Friday, January 9, 2015

Phone Interview Survival Guide

Over the next few days our fourth deadline applicants will be conducting their phone interviews. We understand that for many of our applicants, this may be their first phone interview. Read on for our tips about how to prepare. We also hosted a webinar on Friday with advice on the phone interview and Online Activity. If you missed it, you can hear the recording right here!

If you are invited to a phone interview, the first thing you will need to do is sign up for one. Just log on to the Applicant Center and click the "sign up for your phone interview" link on the Status page. While this process is pretty clear and intuitive, there is one step that could get tricky: your time zone! Make sure you select your time zone and mark the date and time carefully in your calendar – you don’t want to be an hour off! Another thing that sometimes throws people for a loop is a.m. vs. p.m. We offer interviews as late as 11:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. PT) for our West Coast applicants and night owls. That 11:30 p.m. has been known to trip people up. It’s no fun to think no one called you for your 11:30 a.m, interview, and then feel a little foolish when you realize it’s actually scheduled for 11:30 p.m. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake when signing up for an interview, or if an emergency arises making you unavailable during your scheduled interview time, you are welcome to reschedule your phone interview on the Applicant Center.

Ok, so I’ve signed up. Now what?
Well, now you can start to prepare yourself, mentally and physically. Yes, these tips are already on the Applicant Center, but they’re worth repeating:
  • Review your resume and letter of intent. Your interviewer is going to be interested in getting to know you and why you want to join Teach For America.
  • Familiarize yourself with who we're looking for.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place. If you’re in a place where there’s a lot of background noise, it’s going to be difficult to have a conversation.
  • Another reason to find a comfortable place? So that you can relax. Take a deep breath and go to your Zen place. Trust me; I understand that it’s easy to feel anxious. Interviews can do that to people. However, it’s important to remember that your interviewer is on the phone with you because they are genuinely interested in you, and what brought you to Teach For America. Sometimes it helps to know that the person on the other end of the line wants you to succeed. I promise; we don’t bite.

Good. Now I’m prepared, but what IS a phone interview? What is it going to be like?
It’s actually not that scary. On the day and time you signed up for, you will be contacted by an interviewer who will be a Teach For America alumnus or staff member. The interview should begin at the time you scheduled so make sure you are ready to start on time. Phone interviews typically take around 30 minutes, though they can run over. You should set aside an hour just to be safe. Sometimes life happens, and your interviewer may call a few minutes late. Don’t worry; you will still have 30 minutes for your interview. While I can’t provide you with the specific questions you’ll be asked, I can tell you that your interviewer is primarily concerned with getting to know you and hearing more about your experiences.

It is true that phone interviews can be awkward at times. You may find the conversation going very quickly, or your interviewer may stop you because s/he has already gotten the information they need, or there may be pauses while your interviewer catches up on taking notes of your conversation. This is just the nature of phone interviews. Don't worry about it! We want to make sure you are able to answer all of our questions, and it is important to us that we respect your time.

Good luck to everyone on their interviews and don't forget you'll be notified if you've been invited to continue in the process on January 16!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's Next?

As our third deadline applicants wait for their admissions decision on January 8 there are undoubtedly a lot of questions about what happens if you are invited to join the corps. Will you be assigned a specific subject? What’s summer training like? When will you meet your regional team? Read on to find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions!

On January 8, some time after 8 p.m. ET, you'll receive an email from Teach For America letting you know your admissions status is available on the Applicant Center. When you log on to the Applicant Center you'll be asked to complete a short survey before finding out your regional and subject assignment. Once you’ve found out your assignment, take some time to find out more about your region, think about what it means to join the corps, and talk to someone from Teach For America (you’ll be contacted by a staff member in a few days). Remember, you don’t have to officially accept your offer until January 21, so take advantage of your time and learn as much as you can!

Your Regional Assignment
Other than your actual admissions decision, your regional assignment is probably something you’re thinking a lot about. We put in a lot of time and effort in figuring out your regional assignment. We look at a variety of factors: first and foremost we look at what our regions need, then we of course look at your preferences and what you’re eligible to teach based on your coursework and regional requirements. While we do our best, we are not always able to match preferences with placement. Teacher placement is ultimately designed to maximize corps members’ impact on student outcomes. If you aren’t placed in your most highly preferred region we encourage you to learn more about your assigned region and be open-minded about the possibility of teaching there. Your regional team will be your best resource for answering your questions about certification, hiring, testing, and institute.

Your Subject Assignment
In addition to your regional assignment, you’ll also be given your subject assignment. Your subject assignment will be fairly general, such “elementary” or “middle school math.” We can’t tell you more than that because your subject placement won’t happen until you are actually hired by a school. Once you’re hired by a school your principal will tell you what exactly you’ll be teaching, such as 8th grade world history. To find out more about the difference between your subject and your placement, read our post from our assignment mastermind Caroline Charrow.

Your School
As I mentioned above, you will not be placed in a specific school on January 8. It will be up to you to interview and be hired by a school in your region. Your region will help in sending your resume out and setting up interviews. You’ll then interview during your regional induction, institute, and possibly during your regional orientation as well. Your region will work with you throughout the summer to ensure you’re hired and have a classroom waiting for you in the fall. Once you’re offered a position from a school, that’s your placement! Accepting your first offer from a school is important to our relationships with schools, districts, and principals.

Summer Training
The first part your corps commitment will be your regional induction. This will be held in your region and it’ll be your first introduction to your regional team, your new community, and your fellow corps members! From there, you’ll head to institute, which may be held in your placement region or may be held in a different region. If you haven’t you should read more about your summer training institute. You’ll live at your institute site, teach a summer school course at a local school, and take classes for these six weeks. After institute you’ll head back to your region for your orientation (if you weren't there already), and then it’s on the classroom, where the fun really begins!

Remember, if you’re invited to join the corps you’ll receive a lot more information about your region and institute. For our third deadline applicants, be sure to register for our upcoming online event, RSVP links can be found on the Applicant Center!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

While You Wait...

Our third deadline applicants finished their interviews last week, which now means it's time for...waiting. If you're a third deadline applicant you'll be notified of your final admissions decision on January 8, which means you have a few weeks with no required actions! But we want you to use that time to your advantage! What does that mean exactly? It means we hope you'll take this additional time to think about why you want to do this work, what it would mean for you to be admitted to the corps, and also what it would mean to you if you were not admitted to the corps this year.

To help you with that, we'll be hosting a few online events that will give you some guidance and opportunities to hear more about our work and the work of our partners and corps members.
  • Our first event "Our Partners" will feature some of the non-profit organizations we partner with. They'll take time to discuss their work, programs, and mission. This is a great opportunity to learn more about other groups that are doing exceptional work and to consider other opportunities should you not be invited to join the corps this year.
  • Our next event is "Stories From the Corps" which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like! It will feature current corps members who will share reflections, insights, and true stories about their time in the classroom, including the ups and downs. This is a great chance to hear from actual teachers and you'll get the chance to ask questions.
  • Our final event will take place in early January: "Admitted? Rejected? What's Next?" This event will discuss two pathways. The first: what happens if you're not invited to join the corps? We'll discuss ways to improve your application, other opportunities to explore, and thinking about applying in future years (many of our applicants do). The second part of the event will look at what if you are admitted to the corps? We'll talk about considering your offer, summer training, and preparing to enter the classroom next fall

You can register for each event on your Applicant Center, and if you can't attend, come back here a few days after to hear a recording. Whether or not you attend our events, we do encourage you to take the next few weeks and reflect. Think about what doing this work means to you, why you want to be in the classroom, and the impact you can have whether you're with Teach For America or pursuing other opportunities.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Preparing For Your Final Interview

If you're one of our third deadline applicants preparing for your interview next week, you may have questions about your required documents, what your interview day will be like, or how best to prepare.

Be sure to review the Applicant Center for all your required actions and listen to our recording of last week's "Preparing For Your Final Interview" online event.

Good luck at your interview!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't Forget: Your Online Activity Is Due Wednesday!

If you were invited to a final interview, by now you've probably already logged on to the Applicant Center to start your next steps. All applicants invited to continue in the application process must complete our Online Activity by November 12 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Here are a few tips so that you can complete this activity and cross it off your checklist!

1.Complete it as soon as you can. Why? It’s always better to get things done early. Plus, if you experience any technical difficulties, we can help you!

2.Set aside about two hours to complete the activity. It consists of two sections, one thirty minute multiple-choice section, and one untimed short answer section. When completing the untimed short answer portion, most people find they spend around five-eight minutes on each short answer question (around 150 words). But don’t stress if one question takes you four minutes or another takes you ten. This part is untimed! Relax and do your best!

3.Before sitting down to do the activity, ask yourself:
  • “Do I have a good internet connection?”
  • “Am I using a supported browser?” (Psst… our supported browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox)
  • “Have I read the directions?” (Seriously. Read them. They’re pretty handy.)

4. If you experience technical difficulties, try a few things first:
  • Log out of the Applicant Center and log back in using a different browser (Ex: if you’re using Chrome, try Firefox and vice versa)
  • Try accessing from a different computer.
  • If you’re having technical difficulties (loss of Internet, computer malfunction, etc.) completing Part I, go the Help tool on your Applicant Center and complete our Online Activity Help Request Form, the more details the better. While you wait for our response, you should still be able to work on Part II.
  • If you accidentally click out and close your browser before you finish the activity, log back on to the Applicant Center and click the link again. Be advised that your time will continue to run on Part I, so you should return to the activity as quickly as possible.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Notifications, (yes plural) Have Happened!

What a way to end October! Today our first, second, and third deadline applicants were notified!

First and Second Deadline Applicants
If you were accepted to the corps, congratulations! You're probably feeling excited, anxious, overwhelmed or maybe a combination of the three! All of that is perfectly normal. You don't have to decide right away if you're going to accept your offer. Read through the Applicant Center, learn about your region, attend an online event, and talk to a Teach For America staff member. You have until November 12 at 6 p.m. ET to confirm or decline, and we give you this time to really think your offer through. While we hope you'll accept, take your time to learn more about the commitment and about your role in the corps.

We also want to extend a big THANK YOU to all of our first and second deadline applicants. We know the application process is hard work and we appreciate your time, commitment, and passion for the mission. Teach For America is just one avenue working towards educational equality and we encourage you to take your passion and continue to seek out other educational and service-related opportunities.

Third Deadline Applicants
If you've been invited a phone interview, congratulations! You're probably reviewing your resume and considering who to list as your recommender. Check out our previous post for helpful tips on your interview. If you were invited directly to a final interview be sure to mark November 10 on your calendar for your Online Activity! We can't wait to learn more about you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

High Priority Subjects!

As our first and second deadline applicants get ready for their final interviews, one required action is to submit the Assignment Preference Form (APF). The APF is more than just the place where you list your regional preferences, it's also where you list your subject and grade level preferences. Just as we have our high priority regions (areas where the need for corps members is great) we also have high priority subjects. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Special Education (SPED), and Early Childhood Education (ECE) are considered high priority because we see an urgent need for teachers in many of our regions. We hosted an online event this week featuring 3 current corps members who shared more about their expereinces teaching these subjects. If you missed the call, check out the recording: If you're interested in learning more about our high priority subjects, check out the links below!