It’s a nearly universal truth: job interviews are nerve-wracking.

The vast majority of us have had–and lived through–a terrible job interview. Sure, there are a handful of folks for whom acing job interviews is a seemingly supernatural strength. Still, it’s almost inevitable that, at some point, we’ll have a terrible job interview.

Preparing for and getting through a job interview is a big accomplishment for the rest of us. It can be devastating when we bomb an interview, but it can also be a valuable learning experience. Educators, take note! This is how to handle the messy aftermath of a terrible teaching interview and learn from it.

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Don’t Throw Yourself A Pity Party

It’s certainly okay to feel disappointed after a particularly awful job interview–this is only human! But avoid slipping into a pit of despair and spiraling downwards.

Don’t engage in negative self-talk or rumination. Easier said than done, sure, but multiple folks who have bombed a teaching interview have talked about how, directly following the interview, they wrote down all the questions they were asked, the answers they would have given (ideally), and their mistakes. And other sources confirm this: this is how to go about a bad interview.

Our memory tends to distort events and experiences, so you must reflect on the event soon afterward–not months later.

In this vlog, reflecting on a particularly brutal teaching interview, school teacher Mayleen Call describes how, directly after her interview, she wrote a list of every question that her interviewers asked her and how she wished she had answered.

A Positive Attitude Is Crucial

Most folks who have bombed their teaching interview will tell you the same thing: they were extremely nervous before the interview. Nerves are understandable and an inevitable part of the interviewing process, but you must manage them as best you can. Don’t let your nerves bring you down or convince you that you will screw up the interview. Acknowledge that you’re nervous and proceed as if success is inevitable.

A negative headspace–and attitude–is powerful.

Focus On Your Strengths

One of the greatest mistakes interviewees who have bombed an interview have said?

They avoided talking about their strengths, or they seriously underplayed them. While modesty is a virtue, speaking authentically about your strengths during a teaching interview is crucial.

  • Are you great at getting your students enthusiastic about challenging topics?
  • Are you particularly diplomatic when chatting with the parents of your students?

Be honest. Your interviewer(s) are eager to hear all about you, what you do well, and how you’ll be an asset to them! Prepare a list of your strengths so you’ll be ready to chat about your greatest strengths during your next teaching interview.

Prepare An Interactive And Flexible Lesson (For The Next Interview!)

Some teaching interviews will require that you prepare and teach a ‘sample’ lesson as part of the interviewing process. For many educators, especially new ones, this is one of the more daunting parts of the interview. It is tempting to over-prepare for your sample lesson and try to cover an ambitious and virtually impossible range of content.

Orla Douglas, an educator in the United Kingdom, tells the Guardian that one of her worst ‘sample’ lessons during a teaching interview covered a painfully specific and boring topic–and she’s learned from this experience. Read her article for more advice.

Reach Out To The Interviewer To Say Sorry

  • Did you make a specific slip-up that merits–or could benefit from–an apology?
  • Does the interviewer(s) deserve an apology?

It’s certainly not always necessary or sensible to write an apology note to the interviewer(s).

In this article, Jacqueline Smith, an editor for Forbes, suggests that if there’s something specific for which you should apologize, send your interviewer(s) an apology note! While this may not earn you the desired position, an apology can work wonders.

Don’t dwell on a bad teaching interview. We’ve all been there.

What’s important is that you recognize the value of this learning experience and move forward from it.

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