As part of Success Academy’s national recruitment efforts, I meet hundreds of college seniors every school year. I’m looking to connect with the very best talent to hire as teachers for our 14,000 students across the 41 charter schools in our network. As a result, I’m often asked to share the most effective ways to answer interview questions, calm nerves, and appear composed going into meet-and-greets and interviews. My answer: It’s the little things. Here are six rules every candidate should follow:
1. Tailor your cover letter.
Your one-page cover letter should succinctly explain why you want to work for a particular company. It’s not just about demonstrating that you’ve done your homework—this is the place to highlight a few ways in which the skills on your résumé make you a perfect fit for the position you’re pursuing. In other words, connect the dots for the hiring manager and prove you’re the one for the job. Also, don’t forget to proofread!
2. Know what you’re walking into.
Before any interview, you’ll want to research the company – and the interviewer – so you know exactly what you’re walking into. Google, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor searches are great places to start. While you’ll learn a lot about Success Academy throughout the interview process, I know I always look for candidates who are familiar with our history, dual mission, and instructional model before I have to tell them about it. It shows me they took initiative to learn what they could on their own – a skill most any employer wants.
It’s also wise to anticipate what questions your interviewer will ask and prepare clear, concise responses. To prepare, look for gaps in your résumé and enlist a friend to grill you on those points. Practice will boost your confidence and decrease the risk of getting tongue-tied.
3. Follow directions.
Read all your pre-interview communication and instructions clearly. Make sure you’ve looked up and thought through the interview location – and your plan to get there – to ensure that you arrive on time. Better yet, build in a cushion so you get there early (you can’t predict train delays!). Print extra copies of your résumé the night before and bring them with you.
4. Check your tech.
If your interview is in person, it should go without saying that your devices must be silenced. If you’re participating in a video interview, make sure the video and audio are working properly and that you have a quiet room to do the call without distraction. And you still have to dress professionally – at least from the waist up!
5. Ask questions.
An interview isn’t just an opportunity for hiring managers to ask you questions. We want to hear what questions you have for us. Come to your interview with a few, thoughtful questions that show you’ve done your research and that you’re excited to learn more.
6. Relax and be yourself.
Interviews can be nerve-wracking. You may be asked a question for which you don’t have an immediate answer, or you may have to role-play a difficult conversation that makes you a little uncomfortable. It’s okay! Just take a breath, relax, and ask for clarification if necessary. Remember: We’re on your side.
Success Academy is a Jopwell partner company.
Photo: Getty Images