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Teach For America interview and application tips

All eligible City Year AmeriCorps members and alums who indicate having City Year experience on their application will move directly to the interview stage of the Teach For America application process.

It’s important to put time, thought and energy into your initial application as this will be considered alongside your interview when making the final admissions decision. Please see our Teach For America-City Year one-pager and instructions for applying to Teach For America from City Year.

Teach For America résumé

  • Make sure your résumé demonstrates your accomplishments rather than simply your roles and responsibilities. Highlighting your academic and professional achievements will allow Teach For America to best assess the impact you’ll make with the organization.
  • Start each bullet point with an active verb.
  • Quantify your results when possible.
    • More specifically, be sure to include data in your achievements. Challenge yourself to include numbers in each bullet point (whenever possible). For example, “Tutored twenty-two 10th grade students in an under-resourced neighborhood with 93% passing all classes – 100% in English Language Arts and 86% in mathematics” as opposed to just “Tutored a group of high school students to reach proficiency.”
  • Eliminate jargon. Consider if someone outside your field could read and understand your résumé (including removing any City Year-specific acronyms) – make sure the language you use is readable to all individuals.
  • Organize your experience in reverse-chronological order to create a clear visual path for the reader.
  • Include information about your Coordinator Role, City Year Lead Opportunities and extracurriculars within the school building (ex: Coached a group of six, eighth-grade students on a spoken work, Louder Than A Bomb team).
  • Keep your résumé to one page. Teach For America reads through an abundance of résumés. Articulating your skills and expertise on a concise page will provide you with the best chance at being selected.

Teach For America deadlines

Make sure to meet all deadlines and give yourself sufficient time to complete the necessary tasks. In the interview, they’ll check if you’ve met all of their deadlines. If you haven’t, be prepared to justify why.

Short-answer questions

Have a friend or family member proofread your short-answer questions. Ask them to spot poor or incorrect grammar and to identify your objective so you can ensure clarity of your work. Individuals unfamiliar with City Year will also be able to successfully highlight any jargon you may have used.

If you’re having trouble addressing the prompt in 300-450 words, begin with a longer response and get all your ideas on paper. Then, work backwards to eliminate any unnecessary language and bring your response to the suggested word count range.

Pre-interview steps

Be prepared to provide the names and contact information for two recommenders, and also upload your transcript (official or unofficial).

The virtual interview

  • Anticipate some common/go-to interview questions, while also being prepared to reflect on your own identity and experiences. Do not be afraid to get personal in your interview. Teach For America wants leaders who are willing to demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity for their students, so that students can bring their authentic selves to the classroom each day. The interview is a great opportunity to show who you are and what experiences have informed your desire to be a part of the Teach For America Corps.
  • Do your research on Teach For America’s mission, values and program, and have a few questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview.
  • At the end of your one-on-one interview, you may be asked if you have any final thoughts. Take advantage of this opportunity to explain why you would be an excellent fit with Teach For America. Have your thoughts prepared ahead of time.
  • Bring a pen and paper (or open a document) to jot down thoughts as they pop up!
  • Always thank the interviewer for their time. You will not have access to your interviewer’s mail address to follow-up with them, so use the end of the interview to express your gratitude.

Sample teaching lesson: Day of virtual interview

  • Make sure your lesson plan is between four-and-a-half to five minutes long. Practice it multiple times before your interview to ensure you don’t run over or under. If possible, practice with an audience. Using your students in the afterschool space can be excellent practice.
  • Choose a topic that can be taught and practiced in five minutes. No more, no less.
  • Make sure to clearly define the grade level and subject your lesson is aligned to (to the best of your ability) and have a clear objective – you will be asked to share this information during your one minute of prep, so have it typed out ahead of time!
  • Have all of your materials you need with you in your virtual space, so you do not have to run and grab something or pull up new tabs to share during your lesson.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The interviewer will stop you at exactly the five-minute mark even if you haven’t finished your lesson. Practicing pacing is a great way to prevent you from being cut off during the lesson.
  • Create an engaging lesson plan – make sure you can get your audience involved with activities and checks for understanding. Your lesson should not just be a five-minute lecture.
  • Using City Year’s “I do, We do, You do” is an excellent model to follow.

City Year alums at Teach For America

color photo of City Year alum and Teach For America alum Sophia Higginbottom-Lodge in red blazer

Sophia Higginbottom-Lodge graduated from Denison University, majored in international/global studies and served as a 2017 City Year AmeriCorps member in Cleveland. She continued her impact in Cleveland as a 2018 Teach For America Corps member and taught language, literature and reading at both the middle and high school levels. She now works on Teach For America’s recruitment team and is excited to bring more diverse, talented AmeriCorps members into lead teacher positions through Teach For America.

black and white photo of City Year alum and Teach For America alum Angela Lee smiling at the camera

Angela Lee graduated from American University, majored in art history, criticism and conservation and served as a 2019 City Year AmeriCorps member in New Orleans. After City Year, Angela made the move to Las Vegas, a critical needs region, to become part of the Teach For America Corps. She brought all of her learning from City Year and her time in New Orleans to a new community and taught second grade English Language Arts for two years. She now works on Teach For America’s recruitment team and believes the City Year experience truly primes individuals to have an incredible impact on students with Teach For America.

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