Take Flight: Your First Interview

Earlier today, I chanced upon an email from someone going for their first interview:

I’ve been called for an interview for the instructional technology position. They didn’t ask me to create a presentation or anything in particular. They did say I could bring whatever I would like to share. What are things you have taken to an interview for an educational/instructional technology position?

Having been interviewed many times myself, as well as interviewed candidates for instructional technologists, I took a stab at sharing my suggestions.

See more awesome pics of ants

PUSH THE ENVELOPE IN EVERY RESPONSE

When interviewing candidates, one question sometimes comes up AFTER the interview of a promising candidate. The question is, “How come they didn’t show us, tell us all the great things they are doing?” When people sit in the hot seat, they forget they aren’t there to just answer questions then be quiet. They’re there to respond as a human being, bringing their full range of intellectual, and spiritual, prowess to bear.

When you walk out of the interview, make sure you’ve found a way to assist the interviewers in understanding how your experiences/skills/aptitudes aligned to the organization’s needs. Leave it all on the table. Don’t just answer the question, answer the question behind the question. The question is just the beginning…flesh out your response. Begin with your experiences, share how it is relevant to the new position, and always respond as if you were in that position already. 

Own it.

Remember, no matter what happens, you can use this as a way to learn more about how to better represent how your skills and experience align to this type of position.

Align Your Abilities to Their Organizational Needs

Take a copy of the job announcement, then turn it into a two-column document (a table). On the left side, but the job announcement description. On the right side, put your relevant experiences, skills and/or knowledge.
Given this is an instructional tech position, make sure you have examples that provide insight into your instructional design. Also, be sure that your professional learning network (PLN) is fresh on your mind. Whether you get hired or not, you’ll learn where you need to grow, how to share.

Showcase Your Work in a Virtual Space

To your question, I like to create a website to showcase my experiences and goals. Rather than a fixed presentation, create a website (new Google Sites is awesome for this, as is OneNote) that showcases how you solved problems, developed solutions. Some of my attempts appear below. While there are many awesome examples out there, make the one that best captures YOU.

Some Terrible Examples

A Handful of Tips

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind that will save you some trouble later:

  • Walk in having already submitted as many letters of recommendation as you can, including ones from your past supervisors. Get those letters every year so you have a handy supply when you need them. I like to put them all in a PDF, as well capture excerpts to feature in an attachment to my resume. Think of it as a “Cliff Notes” for nice stuff others have written about you.
  • Have 3 top insights that you’ve learned from your Professional Learning Network (PLN). Often, folks are asked how they keep current and they stutter. While conferences and magazines are OK, they aren’t where it’s at anymore. Get connected, stay connected and be active online so that the world knows who you are. You’ll find that if the world knows your name, you have increased confidence in sharing with a potential employer.
  • Keep 4-5 tools/apps in your back pocket that you can list off the top of your head. Also, make sure that you know HOW you would introduce those to others during professional learning, as well as how they might be used in the classroom to enhance teaching, learning and/or leading.
  • Be prepared to chat about how you handle unruly folks in workshops, highlight how you connect and collaborate, deal with the unexpected.
  • Add a lesson plan or instructional design item to your virtual space
  • Use a URL shortener that isn’t gobbledygook and tough to spell. I recommend bit.ly and/or tinyurl.com to get one that makes sense (bit.ly/mgfolio is easy to remember and share). Still, be sure that you have an easy to way to access the long URL because sometimes these URL shorteners are blocked in school districts.

 One final point: It’s often important to have a closing question, a question that captures the dynamic in the room and reveals your insight. One easy question I like to use is shown below:

What is the process for handling conflict in this organization?

No matter the response, you’ll get an earful of insights from how people look at each other, who they look at, and what is said. Don’t be afraid if the question gets turned back on you, though. Simply share your perspective in a positive way that reflects your willingness and skills at working as part of a team.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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