Tech Skills Administrators Look for in Interviews
Interview season is stressful. At times, it can feel like a second full-time job as you research and prepare for the big day. Schools want to know what they are getting when they hire you, both inside the classroom and in the community. Given the rise of hybrid and other innovative learning environments, schools also want to know what tech skills you bring to the table.
Stand Out on Paper and in Person
Don't underestimate the "paper screen," where you need to stand out from dozens of other candidates. You may want to consider listing items related to your tech skills and prowess in a separate section of your résumé to catch the eye of leaders at the school. Candidates that list proficiency with educational social media, productive flipped classroom models, or learning management system (LMS) certifications are more likely to get an interview than those with a boilerplate skill set.
Once you've made it past the paper screen to a formal sit-down interview, it's time to tell compelling stories. Don't talk about what you would do in a situation, try to talk about what you have done instead. Related to edtech, the interviewer might ask: How do you integrate technology into your lesson plans? You would respond with the best practical example from your experience: "I believe in using technology to do what we otherwise couldn't do in the classroom setting. That's why, during my student teaching experience, I began a collaboration with a colleague in Mexico, conducting a series of video chats with her students so that my Spanish students could practice authentic conversational skills in the target language."
The Power of Creation
Administrators want to know if you are able to go beyond locating and repurposing EdTech materials to the active creation of your own. Instead of showing a pre-packaged presentation provided by a textbook company, do you customize your own based on the needs of your students? Do you provide links to additional items of high student interest? How about a healthy dose of appropriate humor - things that give a presentation "life?"
Let's say you are (or want to be) a high school social studies teacher. Here is an example of a pre-fabbed "WebQuest" for World War I, specifically addressing the historical context surrounding All Quiet on the Western Front. Anybody could print this page and use it in the classroom, but notice all the improvements that could be made to the structure, expectations, questions, and definition of the final product. When you walk into an interview, what if you were able to talk about how you used this model as a template and created your own custom WebQuest with both peer and teacher rubrics for assessment of student learning? What if you showed some examples of student work as a result of the project?
EdTech: Valuable Tool or Tech for Tech's Sake?
What is your personal philosophy regarding the role of EdTech in the classroom? I once sat in on an interview that, on paper, looked like a slam dunk. The person was interviewing for a high school social studies position and had also been serving as a head varsity coach. On paper, the decision was made. The entire tenor of the interview changed when he shared his philosophy of technology and showed examples of "presentations" he had developed for class that weren't really presentations at all - they were just notes on a blank white screen projected for students to copy while he talked. In that moment, we knew exactly what we would get if we hired him, and that it wouldn't be good for students.
You can set yourself apart by understanding how educational technology is just one more tool in your toolbox that can be used to service the learning process, not to exist for its own sake. The classic "all-text" death by presentation doesn't support student learning. Presentations that maintain a 50/50 balance of text and graphics, include interactive links, use appropriate humor, or, better yet, are student-developed in some manner, and are fully integrated into a learning management system will allow you to showcase how you use EdTech in a purposeful and meaningful way.
Build a Digital Portfolio
In my experience, unless you have strategically prepared a few points in advance where you will pull items out of your portfolio to physically pass around the table, portfolios often go untouched and unloved in an interview setting, even in administrator interviews.
Why not build a digital portfolio? A cloud-based portfolio allows you to share artifacts with the interview team ahead of time and reference them during the interview itself, so you can focus on telling stories and they have the items in advance that illustrate each point. It naturally showcases your technology skills and provides a window into how your mind works, while highlighting for the team what you have done, not what you intend to do on the job. Just remember to redact any personally identifying information for students and staff as appropriate.
Strategize how you plan to weave EdTech into various answers and how you can showcase the unique ways you use technology in the classroom. Too many candidates either don't plan ahead of time or share the same information ("I use the internet to supplement my lectures" - blecch!) over and over again.
Interview teams want more. Show that you love to learn new things and that you're a mold-breaking candidate. You're far more likely to land an interview, and the job, if you do.
What tech skills do you think are valuable in interviews? Tell us on Twitter @Schoology