Uncommon Schools Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
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Special Education Coordinator Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in June 2012.
Interview Details – The staff is extremely warm and personable and are looking for someone who is positive, flexible, collaborative, hard working, passionate and dedicated to working 10-12 hours a day to support student growth.
Phone interview with HR rep about basic education experience, teaching strengths and weaknesses and aspirations.
Then phone interview with special education director doing role plays in various situations: "pretend I am another teacher who is strong but who has one failing student with a disability and they are adamant that it is the students fault, how would you approach the teacher to offer suggestions to support the student in the general education setting?"
Given an objective to teach a 10-15 minute sample lesson to a group of students. Then discuss strengths and areas of growth for that sample lesson: "what would you do differently and what were you happy with?" Then interview asking basic education questions about how you would support students in various situations or with various skill deficits: "what interventions would you out in place for double retained student reading 5 years below grade level?"
Interview Question – Coming from a public school where you have 2 months off in summer and 6 hour work days, what is going to keep you motivated to wrk 10+ hours a day and complete a month of August training? View Answer
Negotiation Details – No negotiation, you are offered the salary and given a week to accept.
Apprenticeship Teacher Interview (Neutral Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in July 2014.
Interview Details – I applied online and then I set up a phone interview via email. The phone interview lasted about 20 minutes. It consisted of many straightforward questions. Nothing too shocking or out of the blue, just everything you would expect for a teaching position at an urban charter school. Then I was invited to an "immersion day" to give a sample lesson and have a 1-on-1 interview with the principal of the school. Simple. Either you have it or you don't. I didn't.
Interview Question – Name 3 words that describe your personality Answer Question
Teacher Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in February 2010.
Interview Details – You'll get an education in education. Uncommon has some strongly held philosophies. Reading (and practicing) the techniques in Teach Like a Champion could get you far. You'll begin with a phone screen. They will fly you to them to meet the staff in person. I was impressed with how smart and strategic everyone is.
Interview Question – They want all teachers to be on the same page - to be consistent. Some might perceive that as less freedom (and more work), but it provides necessary structure for getting kids ahead of the curve. Answer Question
Teacher Interview (Neutral Experience)
I applied online and interviewed at Uncommon Schools.
Interview Details – Filled out an online application and was contacted for a phone interview within 2 weeks. The interviewer was very unorganized and cancelled the interview 20 minutes in because of an answer that was clearly stated on my application. She clearly did not take the time out to even look at my application before the interview. I just thought that was really rude.
Interview Question – Why uncommon? View Answer
School Support Staff Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 6 weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in March 2014.
Interview Details – Overall, the interview process was long. The process hearing back for a phone interview took over a week. The process for then an on-site interview was drawn out as well. After interviewing during an Immersion Day, aka a 3 hour long process with 3 other candidates, I did not hear back for over 2 weeks. Once I heard I was being called in for another interview with a specific school, I was left hanging for another week to eventually being turned down for the position because they couldn't make the time to interview (or so it seemed). However, the staff I met and interviewed with were extremely friendly and the Immersion Day was overall a great experience for an interview. It involved a panel interview as well as a tour of the school and a few tasks that would be evaluated. It was definitely a good experience getting to know the network, but I did feel short changed at the end of the experience. I would have much rather just been told off the bat that I was not going to be considered further.
Interview Question – Role playing questions, such as if a child has been late to school more than the acceptable amount and the father argues that the child was not late and that the policy is ridiculous, how do you handle the conversation? View Answer
Special Projects Coordinator Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in June 2014.
Interview Details – Two days after applying online, a recruiter conducted a 15-minute phone interview. The questions were standard: 1) Tell me about yourself; 2) Why Uncommon Schools?; 3) Describe a time when your work was criticized. I was invited to Immersion Day that following week. Immersion Day includes a series of assignments and panel interviews. There were four assignments: 1) Excel Task (requiring knowledge of Conditional Formatting, VLookup, and Pivot Tables); 2) Prioritization Task; 3) Letter to Parents; and 4) Event Planning. I was evaluated on self-reflection, creativity, and tenacity--in addition to skillset. It is clear that they are searching for T-shaped individuals: ones who have a deep understanding in interdisciplinary fields. Although I was nervous and extremely tired, I maintained a positive outlook and shared enthusiasm in wanting to learn more. A week later, I received a verbal offer followed by a written contract.
**Excel for Educators by Jason Altman helped me prepare**
Interview Question – Scenario: Imagine you are rushing down the hallway, and three teachers approach you with tasks. How would handle this? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – My recruiter was very helpful and encouraging throughout the process.
Teacher Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at Uncommon Schools
Interview Details – Online app, phone interview, in person interview, offer. The process itself moved fairly quickly (about 3 weeks). They will cover travel expenses for the in person interview if you are coming in from out of state.
Interview Question – Make sure your stance on education matches with theirs Answer Question
Office Manager/Special Program Coordinator Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Uncommon Schools.
Interview Details – I was referred to Uncommon by a friend. Once I applied, they called me a few days later to schedule a phone interview. The questions were basic, but on the negative side, "tell me about a time things didn't go right?" "How do you deal with projects that don't go well"
After I passed the phone interview, they called me in for an in-person interview. There was one other candidate there. We had a tour of the school and then they had us do various tasks. Some excel work, writing a memo to parents and prioritization. There was also a formal interview which was pretty basic, but once again, focused on negative questions.
I was told to come in for another interview, and it was more relaxed. They did have me do various tasks, but nothing major. I got a call about a week later and they said that I was overqualified for the Office Manager role, but wanted me to look into the Special Project Coordinator position.
I got an interview at a New Jersey school where about 8 other people were there. We did not get a tour of the school or any real info of the school. They quickly had us do some tasks, excel, memo, prioritization and another one which I cannot recall. Once again, there was a formal interview, this time in front of 4-5 people. They asked negative leading questions again, and I did not get a chance to ask any follow up questions. I also met with the Director of Operations, who was a bit kinder and let me ask questions, but since we ran short on time and I didn't get all my questions asked.
They called me a day later (on Saturday) asking if I can come in for an interview Monday. I would be assisting with parent registration, observing how the lunch room is run and another formal interview. I went in from 8am-4pm and interacted with parents/scholars. After talking to other charter school teachers, I found this part odd that they asked this of me since I was not officially employed. The formal interview was basic questions following up from the first day of interviews (at the NJ school) They needed clarification on stuff. They asked me on a scale of 1-10 how likely I was to take the job, which I said was a 9-10.
They contacted all my references as well as received a glowing recommendation letter from my previous employer. I got an email about 5 days later from a different HR rep saying I was not accepted for the position. Take back by this, I emailed my HR rep for clarification since I spent days with this school interviewing and to just receive a simple email was not enough for me.
She called about an hour later explaining that though the email was not a mistake, she was suppose to follow up with me first before the email went out.
Everything about the process rubbed me the wrong way. It almost felt like the interviewer was using me to do various tasks around the school instead of seeing if I should be a good fit or not. Having me order school supplies, interacting with families are not things you have someone do on an interview. You have them do that once they are employed. She encouraged me to apply for other positions, but I will not be doing that at all.
Interview Question – None of the questions were really difficult, but they were all just negative based and I rarely got to ask them questions about the role. Answer Question
Special Projects Coordinator Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools in February 2014.
Interview Details – initial phone interview was normal, asked the same questions from the application. Then got asked to come in for a interview at a school in Brooklyn. I asked for details and the recruiter said it'd be a full day, classroom observations, 3 sample tasks and an interview with the Director of Operations. Turned out when I got there, four other candidates were interviewing with me. Additionally, the interview was with 3 Director of Operations at the same time. Intimidating. The process was strenuous with role playing, office work (they tell you to observe the office staff, but they made me call parents to reschedule parent-teacher conferences) and unnecessarily very long. There is no communication between the recruiter and the actual school considering that the recruiter did not tell me that I was not going to be alone when I asked for further information about the process. Plus, he did not tell me that more then one person will be at the full day interview.
Interview Question – What to do when a parent is angry and argues about her sons tardy? View Answer
Special Ed Coordinator Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through other source and the process took 2+ weeks - interviewed at Uncommon Schools.
Interview Details – Submit resume, phone interview, sample lesson, 1 on 1 interview
Interview Question – Standard teaching questions. Asked to be reflective about sample lesson. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – Initially offered full time teaching role, no pay bump for coordinator role