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 February 11, 2017 |
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 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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Updated May 26, 2016 |
Staying Positive While Unemployed
Staying positive while being unemployed is never easy. But it is a critical part of the process.
If you are one of the thousands of teachers who have been let go because of budget cuts, you are probably looking for another teaching job. Teaching is what you know. Teaching is what you love. After all, you sacrificed greatly to earn your degree. You could have gone into another profession or into business and made much more money. But your idealism and sense of service to your nation's future got the better of you. You became a teacher.
 
Unfortunately finding a new teaching position can be a very unsettling experience. Nothing is the same as it used to be. Years ago you became a teacher, went through a probationary period of several years then were granted tenure, generous benefits and a pension.
 
Then the economic meltdown of 2009 hit. And hit hard. School districts came to grips with budgets slashed deeply because of declining tax revenues. Suddenly thousands of teaching jobs were eliminated. Your job was one of them. It is a phenomenon which has struck just about everywhere. What is even worse is that the teaching jobs which are available often don't come with the kind of generous benefits and tenure which we all had grown accustomed to. That's pretty much a thing of the past in most parts of the country.
 
Use the following video and ones like it to begin to refine your interviewing techniques. You have to have the competitive edge even when interviewing for a teaching job.

The irony is that
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Updated June 06, 2017 |
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.
 
This video explains 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 offense 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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Jobs in Private Schools

APPLYING AND INTERVIEWING