It’s officially spring, which means it’s also interview season for teachers, and the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE is abuzz with questions about attending teacher job fairs. We know you’re busy, so we sifted through all the advice and compiled a list of best practices to help you score a new job at your next teacher job fair.
1. Have a game plan.
Review the list of participating schools ahead of time and flag those you want to meet. “I’m printing out the list and highlighting those I want to try to catch, including a couple with whom I’ve already applied online. It can’t hurt to introduce myself in person!” —Sarah
2. Do your research.
Explore your prospective schools’ websites. This research will help you better align your skills with the specific goals of the schools. “Familiarize yourself with the schools’ mission statements and have a cheat sheet ready to review before you meet with each school.” —Melissa
Think deeply about what type of environment you want to work in and have some questions prepared. Remember, job fairs are not just about getting a job, they are also about finding a school that will be a good fit for you.
3. Practice your elevator pitch.
This is your chance to communicate your experience and knowledge of the teaching profession, so rehearse your identity statement. “It’s a lot of talking about yourself—your philosophy of teaching, your classroom management perspective, etc.” —Liz
Be prepared for anything a prospective employer may throw at you. Anticipate questions and rehearse your answers so you can speak confidently. Being articulate is just as important as having great credentials.
4. Dress for success.
Even if you aren’t participating in a formal interview, you should still dress professionally. A well-pressed suit works. A skirt or slacks with a blouse is also fine. Closed-toe shoes are preferred, while short skirts and tight or revealing clothing should be avoided. Keep makeup and accessories (jewelry, ties, etc.) understated. Finally, don’t forget to wear your smile! “Remember, you are on ‘display’ from the time you pull into the parking lot until you leave it. You never know who is watching!” —Michele
5. Bring your toolkit.
Don’t show up empty-handed! Bring your teaching portfolio with sample lesson plans, evaluations, and student work. Also, make sure you have more than enough hard copies of your résumé and letters of recommendation to pass out. “Be prepared … Have tons of résumés.” —Heather
6. Stand out in the crowd.
Job fairs draw a big crowd, so make sure you stand out from the competition by asserting yourself. “Be bold! Go right up to the principals and introduce yourself. I was hired because I was not shy.” —Ashley
7. Follow up with finesse.
After you leave, send your preferred schools thank-you emails to quickly affirm your interest. Then follow up with a handwritten letter or card—even in the digital age, handwritten notes still go a long way! Personalize each note by outlining how your skills align with the school’s mission as well as why you would like to teach there. Even if you aren’t offered a second interview, your note may make a lasting impression. “The principal at one of the schools remembered me when he had a last-minute opening in August and called to offer me a job without having had a formal interview at all.” —Nichole
Come share your tips for teacher job fairs in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.