Music Education – Interview Workshop

On Saturday, February 23rd, The College of Saint Rose welcomed Laura Dornberger from SUNY Fredonia! The Saint Rose chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) brought her to our lovely city of Albany to host an interview workshop specifically geared towards Music Education Majors. During the workshop, she discussed what to wear to an interview, what questions to expect, and how to give good answers that were “succinct and meaningful.”

Professor Laura Dornberger giving an interview workshop in the Massry Center at The College of Saint Rose!

During the first hour and a half segment, Professor Dornberger discussed the three main things that interviewers were looking for in a music education job position – an excellent teacher, a talented musician, and a reputable person. She explained that young teachers just out of college all have a universal advantage and disadvantage: not having any experience. She told us that it was very important to be humble when walking into an interview, to not have an attitude, and to be willing to benefit the community you want to join. Interviewers are looking to see if you’ll be an acceptable candidate to teach their children all about music. Therefore, it is important to act as professional and as mature as possible.

Professor Dornberger encouraged the prospective music educators that were at the workshop (which varied from freshmen to seniors) the importance of arriving at least 30 minutes early to an interview, wearing a conservative and professional outfit, and to take social cues at appropriate times. This shows not only that you are a responsible and mature candidate, but that you are respectful to the people interviewing you. It’s also important to not necessarily know everyone’s names at the interview panel, but to remember the positions of everyone in the interview panel (i.e. principal, vice principal, non-music teacher, music teacher, etc).

The number one thing that Professor Dornberger stressed during the first half of the workshop was to always relate back to the school you are interviewing at. Whatever question you get – Are you a strong pianist? What are you skills in music technology? What is your favorite food? (it happens) – you should always strive to make it positive about yourself and make that positive a way to benefit the school and the community. You want to convince the interview panel that you will be not just a good fit for their school, but one that can make their school better. Finally, at the end of the hour and a half, she emphasized accurately depicting who you are. If the interview panel doesn’t hire you because they didn’t like you, then you weren’t meant to be there anyway. Don’t hide anything about yourself; put it all out there and make sure to represent yourself at your best.

A picture of the pamphlet and interview rubric that Professor Dornberger provided for us. If you want your own copies of these, pick them up on the NAfME bulletin board on the second floor of Massry!

After a short break, we moved onto the second part of the workshop – getting asked mock interview questions. Professor Dornberger handed out mock interview rubrics, which explained how a potential candidate for a music teacher position would be graded. It was broken into five categories rated on a scale from 1-4: Appearance, Communication, Content, Body Language, and Responding to Questions. Professor Dornberger explained the importance of each category and told us tricks as to how to attain 4’s for each of the categories.

After explaining the rubric, she took volunteers and asked them sample questions that would be asked in an interview setting. I even volunteered, and had a rude awakening – I ramble! Each person that asked a question found out something that they needed to work on, and we were all given tools to improve our answers and be the best candidate possible. At the end of the mock questions, we all realized how important it was to practice answering questions for an interview. Potential job candidates need to act as professional as possible and work out their nervous energy in a positive way. As they say, practice makes perfect, and that is especially the case when practicing for an interview!

Finally, at the end of every interview, no matter what the outcome, (and this goes for anyone interviewing), you should ALWAYS write a thank you note. It’s a nice touch, and it’ll boost your reputation as a professional and as a nice person. 🙂

All of the members of the Saint Rose chapter of NAfME that showed up had a great time at the interview workshop and learned a lot!

Overall, this event was a HUGE success! Everyone learned a lot from it and benefited greatly from the workshop. Professor Dornberger was very nice and super helpful, and on behalf of the Saint Rose chapter of NAfME and of The College of Saint Rose, we thank her for her time and for teaching us so much!

If you want any more information about this workshop or what was discussed, like the NAfME Facebook page and ask there, ask in the comments below, or track down a NAfME officer in the Massry Center of the Arts!

What do you think?