your primary goal is to have the first interview go so well that you make the short list for second interviews. The way in which you dress is one part of the picture your future employer will have. Make sure that you create the very best impression possible.

Dress to the level of the job environment.

Teachers are exemplars to the young people they teach. The way you dress sets an example, just as your speech patterns do. It is always sensible to dress conservatively when you interview for a teaching position. Nor does it matter what that position is. Whether you are applying for the Spanish teacher position or the Robotics teacher position, you must present yourself as a professional brimming with ideas and value who will make employers immediately think "Ah!

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5 Common Employment Application Mistakes
Submit your employment application the way a Swiss watch craftsman builds a watch. With precision and accuracy.
A couple of common mistakes will quickly move your employment application to the bottom of the pile. You may think that yours is the only application for that math teacher position at Shady Grove Country Day School. Unfortunately, in these very tough economic times, your application will be one of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of applications for that coveted teaching job.

Think about how an administrator determines who should get interviewed. She's advertised the position in all the usual places. Every business day she receives dozens of envelopes from applicants. Why should your application go on the stack of applications marked 'interview' instead of the one marked 'reject'? Because when she scans your application, she sees most of what she is looking for. Remember: she's a very busy person. A lot is riding on her choosing the best candidate for the position which she has to fill.
 
Depending on how hands-on a person she is, she may delegate the initial scanning process to an assistant. Assistants can be very diligent and do things exactly as their boss specifies. Or perhaps not. For all these reasons that's why you need to avoid the following common errors.

1. Poor Initial Impression
Never fold your cover letter or letter of interest and the required supporting documents.  Always insert unfolded materials into a manilla envelope. Use a paper clip to keep documents together. No stapling please. On the bottom of your pile of documents put a piece of cardboard 8.5" x 11
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How to Write a Cover Letter
When you apply for a position at a private school, you need to use a slightly different approach than you would use if you were applying for a sales job somewhere.
Applying for a job at a private school is a little different from posting your resume on Monster.com as you would do if you were seeking a position in the business world. One of the things which is different is the presentation of your application materials.

Here are a couple of examples of the conservative, old-fashioned approach to applying for a job most private schools still use.

From Andover:

Director, Mathematics and Science for Minority Students or (MS)2

Applicants should send a cover letter, resume, transcript and two letters of reference.

From Hotchkiss:

Candidates for all faculty positions should send a letter of interest, resume, list of three references, and academic transcripts
 
Preparing the Cover Letter
 
The cover letter or letter of interest is always one page in length. It must be crafted carefully and free of typos.  Follow these guidelines:
  • Use a plain white paper. This does not have to be a fancy vellum or parchment type of paper.
  • Center your letter perfectly on the page.
  • The letter is typed using Microsoft Word or similar program.
  • Use a plain font such as Arial.
  • The font size should be 12 points.
  • Print the final copy using a laser printer as laser jet ink smudges.
  • Use the address indicated on the school's employment page.
  • Create a customized cover letter for each position applied for.
  • Put the cover letter and your documentation in a large envelope so that you do not have to fold the materials.
Here's an example
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APPLYING AND INTERVIEWING