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How to Prepare for a Post-Pandemic Job Interview

Illustration of two people emerging from computer screens and shaking hands.

Many teaching interviews and jobs may be moving from the school to a chat room.

If you're hoping to land a job interview so you can teach in the fall, you're probably aware that schools might look a little different when they reopen. Plans are still unsettled, but prospective teachers who have a positive outlook despite the impending difficulties that schools are facing will have an advantage.

Job interviews are an opportunity to show that you understand that there will be challenges—and that you're prepared to meet them.

Further Reading: How to Nail a Teacher Phone Interview

Brush Up on Trending Topics

This year, most interviews will likely be conducted over the phone or a videoconferencing app such as Skype or Zoom. If you've never done a job interview this way, familiarize yourself with the technology so that everything goes smoothly. Then research the school district and practice your answers just as you would for a traditional face-to-face interview.

 

Besides the usual questions about teaching strategies and classroom management, interviewers might also ask about particularly relevant topics. Being prepared to talk about the following issues in teaching could help you shine.

Remote Learning

There's a good chance that remote learning will continue even after schools reopen. According to USA Today, many educators believe that, come next school year, kids might split their days between the classroom and learning from home. Teachers at high risk of contracting coronavirus might only be allowed to teach from home.

To make this kind of system work, teachers will need more training in facilitating remote learning.

"Different disciplines require different digital approaches," Kristina Rizga wrote in The Atlantic. "Teachers need specific instruction in how to effectively translate their subject to online platforms."

If you've had experience with remote learning, whether as a teacher or as a student, you already have some insight into its pluses and minuses. Regardless of your experience, be clear that you're eager to learn more about this platform and improve your skills. Come with some fresh ideas for how you would apply remote teaching strategies in the subject for which you're interviewing.

The Academic Gap

To ensure that students' needs are being met, the traditional curriculum will have to be tweaked, and planning changes with your colleagues will be crucial. Together, you can identify the essential skills and knowledge that students might have missed during their time away from the classroom. Then you can determine how to adjust the curriculum. Not all kids will be in the same place when they begin the new year; being willing to differentiate instruction to bring kids up to speed will be helpful.

Interviewers won't expect you to solve the learning gap by yourself, but you'll want to show that you're aware of it and have thought of ways to address it.

Students' Mental Health

It's important that teachers monitor their students' mental and physical health and offer their students consistent support. Teenagers are hit particularly hard when schools close, researchers Leah Lessard and Hannah Schacter note in Education Week.

"Social distancing can interfere with the basic developmental needs of teenagers, who are evolutionarily wired to become increasingly independent from parents and increasingly dependent on their peers," they wrote.

"This virus has stolen our kids' school experience," teacher Wendy Turner said in an interview with NEA Today. "They miss their friends and their teachers, the feeling of being together and connected."

Turner, who was Delaware's Teacher of the Year in 2017, prioritizes social and emotional learning in her second grade classrooms. She now teaches online, but the shift to online learning hasn't changed her approach.

"We have to work on relationship skills and how to talk to each other the right way. It's more important than ever right now," she added.

Showing that you understand the importance of regularly touching base with your students—and their parents, when possible—will likely leave a positive impression on an interviewer. Your eagerness to establish connections shows that you're up to date with recent developments in education and concerned about your students.

Flexibility and Positivity

When schools reopen, it probably won't be business as usual. You might not have the traditional classroom of 25 to 30 kids or five sections of math. Assignments and grading might be altered. You and your students might be wearing masks. Social distancing might still be enforced. Change is inevitable—and changes will need to be made to keep schools safe for children and adults.

In your interview, try to indicate that you recognize that adjustments must be made and that you're willing to do what needs to be done. It's OK to admit that you don't have all the answers and that you'll be learning as you go. What matters is that you're ready to work with kids and colleagues to get the job done.

Ask Questions

Be prepared with questions about day-to-day operations so that you can get a clear understanding of what the job entails beyond teaching. Ask your interviewer what a typical day looks like, how the faculty feels about changes, and how much time you'll have to plan with your colleagues. Questions like these show that you're interested in the job and that you've thought about the different aspects of remote learning.

Further Reading: Remote Teaching Resource Center

Classroom competence and caring about kids are still keys to successful teaching, and they will continue to be long after the world returns to normal. In the meantime, use your job interview to show that you're ready to meet current challenges head-on.