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Teach for America TFA Corps Member Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Mar 19, 2014
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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member

I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Teach for America in May 2012.

Interview Details – It was very hard.

Interview Question – Would you ever quit?   Answer Question

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member
Los Angeles, CA

I applied online and 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 Question – Most unexpected: Have you ever missed a deadline?   View Answer

Negotiation Details – There isn't much negotiation. You submit your preferences when you apply, so they know what you want.

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).

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member
Phoenix, AZ

I applied online and 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 Question – 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

Negotiation Details – No negotiating. You get paid what teachers in your placement district get paid.

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member
West Lafayette, IN

I applied through a recruiter and 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 Question – 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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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member

I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Teach for America in October 2013.

Interview Details – Well I'll be completely honest. TFA is not for everyone. The first step is to fill out an online application. This application is very thorough, long, and is not something that you can do last minute. Make sure your resume focuses on your leadership experiences and your essay questions reflect true passion for their cause. Everything needs to be lined up with their mission and their core values. So, do your research.

Next is the phone interview/online activity. Some people skip the actual phone interview and is invited straight to the final interview. I think it just means that everything they were looking for was given and explained on their application. But, if you're offered a phone interview don't be worried. Just be yourself and be prepared. Be familiar with your resume and leadership experience and be ready to explain specific details. If you say you increased something, know the numbers or percentage and how you did so. Be very specific. The online activity is very long. First there is a watch and respond. You'll watch a video and respond. Then there's a test, there isn't a "correct answer" but they just want to see how and what you would do in certain situations. It's not hard though, just make sure that you think things through.

Lastly, there's a three part final interview. It consists of a five minute lesson plan, a group interview/activity, and then a one-on -one interview. All I can say is be prepared. For the five minute lesson plan--practice, practice, practice. Make sure whatever you choose to teach, you KNOW well and you can be completely confident in. Don't over think the lesson. Make sure that you're engaging the audience, have some sort of interaction, and use your time wisely. The group interview/activity. I cannot say this enough, Teach for America is NOT competitive it's selective. They are not looking for a set number of applicants. They are just looking for people who meet their standards. So try not to be a know it all and a control freak. Make sure you're heard, but also give others a chance to be heard. Review their core values: TEAMWORK. Work together as a team. I HIGHLY advise that you get to know the other interviewees and learn to support and encourage each other. It makes the day SO MUCH better. The one on one interview. Mine was awesome. The interviewer was SO nice and kind. Try not to be alarmed or feel like they're not paying attention to you when they're typing on their computer. They're taking notes on you. This is their way of painting a picture of who you are to the admissions team. So, be yourself, be prepared, and be passionate. I know TFA only accepts 11 % of their applicants but don't let that worry you. If you are truly passionate about something, it will show.

Interview Question – I agreed to keep questions confidential. Just know your responses to your application long responses, your resume, and leadership experiences.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation . When offered to the final interview, you are asked to pick 10 locations: under the categories: highly preferred, preferred, and least preferred. You will also be asked to pick grade level and subject as well under the same categories.

If you are offered a position, based off the need of the locations you picked and what you qualify for is how you will be offered a position. Your only options are to accept it or decline.

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TFA Corps Member
Nashville, TN

I applied through a recruiter - interviewed at Teach for America in December 2009.

Interview Details – Sample lesson, ability test, behavioral interview, phone call

Interview Question – Reflection   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – N/A

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No Offer

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member

I applied online and the process took 2+ months - interviewed at Teach for America.

Interview Details – Two steps to the interview- first a phone interview and then a final interview in person. Phone interview was not too challenging- make sure to review details of TFA on their website and have specific examples/situations ready to go. Final interview was more difficulty, they want to know A LOT of information about you so be prepared to have a lot to say and again have many examples.

Interview Question – Why would you quit TFA?   Answer Question

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member
Chapel Hill, NC

I applied online and interviewed at Teach for America.

Interview Details – The application process is fairly easy. Once you get invited back to the phone interview make sure to prepare answers about your organization skills etc. If you get invited back, you will partake in an online activity. After, you may be invited back to the final interview which will be in a group setting and takes a full day. The first part of the day will be dedicated to presenting a 5 minute lesson plan. Make sure you DO NOT go over or under in time and factor in time for questions. The people interviewing with you and interviewers will act as your students and they will get things wrong on purpose. After, there is a group activity where they observe you and want to see how you work in solving a problem in a group activity. Then, after this is your final personal interview.

Interview Question – Why would you quit TFA?   View Answers (2)

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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member

I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Teach for America.

Interview Details – The first step of the interview process is a lengthy online application. There is a phone interview, which focused on leadership, and online activity, which felt like it was addressing diversity. The final interview involved a group activity, a five-minute sample lesson and a one-on-one interview. The one-on-one was impersonal and challenging. The interviewer was typing literally every word I said, and it was hard to be passionate and personable. Then entire day went remarkably quickly.

Interview Question – During the one-on-one interview, you will do a role play as a TFA teacher. Immediately following the five-minute scene, the interviewer asked what I could have done better. It caught me immediately off guard, and I thought, "Well, we just ended it. If there was something I thought I could have done better, I probably would have just done it." Humility, humility, humility.

They'll ask why TFA, of course, organizational skills, have you ever quit something, etc. The interviewer asked about things on my résumé that I didn't expect her to care about. That really caught me off guard. She didn't ask about the experiences where I was leading and not about anything recent. That was the hardest part.
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TFA Corps Member Interview

TFA Corps Member

I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Teach for America.

Interview Details – Three stage interview process:

1) Personal statement of intent and several short answer questions

2) Phone interview, timed online activity, and 3 references

3) In person interview and 5 minute lesson presentation

Overall, the interview experience was a long, but positive one--if you are set on joining. I had a few buddies work tirelessly through the first two steps, only to get rejected in the final round because they did not convince the interviewers they were committed to the cause. Only worth going through the trouble if you really want it.

Interview Question – Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker and how you worked past it.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiations. Two weeks to decide, no extensions.

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