“So, tell me why you’re looking to leave your current teaching role?” I asked. 

The candidate replied, “Well, we had a new principal start 2 years ago. I do not like this person and everything has gone downhill since he/she took over.” 

That is an interaction I recently had on a phone call. The candidate said this within the first 5 minutes of the call, and it set the tone for the rest of the conversation. I immediately asked: “Have test scores dropped? Have student/staff retention rates dropped? Are parents unhappy?” I was seeking evidence why this new principal was so bad for the school but was not provided a concrete answer.  

During an interview, every word spoken will be dissected. The best way to avoid being embarrassed is to know what is off-limits. Although we want candidates to be honest during the interview process, it is also important to outline a few things that should NEVER be said during an interview

1. “I don’t know how..”

There is a particular skill listed in the application that you are not able to do. Instead of stating how you do not possess a particular skill, talk about the how you have/are making strides to improve yourself in that area.

2. “My current/former principal is terrible.”

There are multiple reasons this should not be stated. There are many assumptions that can be made when hearing someone say this. Do you complain a lot (negativity is contagious)? Does this person hold themselves accountable for anything?  It is important to talk about previous challenges, but there is a solid boundary between providing a critical evaluation and complaining.

3. “This will be a great resume builder for me.”

While we all are looking to enhance our resume and add skills and responsibilities, this is not something we want to express in an interview. Principals (especially at Noble) are all about developing and coaching teachers, but they are also looking for someone that is planning to stay in the classroom. If you’re stating your intentions to move onward within a year or so, that makes it harder to hire you over others who have indicated they would be here to stay. Stating that you want to buff up your resume, tells me that you’re looking to leave as soon as something else comes along.

4. “I don’t have any questions for you.”

At this point in the conversation, there should not be a shortage of questions to ask. Hiring managers are looking for engaged candidates that are excited about the job. When hiring managers hear “No, I think you covered everything,” they are not sure if you’re truly interested in the job or not. Asking questions shows that you prepared ahead of time and that you’re genuinely looking to learn more. 

5. “Does your staff like working here?”

No hiring manager is going to say “Most of our teachers hate it here!” Instead, be direct with your questions. Ask about retention rate amongst employees, company culture, and how the mission statement/core values are applied every day in the office. Asking specific questions will provide greater insight on morale at the company: How do you celebrate milestones? 

Succeeding in job interviews takes persistence, research, and practice. The more effort you put into preparation, the better equipped you will be to succeed and obtain offers. Hopefully, these 5 tips will help you prepare for that upcoming interview. 


Have other ideas of stories we should share? Please send your ideas to communications@nobleschools.org

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