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Details, details

When interviewing, it’s best to support grand statements of philosophy with concrete examples of implementation. It’s one thing to say you think differentiated instruction is swell and another thing to talk about how you’ve integrated it into your planning.

I know this, but sometimes I still forget to provide these examples – it’s one of the interviewing skills I simply haven’t mastered. I think part of the reason I forget to illustrate my points is because I find it difficult to come up with examples on the spot – like many people, I am far more likely to remember the perfect supporting story on the drive home than I am sitting across from an interviewer. And sometimes I leave out examples because my internal interviewer clock (honed through years of admissions work) warns me, “you’re taking too long. Wrap this answer up, NOW.” So I weigh the risk of being too vague against the risk of rambling and almost always choose vague as the lesser evil. Once I’m driving home, however, I care less about the timing of my responses and more about the substance of them, so I make a mental list of all of the stories I could have shared but didn’t and I wonder if the interviewer got a good sense of my abilities based on the limited information I provided.

I try not to obsess about this, though. No interview is long enough to cover all of the things that I – or any other candidate – believes or can do. In the end, we hire on first impressions, best guesses, and a leap of faith. My job is to share myself as honestly and fully as possible in the time allowed. Hopefully that will be enough for the interviewer, but if it’s not, I can take what I learned from that interview and try to do better – giving more examples, illustrating more ideas – in my next one.

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