By Anna L. Malone
As a graduate assistant, one of my roles is organizing mock interviews for student teacher candidates, a valuable task that increases confidence in interviewing skills (Hudak et al., 2019). Each semester, we invite local teachers and administrators to campus to serve as the interview panel and provide critical feedback to the upcoming graduates.
However, when COVID-19 caused classes to transition online in spring 2020, we had to shift the interviews to a virtual format, which proves a unique challenge in comparison to in-person interviews. Having organized and observed the mock interviews, I want to offer advice on how you can make a great impression in a virtual interview.
1. Research your responses.
Preparation is key to a successful interview, and you can harness the collective knowledge of the Internet. Look up interview questions for educators, which will yield thousands of results. Look for common themes, such as content knowledge, classroom management, and teaching philosophy (LaJevic, 2019).
Additionally, be sure to research the school by going to their website. Take note of any current events, such as an after-school STEM club, to incorporate into your interview responses. Showing your research will highlight your professionalism and attention to detail.
2. Consider your appearance.
Your clothing choices are as important in a virtual setting as they are with in-person interviews (Powers, 2010), but you should also consider what message your background conveys.
Choose a room that is orderly, well-lit, and quiet to ensure that the interview panel can focus clearly on you instead of extraneous noise or the scene behind you. Let others in your household know when the interview is happening to avoid nterruptions.
Also consider the placement of your device. Make sure the camera is positioned to display you from the shoulders up, with your whole face visible, and at an appropriate angle and distance.
3. Test your technology.
Access to functional equipment is a necessity for a virtual interview. If Internet access is unpredictable at your home, consider going to a friend’s home or a quiet public place like your local library or another wifi hotspot. Your college or university may also be a good alternative for privacy and connectivity.
Practice using the online platform prior to your interview. Enlist a family member or friend to conduct a trial meeting to test out your audio, video, and connection. This can help you identify any issues with lighting, device placement, and background distractions. Be sure, however, that your family member or friend is using a different wifi network or hotspot so you can identify connectivity problems unique to your network.
At the onset of the interview, check with the panel to ensure that they can see and hear you adequately, and vice versa. If something goes wrong, such as a lag in video or audio, stay calm and tell the panel as soon as possible without interrupting anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat a question for clarification.
4. Showcase your portfolio.
During an in-person interview, you may reference a portfolio filled with evidence and examples that demonstrate your best work and illustrate what you are discussing. If the feature is available, share your screen to show the panel a digital version. Digital portfolios and screen sharing can be successful tools because they are highly customizable and can display your technology prowess (Kelly & Hancock, 2018). You can create a digital portfolio by using a word processing program, website builder, or by simply scanning the hard copy of your portfolio and saving it as a PDF. If screen sharing is not available, reference the portfolio verbally by providing detailed examples that support your responses.
Even though you should consider all these factors as you prepare, the most important aspects of an interview are your comments about yourself and your responses to questions. Don’t be intimidated by the process of interviewing virtually. Be sure to show off your unique strengths and passion for education!
Ms. Malone is a Graduate Assistant and student at West Liberty University. In this role, she works with student teacher candidates and teaches an instructional technology course. During the pandemic, she was tasked with the development of virtual mock interviews and professional development opportunities for candidates.
Hudak, K., Kile, A., Grodziak, E., & Keptner, E. (2019). Advancing student interview skills: Incorporating virtual interview technology into the basic communication course. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(1), 1–9. http://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2019.130103
Kelly, D., & Hancock, S. (2018). Alberta school principals’ use of professional portfolios in teacher hiring. Canadian Journal of Education, 41(4), 1050–1078.
LaJevic, L. (2019). Exploring the hiring process for K–12 art teachers: Tips for the job search. Art Education, 72(5), 8–13.
Powers, P. (2010). Winning job interviews (Rev. ed.). Career Press.
Let Kappa Delta Pi’s Career Center help you prepare for your next step! The following resources and more can be found at www.kdp.org/resources/careercenter/index.php, including:
- How to write résumés and cover letters
- Developing hardcopy and digital portfolios
- Interview preparation
- Job search advice