Strategies for the Interview Process – Using a Framework for a Dynamic Interview
- Susan Schwartz
Have you ever applied for a position that you really wanted and was unsuccessful? After many years of teaching in the elementary classroom, I went to five different interviews for an educational consultant leadership position with my school board, and I was sadly unsuccessful ALL five times. Although I felt that I was qualified and so ready to do the job, I was quite discouraged and disheartened by my absolute failure at the interview level. After my first interview, I was given feedback. “We knew you had a lot of knowledge and experience with Social Studies because we saw from your resume that you had written a Social Studies resource document at the board level, but you talked so much during the first question we asked you that we ran out of time and couldn’t even finish the interview.”
During my subsequent interviews, I still wasn’t able to focus my answers clearly or coherently, and afterwards, I realized how much more concise I could have been, and how much more useful information I could have shared, and I knew that I should have and could have organized my answers better to showcase my skills and accomplishments. It was at that time that a friend and colleague of mine coached me and said, “Susan, there is a specific way to answer questions when you are on the ‘hotseat’ – it will help you to organize your answers so that you really share your understandings, beliefs, and philosophy, your experiences, and your practical know-how in the role.”
Luckily, her coaching worked, and after my next interview for a consultant position, I was successful! I was elated! I attributed my success to my new knowledge about how to answer interview questions, as well as to my new-found confidence in responding. I appreciated my good friend sharing her strategies and taking the time to coach me for the interview process. (Thank you so much, Kim!!)
A few years later, after co-writing the 1st edition my book Retelling, Relating, Reflecting: Beyond the 3 R’s with Maxine Bone, I realized that our 3 R’s framework was similar to Kim’s coaching model and worked extremely well when addressing questions during an interview. (The 3 R's framework works well as a reading response strategy, as well as an assessment strategy, and in many other classroom and real-life situations.) To clarify, when responding to any question when on the ‘hotseat’, you need to think about what issue or topic the question is asking about and then talk about your knowledge, understandings, and beliefs (RETELL); you need to make connections to your experiences from your resume – make your resume and experiences come alive (RELATE); and you need to step into the role (REFLECT) and talk as if you are there in that role, giving as many practical ideas as you can about the issue or topic. Once the 3 R’s framework is understood and internalized, working with a colleague to practice responding to questions that might be asked when on the ‘hotseat’ is clearly a good use of your time, and will help to calm your nerves and give you added confidence and competence during the interview process.
I first shared this framework for a dynamic interview when I was teaching the Principals’ Qualification Program at York University. I offered potential school leaders important coaching support, which was extremely well received. For my many years as a teacher educator at OISE, University of Toronto, I shared this framework with teacher candidates with great success.
I originally wrote a 4-page article, Using a Framework for a Dynamic Interview, which is now revised and included in BOOK 5: Lifelong Learning – Your Career in Education, in the new series of 5 ebooks and paperbacks, CREATING THE DYNAMIC CLASSROOM: 5 Must-Haves for Teachers, 4th Edition (Amazon Publishing, 2020; previous editions published by Pearson Canada), as well as in Beyond the 3 R’s: Retelling, Relating, Reflecting (2nd Edition in press).
To find out more about how to use this 3 R’s framework for a dynamic interview, be sure to check out BOOK 5.
You may also want to read the extremely positive testimonial by Emmanuel on our Reviews page on this website. He found the 3 R's framework extremely helpful during his interview process for Vice-Principal.
All the best with your job hunting!
Have you used the 3 R’s framework during an interview? Please share your thoughts and/or questions by sending me an EMAIL.