B. Personal

Displays Poor Social Skills

If you don't know how to carry a conversation with all the people who work in a school—janitors, secretaries, teacher aides, cafeteria workers, other administrators, volunteers, etc.—then you are in trouble. Treat everyone as important to the functioning of the school; never bad-mouth or talk down to anyone. Have a pleasant smile and a courteous greeting for everyone you meet.

Presents a Poor Appearance

Okay, here's your basic list: Don't wear clothing inappropriate for an interview, get rid of any body jewelry (the lip ring is cute, but you won't impress any principal with it), cover up any and all tattoos, don't use an excess of perfume or after-shave lotion, take a bath or shower (with real soap) the morning of the interview, use a deodorant, go light with the jewelry and the makeup, get a haircut or a hair styling, trim your nails (fluorescent blue nail polish is out), brush your teeth and use a mouthwash, ditch the gum and cigarettes, and put on your best smile. One more thing: Don't drink any alcohol before an interview. You definitely won't be doing yourself any favors.


In the course of my research for this book, I interviewed scores of principals from every part of the country. When I asked each of them for the 1 most common mistake teacher candidates make, more than 90 percent of them replied, "Unprofessional dress or appearance."

Maintains Poor Eye Contact

When someone asks you a question, look that person straight in the eye and provide an answer. Candidates who glance around the room, look down at the floor, avoid the eyes of the interviewer, or stare at the aquarium behind the principal's desk are seen as insecure, unsure, and unconnected. Eye contact is the surest way to establish rapport with someone and to maintain good lines of communication.

Offers a Limp or Overly Firm Handshake

This may seem like silly advice, but please practice your handshake. Give a limp handshake, and you will be seen as insecure. Give an overly powerful handshake, and you'll be seen as domineering. Also, save the "high fives" and "fist bumps" for your fraternity buddies or friends.

Lacks Confidence

If you don't walk into the school or into an interview room with a degree of self- confidence, you will be putting yourself at a disadvantage. Practice all the tips, ideas, and strategies in this book, and you'll have the confidence you need to impress an interviewer and do well in the actual interview.


According to the latest research from professional interviewers, when we meet someone for the first time, 93 percent of the overall impression formed comes from nonverbal messages, not from what is actually said. How we look when we meet an interviewer sends a powerful message, one that establishes a tone (positive or negative) for the actual interview.

C. Speech

Communicates Ideas Poorly

One of the first rules prospective lawyers learn in law school is that a good lawyer "never asks a question in open court that he or she doesn't already know the answer to." By practicing with the questions in this book, you will know how to respond to each one. You will know what to expect and how to answer. By practicing with these questions, you will discover very few "surprise questions" in an interview.

Uses Poor Grammar

"Ya know what I mean?" "Like it was totally cool, man." "He was so full of it." "She was freakin' out of her mind." "Like, O.K." "I mean, he was one bad-ass dude." Hey, you've spent four years in college. You've taken English courses and at least one speech course. Don't blow your chance for a job by using inappropriate grammar. Clean it up. Now.

Is Inarticulate

Speak clearly and understandably. Makes sure you can be easily heard from a distance of five or six feet (the average distance between a person behind a desk and one in front of the desk). Mumbling your words or using a slurred speech pattern will doom your interview as well as your potential performance in a classroom.

Talks Too Much

This is not a time to tell an interviewer everything you know about education. It is, quite simply, an exchange of information. In other words, don't take over the conversation. Know when to listen. Know when to talk. Know when to shut up— and then shut up!


Most professional interviewers advise that the ideal answer to a question should be no shorter than 30 seconds and no longer than two minutes.

Argues with the Interviewer

Can you believe that, in order to make a point, some candidates actually argue with the interviewer? I have one word for interview arguments: Don't!

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