6 Interview Tips for Landing your Dream Job

By |2021-05-25T08:41:17-07:00May 25th, 2021|

Sparkchasers Episode 37 | Show Notes

6 Interview Tips for Landing Your Dream Job

If you’re looking for a new job, today’s episode is going to be so helpful. We’re diving into my best interview tips for landing your dream job. Having interviewed for more positions than I can count – including teaching, administration, and business positions – and being the one doing the hiring, these suggestions are the ones I’ve found to be most successful in getting that job. So let’s get started!

1. Create a list of strengths and weaknesses

Yep…we’re getting back to basics here.  But it’s so important to remind yourself what you’re good at and what is a challenge for you.  Because no matter what job you may apply for, chances are they are going to ask you that question.  Plus, by writing down your strengths and weaknesses, you get the added bonus of clarity when it comes to exactly what you’re looking for in your next position.  Is it something that really plays to your strengths?  Or are you looking for a new challenge to tackle?  This list will help you decide and will save you time by weeding out choices that don’t meet your goals.

2. Create Your Personal Mission

Mission statements aren’t just for businesses and school leadership rituals. According to author Donald Miller, having a personal mission statement is crucial to ensuring the job you’re seeking is the job that’s the best fit. After all, if you’re going to all the effort to seek out a new position, wouldn’t you want it to be something you’ll actually enjoy and feel alignment with your goals and personality?

Sometimes, we just need a job. That’s the reality of life. But even in those situations, it’s important to know who you are, what you want, and how you work best. And that’s really all a personal mission statement helps clarify.

To begin, consider what you most love doing – so much so that you’d do it for free. This is your “dream” job. Then, think about what elements of that dream job speak to you most. Is it flexibility? Is it organization? Is it working with adults or children? These are the qualities of work that align with your personal preferences. Finally, consider what quality of life you want to have and how the work you do could contribute to that ideal.

From there, it’s a matter of writing out a simple formula: (Who you are) + (What you want to do) + (what you want to accomplish) = (your why).

For example: I’m an elementary teacher (who you are) who will use arts integration to help provide hands-on learning experiences (what you want to do)  to support all students (what you want to accomplish). I do this because I believe all children deserve an outstanding education, no matter their background circumstances (your why).

3. Proactively seek out positions and places that align with your goals

Sure, there’s that one-in-a-million chance that the perfect teaching job is going to fall out of the sky.  But more than likely, you’re going to need to look for what you want.  Here’s the good news: there’s always something that’s the right fit for you somewhere.

So start with an online job search, reach out to your social networks and ask if there are any positions opening up in the content area you want to focus on and keep your options open.  You never know where opportunity will lead you. But remember this: always look for positions which align with your goals and values.  Even if the position isn’t what you had in mind, if it aligns with your goals and values, it will be worth taking.

4. Prepare, Practice, Present

Preparation will get you halfway to your goal.  Practice and presentation will take you almost the rest of the way. That last 5% is out of your control.  So focus on preparation first:

  • Create a clear, concise portfolio of work
  • Be ready to answer the tough questions
  • Research as much about the position and place as you can
  • Know what you would do to take the job to the next level

Do your homework if possible and get to know the team.  Research the individuals in an organization on their website and view their profiles.  Be prepared to ask them questions about their current projects and how you could support them in this position.  Get them to visualize YOU sitting in that chair.

Then, work through your practice.  Dress the way you would for the interview or the job and sit down with a friend who is willing to go through a dress rehearsal.  The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be.

Prior to walking in the room, think about the qualities of a person you would most like to work with and keep this vision in your mind as the panel asks you questions.  More often than not, I have seen decisions be made based on whether the person would be a good fit in the organization and if they can work well with the other people on the team.

Finally, present your best self.  Share confidently about your highlights and how you’d address your areas of growth. Be sure to present how your unique qualifications can enhance what has already been built and how you plan to take their program to the next level.  And always have a few questions about the program and the school to ask at the end of the interview!

This one should be a softball at the interview table, but I am always surprised by how often people miss this crucial step.  You need to be able to read the room and adjust your approach to questions accordingly.  And remember: be pleasant and confident, but not pushy.  

5. Lead with what you’ve learned

Nobody likes a know-it-all.  So when they ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself, start with what you’ve learned from your experiences and how that’s brought you to their doorstep.  Remember that as educators, we are the lead learners in the school.  Demonstrate that you take that seriously by sharing your knowledge and your willingness to keep growing.

6. Take charge of your professional development

Are you a master in your subject matter?  Do you own that material?  The first step to getting any position is in being the most competent individual for that area.  

Does this new teaching job require a set of skills you aren’t quite confident in yet? Would a certification program give you an advantage?  As you think about making this shift, consider what professional development options would enhance your ability to not only secure but to thrive in this new role.  Take a course or enroll in a certification program, even if it has to come out of pocket.  Everyone notices if you’ve taken the initiative to be the best-prepared candidate.

While you can’t control who an interview panel picks for their job candidate, you can control the artistry by which you approach the interview.  Just like being on a stage, you need to imagine that you’re already in the role and bring your unique character to it. 

And now, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about this topic.  Remember, you can use the ask me anything button below to share with me your ideas and what’s bubbling to the surface for you. And if you are enjoying the show and know someone who could benefit from our discussions, please share the podcast with them. Together, we can chase the spark of our ideas and make a brighter future for everyone.

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