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Building Your Interview “Muscle” for Roles in Ed Tech

Nothing is more important for making a connection with a potential employer than the job interview. Many candidates have the understandable urge to prepare detailed answers for every possible interview question.

But acing an interview isn’t so much about being ready to answer a laundry list of questions with perfect, pre-prepared answers, but about telling an effective story while gathering valuable career knowledge. 

This article provides some practical tips for doing just that. 

Based on my experience as an executive recruiter who has worked to personally prepare hundreds of Ed Tech leaders for interviews, the approach outlined below is all about broadening how we think about job interviews. Job interviews should be approached not as one-off job search requirements, but as a continuous resource for networking, knowledge gathering, and professional development in your career.

A Different Mindset for Job Interviews

Of course, Ed Tech is an incredibly diverse industry, and the interview process for a programmer will look very different from that of a finance professional, curriculum designer, or sales leader. 

Candidates will benefit from proactively researching the latest trends and interview questions in their respective fields, but in my experience, it can be all too easy for candidates to obsess over memorizing rote answers to lists of common interview questions found online.

Detailed preparation is important, but granular details should never distract you from what is most important in the interview process: telling a compelling, coherent story while connecting through a genuine human dialogue with your interviewer. 

I like to compare an effective job interview to a movie trailer: you have just 30 minutes to convince the interviewer that they want to “see the whole movie.” And while you can’t possibly communicate your entire story and skillset in a brief trailer, you can provide a highly compelling portrait of your abilities, purpose, and passions. 

Four Tips for Getting More Out of Job Interviews in Your Ed Tech Career

The four strategies outlined below are about more than just prepping for your next interview. To truly get the most out of job interviews, they should be approached as ongoing career resources that are invaluable for keeping up with the latest industry developments.

1. Interviewing is a muscle. Train it through practice.

Job interviewing is a skill that can be learned but is not often practiced in most job functions. For that reason, the average candidate has an interview “muscle” that hasn’t been exercised.

You need not become a master job interviewer to avoid one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make: waiting for their dream job only to be stymied by their first interview in many years.

The single best way to exercise this muscle? Going on job interviews! I recognize that most people don’t have time to go on frivolous job interviews just to practice. But as the remainder of the tips in this list illustrate, job interviews are not just application requirements, but unique opportunities to gather firsthand knowledge of the Ed Tech industry—and your place in it.

2. Leverage interviews to gather valuable career intel.

Job interviews are an incredibly unique opportunity to learn from professionals at companies across the industry, and I recommend using this opportunity to learn as much as possible. Are your skills still relevant in the industry? What do you know that’s valuable, and what gaps could you address to truly stand out in the industry?

Interviews are a fantastic way to find meaningful answers to these questions while building your network in the Ed Tech industry—even if a company doesn’t hire you for a given role, they may keep you in mind for a future need.

3. Learn about your interviewer and their company culture beforehand to ask compelling questions.

If your job interview is a movie trailer, a crucial first step is to know your audience. Take the time to learn about the company’s priorities and culture. Every company has different nuances to what they look for in a candidate, and understanding a company’s core cultural tenets is the best foundation for aligning your own message.

You need not make an intense study of every company where you interview, but it is critical to learn enough to be able to ask compelling questions. Being equipped to ask great questions in an interview will help you learn something from the process, and the questions you choose to ask can also help illustrate your value system to the interviewer.

4. Craft a compelling narrative about why you want to work in Ed Tech.

As I discussed above, storytelling is at the heart of every effective interview. But I think this is uniquely true in the Ed Tech industry, which has so many individuals who are attracted to its purposeful work and diverse mix of mission-driven companies. In this context, strive to tell a compelling story about your values, your sense of purpose, and why you are passionate about the Ed-tech industry.

Learn More About Working in Ed Tech

Whether you are a new graduate or an experienced professional, the right interviewing strategy can help secure a great role while building your knowledge about this unique industry.

If you are ready to take the next steps in your Ed Tech career, HighFive Partners is here to help. 

Ready to learn more about building a career in Ed Tech? Get started with our guide to understanding Ed Tech.