Image Map

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ace the Interview: questions to ask

It's job interview season and with that comes all the stress of maneuvering your way through job applications and interviews. In every interview in which I have ever participated (on either side of the table), the candidate was given the opportunity to ask the interviewers any questions they may have. After going through the grueling process of selling yourself without sounding like you're bragging and struggling to stay calm under pressure, the last thing you have mental energy for is coming up with thoughtful questions! But this portion of the interview can often be the most critical component in helping you find the job that's best for you, as well as give you a final opportunity to communicate your skill and passion for the job to the panel. Today I want to focus on some possible questions you can prepare to ask at the end of your interview to help make the most of this opportunity.


Before we get into specific questions, it's important to remember the key to any question you may choose to ask at the end of your interview:

Do your homework first.

I think it is commonly understood that it's important to do your research on the district/school/job for which you're applying before you go into the interview at all. The question time at the end is where your preparation, or lack thereof, can become most apparent! You don't want to ask a question that can easily be answered through an internet search. For all of the suggested questions below, see if you can get the answer before you go into the interview by looking at the school website and job posting. If you can get the answer that way, there's no reason to ask again in the interview! If you find it difficult to find the answer or the answer is unclear, let the interviewers know what you did to try to find the answer and ask for clarification. But don't ask any questions that you haven't done some work to try to answer on your own first!

1. What will my contact time with each class be?

I like this question better than "what will my schedule be like?" because it suggests that you're wanting to know how much time you'll have with each class to cover everything, rather than wondering what your workload will be like. You can do the math later on to figure out what your own schedule will look like and decide if the work demands are reasonable, but this question gives you a chance to find out how much time you'll get with each class- make sure to ask about class length, frequency, and whether it is year-long or only part of the year!

2. Does the department/ school focus on/ favor a specific teaching methodology?

This is a great opportunity to showcase your knowledge about different teaching methodologies (like Orff, Kodaly, MLT etc) even if the interviewers don't know what you're asking! But it's also a genuinely good way to start an important conversation that will help you determine if you're a good fit for the position. Even if you don't have specific training in the methodology they use (or any methodology at all), this is a chance to show what you do know about that methodology, express your interest/ excitement in using it and learning more about it, and talk about some specific elements of your own practice that you can bring to the department to further enhance student learning.

3. What curricular / professional development resources and equipment / space can I expect to have available to me in this position?

This is a great way to get a feeling for the kind of support you'll have from the school or district. What textbooks do they have and how old are they? Do they have a district curriculum and if so, on what standards is it based? Do they offer any PD that is specific to music teachers? If it is a large enough district, are there opportunities to collaborate with other music teachers? Do you have a music room, and is it shared with anyone? What kinds of instruments and other equipment will you have to use? If they are a new school or have little funding, asking follow-up questions about possibilities for the future will help you know if they're looking to grow the program (and support you in doing so) or not. For example, if they say they don't have any textbooks, do they have a budget to get something for you to use? If they don't have an official curriculum, are they open to having you write one based on the state/ national standards? This is, again, a chance to showcase your knowledge by bringing up specific resources that you've used in the past or with which you are familiar.

4. What are the extracurricular/ performance expectations?

Whether it's after or before school rehearsals, lunch clubs, assemblies, school concerts, or performances in the community, it's helpful to know what else you'll be responsible for outside of the "official" job description! And if the interviewers indicate that there aren't many things going on presently, you'll open up the possibility of mentioning some of the things you've done in the past, or areas of interest, that you could potentially introduce to the school.

There are plenty more great questions to ask, of course, but you definitely don't want to take up too much of the interview time asking tons of questions either! These would be my top choices. What questions would be at the top of your list? Share your ideas in the comments!

Applying for music teaching jobs right now? Here's my recent post with advice on crafting a philosophy statement, and here are all my posts for starting a new job!

Get connected to the Organized Chaos community and stay in touch for more timely ideas- sign up here for the Organized Chaos Newsletter!

No comments :

Post a Comment