Helpful Hints for Online and In-Person Interviews

Max McGee, a former superintendent who leads the superintendent search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, prepared the following tips for candidates in executive leadership vacancies in school districts.

Before the interview:

  • Do your homework: Peruse websites, conduct a Google search (news and images); learn the mission, vision and values; jot down the strategic plan goal; familiarize yourself with the strengths and challenges; and watch some online school board meetings.
  • Create a list of points you want to make that demonstrates how you can and will contribute to the district and community.
  • Listen and think before answering questions and answer all parts to a question with multiple points.
  • Anticipate questions, prepare talking points and practice, practice, practice.
  • Share stories that reflect who you are and what you value.
  • Make your opening and closing count, as they are critically important.
  • Know what to say when asked if you have any questions. (Our advice: Simply thank them for their time and make your closing remarks.)
  • Make a practice recording of your opening and watch it to see how you can improve.

During an online interview:

  • Be in an office or business-like setting and do not use a Zoom background or photo background.
  • Move distracting items out of sight and prevent sounds that interfere (a barking dog, phone ringing, etc.)
  • Close all applications on your device except for the one you are using.
  • Position your camera at eye level, meaning you may need to put a laptop on a stand or stack of books.
  • Look into the camera when you talk and use your non-verbal cues as best you can. (Essentially, you are acting in these situations, so nods, head tilts, eye movements and facial expressions are all important.)
  • Clear ahead of time anything you intend to screen share.
  • Smile. Maintain eye contact. Breathe. Exude energy. Make a note to exhibit calmness and confidence.
  • Dress like you have the job. Maintain an “athletic” posture.
    Silence is on your side.
  • Use your hands to exhibit relaxed confidence, trustworthiness and strength.

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