Interviewing is a two-way street

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You can learn a lot about a district or a school from the way they hire you. In one of my interviews when I was just starting out as a teacher, I was asked a few questions about how I would teach a lesson. I outlined a lesson plan which I now know would have been wildly over-ambitious considering my lack of experience. But my interviewer never pushed me to think harder about my priorities for the lesson, nor was I asked to give a sample lesson. As far as I could tell, the interviewer seemed to presume she could tell how I would perform in the classroom from how I answered her questions.

In another interview, I was asked to give a small teaching sample for a classroom of actual students. While my interviewer jotted down notes during the ten minutes that he was there, he didn't talk with me about what he observed. True enough, I was no more entitled to get his thoughts than if I had been in an interview for any other job. But the lack of follow-up was nonetheless telling: wouldn't it have been useful for him to learn what I thought I could have done better?

About a year ago, I had to deliver a prepared lesson to a class of five "students" for an interview. Afterwards, my interviewers shared with me their thoughts on my strengths and weaknesses, and then asked me if I had any questions about their feedback. Two minutes later, they gave me a new problem to teach, and this time I had to incorporate their feedback into my teaching techniques, ranging from not saying "um," to asking effective bottom-up questions. We went through this cycle two more times with new problems. While these were some of the most nerve-wracking sample lessons I ever had to complete, they were by far the most valuable.

Not only did my interviewers find out whether I was willing and able to adapt and grow, but I got to find out for myself how crucial they considered feedback to be. The interview was just as important in selling the school as a place for high-performing professionals as it was a means of determining whether I was one.

-- Dhivya Arumugham