Interview Tips: Don’t Just Read Your Resume

Dave SchmittouBlog, Connect Better


  • An interview is an opportunity for you to explain why this opportunity is the right one for you.
  • Use your interview to tell the committee who you are, not just what you’ve done.

Don’t Just Read Your Resume: Interview Tips

Happy Spring. To some, this is the time to celebrate the blossoming of tulips and the melted snow. To others, it is the grand wind down. And to still others, it is the beginning of interview season. It is a time of emerging from slumber and entering into the light.

Over the past few weeks my schedule has been filled by individuals looking for support and guidance as they put themselves out into the job market, a task that carries with it tremendous vulnerability and fears only eclipsed by the potential of what may emerge on the other side.

If you are someone currently on the job hunt, hopeful for another opportunity, let me offer you just a couple of pieces of advice. If you want to learn more, feel free to schedule a call or a conversation with me HERE. But for now, these two nuggets may be a difference-maker allowing you to separate yourself from the pack.

When preparing your answers ahead of time, be sure to set yourself up to explain why you are looking forward to what's ahead, not just why you are excited to move on. Click To Tweet

The vast majority of people seeking a new opportunity fall into one of two categories: Those running FROM an experience and those running TOWARDS an experience.

There are an infinite number of variances in this spectrum but identifying which of the two camps you tend to fall into will be extremely valuable. Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to hire more than 150 individuals. What I have observed is that those running FROM an experience often have a hard time minimizing their displeasure with their prior employer. Statements explaining why they may have been stagnant, how opportunities were limited, how the environment was toxic, etc…seem to naturally slip into the conversation and it is often these statements that leave a sour taste in the mouth of those on a hiring committee.

An interview is your chance to explain why the next opportunity, the opportunity you are discussing, is the right opportunity. Regardless of what your previous experiences may have been, a new employer wants to feel as though you are running to them. That you long to work with them, to be a part of their identity and mission, not that you are disgruntled and willing to take anything. When preparing your answers ahead of time, be sure to set yourself up to explain why you are looking forward to what’s ahead, not just why you are excited to move on.

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An interview should not be the audio file of your resume.

The committee already has your resume. Don’t waste your time reading it to them. Instead, use your interview to tell the committee who you are, not just what you’ve done. Your resume is what granted you the interview. Who you are is what will get you the job. Too many people walk into an interview and feel like their job is to simply read their list of experiences and education to the team doing the hiring.

My advice is to remind the team that they have access to your resume and that you are happy to answer any questions people may have about it, but then spend your time highlighting your strengths, your passions, your desires, and your goals. Highlight specific moments that demonstrate your ability to meet their needs. The interview is your chance to tell the story that the text does not. It is your chance to fill in gaps and capture your individuality and personality, not just your labels and degrees.

Prior to your interview, prepare your key points.

What are the five things you want the team to know about you that your paperwork may not fully capture? Confidence, vulnerability, growth, successes, failures, etc. Be prepared with stories that illustrate who you are and where you are going. You have to remember that everyone you are competing with has a resume very similar to yours. Everyone has the same qualifications and experiences. If you want the interview team to be able to remember you once the day is done, be sure that your interview is about you, not just what you’ve done.

It is important to remember that every team and committee is different. There is no guaranteed method that will work to secure you any job at any time, but this is a great start. So put yourself out there, celebrate who you are, then run towards the future.

About Dave Schmittou

In education for more than 2 decades, Dave has earned a reputation for being a disruptor of the status quo, an innovator, and a change agent. Having served as a classroom teacher, school-based administrator, central office director, and now professor of Educational Leadership, he often uses real-life stories and examples of his own life and career to describe why and how we need to confront “the way we have always done it.”

He has written multiple books, including “It’s Like Riding a Bike: How to make learning last a lifetime,” “Bold Humility,”, and “Making Assessment Work for Educators Who Hate Data but Love Kids.” He speaks, consults, and partners with districts around the country and loves to keep learning and growing.