You’ve scored the interview and you are prepping so what do you need to know?
1. Do your research
Different schools have different cultures and it can even vary within the district. Know what things are important to your school, and what isn’t. Is this a place that showing up in a suit for an interview is just going to fall flat or is this going to be important? Do your research and learn about events at the school, the population and whatever other info you can gather. Know the admin’s name if you know what school you are interviewing for. Most schools or at least districts, have a facebook or web page these days and chances are you can find out some awesome info on any of them.
2. Interview attire
As I mentioned in #1, interview attire might be different. If you are interviewing for an elementary music position, chances are, you aren’t going to want to show up in a suit unless the school seems to say that. What you do want is professional looking, clean, pressed (or at the bare minimum wrinkle free), and the ‘best’ of what you would wear to school on a normal basis. I always opt for ‘less trendy’ looking things that don’t have a clear “what year you bought them” look. They are there to dress you but shouldn’t be the most important thing in that interview. Even if the culture is jeans every day, don’t wear them. Make sure if you carry a bag or a folio it isn’t falling apart or over stuffed but looks neat. Keep your accessories to a minimum so they don’t interfere with someone’s attention over what you are saying.
3. Prep yourself for the ‘standard’ questions
- Where do you see yourself (in other words – this program) in 5 years/10 years
- Your strengths/weaknesses
- What do I need to know about you (I’ve been asked this question, and one thing I said was literally the ONLY thing my interviewer wrote down, and also why I got the job).
- Your classroom management plan/how you deal with issues
- Tech skills and what you are comfortable using
- Your ability to work with others
- Something difficult you overcame in a professional environment
- How you cultivate community
- Differentiation in the music classroom
4. Prep some questions for them
- Where any of you involved in music as a student?
- District/admin/community goals for 5-10 years
- Are there other duties associated with this position? (Such as RTI, lunch, bus, morning/afterschool care)
- Performance schedules
5. What to bring
I like to carry everything I’m brining in a really structured bag that looks like a cross between a purse and a tote bag. It doesn’t flop over on the floor when I pull out my portfolio, and it can hold a bunch.
- Copy of your resume or a more detailed CV
- Letters of recommendation
- Portfolio if you want to show off the awesome things you do. Even better if you can leave it with them, especially because in music classes, some of those awesome things might be sound bytes. (digital anyone?)
- A writing utensil that works.
- Necessities: a breath mint, sanitizer, a mask (because you don’t know the building protocols these days), lip balm/gloss/stick if that’s your thing, and the proper tools if you need to make sure your hair looks neat before you go in the building.
- Anything you need if you are teaching a sample lesson. (They’ll tell you!) But also, be prepped for a surprise question. What if they as you to teach a song to them?
- Phone on silent at bare minimum, off is better. If you have a digital watch like an Apple Watch, make sure all the notifications are on silent.
- Make sure you know what building you are going to. I did a second interview once in a building across town!
- If you are super verbose like me, test your answers for some of the standard questions and see how long they are. Try to reign it in.
- Send a thank you note. As in drop it in the mail on the way home from the interview so they get it tomorrow.
- Put everything in a positive light. No one wants to hear complaints in an interview.
I hope this is helpful and good luck!