Dos and Don’ts of Job Interviews

Having experience as both an applicant and an interviewer, here are some tips I am confident will help the average job seeker get that perfect job.

DO

Make sure you know about the place you are interviewing.  If you walk in as an interviewer and do not know basic information about the business/school/etc. that you are applying for, it comes off as, “I just applied for this and any other job with a similar title in hopes of getting a job somewhere.  I don’t really care if it’s here or somewhere else.”  It’s a lot more impressive to the interviewer if you show that you’ve done your homework and are actually interested and hopefully even eager to have the opportunity to work there.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  I’m a true believer of this statement.  Go in dressed professionally snazzy.  Not only will you look like you know what’s up, looking spiffy can actually boost your confidence prior to and during the interview, and confidence is an attractive feature in a potential employee.

Bring resumes, portfolios, anything you think would help illustrate the skills and experience you could bring to their company.  A job interview is basically like a sales pitch, and it’s best to come over prepared for it.  I’m pretty certain that bringing in a well-prepared, job-tailored portfolio to my last job interview is what helped me get the job over some of the other candidates.  I was able to show actual data, actual lessons, personal notes of appreciation written by advisors (in addition to letters of recommendation), student work, certificates of professional development, etc.  It basically became the proof to complement my resume.

Ask questions.  Job interviews are not just for the interviewers.  This is your opportunity to ask questions which will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you.  It’s a very disappointing feeling to get the job you thought you wanted, only to find out in the first week of work that it was nothing like you were expecting.  To avoid that experience, have some well crafted questions (that you actually care to know the answers to!) ready to go for the interview.

Relax.  Don’t go in too eager, too nervous, too overbearing, too anything!  Hopefully you’ve practiced for the interview, rehearsing with a friend so that you get a sense for what kind of questions you might be asked, and so that you have time to prepare some good answers for those questions you weren’t really expecting.  By Murphy’s Law, there’s a good chance it will come up in your actual interview.  So I guess if you have to be “too” something, it should be too prepared!

DON’T (more for entertainment value, and actual, true stories)

Avoid saying, “I’m really interested in this job because I’ve always wanted to coach football.” when the job is for the Social Studies Teacher position. Maybe – maybe – that would be OK in a one-on-one with the head football coach.  But not with the Social Studies Department Head and Principal.  Basically, you shouldn’t imply in anything you say that this job would just be the stepping stone or hoop to jump through for what you really want to do.

Try not to be memorable for anything negative or too strange/quirky.  You don’t want to be referred to in debriefing as the guy who was sweating profusely or the gal who talked a lot about her many cats

You shouldn’t wear overly revealing clothing.  Unless, I guess, it’s a job that requires that.  It goes back to “Dress for the job you want.”

It’s a bad idea to tell the interviewers that, “you’re not sure you really want this job,” and that, “you probably already have this other one that you interviewed for earlier.”  Remember, the goal is to sound eager, not “I’m too cool for you, this is really a waste of my time.”  There’s a word for those type of people, and it’s not for pleasant company.  Suffice to say, it won’t help you get the job.

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Last week of grad school!

In one week from Sunday, I will officially have completed all my coursework for my Master of Science in Learning Technologies!  I cannot tell you how excited this makes me.  I look forward to taking up old hobbies and reading for fun again!  I also look forward to the other job opportunities this might afford me, and at the very least, the pay raise it will get me (though the raise would still take about 13 years for me to break even for grad school, not because grad school was so expensive, but because public education doesn’t necessarily value higher degrees enough to pay much for you getting one).

In both courses, I am nearly finished with all that is required of me, save a few presentations.  For Technology Based Learning, I have completed my Moodle Course.  I may have a couple small things to fix, but overall it is done and done!  And it’s exciting, because the kiddos who will actually be completing the course just got their Chromebooks on Wednesday, so we’re starting to teach them the ways of Academic Internet Use (including technology skills we take for granted that they’ll know, like getting pictures off Google images, or attaching documents to emails… stuff like that).  I can’t wait to implement this in January.  Both the students and the instructor will have plenty of time to ease into enough technological fluency (and fix any hiccups that I’m sure will manifest as we progress) to transition to the Moodle course.  However, we might be using another LMS; we have a new LMS called ATLAS which is apparently a couple years in the making and will give Blackboard a run for its money…  I’m still trying to find out if it’s SCORM compliant or if I’ll just have to transfer the content over to Canvas or something.  We’ll figure something out I’m sure!

Overall, it feels great to be so close to done, and so close to reacquiring my sleep and social schedule.  I’ve completed this program in about 14 months, which was difficult but doable as a full time employee.  Prior to that, I completed a year of grad school toward my Master of Applied Geography at Texas State University… so it has been awhile since I’ve had a totally free schedule.  I’m looking forward to it! 🙂  I plan to reacquaint myself with my instruments, learn German, maybe write a book (why not?).  And my husband is probably even more excited than I am, hah!

Happy, happy Friday!

Moodle is done! Mostly anyway!

 

My Moodle course is finished!  Huzzah!!!

It felt like it took forever.  It kind of did take forever.  Designing then developing a seven week blended and flipped course is no paltry feat.  But I came, I saw, I conquered!  …That’s so corny, I apologize.  But I did it, and I’m really excited because I am two weeks away from completing my Master’s of Science in Learning Technology… which means I’m two weeks away from having my evenings and weekends back!  I don’t know what I’ll do with all this extra time!  Now that this project is about complete, I feel like it’s all downhill from here, and that is an exciting feeling.

So how did I do it?  How does someone who works 45-50 hours a week, enrolled in two accelerated grad school courses, manage to stay on top of her work (and still not completely neglect her social life)?  I guess I can attribute my success to staying focused and determined, and to not sleeping as much as I should/would like.  A typical weekday: wake up early, go to work for 9 hours, come home, work on grad school for 6-8 hours, sleep.  That’s at least 3 weekdays a week, usually trying to workout the other evenings and maybe hang out with friends/family.  I then spend another 6-8 hours on Saturday and/or Sunday finishing the week’s requirements.  It’s been a very busy year, but the end is near!  I’m a poet and don’t know it!

Throughout the development of my Moodle course, I hit a few technological snags.  My internet is pretty reliable, but occasionally it would decide it didn’t want to work anymore… sometimes before I saved what I was working on (on Moodle or on BlackBoard).  That is always SO frustrating.  I’ve gotten better at preparing for these mishaps by making sure what I’m typing or what I’m working on is saved somewhere else offline also (or working on it in a program like Google Docs which saves as you go).  I can’t say that I’ve had many “people” challenges.  My partner, Jason, was great, my professors were super helpful, my husband took care of dinner most nights, life was/is good.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed working on this project, and I’m excited that we’ll actually be able to implement it come January.  In fact, the students who will be completing this blended course will be receiving their Chromebooks next week, so I’m excited to work with their teacher in helping them get acclimated to the Chromebooks and activities on them.  It was stressful, and a whole lot of work at times, but I think I work best under pressure and I love the creativity and problem solving it requires.  After years as a high school teacher, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve mastered multitasking, working under pressure and stress (uh, adolescents aren’t always friendly), being flexible, and coming up with creative solutions to problems or meeting objectives.  I’m confident that I would thrive in a career that applies these same skills to the Instructional Design (or even Online/Computer-Based Instructional Design) field.