I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Teach for America in October 2013.
Interview Details – Online application, phone interview, though I did not participate in this and went straight to the final interview. The final interview takes a lot of preparation. Be sure to review the applicant center, tips for your five minute lesson plan, and all other materials. Also make sure that in your five minute lesson presentation, you stick to the time limit and accomplish both teaching the objective and TESTING the objective with some sort of check for overall comprehension. Also there is an online test prior to the final interview. I am still awaiting the decision.
Interview Question – Most difficult challenge Answer Question
I applied online and interviewed at Teach for America.
Interview Details – The entire TFA application process is long and drawn out, but understandably so because they want to make sure you are truly a good fit for the corps. I was offered a final interview without a phone interview. The final interview was slightly nerve wracking--I was most concerned about the sample lesson, but that ended up being the easiest portion of the day. The two interviewers and other applicants were very enthusiastic about participating in the lesson. Much of the interview felt conversational, which was a nice surprise. During the group activity, they want to see that you are engaged and have ideas to contribute, so be vocal.
Interview Question – I was slightly taken aback by the role play scenario during the individual interview. In the situation, I was a teacher who wanted to take my children on a field trip but the assistant principal constantly denied the request; I was asked how I would handle this situation. Answer Question
Reason for Declining – Two-year commitment was not fitting for my situation.
I applied online and the process took 2 days - interviewed at Teach for America in March 2009.
Interview Details –
This will be broken up into stages: 1) online application, 2) phone interview, 3) final interview. First, some general thoughts:
The hiring process is very standardized - the people talking on the phone with you, speaking with you at an interview, or reading your application have a rubric they are scoring you with that is based not only on your leadership experience, how you've dealt with obstacles, resiliency, ability to think outside the box, etc, but also on your clarity, thoughtfulness, and personability. Teach for America is looking for highly motivated self-starters who see every problem not only as something to overcome but as an opportunity for analysis and reflection. Showing how you have used data to address an issue is a big plus. They also want to know about your organizational ability - this job will test it to the limit. Having a go-to answer "I use iCal, I use little notebooks, I am obsessed with my daily planner" will go a long way towards inspiring confidence.
1) ONLINE APPLICATION: First and foremost, start early and be thorough. You want to give your references plenty of time and prep them on what to emphasize when they are talking about you. Also, understand you are in an incredibly competitive applicant pool - harping on your grades or your time as student body president as your sole major selling point isn't going to do it. The online app itself is straightforward and multi-step. I would suggest setting yourself staggered deadlines for each stage. ON PLACEMENTS: only put a placement as a "high interest" if you are totally willing to go there. Those are all considered with equal weight. Once everything is submitted, you will receive an acceptance e-mail within a few weeks of deadline that will or will not request a phone interview before the final interview.
2) PHONE INTERVIEW: This is done by a TFA staffer using a rubric as outlined above, and will probably repeat many of the questions you may encounter in your personal interview. The callers have a limited time for the interview but are writing down your answers ver batim. They had no problem when I asked for a minute to think when they asked me a question. The call lasts 15-20 minutes and addresses things that you wrote about in your online application as well as information from the pre-interview reading, so have both in the front of your mind. If you are passed at this stage you will know through e-mail within a few days.
3) FINAL INTERVIEW: This half-day behemoth was actually a lot of fun, but you must come prepared. It has several stages - your 3-minute lesson, some group activities, a group interview, and a one-on-one interview. Dress to impress - most of the people at my interview were in suits, though men wouldn't look out of place in a sport coat and tie. Your 3-minute lesson is a definite make-or-break moment. There were 2 people at my interview who obviously hadn't practiced or timed their lesson, and neither of them ended up being accepted. Most of the top presentations had a tactile or visual component that went beyond use of the board. You will have 30 seconds to write your objective ("students will be able to...") on the board, then your 30 seconds begins - no prep time. You ARE allowed to tell the audience (your fellow interviewees) what grade level they are and what they have already learned to prepare for this lesson. KEY POINTS: Make sure your assessment matches your objective and that your timing is good. If anything, try to end about 30 seconds early to field questions.
After the presentation the tension breaks. There are several group-based problem solving activities. Interviewers are looking for leadership, but not dominance. Your one-on-one interview will be very similar to the phone interview - remember what you wrote in your application and the information from the pre-reading, but focus primarily on clarity and personability. If you are accepted you will be notified within a few days.
Negotiation Details – There isn't any contract negotiation w/ TFA. If you aren't offered the region you wanted there isn't a ton of recourse - each staff is chosen from a pool, and asking for a transfer is more or less asking to be placed back into the general pool. Assuming you are chosen for a region you're willing to work, you will be set up with placement supervisors. E-MAIL THEM EARLY AND OFTEN WITH YOUR SPECIFIC WANTS AND NEEDS. Once you start interviews at schools you'll be expected to take the first offer without much discussion. Salaries are scaled and from the Dept. of Education and TFA has nothing to do with them.
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