Tip 1: Prepare for the Event/Do Your Homework
- Review the website (open for viewing on February 12, 2019) for a list of school systems/employers attending the fair and their available openings.
- Identify the school districts where you hope to be interviewed. Research the districts so that you know something about them.
- Have a general priority order, as some school districts may have long lines. Decide in advance if you want to stand in line or proceed to another district.
- Interviewing is a two-way street. Plan the questions you will ask of each school district and be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your experience. Practice introducing yourself and some of the skills and experiences you plan to highlight.
- Plan exactly what professional attire you will wear (see below). Make sure your clothing is cleaned and pressed.
- Make arrangements for childcare, if needed, for the day of the event. Do NOT bring your child (spouse, parents, etc.) to the event.
- Gather essential items to bring with you:
- More than enough copies of your résumé
- Additional information to enable you to complete any applications given you (names and addresses of references, unofficial transcripts, etc.)
- A letter-sized portfolio or neat tote bag with notepad and pen. Do NOT carry a backpack into the fair.
- Your research notes on your preferred school districts
- A compact professional portfolio of your work samples
HELPFUL HINT: Turn your cell phone OFF and do not carry it, or keys, in your hand or clipped to your clothing. Keep your left hand free to give your resume to the recruiter and shake hands with your right.
Tip 2: Open vs. Closed Format
The fair will feature an Open Format from 9 am - 1 pm to facilitate candidate screenings and mini-interviews. All candidates are welcomed. This will be followed by a Closed Format from 1 pm - 3 pm in which full interviews and additional mini-interviews will take place by invitation only.
Open Format (9 am - 1 pm):
By far the most common type of job fair interview. This interview usually lasts no more than two to three minutes and is usually conducted by employers whose main interest is gathering resumes and initial impressions before making decisions as to whether they will move to the next step. You will be asked questions about what type of position you're seeking, your interest in the particular school district, your experience and teaching methods. Your strategy should be to quickly point them to the key areas in your background that reflect their needs. Ask for a business card and inquire as to the next step.
Closed Format (1 pm - 3 pm):
The full interview typically takes place behind a curtain or screen at the employer's booth, or may be in another part of the hall altogether. Most employers use the full interview only as a secondary interview. In other words, you have to be invited to the interview based on the previous screening interview or mini-interview. Be prepared for twenty minutes or more, but probably no longer than thirty minutes, since most employers have a tight schedule to keep. You will be asked a number of open-ended questions and will be expected to provide specific examples of your past results. Be prepared to give supporting behavioral examples and remember to ask the employer questions as well. At the end of the interview, if you are truly interested, inform the interviewer of your interest and inquire as to the next step. Assume that he or she is also interested.
Tip 3: Dress Professionally
- Dress for an interview for a professional position, not in a casual "student" style. This means a suit or sport coat, tie and dress pants for men; pantsuit or tailored dress, skirt and blazer, etc. for women. Be conservative so that the focus is on you, not your clothes.
- Professional dress includes footwear; do not wear sneakers, ultra-high heels or flip flops!
- Be neat, clean and well groomed. Avoid excessive makeup, jewelry and perfume.
- Do not smoke or chew gum. Breath mints are OK.
HELPFUL HINT: Print your full name and major area of certifications on your TRDC nametag and wear it so it is easily seen when you shake the interviewer's hand.
Tip 4: The Day of the Fair
- Try to arrive in the early part of the day. The fair will be crowded, and some employers may not stay until the end of the event.
- If you pre-registered (no need to do so, however) bring your completed red registration card with you. It is your admission ticket to the fair. If you do not have it with you or did not pre-register, then you will be able to complete the red card at the fair.
- You will receive an Employer Guidebook at the fair. Check also for additional handouts, updates and newly posted information.
- Orient yourself to the facility by reviewing the floor plan, locating restrooms, etc.
- Organize the list of schools, in priority order, you plan to visit. Note which schools are of general interest to you and which have actual job openings in your area of certification.
- Organize your materials and have your résumé readily available to hand to the interviewer.
- Develop an interview plan that includes taking a break to assure that you will look and feel your best throughout the day.
- NOTE: Because the Guidebook is printed in advance, a district’s actual openings may be different from what is printed in the Guidebook.
Tip 5: During the Interview
- When meeting the interviewer, establish eye contact, present a firm handshake, introduce yourself and explain why you have chosen this school system.
- Be confident and take an active part in your interview. Have a three point agenda: know what you are looking for, what you have to offer and what questions you will ask about the school system.
- Listen carefully and take conversational cues from the interviewer.
- Respond to questions with specific and concise examples. Try to avoid pat answers and clichés.
- Respond truthfully while maintaining a positive picture of yourself.
- Ask for school system information, application materials and the interviewer's business card.
- Ask about the hiring process, including time frame and actual or potential openings.
- At the end of the interview, offer a firm handshake and express your appreciation, using the interviewer's name.
- NOTE: Some school districts may make firm offers at the event. Be prepared to respond or to request sufficient response time.
HELPFUL HINT: Keep an accurate record of your contact with school systems, including names of your interviewers, follow-up procedures and expected time lines.
Tip 6: After the Event
- Promptly complete any on-line applications or ones you were given and mail to the appropriate school districts. Forward your credentials/supporting documents with your application, as instructed by the employer. Do NOT send originals of any document except a transcript, if requested.
- Within two days send typed, professional thank you letters, addressed to the specific interviewers.
- Within two weeks, make telephone calls to determine if the schools have received your application materials, to check on the status of vacant positions and to express your continued interest.
- Make note of the dates of your follow-up calls and record the name of the person with whom you spoke. Keep copies of all application materials and letters you send.
HELPFUL HINT: After you accept a teaching position, be courteous enough to inform and withdraw from any other districts where you may have applications pending. Inform and thank your references when you accept a position.
Please remember to complete the Candidate Evaluation Form before leaving the Teacher Recruitment Day Consortium Fair. Thank you.
Good Luck! - From the career counselors of the sponsoring colleges and universities
Material adapted from the 2015 Job Search Handbook for Educators, American Association for Employment in Education.