Here’s a question from Emily, a Facebook friend of The EDU Edge and an aspiring teacher, about what to wear to a teaching interview / teaching interview attire:
“What are your top tips for what to wear to a teacher interview? I have been told to wear a business suit, but it is highly unlikely I would ever wear this for teaching so I am torn on what to do”
Emily- Thanks for contacting The EDU Edge. We shared this question with the administrators in The EDU Edge consortium who do the hiring to see what they suggested. They came up with the top five tips below. For additional tips specific to women and men’s clothing, we encourage you to check out chapter 6 of The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview.
1. Become friends with your clothing– In all likelihood, the clothing you will wear to an interview is not your everyday clothing. For most of us, it is much more formal clothing or even brand new. When you put it on, it is going to feel a little foreign and possibly uncomfortable. The interview experience is itself likely to be foreign and uncomfortable. You don’t need your clothing adding to this equation. Be sure to put your full interview outfit on and wear it around the house for a few hours. Do this a couple times. Consider wearing it as you run some errands etc.. Stay away from the local BBQ joint to keep it in good shape, but get some mileage on it. This may seem a bit crazy, but trust us, while others are stiff and awkward in their interview best, it will feel like just another outfit for you.
2. Dress to interview, not to teach– Ok, so we do know some teachers who wear business attire to teach, but more than likely, even if you are wearing a sharp blouse or tie, you are not going to be in an expensive three piece suit everyday given that teaching is a physically active profession. However, these teaching interviews are a serious and formal endeavor. School districts will invest a ton in you if hired (over $3.5 million in a typical thirty year career) and don’t take this lightly. You need to be sure your clothing matches the moment.
3. Demonstrate your flexibility– Hiring committees know that you will not be wearing ultra slick business attire when you teach. However, the reality for all of these committees is that they want to know that you have the flexibility and good judgment to dress appropriate to the situation. Even when you are on the job, there will be parent nights, moving-up day ceremonies, special presentations at school board meetings etc.- times you will need to represent yourself in a manner of dress that speaks well to the school and school community. During the interview, you need to give them evidence that you have the flexibility and decision making skills to dress at this end of the range if the occasion calls for it.
4. Have a “Plan B”– Be sure you have more than one outfit to wear for interviews. From hems falling out, to coffee spills, to just not feeling the vibe of the outfit that morning, you want a second option. Things can happen right up until game time- so not a bad idea to keep the second outfit with you if you are driving there. It is unlikely you will need it, but the peace of mind will be an advantage. Another plus of having more than one outfit is that if the school you interview with uses multiple rounds to interview, you have a second look ready to go and do not have wear the exact same attire to both interviews or scramble to get one the night before.
5. Ask when in doubt– If you are required to do a teaching demonstration and business attire would not be compatible (such as a PE or visual arts position) it is likely the school will let you know to dress in attire typical to what you would wear on a teaching day. If there is any question in your mind, there is no harm in calling and simply asking one of the administrators helping to organize the process, “I want to be as effective as possible in my teaching demonstration but also want the committee to know that I certainly have the ability to dress appropriate to a formal situation. Can you share your preference for attire on the day of the teaching demonstration?” No harm can be done by this call. In fact, it is likely they will appreciate that you are conscientious of these issues.
Even more details about what to wear to the teaching interview can be found in The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview. This handbook has shaken up the secretive world of teacher interviews. It has become the essential teacher interview handbook used by an increasing number of teacher colleges across the country. Busy teacher candidates will find it a quick read and well worth the modest investment for the insider information provided by school administrators that do the hiring. The more you know what to expect on the day of the interview, the more you will feel in control of the situation!
Good luck to you Emily! Good luck to all of you out there following The EDU Edge. Please be sure to share the information provided by The EDU Edge with another teaching candidate or those at you teaching college. We are on a mission to reduce anxiety when it comes to the teacher interview and make sure no one is a “deer in the headlights!”
Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge
(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and you can email us at info@theEDUedge.com. Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome. We’ll do our best to respond and try our best to help you.)
Beware The 300 Teacher Interview Question Trap
Here’s a question via email from our new EDU Edge friend Amanda, a senior at the University of Rochester in New York
“I’ve Googled ‘Teacher Interview Questions’ and there are all these sites that have hundreds of questions … Really? I feel very overwhelmed when I think of trying to prepare for hundreds of questions. Help!”
Amanda – we know exactly what you are feeling. Personally, we remember vividly being an undergrad going to our College Career Center and getting a photocopied list of dozens and dozens of questions only to find that, in an actual interview, they didn’t ask any of the questions we had prepared for or “thought” they would ask. In a perfect world, some little elf would hand deliver each of us the list of questions the interview team was going to ask the night before the interview so that we would be prepared …but that is not likely to happen.
Here’s the deal. In The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher Interview (a publication of The EDU Edge) you will find hundreds and hundreds of questions that have been asked in interviews around the country . To be honest Amanda, we’ve never counted them before until you sent us the email, but we have over 300 questions listed ourselves. But, unlike those in your Google search, we know from personal experience that having a list of 300 questions in your hand is basically USELESS because the actual interview team that you encounter during the interview is only going to have time for around 6-10 questions. Even worse, are those Google searches who claim that they know the “Top Questions” asked in teacher interviews. We do not give a great deal of weight to this because while there are certainly trends and questions that are asked more often than others, no one can predict the answers YOU will encounter in YOUR specific interview, for YOUR specific job, in YOUR specific school.
YOU and YOUR interview is what matters most to us … we want to help YOU succeed! Consequently, The EDU Edge has gathered questions asked by interview teams all over the country. After studying literally thousands of questions, we have been able to identify commonalities and patterns that have allowed us to divide them into twelve domains. Each of these domains is addressed by what we have called an “Umbrella’ Question” that we feel covers the domain. We believe and have seen from experience helping aspiring teachers just like you that if you write out, prepare, and practice for these 12 Umbrella Questions, you will be able to use them as a springboard for other answers to similar questions in the domain. We feel very confident that by mastering responses to these twelve umbrella questions, you will have responses ready for any question an interview committee might throw at you.
Please understand … our “Umbrella Questions” are not the “Top Twelve” questions that are asked during teaching interviews. They are the twelve questions that, when practiced, will best prepare you for any question that may be thrown at you during the interview. We not only believe, we know from personal experience helping aspiring teachers just like you, that practicing and preparing for these twelve questions will give you the edge in the interview (see Chapter 8 – Interview Questions: The EDU EDGE ‘Umbrella Approach’).
Good luck to you Amanda! Good luck to all of you following the EDU Edge. Please come back and let us know how you make out so we can all learn together.
Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge