How to Nail an Indi-ED Interview

Two exciting events are approaching at the end of April.

1. My intern’s time in our classroom is coming to an end.

Clarification, sad for our students and for myself because she’s extremely talented. But exciting for her because now she’s interviewing for a classroom of her own.

2. We’re one month away from ending our first enrollment cycle at Indi-ED.

Further clarification, we are solidifying the Founding Class of Indi-ED! Yes, it’s the end of a time frame but it’s REALLY exciting because of what lies ahead.

I bring up the two together because as I was helping, we’ll call her Miss E.T.I. (Miss Extremely Talented Intern), prepare for her first interview, I found myself reminiscing about being on her side of the table.

I tried to remember the questions I was asked. I tried to remember any strategies that have helped me in the interviews I’ve been on since then.

And as I was running through the all too stereotypical questions and giving her the all too stereotypical advice – it hit me. When I’m interviewing for Indi-ED’s teachers, I will have such an entirely different approach.

I believe this could apply to multiple lines of work as I listen to so many of my friends in management positions struggle to find the most qualified employees, no matter what type of business they’re in. It would require a shift in mentality towards the process itself, but I believe that it boils down to the same missing element – an honest, trusting conversation.

Why bother attempting to put your best foot forward in an interview if it means that you’re not being honest about yourself or your abilities? It doesn’t benefit yourself or the business that you’re applying for in the long run.

I look forward to asking more questions that will assess genuine self-awareness with an attitude of respect and understanding.

I’d like to hear more about our candidates strengths, their real weaknesses (not the ones that you flip into a positive so you sound good), their successes, their history, why they are the way they are today, are they capable of learning from their mistakes, under what circumstances do they work best, are they honest, how are they genuinely themselves. No judgment. Simply an honest attempt to understand.

If the above are what we’re looking to build within our students and if we’re looking to create an entirely different approach to education, I can’t possibly trust someone to be a leader or to mentor young people in those traits and ways of work if they can’t identify them within themselves.

Another huge difference and way that we’re looking forward to creating change is in the intentional way that we’re going about hiring our teachers. We are taking the time to get to know our students BEFORE we’re hiring our teachers.

We are taking the time to have the discussions and share the information that will help us get to know our little ones as real, intricate, HUMANS with passions, interests, personalities, preferred ways of work, strengths, weaknesses, etc. and THEN hiring the RIGHT teachers to match to your little ones’ needs. What a concept?! And get this! Our students and teachers, if agreed upon, will stay together over multiple years! Real humans having real supportive relationships-that’s REALly exciting indeed!

Imagine for a moment what will happen when our Indi-ED students sit down to their first interview! (Well they’ll actually get to do that within the first month next year, but I’m talking about their first job interview.) Not only will they be able to articulate their strengths and weaknesses with honesty and confidence because they’ve been given opportunities to become more self-aware, but they will have multiple, concrete examples of how they’ve used their skills for real tasks that may align to their preferred career path. I’d look forward to interview our little ones in the future!

Parents, if you haven’t before, I’d encourage you to think about how your student’s school actually selects- or shuffles may be a more accurate word for most -the teachers for your little ones each year. The harsh reality of how I’ve seen it done is that there is very little consideration given.

Splitting up pieces of paper based on gender, ability levels, or test scores then turning them over and handing them out like playing cards is how it can happen. No discussion about your little one as a human. No discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher and how they may align or misalign with the little ones.

I’m not saying that there will always be a perfect match or that you can’t learn from others’ differences, but there is research to support that if our little ones have multiple years of negative school experiences, that it can be damaging for them in the long run. That’s not a risk that we’re willing to take.

HUGE light bulb moment! The parents of the students that have enrolled thus far ALREADY embody the characteristics that I will be seeking in my teachers! Do you know how lucky that makes me and any teacher who will get to work with these families?! HUGELY!

We have already been blatantly open and honest with one another, they’ve shared about their children, I’ve shared about my past experiences, we have been genuine and honest about this process, we have in essence interviewed one another and the amount of TRUST & RESPECT that has already been established as a result of that genuineness makes me know for certain that I’ve ‘hired’ the right families and students for this first year.

Parents, thank you for trusting this different approach. I promise for this year and all years to follow, our students, your family and our little ones will be treated with dignity, consideration, and respect.

Interested teachers, don’t even consider applying if you’re not ready to toe that line.

Miss E.T.I. – you’ve got this!

I couldn’t help but think that the one side of our Vision Box for next year was more than appropriate for this post.

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