The Holy Grail

I might as well start big, so let’s go for the Superbowl, the Holy Grail of questions.  It is a question just about every “teacher in training” (TNT) or “future teacher” (FT) has at some point!

“How do I get a job?”  Seriously, does the question get any more important, or vague?

As someone who has both accomplished this and is also looking, I will share my thoughts, advice I have been given, and hopefully some leaders with more knowledge than myself will share them as well!  I am hoping this blog is a discussion starter, not the end all on any topic for sure!

This has to be broken into two questions that are equally important.

1. “How do I get an interview?”

2. “What can I do in an interview to get the job?”

Starting with the first question, there are so many things that people do… So what works?

Here are the things that in my experience have helped me:

– Leverage your connections (making connections definitely a future blog post) do not be embarrassed or afraid to ask someone you know in the school for help.  A resume that comes from a current employee, especially a well-respected one, is MUCH more likely to get reviewed and result in an interview.  Every time my small district has posted a position the administrators tell us that if we know anyone interested, to get in their resume!

– Use those connections for references (enough said!)

– Identify your experiences and your strengths – What are you good at?  What experiences did you excel with during your classroom experiences?  Have you attended any major events of which your potential employer is aware?  Write your resume to HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS!  Get your awesomeness out there!  Who else is going to talk about what a great candidate you will be than yourself?

– Set yourself apart – What makes you unique.  This was a piece of advice I most recently received from my own CSA (Chief School Administrator).  Remember that administrators read mountains of resumes many times.  Why would interviewing you be more interesting than the 30 other well qualified candidates whose resume looks just like yours!

Know the school where you are applying – What are the school’s mission, vision, and goals?  What kind of community is it?  What does the school value? To whom are you sending the application?  Write your interest letter with these concepts in mind.  You can find most of this information with 5 minutes of research on the school’s website and maybe a quick google search.  This way you can tailor your letter to highlight your skills that relate to what the school is looking for in a candidate!

Last- Believe you are going to get a call.  I know it seems silly, but every time I have gotten an interview for teaching or administration I was certain that it would be coming.  When I thought there was little chance they would call, they didn’t  Staying positive is remarkably powerful!


Now that you have done all that, you have gotten that call where your stomach turns a little and you try in vain to stay calm and pretend that you are not about to jump 5 feet off the floor!  “We would like you to come in for an interview”

What do I do?

Here I will start with my mistakes!  What better to learn from?

– Know relevant content for the interview – You need to the job description and (remember that few minutes of research when applying?) use what you know about the school!

– Don’t talk to much – THIS IS MY #1 PROBLEM!  I love talking about teaching, leadership, and just about all things education, I am a junkie!  You can very easily talk yourself out of a job in 2 ways… First – if you keep talking you might say something stupid!  Sometimes it just happens, “oops, wish I didn’t just say that…” Second – If your interviewer has at least 8 interviews, how long do you think they are listening to your answer?  Cover the topic in 2 minutes with a more general answer that shows your knowledge, if they want to know details, they will ask!

– Bring  notes and take notes – When I am nervous (as in 99% of interviews) I tend to ramble.  If there is knowledge you feel like you will need or something you feel you need to express, write it down, bring it with you and use it as a reference.  If the interviewer asks a question that stimulates a thought or question, write it down and refer to it at the appropriate time.

– Own it – If you do not walk into the interview as if you are the best candidate this person will interview, don’t go!  It sounds cocky, but it’s really just confidence.  I don’t walk in thinking I am the greatest teacher on earth, just that no one they hire will work harder to learn, connect to students and families, and improve this school more than me!  They called you for an interview, they must think you are pretty great (chances are they had at least 3 dozen other applicants who they could have chosen instead and they picked you): So act great, be great, exude your greatness in every answer and every gesture.

– Be prepared to write – This has yet to happen to me, but many of the teachers I talk to that have interviewed recently have said that the initial part of the interview was an essay of some kind.  Teachers need to be great communicators.  If you can communicate your ideas in a brief, well-written essay, you can probably communicate them to others…and maybe even students!


So, as the job season approaches and the openings pop up all over, apply for everything and believe you are going to get a job.

Please anyone with more ideas, differing ideas, or any other help for our TNTs and FTs, SHARE SHARE SHARE!  Job Seeking is a torturous activity for most, don’t let it discourage you!


Good Luck!

Please send any questions you would like the blog to cover to @btcostello05 on twitter or email at


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