Teach for America
Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
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- Application Details
I applied online. The process took 2+ months - interviewed at Teach for America in March 2009.Interview Details
Wrote essays for first round, phone interview for second round, and group interview for last round of interviews.Interview Questions
Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- What is a challenge you had to overcome? Answer Question
- Interview Details
Submit Application, if they like you then you'll then have a phone interview, then submit online assignments, and then final round group interviews in which you'll teach a lesson. followed by an individual interview in which you'll get feedback about your lesson. very in depth interview process but it weeds out the people who aren't truly interestedInterview Questions
Declined OfferDifficult Interview
- Have you ever quit anything? Answer Question
3 people found this helpfulApplication Details
The process took 3 days - interviewed at Teach for America in February 2010.Interview Details
I received am email for a phone interview and I selected the first date available.Interview Questions
Negotiation DetailsYes, I was able to negotiate.Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Which TFA core values do you align with? View Answer
4 people found this helpfulApplication Details
I applied online. The process took 3 months - interviewed at Teach for America in March 2010.Interview Details
Focus on just the day long interview. When I went they were holding it for five days, and there were about 8 other people with me on that day. One of the interviewers was a former TFA teacher, the other was a manager of some sort who had never actually taught herself. You start by listening to their personal stories and asking general questions. Then you introduce yourself. Then we all take turns doing our sample lesson plan. I think the time limit was 10 minutes. Tips: About 2 people forgot to put their name, grade, and subject on the board, even though they reminded us several times before the start and this was part of the preparation instruction before interview day. Many people chose very low grade levels with simple tasks like how to tell time or how to count change. In my opinion, this just shows you are uncreative and intimidated because the example they give before interview day is something like this. I think about 6 didn't finish, and for 5 of them that was because they tried to get too complicated for just 10 minutes. One kid picked something rather complex from physics, and I think he got bonus points from the looks on the interviewer's faces even though he didn't even get to the part where he explained his worksheet. Dress: The two men came in slacks and ties. Half the women wore business suits and the other half wore very conservative dresses. One interviewer wore a party dress and the other wore slacks and a nice cotton shirt. The next part was a multiple choice quiz involving basic math, table reading (ie gradebooks), and problem solving. Some of the questions involved the same scenario for up to 3 questions, which involved a narrative and a chart and/or table. There were also some essay questions at the end. It was a timed test and I noticed that about half were still writing at time up. If you have ever taken an AP or standardized test before, then you will know to watch the clock and how to best budget your time. Then we were supposed to collaborate to solve a problem scenario they told us. Everyone had their own sheet of paper with the scenario and proposed solutions for its 2 parts. Someone was supposed to volunteer to be the scribe, and their paper had everyone's name on it. I volunteered for this, and I'm not sure if that was a good idea. You spend more time transcribing than participating, and it feels like a double-edged sword because the interviewers are also taking notes and I'm sure they want to see how accurately you portray the conversation. After that it's lunch break and you sign up for times to come back for the 1:1. The interview starts pretty typically. Again, they focused on only one of my jobs. I wonder if I perhaps talked about the other job too much. They refer to the transcript from your phone interview often. Then they play a "role-playing" scenario. In mine, I was to play a new teacher who was teaching Romeo and Juliet. The class enjoyed the discussions we had about the work. However, the school just spent lots of money on new computer software to teach the kids grammar drills. The kids hated them and wanted to spend more time reading Romeo and Juliet. I was supposed to come up with a solution to the problem and propose it to the principal, which the interviewer played. Basically, there is no way to win at this role playing. Every idea you bring up gets shot down rudely, and every now and again the "principal" suggests you are just a naive new teacher who doesn't understand how things roll. My strategy was to just push through until the end (when the interviewer finally said, "Okay, that's enough"). I'm not sure that's the best strategy. I could see some spineless types breaking down at this part or even someone just stopping in shock at the rudeness and curtness of the so-called principal, especially when they figure out there is no way to "win." But this is just my take. Supposedly, 18% become TFA members, but that depends on the number of applicants and if those numbers are even trustable (again, we are supposedly sworn to secrecy about the process).Interview Questions
No OfferNeutral ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Was there ever a time at your current job that you had an irresolvable conflict? View Answer
1 person found this helpfulApplication Details
I applied through an employee referral. The process took 4 months - interviewed at Teach for America in January 2012.Interview Details
Extremely long process. Takes time to get on folks calendars. Multiple interviews in the same day and multiple interviewers in the same interview. The organization is difficult to get into and the interview process is how they manage it. HR is slow to respond even if they are very much interested in you.Interview Questions
Negotiation DetailsZero negotiationAccepted OfferNegative ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Be prepared to answer questions around the mission and vision of TFA and how they pertain to you. Technical questions are minimal. Answer Question
3 people found this helpfulApplication Details
I applied through other source. The process took 2 months - interviewed at Teach for America in February 2010.Interview Details
I applied January 8th (3rd application deadline). The time from application to offer spanned 2 months to the day (3rd deadline applicants were notified of their status on March 8). On January 14th, I was notified that I would be skipping the phone interview process and would move directly to the final interview. There was a small window to sign up for in person interviews that were held the week of February 8th. Unfortunately, this did necessitate getting overnight accommodations at a local hotel the night prior because the interview day started at 8:00AM and their interviews are often held on college campus' throughout the US - the closest of such being in Albany, NY as I live in a rural part of Northern NY. The interview day began promptly at 8:00 AM and each person's end time varied based upon the time of their 1:1 interview. There will be about 9-12 people at your interview, and at mine, thankfully, people were kind enough to ask around to see who had the furthest drive - offering the earliest 1:1 interview times to those people with the furthest commutes. I believe the latest time may have been from 5:00PM to 6:00PM.
The day starts with giving your 5 minute classroom presentation. I will say, though, the time goes by so quickly. Practice your presentation. Time it. It was evident the people who were not prepared - they didn't provide enough copies of their handout despite the numerous times it was mentioned to come with 14 copies of your handout (12 for applicant, 2 for interviewers). Don't be that person.
Next, you break into groups to discuss the articles they asked you to read. The interviewers sit close to you to hear your discussion, but they do not participate. This was the least stressful part of the interview. Read the articles so you have something to say, but don't dominate the conversation.
There's a break in there somewhere to use the bathroom, but it isn't long.
You will take a test. I found this to be the most stressful part of the interview because it was timed. From what I can recall, there were several multiple choice questions requiring your analysis of data tables. For example, there'd be a chart showing 10 students, 10 grades, and 3 methods of study/ instruction. The question would be "Based upon the table, which method of instruction should Mr. Jones eliminate?" It's basic math / critical thinking and appears to be the sort of thing you would need to do in your own class. There was also an essay on this test . I cannot remember what exactly you had to write about, but you had somewhere around 25 minutes to write.
You have to write a second essay as well, although it is not part of the test. The question was something relating to your reaction or feeling about the group component of the interview. There were no right or wrong answers.
Somewhere in there we heard a brief story about one member's experience int he Corps. They also gave a spiel about the Delta and Louisiana, and said that you could change your preferences but to only either of those locations for 48 hours after the interview. They also mentioned that a change had "no bearing" on your admissions decision, but I find that extremely hard to believe.
The day wraps up with the scheduling of your 1:1 interview. I was the first interview of the day of my subgroup. They asked us to be to the interview time 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. I was annoyed because the interviewers ate lunch during my session, and I was starving. Yes, I did eat before I arrived, but it was going on several hours at that point, and I did NOT have time to eat lunch before my interview.
During the 1:1, it's pretty typical of other interviews that I have been on with the exception of a role play. The interviewer played the history department head and I played a teacher asking for permission to take the kids on a field trip. It did get a little intense, because she didn't just play nice with me, which the interviewer apologized for at the end.
Your placement offer may or may not be related to the lesson you taught. I did pre-K and my placement is secondary English.Interview QuestionsNegotiation DetailsThere is absolutely no negotiation. They present you with an offer of a region, grade level, and subject - you can either accept it or reject it.Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Application Details
I applied online. The process took 3 months - interviewed at Teach for America in May 2012.Interview Details
It was very hard.Interview Questions
Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Would you ever quit? Answer Question
14 people found this helpfulApplication Details
I applied online. The process took 2+ months - interviewed at Teach for America in March 2012.Interview Details
It is an extensive process. TFA is selective, NOT competitive. There isn't an "x" number of people they choose for the corps every year, they choose everyone who is qualified (that is because some districts are so understaffed that they literally take as many corps members as TFA can give them). Thus, you are evaluated based on TFA's "bar", NOT compared to your peers. The selection rate (of around 11%) has gotten lower in recent years is because the number of applicants increased more than the number of qualified applicants.
The first step of the application is online (form, resume, essay), which is a primary screening to see a few things:
1) Do you have leadership experience? Do you have numbers to quantify its significance to an extent? (ex: how many people you managed/led, how big of a budget you dealt with, etc)
2) Do you understand TFA's mission? Are you really on board? Are you just looking for a place to boost your resume?
3) Are you a passionate person? Can you handle the work? Have you been through challenges?
If you come across as someone with these traits, you will move to the next stage in the process. I interned at recruitment the summer before I applied, so I learned a lot about what they were looking for. If you are especially strong in showing these on the initial application, you can even skip the next stage in the process and go straight to the final interview!
The second step is a phone interview. From what I've heard, they mainly try to get you to elaborate/flesh out the 3 things above based on what you submitted for the first step. Their website actually lists 7 "things", but some of the others don't become as important until the final stage of the interview process. Their list of 7 is below (taken from their website under the page "Who We Look For"):
-A deep belief in the potential of all kids and a commitment to do whatever it takes to expand opportunities for students
-Demonstrated leadership ability and superior interpersonal skills to motivate others
-Strong achievement in academic, professional, extracurricular, and/or volunteer settings
-Perseverance in the face of challenges, ability to adapt to changing environments, and a strong desire to do whatever it takes to improve and develop
-Excellent critical thinking skills, including the ability to accurately link cause and effect and to generate relevant solutions to problems
-Superior organizational ability, including planning well and managing responsibilities effectively
-Respect for individuals’ diverse experiences and the ability to work effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds
If you move forward to the final interview stage, the rumors are that they usually take about 50% of the remaining candidates and actually accept them into the corps. However, that number could change drastically from year to year based on how they choose candidates (read first paragraph to review this).
The final interview is intense. Beforehand, they will have you complete an online activity. They force you to sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the specifics of that, so I will honor that here. If you focus and take it seriously, you shouldn't have any problems.
The final interview is in-person and is a full day. In the beginning, they have you in an interview group of a max of 10. Each candidate teaches a 5 minute lesson to their "class", which is the rest of the interview group. The time limit is very strict (they will stop you if you're not finished). The purpose is not to impress them with the complex data you can communicate, or to prove you're already a teacher, but to show that you know how to communicate to a class in the teaching environment.
After the lessons are finished, there is a group discussion activity. They want to see that you can make valuable contributions to the discussion while not dominating and make sure that an outcome is compiled by the end of the time limit.
After that, you sign up for a one-on-one interview slot and have an interview for about 30 minutes (some are shorter, but not usually longer than that). During the one-on-one, they ask a lot of questions about your resume, why you want to be in TFA, and if you think you can handle the demanding environment. They also do a scenario of some sort than involves talking with a school administrator about implementing a new program.
Then, you're done!
They are implementing a new program this year in which you can apply as a college junior to start working after your senior year. If you do not get accepted, they will give you some sort of feedback and let you apply for the fall of your senior year so that you can have another chance to still work in the same corps and apply twice. I'm not sure of the other details of that program, but I would highly recommend it if you are a college junior that feels like TFA could be the right fit for you!Interview Questions
Negotiation DetailsThere isn't much negotiation. You submit your preferences when you apply, so they know what you want.
- Most unexpected: Have you ever missed a deadline? View Answer
Your offer comes with the content you will be teaching, your grade level range (elem, middle, or high school), and the region (most are cities, some are geographically larger, see their website for details). There are cases where they will make changes for you, but they try all they can not to switch you. If you tell them you will not do the program unless you are switched and they are able to feasibly make the switch, the history I've seen is that they will. It is still very difficult to do, though. Also, none of it is guaranteed and it could switch. This is the case because your placement depends on the district and their needs, which change often. Teach for America does everything they can to get you where your original offer is, but since it is ultimately out of their control, that doesn't always happen. At the end of the day, if you're there to make an impact for kids, it doesn't matter where you are or what you teach. If you are a "professional" (meaning not just out of college), and you have a mortgage or a family to care for or a spouse with a job that limits your regional options they WILL do all they can to honor that. They honestly don't care where your boyfriend/girlfriend is unless you are engaged.
Also, on the form for your regional preferences, you can place regions into categories of highly preferred, preferred, and least preferred. You only need to put 10 regions, so if you have a specific desire for a region, only put 10 regions and only put the ones you really want in the "highly preferred" column. I say this because if they decide to make you an offer, they decide that before they consider the region. They want you to accept your offer, so if they choose you don't be afraid to make it clear which region you want to be in. I did this and was a later applicant and was surprised that I got my 2nd choice, which was a very popular choice (Los Angeles).Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Application Details
I applied online. The process took 4 months - interviewed at Teach for America in March 2009.Interview Details
Started with a phone interview. Questions regarding how you handle stress, organization, you beliefs about education, background, etc. Interviewer was easy going and friendly. 2nd interview was an all-day process at the regional office. 9 hours- the morning was all individual work and group role playing. I took an assessment, role played a school scenario in a group of four (they were looking for collaborative skills, I believe), and presented a 5 minute lesson to the other 11 interviewees and 4 evaluators. Break for lunch and then I waited until I was called for the one on one interview. They asked about my educational background, organizational skills, motivations for joining the corps, and my visions for my own future as well as that in education.Interview Questions
Negotiation DetailsNo negotiating. You get paid what teachers in your placement district get paid.Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- I really don't remember. They really want people who are organized, passionate, work well with a group, and driven to make positive change. Answer Question
2 people found this helpfulApplication Details
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2 months - interviewed at Teach for America in November 2010.Interview Details
There are multiple levels of interviews and high expectations of the interviewees preparedness for each level. Do not expect the standard questions or procedures. Show passion and excitement for the cause and a willingness to learn from those who have gone before you. Openness to new experiences and people is also important.Interview Questions
Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceDifficult Interview
- Teaching a lesson to other group interviewees was the most difficult. Make sure you have an assessment at the end of your lesson to determine if your "Students" have learned the material. Be prepared for difficult questions during your lesson from TFA staff acting as students. Answer Question
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Pros: “Very noble and important mission. Meaningful work. Decent starting pay. Overall positive leadership, although it's somewhat inconsistent due to how many different leaders there are (local…” “Very noble and important mission. Meaningful work. Decent starting pay. Overall positive leadership, although it's somewhat inconsistent due to how many different leaders there are (local school leaders, local TFA staff, institute staff, corporate TFA staff).” – Full Review