As you begin your journey into the teaching profession, it is important that you incorporate professional ethics into your training, student teaching and ultimately your career as a whole.
However, there is one step in this journey that often gets overlooked when it comes to emphasizing the importance of maintaining a high standard of professional ethics...the job interview and acceptance process.
Here are some ways to be ethical in the interview process:
Determine Your Ideal Job
Before you begin applying for open teaching positions, take some time to determine what your criteria is for your ideal job. It is also important to consider the criteria that would cause you to turn down a job offer.
Items to consider include:
Professional development opportunities
Knowing these points ahead of time will help you determine which teaching positions you should apply for. Each interview should be for a teaching position you see as a strong possibility that you will accept.
Four Questions To Ask Yourself
Once you have determined your criteria, you can begin applying for teaching positions. However, if you are contacted for an interview with a school district, before your interview, ask yourself these four questions:
If offered a job, am I ready to accept?
If offered a job, am I willing to drive the distance required?
Is there another district(s) where I would rather work?
If I have more than one area of certification, am I willing to accept a job in one I like less than the other(s)?
Having answers to these questions ahead of time will help you prepare for what may come after the interview. Often, the window of time between going to your teaching job interview and receiving a job offer is very short. You don’t want to be caught off guard and make a decision without having all the facts and evaluating what is important to you as you move forward with your teaching career.
How To Respond To These Questions
Upholding your professional ethics plays an important role in how you respond to these questions. Once you have settled on your answers to these questions, you will be ready to respond to offers to be hired.
If Offered A Job, Am I Ready To Accept?
Knowing where you stand before you enter a teaching job interview is an important part of the preparation process. Districts want to hire someone who is ready to teach … and ready to teach in their districts.
If you’re not ready to commit, it’s important to evaluate the reasons behind that. If it’s simply a matter of needing more information, evaluating what information you need ahead of time can help you formulate appropriate questions to ask during the interview process.
If you are waiting for additional offers, it’s OK to ask for some time to evaluate your offer. However, you may be wondering how much time you have to make a decision. Hiring managers typically say asking for 48 to 72 hours is acceptable.
If you receive a job offer from one district, but have your heart set on another district who you have interviewed with, you can contact your preferred district and let the interviewer know you have received a job offer from another but haven’t yet accepted it. The district may respect your need for a response and be able to speed up the hiring process on its end.
If Offered A Job, Am I Willing To Drive The Distance Required?
If you are not sure of the answer to this question and are offered a job, you could ask the principal to give you a day or two to determine whether to accept the offer.
Consider not only the number of miles you must drive each day, but the amount of time it will take to drive that distance, the cost of driving that distance and how that distance impacts any other responsibilities you have.
If you are unsure about the drive, you may want to do a test drive at the time you would normally be commuting to work. This will give you a better idea of what the drive will mean for you.
Give it a lot of thought and then give the answer you have decided upon. If you have interviewed with another district closer to home, and prefer a position that has a shorter driving distance, you can contact your preferred district and let the interviewer know you have been offered another position but have not accepted it yet. Again, this may help expedite the hiring process on the end of your preferred school district.
Is There Another District(s) Where I Would Rather Work?
While it may be a best case scenario to get multiple offers and be able to choose which district you want to work in, once you accept one of these offers, you should not rescind it.
Although you may have changed your mind, it would once again be unethical to act on that even if another district later offers you a teaching position. The school district that originally hired you would be forced to quickly go out and find another candidate, and the candidate pool is likely more limited the closer it gets to the beginning of the school year.
Keep in mind that the last thing you want to do is burn bridges or develop a poor reputation. Many school districts interact and you don’t want to gain the reputation of putting a school district in a precarious position.
Am I Willing To Accept A Job In One I Like Less Than The Other(s)?
Having multiple areas of certification can be great for your career. It opens up multiple teaching job possibilities and can even make you a more attractive candidate as districts are reviewing your qualifications.
Being certified in multiple areas can also be a great tool to getting into the school district of your choice. While the district may not have an opening in one certification area, it may in another certification area that you are qualified to teach. When applying for teaching positions, this may allow you to apply for multiple positions in a district as well.
Why These Questions Matter
The teaching profession is different from many other professions. In most professions, individuals can accept positions and leave them at will. They can break contracts without suffering any consequences.
This is not the case with teachers, who are entrusted with the education of children.
If you accept a teaching position with a district and then withdraw to take another teaching position with a different district, you will likely burn a bridge that cannot be repaired and your reputation may suffer.
Accountability matters in the teaching field, and the first true test of that accountability begins the moment you accept a job.
That’s why we urge ECAP candidates and applicants, as well as anyone considering entering the field of education, to always keep in mind their ethical standards throughout their educator journeys, even during the interview and hiring process.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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