If you could start your career over again, what direction would you take?
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A hiring manager will be able to tell a lot about your personality by learning about your other career interests. If you could do anything over, what would you do, and why?
"I certainly do not regret the direction I have taken my career; however, if I had to completely start over in a new direction I would likely pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering and become an Engineer. Both of my parents were Engineers and they seemed to have a very fulfilling career. I always enjoyed hearing about their days when I was growing up. I enjoy analytics and research which I tend to do a lot of in my role as an educator."
Second Answer Example
"I am very satisfied with the direction my career has taken. If I could change anything I would perhaps have furthered my education to include a Masters' degree. I would want to research about adaptable technology for students for my thesis. I would still like to pursue this someday."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and their social media platforms to ensure that the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of questions you could have found the answers to from a simple Google search. It's a good idea to write these questions down.
" When would you like to have this position filled?
- What is it the culture like here?
- What will be my biggest challenge getting started?
- Is this a replacement search or a newly created role?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- What is K12 Inc.'s primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
- What do you see as the biggest change in the education industry over the past 3 years?
- Is there any reason why you would not hire me?"
Second Answer Example
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? In addition, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, what do you think makes K12 Inc. different from its competitors?"
Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume.
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The interviewer would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your resume. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your kids, or relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewer that you are a real person, too. Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate! If you have a special talent or a passion, now is the time to share it!
For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewer to stop you and ask you to perform your skill on the spot when it's possible! (This will make you unforgettable!) So choose something that you are confident in doing.
"I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last 8 years to compete in a variety of races.My favorite country to race in was Brazil, it was so beautiful. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."
Second Answer Example
"I am bilingual in Spanish and have some proficiency in French and Italian, too. I love learning new languages and it is my dream to travel more. I also am a huge Harry Potter fan and could pretty much quote each book to you!"
Whether you apply to be a teacher or take on an administrative role, you can expect to take on some stressful situations. Are you someone who is able to handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace, and give some examples.
"I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. For instance, if I have stack of papers to grade, I make a checklist and set myself a deadline. I don't let the pressure get in the way of doing my job well."
Second Answer Example
"Stress is part of any demanding job and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself personally and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels. Teaching can be draining, so outside of work I do yoga. I find that I come into work ready to take on any challenge."
The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. It's also a good idea to check if the job description includes a range they are looking for. If you want to make $40,000 but the max budget is $28,000, are you willing to take a pay cut?
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus. Last year my earnings were $52,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
Second Answer Example
"I am currently making $50,000 per year. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the role and provides opportunity for growth. I see that the range for this position is $50,000 to $55,000, I would be comfortable in the $53,000 to $55,000 range."
6. What leadership qualities do you possess? This is your chance to let you interviewer know what you bring to the table. How would your coworkers describe you? What makes you an excellent leader? Here is an answer example: "Some great qualities of a leader are:
- Being someone who people naturally want to follow
- Exceptional interpersonal skills
- Strong relationship building skills
- Taking ownership for the team's errors and mistakes
- Excelling at motivating others
- Providing kudos to your team
- Knowing how to select and hire the right people to join the team
- Having a vision for the future
- Being driven to be successful" Here is an answer example: "I possess great leadership qualities that include diligence, tenacity, and open communication. My references can attest to each of these qualities. I look forward to taking these skills to work everyday for K12 Inc.!"7. How do you define success? What does success mean to you? Is it more than just getting a paycheck at your job? Defining success to your interviewer is one way for them to better understand you as a person. Tell the interviewer how you see success and be sure to tie your answer into the success that you plan to bring to K12 Inc., should you be offered the role. Here is an answer example: "I define success by my ability to reach the goals that are set out for me. On a personal level, the things I wish to achieve in my life such as spending more time with my family. On a work level, the targets that are set out for me such as the success of my students as well as the professional development that I seek." Here is an answer example: "I define success by what we achieve as a team. The faculty, as a whole, needs to deliver on expectations before I consider anything a success."8. Do you think honesty is always the best policy? Is honesty always the best policy? Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on honesty in the workplace. If you believe it's okay to not always be honest, make sure you can explain your reasoning. Here is an answer example: "Sometimes full disclosure can damage someone's self esteem, and reality isn't always best expressed in full and can be self-indulgent based on the person's intention. In those instances, honesty isn't always the best policy. However, in the workplace I believe it is important to only hire trustworthy employees." Here is an answer example: "Honesty is always the best policy. Often times, it is just a matter of how you communicate and deliver your message so managing this with each situation is critical to building honest and trustworthy relationships. I believe this to be true with when communicating with my students, I want to lead by example."9. List the top 3 skills that you have acquired in your last role. You have likely gained many valuable skills in your career. Share with the interviewer which skills you value the most. Be sure to include skills that will benefit this potential new employer. This is also your chance to show the interviewer that you believe in self-improvement and growing as a person and an employee. Here is an answer example: "In the past few years I was able to upgrade my education while still working full time. The biggest skill that I gained was my ability to multi-task as I worked the dual role of employee and student. I also improved my ability to take initiatives on projects and become a better leader. " Here is an answer example: "My last role as an elementary school science teacher was very challenging and was a big step in my career. The top 3 skills that I acquired would be my student relationship skills, clear communication skills, and ability to prioritize. I am ready to use my newly acquired skills in this position."10. Do you always double check or proofread your work? Double checking and proofreading are a very important parts of a job well done. K12 Inc. frequently uses written communication to reach their students and parents through email, and on the online learning platform. Assure the interviewer that you are diligent when it comes to submitting good, clean, work. Here is an answer example: "Spelling and grammatical errors are a pet peeve of mine. I will triple check my work if there is time! When I send an email to a parent, I want them to have the best impression. I feel that it is very important to submit error free work, you are always representing the company or school that you work for." Here is an answer example: "I am so accustomed to working under pressure and tight deadlines that I do forget to double check my work at times. This is a habit that I have consciously been working on to improve. I now give myself little breaks so that I look at my work with fresh eyes."11. How do you like to encourage ideas in others? Encouragement to others is a great skill to possess. As an educator it is imperative that you can encourage your students when they need it. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to encourage creative ideas in your team members or students. Here is an answer example: "I like to encourage other people to be creative in their thinking and present ideas to their classrooms, no matter how off the wall they may seem. Some of our most successful teachers are ones who are confident in their ability to bring forward their unique ideas. I encourage participation through an open door policy and strong praise for those who show initiative." Here is an answer example: "I encourage my students to tap into the best parts of themselves. It helps to ask probing questions to get them to generate ideas on their own. If a student knows that I care about them as a person, they are more motivated to give me their best work."12. Give an example of when you used your listening skills to solve a problem. The interviewer wants to see that you have strong listening skills. They want to see that you aren't the type to interrupt before hearing your co-workers out. If you are applying for a teaching position, they want to know that you listen to your students. Show that you are one to check for full understanding when you are navigating new territory. Highlight to the interviewer that you are the type to attentively listen and troubleshoot problems in a collaborative style. Here is an answer example: "Someone with good listening skills will:
- Give the speaker their full attention
- Maintain proper eye contact
- Show invested interest by nodding or agreeing
- Avoid interrupting
- Ask follow-up questions
- Make statements such as 'If I am understanding you correctly...' or 'Do you mean that you want...'
- Ask for clarification if needed " Here is an answer example: "My current principal is very brief in her communication and sometimes it creates confusion within the faculty. Last month she asked me to run a report on a student whose parents she was meeting with the next day. I wasn't entirely sure that I understood what she was asking. After she finished telling me what she was looking for, I repeated it back to her. I will often use qualifying questions such as, 'So what you're asking is...?' or 'Do you mean that you want me to do...?' This seems to avoid a lot of unnecessary problems down the road. I also always maintain strong eye contact. This can be trickier in an online environment but I find that looking directly into the camera helps."13. How do you believe you will complement our department, if you were hired? If you were awarded the position, what would you bring to the department or organization? Assure the interviewer that you are the right fit for this position. This is the time to sell yourself to the interviewer and think about how your skills and personality would be a great fit for K12 Inc. Here is an answer example: "If I were hired, I feel that I would compliment your faculty in a few significant ways. First - I am a fast learner and I already bring 6 years' experience in the education industry. Not only that, but for the past year I have been teaching online. The time to train me will be reduced. Also, I know how to engage students online, this will make an impact almost immediately." Here is an answer example: "If I were hired, I will complement your department by being dedicated to reaching out to parents and ensuring that their students are happy. I recognize the importance and challenges associated with online education and I will work hard to make sure the students and parents have a great experience."14. When entering a new job, describe how you build relationships with your new coworkers and supervisors. Due to a wide variety of personalities, relationships can take time to form. How do you ensure that you have a strong line of communication with your co-workers and supervisors, right from the start? How do you build meaningful relationships with coworkers? Here is an answer example: "I understand that some relationships come quickly and others take time to nurture. When starting a new job all that I can do is be my true self and let my personality, integrity, and reliability speak for itself. I also make an effort to introduce myself to others and let them know that if there is anyway I can assist them, I am happy to do so." Here is an answer example: "I get along well with most personalities. My colleagues were great team players and we would often meet up after work for drinks or team activities. Although this position is remote, I would still make an effort to get to know my colleagues, whether it be phone call or emailing."15. Why do you want this job with K12 Inc.? If you are lucky enough to land an interview, make some effort and conduct research on the opportunity. Think about how this job will help you in your career. It's important for you to know not only what you have to offer them, but what they can do for you.
While your passion and excitement about the job are important, it's always good to have some hard facts to back it up. For instance, saying 'I have heard great things about your institution and I know I would be a great fit for this job', is not very specific. Think about something unique about the company or the position that initially drew you to it. Here is an answer example: "I am excited about this opportunity because your values are very much in line with mine. I deeply care about seeing my students succeed. The fact that K12 Inc. provides Learning Coaches for their students shows that you are committed to helping students. Helping other is what made me to decide to be an educator in the first place." Here is an answer example: "I have had my eye on new openings at K12 Inc. for sometime now. I have recently started teaching online and I have seen firsthand the impact that it can make in a student's life. I want to work full-time as an educator online and K12 Inc. offers many opportunities for just that. I see a long term fit here."16. At K12 Inc. we put a strong emphasis on continued education. We believe that there is always more to learn. How do you feel about continued education? Of course education is important when you are working in the education industry! Assure the interviewer that you are not resistant to continued education. Perhaps there is a course, program, or workshop that you are personally interested in? Discuss with the interviewer your passion for education. If you have taken an online course in something you are interested in, definitely mention that. Here is an answer example: "I wholeheartedly agree that education is incredibly important. We can always learn more! Personally, I like to take a short course or workshop 3-4 times per year. These courses have included additional computer, leadership, and mentorship related training. Recently I have started taking an online course about using technology in the classroom." Here is an answer example: "Continued education is imperative to my growth as an education professional. I feel strongly about continuing to grow my knowledge in this industry. I want to be the best teacher that I can be. Could you give me some examples of the ways that K12 Inc. emphasizes continued education in its employees?"17. Tell me about your greatest work related accomplishment. Talking about your greatest accomplishment will give the interviewer a strong idea of where you place your values. It will also show the interviewer more about your personality, how you like to be motivated, and how to coach you in the future. It is okay to brag a little bit when answering this question. Show that you are proud of yourself and your career accomplishments! If you have an accomplishment from a job that is similar to the one you are applying for, definitely share it. Here is an answer example: "The greatest accomplishment in my career was graduating University as an honors student while still working full time at a preschool. It was challenging but I learned so much! This showed me that I am able to dedicate myself to my career, and reach the goals that I set for myself. It felt great to accomplish so much and be recognized for my dedication." Here is an answer example: "I have many accomplishments that I am very proud of. Overall, I would say that my greatest work accomplishment is the positive reputation that I have as an educator. I have received praise from students, parents and my coworkers. Reputation is everything and I am proud of mine."18. When have you had to adapt to change? Being able to adapt to change in the workplace is a very important skill to possess. The education industry requires a lot of flexibility to meet the needs of the learners. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have had to adjust to changes on the job. How did you handle the change? Was it a positive reaction? Here is an answer example: "I feel that educators adapt to changes on a daily basis! The vibe in the classroom is different every day, student moods and efforts vary as well. Sometimes my students need an activity to get their energy up or individual work when they need to reflect. I am well accustomed to working in a changing environment." Here is an answer example: "After being a dedicated mathematics teacher for the past 10 years, I was asked to take on a new focus this coming year. I am currently prepping myself to teach chemistry as well. It's been a challenge but I am actually really excited for the change. When I became an educator I knew I had to be flexible, it's all part of the package."19. Tell me about an organization or group outside of work that you contributed to. Many hiring managers will choose one candidate over another because of their volunteer experience. They feel that it shows strong character and selflessness...all qualities that make a great employee and educator. Talk to the interviewer about your willingness to give back to your community in some form of volunteerism. If you do not have formal volunteer experience you can draw on things you do in your spare time to assist friends, family, or even your current employer such as offering to mentor a new coworker or helping to watch your neighbor's kids. Here is an answer example: "For the past 8 months I have volunteered every Wednesday evening at our local animal shelter. I will help with grooming the animals, feeding them, and walking them. It's been a really fun experience and rewarding at the same time. I plan on volunteering at the shelter for years to come." Here is an answer example: "I have not formally volunteered in these most recent years, however; I spend a lot of time helping my sister who is a single mom. I will babysit on weekends, cook dinners for her and drive the kids to appointments when necessary. I feel that it is very important to take care of the needs of family. I was raised to help others whenever you can."20. Private and franchised adult learning institutions have greatly increased in popularity over the years. Do you see value in these institutions? Why or why not? The topic of franchised adult learning institutions can be a controversial one! When you are asked to discuss a controversial topic in an interview it is best to avoid any offending statements or pushing any buttons. Give a rather cooled opinion on both sides and leave it at that, you do not want to alienate yourself. Here is an answer example: "I can understand the draw when it comes to franchised adult learning institutions. Not everyone can attend University right out of High School and many have the option to return to school later on in life. In my opinion, continued Education is important. As long as the courses being offered are legitimate ones, who am I to stand in the way? I am all for individuals having opportunities to better themselves." Here is an answer example: "I primarily support traditional learning that comes from a University or long-standing College. I feel that the coursework is more likely to be recognized. I would not like to see someone complete a diploma at a franchised institution just to later find out that their courses are not recognized to an employer or University. If they can guarantee course credit recognition, then that is great."21. Do you prefer working with a student one-on-one or with a larger class of students? Discuss you preference with the interviewer and be sure to highlight your overall experience; whether that be with larger classes of students or one-on-one. You can keep your answer brief and be sure to avoid talking yourself out of a job. Think about the position, if it involves mainly mentoring students one-on-one, you don't want to say that you prefer teaching at least 20 students at a time. Here is an answer example: "As an educator for the past 4 years I feel that I have developed a strong ability to adapt to nearly every teaching situation. I do not lean strongly to group settings versus individual settings; however, I always enjoy seeing how students interact with each other when a challenge is at hand. I also enjoy having my students work together in groups to solve problems." Here is an answer example: "I tend to enjoy teaching larger groups at a time simply because of the energy a class full of students or webinar with lots of students participating in can offer. Also, the insightful questions that can come from a solid group session are pretty surprising at times. With that said, at times it is easier to make a direct impact when you teach one-on-one. I am satisfied with either method."22. If you could be a subject matter expert in any subject of your choice, which would you choose? Talk to the interviewer about the topics that pique your interest the most. If you could immerse yourself in a particular subject, what would it be and why? You can make your answer a bit lighthearted and personal if you wish. This is a chance for the interviewer to get to know you better as a person. Here is an answer example: "Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with mechanics and design. I would build models of airplanes and cars in my room for hours at a time. I still have a very keen interest in design so I would say that if I could be a subject matter expert on any topic - I would choose mechanical engineering." Here is an answer example: "That's a great question! In my spare time I do a lot of reading on socioeconomic related matters. I would love to be seen as a subject matter expert in how the effects of race and social standing directly impact career choice variables. It's all very fascinating to me and it is something that affects my students."23. What are your thoughts on public vs. private education? The interviewer wants to know that you are current on what is going on in the education industry. The topic of public vs. private education is a hot one! When you are asked to discuss a controversial topic in an interview it is best to avoid any offending statements or pushing any buttons. Remember K12 Inc. works with public and private schools. Give a rather cooled opinion on both sides and leave it at that. Here is an answer example: "I can understand why some people would want their children in private school as much as I understand the draw of public school. Not everyone can afford the luxury of private school but I am thankful that our public school system in my city offers a great education with such little cost associated. In my opinion, as long as our kids are receiving a valuable education then who am I to say whether one is better than the other." Here is an answer example: "I primarily stand behind public education because it is affordable for everyone, and it provides educational access to anyone regardless of their social standing. With that said, I do understand why some parents prefer private education for their children. You have to do what's best for your family."24. At K12 Inc. we seek to hire those who are passionate about education. How would you describe your teaching/mentorship style? If you have ever heard of an 'Elevator Pitch' - this type of interview question is a great reason to have one! Why do you love what you do? What makes you the best, and most engaged, potential hire for K12 Inc.? Briefly discuss your teaching and mentorship style and close by giving an example of a time when you were recognized for your teaching or leadership methods. Here is an answer example: "Education has been my pure passion ever since I started my first teaching job in 2004. I remember sitting with a student after school and seeing her eyes light up when she understood her multiplication tables, that was when I knew I had made the right career choice. There are endless ways that a person can educate another person so I would describe my teaching style as fluid. I will adapt to the needs of my student as much as possible and I am not afraid to improvise. Being an active listener of words, and body language, is a very important part of my teaching style as well. My students consistently send me accolades for my work and I often hear from them even after they have completed my class." Here is an answer example: "Here are some keys to effective mentorship that you can draw on, for your response:
- Willing to pass on knowledge
- Ability to give constructive feedback
- Continued learner
- Genuine"25. In our industry, your day may not be a typical 8AM - 4PM. Are you willing to work overtime and participate in extra-curricular activities? The education industry is often in demand, even outside of typical school hours and activities. K12 Inc. specializes in online education, which may mean working outside of your time zone, which is something on consider. If you have restrictions in your schedule, this is a great time to address those restrictions. Here is an answer example: "I am available to work anytime during the day, that is not a problem. If I am given some notice I can also work overtime and I would be happy to participate in extra-curricular activities." Here is an answer example: "I do take an evening course every Thursday so I would not be available after 4pm on those days. Other than that, I am happy to make myself available as often as possible. I am also available to work overtime and I understand that it is part of working in education."26. At K12 Inc., we seek to hire the most compassionate individuals. Do you consider yourself compassionate? The best teachers and individuals who work in education are compassionate. The interviewer wants to know that you meet this criteria. The best way to answer a question like this is to give a clear and concise example of how you consistently show your compassionate character. Do you help students in your free time? Perhaps you volunteer? Have you received recognition for your efforts from a previous employer? Brainstorm some examples that show off your great character! Here is an answer example: "I was raised to be a compassionate person and do consider myself to possess this quality. One way that I show this is by volunteering my time as an after-school tutor for kids who are struggling in school and who lack the resources at home. I take the time to understand where they are coming from and show them the kindness they deserve. I have been committed to this volunteer work for the past 2 years." Here is an answer example: "I believe compassion is a must-have trait for anyone wishing to succeed in the field of education. When I think of compassion, I think of the quote from Arthur Schopenhauer that says, "Compassion is the basis of morality." I truly believe in this and try to practice it every day, it is what my students deserve."27. Tell me about a teacher, leader, or mentor who affected your life in a positive way. When you work in the Education industry it is important to understand the difference that a strong leader and mentor can make in the life of a student. Talk to the interviewer briefly about someone who may have helped you along the way. Does anyone influential come to mind? How did they make a positive impact in your life? Who inspires you? Here is an answer example: "In my elementary years I had some trouble with reading. My grade 2 teacher was a very patient and kind person who went above her duties by giving me additional resources. Because she was generous with her time and efforts, I was exceeding grade level expectations in no time. In addition to catching up academically, I was able to gain a lot of personal confidence. She actually inspired me to be a teacher. I knew that I wanted the chance to help students the way she helped me." Here is an answer example: "I believe that every teacher and leader that I have had has played their own part in positively affecting my life. From a young age I have been lucky enough to have excellent mentors who wanted to invest in my future. One of these mentors was my guidance counselor in high school. He believed in me and helped me select classes that would challenge me and help me get into a good college."28. Take a few minutes to walk me through your post-secondary education. Your post-secondary education is likely listed on your resume; however, this is an opportunity to talk to the interviewer about your overall experience. It is more than just a requirement for the job, it is a chance to share how it has shaped you into to the professional that you are today. Discuss any accolades and special recognition you may have received. You can also discuss a class or a project that impacted you the most during that time. If you are applying for a teaching position, you can discuss your practicum. Here is an answer example: "I graduated with a Bachelor's of Outdoor Leadership and Education from Toccoa Falls College in 2006. I love incorporating my passion for nature in the classroom. My experience in that program was great! Even though I worked part time, I was still able to make the Dean's list, received a partial scholarship and graduated top of my class." Here is an answer example: "In 2009 I completed my Bachelor's of Education and immediately followed that with a Masters' Degree in English. I am very proud of my educational background and am happy with the opportunities that this level of education has allowed me. I would love to continue this education down the road to include a Doctorate."29. In this position you may be working with individuals who are underage and/or vulnerable. We do full background checks on all of our employees. Are you willing to comply? This is where you must disclose to the interviewer if you do not have a clean criminal background. K12 Inc. has to check every employee that they hire. Discuss with the interviewer your willingness to comply and be sure to disclose any pain points ahead of time. It is better they find any marks on your record directly from you! Here is an answer example: "Yes, I am happy to comply with any criminal, financial, and educational related background checks that you require. My record is clean." Here is an answer example: "I am happy to comply with any criminal, financial, and educational related background check that you require. The majority will come back clean; however, I should disclose to you that I have a DUI charge from 7 years ago that may come up. I have been cleared of charges now and my drivers' license has been reinstated. It was a big learning experience for me and has made be a better and safer driver."
Author of K12 Inc. Answers and Questions
Carly Zucker is an Instructional Designer who creates training for higher education, K-12 and organizations. She also has a background in corporate recruiting. With her experience, she enjoys creating fun and engaging material for her learners. When she is not kayaking or trying a new restaurant, she is writing about exciting innovations in education.
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