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How to Nail the Interview for a Teaching Position – Nail #5: Be a Team Player


Here is the fifth Nail in the Nailing the Teacher Interview series.

Be a Team Player.

This is a big one.

There might not be the specific question: “Are you a team player?” But, it’s one of the most important qualities that those on the interview panel are looking for.

I read somewhere, “You can teach skills. You can’t teach attitude.” This is so true. I would rather hire someone with few skills, but with a willingness to learn, than someone who thinks they know everything.

Attitude is more important than ability.

I have known many teachers who do great things in the classroom, but can’t get along with the adults in the school. They have the best classroom procedures, but they are always in the middle of the drama with other teachers.

No school administrator wants someone like this on their staff.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine which candidates will be drama kings or queens in an interview. Even the letters of recommendation will say good things about the candidate.

As a member of the interview panel, I can’t ask, “Do you like drama?”

That is why you need to make sure you include in your answers some kind of statement that reassures the panel that you are someone who gets along with everybody.

There is always some kind of drama on every campus. School administrators spend a lot of their time mediating conflicts or having crucial conversations with staff members who can’t get along with other staff members. Although your ability to deliver creative and engaging lesson plans may be amazing, if you are equally as skilled at gossiping, I don’t want you on my staff.

Being someone who gets along with everyone is a talent that I am looking for in a candidate.

Here are some quick tips to help you get the I-get-along-with-everyone message across:

  1. Be happy. The interview can be a little intimidating, but do your best to be happy. I want to work with happy people. Smile a lot.
  2. Don’t complain. It doesn’t matter if you are justified in complaining about the previous job you had, don’t do it. “I want to be a teacher, because when I worked as a mortgage broker, the people there were fake and only thought about money.” This may be true, but it will make you look like someone who likes to point out people’s imperfections. If you have to talk about previous employment, find positive things to say about it.
  3. Don’t be a Know-it-all. Yes, the administration is looking for someone who is qualified and has the skills necessary for the position, but they don’t want someone who isn’t open to learning new things. I remember interviewing a candidate who had just moved over from another country. He was involved in curriculum writing and administration in his previous position before moving to the United States. He definitely had the skills and experience for the job, and he didn’t waste an opportunity to remind us of how qualified he was. The panel felt that he wouldn’t be someone who would be open to learning new ways of doing things. He could have been a great addition to the staff. He may have been a team player and someone who worked well with others, but he focused on trying to impress us with his experience. He wasn’t hired. I would have advised him to let the resume do the talking in regards to his experience, and focus on sharing his enthusiasm for learning a new system and collaborating with others. Be teachable, even if you know a lot. One of the quotes I live by is, “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of self-development.” This is a quote by Jim Rohn, and it is so true. The more success I want, the more I have to learn. This desire to keep learning has to be a character trait that comes out in the interview.

Being able to get along with others is just as important, and may be even more important, than being able to manage a classroom of 8th graders.

Make sure that the members of the interview panel know that you will make their work environment better and not worse.


There you have it, the fifth Nail in the Nailing the Teacher Interview series.

I hope you’re finding these posts helpful. If so, please share them on Twitter or on Facebook. That would be cool.

Follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, so you get notified when I upload Nail #6.

Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!

Thank you,


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