When I graduated from college in April 2016 I was terrified about getting a job. My home state, Michigan, is known for lacking in quality teaching jobs. With a degree in Elementary Education and an Early Childhood Education endorsement, I had a few options but the scary part was actually landing an interview!
It took a few months of silent waiting before I got the first phone call. But with patience, the interviews began to line up and all that was left to do was prepare. To get ready for my interviews I gathered my important paperwork, assembled a portfolio, and put together an outfit I would feel confident in. I don’t consider myself an expert on interviewing by any means, but of the four interviews I went on that summer, I was offered every job. So something I did must have worked!
At every interview, I brought the following documents. I never actually needed to provide them on the spot, but I felt more confident having them in case I was asked for a copy.
- Resume – at least 5 copies to distribute to the interview panel if asked
- Teaching certificate
- College transcript
- Letters of recommendation – I have these stapled to my resume. My letters are from my college advisor, student teaching advisor, and my student teaching cooperating teacher
My teaching portfolio is a binder that contains lesson plans, awards, letters of recommendation, notes from students, and resume information. I keep all of these things organized in a simple three ring binder. In the interview, I referred to my binder to show examples of my lesson plans and to share my accomplishments outside of the classroom. From my experience, having a portfolio is not necessary but it makes me feel more comfortable when I am interviewing. It is also a conversation piece and a great way to highlight skills.
In the classroom, I dress very casually! But regardless of how casual teaching jobs can be, I chose to dress to impress. I also was interviewing in the summer so weather played a factor in my outfit choices.
I have worn the following outfits (and wore them with confidence each time)!
- Black shift dress and colorful blazer
- Fit & flare dress with a colorful cardigan
- Black dress pants and a green blouse
With each outfit I wore heels – I’m 5’3” and the heels give me confidence! I also wore a statement piece of jewelry and all of the women on my interview panels complimented me. The final touch to my outfit was a large structured purse to hold my portfolio and resumes. I also carried a water bottle, some back-up makeup, and a lint roller to freshen up before I headed into my interview location.
Although I can’t consider myself an interviewing expert, I think the key to success is being prepared and confident. By bringing the right things (e.g a lot of resume copies and a professional portfolio) I felt prepared to answer questions and talk myself up. Also, picking the right outfit gave me the confidence boost I needed to show off my best self.