This summer I was privy to sit in on a couple of school based, school counselor interviews. Which can be atypical when you work in central office or when your school system subscribes to site based management. Now, I will confess that it has been a few years since the last time I sat in on any interview, but LAWD have mercy!!!! I was floored by some of the answers from want to be school counselors or school counselors who moved and want to be hired by another school district.
So, here are my tips of what NOT to do or say!!!!
1) Technology - When one of the interview questions had to do with the use of technology and the interviewee stated, "I'm not very good. I would take lessons and use my notes"...say what???
Today if you do not know or like technology you're doomed. All public schools use technology. Teacher grade books, parent portals, student information systems, Smart boards, response systems, career assessments, SharePoint, blogs, PowerPoint, Prezi, websites, email, dropbox...if you don't know what these things are...if you do not know how to use 90% of these programs you have shot yourself in the foot. The principal actually asked what student information system they were familiar with...he wanted to know the name of the system. That's huge. That tells me that administrators are tuned in.
2) Closing Gaps - Please! Please! Please! Know how to close gaps! Any answer that does not address this with an example is not acceptable.
You should know about gender gaps, racial gaps, socioeconomic gaps, and learning gaps due to special education services. You should know how and where to find them. You should have a plan on what you can do to help close them. You should know what the gaps means to the students...to the school...to the district.
3) RTI - Ok, so the answer to this was "I don't know". I was floored! My mouth just hung open! I was like..."Oh no they didn't just say that!"
If you do not know about Response to Intervention, Lord help you. You should know what it is, who it's for and the process to go about doing it.
4) Leadership - All principals are looking for a leader. Especially when you are interviewing for a department chair position. They want to know how you would react in a crisis? Are you afraid of confrontation? How would you handle an irate parent? Gossiping co-worker? Will you tell an administrator the problem first or would you try to handle it yourself and apprise him, but not looking for him to solve it. You get my drift?
5) Addressing the Elephant in the Room - SMDH!!! I sat in on an interview for an elementary position. The school has a high number of students of color, the majority of the students come from a low socioeconomic status and the school is Title 1. So the person who interviewed was a Caucasian female, who could not bring herself to say the words "African-American" children or "Latino" children or "poverty" or "free and reduced lunch"! REALLY? You want to work in a school with these variables but you cannot say the words....hmmmmm???? How can you help children when you are afraid to say the words that describe their circumstance, their race, etc.? These things are not going to magically change overnight. They are not bad words. They are not negative words. If you say them, it does not mean you are prejudice or a racist or a bigot. That is the reality of that school! If you are not comfortable addressing the elephant in the room, how are you going to be comfortable helping our children? Needless to say...she didn't get the job.
I hope my tips helped. I am unsure when I will be asked to assist in interviews in the future, but it was an eye opening experience for me.
Enjoy and remember these tips on your way to being extraordinary!