Professional Practice

The Art Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Hired

person with computer and computer bag

Over the years, we’ve published a lot of great information about landing your dream job. To help streamline things, we’ve put together this handy guide for you. Welcome to the Art Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Hired.

There is so much to think about when looking for a new job. Resumes, portfolios, websites, wardrobe, talking points, teaching philosophy: it’s enough to make your head spin.

Whether you’re looking for your first position or a new position, we’ve got you covered! Each section below is complete with advice, relevant checklists, and further reading. We hope it makes you feel confident enough to walk into your next interview fully prepared.

The Art Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Hired

Step 1: Get an Interview

The first step to being hired is getting an interview. With few open spots, the competition is fierce.

Here are 6 things you can do to stand out.

conference room

1. Sub in the districts in which you’re hoping to land a job. 

It’s no secret that a huge part of getting a job is not what you know but who you know. Subbing in a district will help administrators put a face with a name. Plus, subbing is a great way to get insider information about what job openings may be coming up.

2. Have someone call on your behalf.

If you have a good working relationship with your current administrator and they know you are looking for a new position, ask them to make a recommendation phone call. This can easily shoot your resume to the top of the list. If you’re fresh out of school, ask a professor if they would be willing to make this type of call on your behalf.

3. Make a call or send an email yourself.

In addition, make a personal connection yourself. Send the administrator at your school of interest an email or make a brief phone call. Simply state your intent and say you hope you’ll be considered. This simple act will make your name stand out when it comes time to read through resumes.

4. Create a stellar resume.

The administrator at your school of interest might have hundreds of resumes come across his or her desk. You need to make sure yours is one that captures their attention.

Here are 5 ways to make your resume stand out.

  1. Use a pop of color.
    Resumes have gotten wildly creative in the last few years. Strike a balance. A simple clean design with a pop of color is a good way to go.
  2. Keep it short and sweet.
    Try your best to keep your resume to one or two pages. Administrators will not have time to read through tons of information.
  3. Double check spelling and grammar. 
    Don’t let a simple error be the reason someone jumps ahead of you. Have at least two other people you trust proofread your work!
  4. Include what you’ve done for students. 
    Instead of just listing your teaching experience, include a few highlights. It might look something like this:
    2012-2015: 123ABC Elementary School
    – Collaborated with grade level teachers to plan 20+ cross-curricular projects
    – Set up two art shows in the wider community each year
    – Ran an after school makerspace program twice monthly for fifth-grade students
  5. Show you are a lifelong learner.
    Even if you don’t have a master’s degree, show that you’re committed to continuing education. Mention any courses, workshops, conferences, or other PD in which you’ve participated.

If you’re looking for specific information about creating a resume, check out the helpful resources below.

  • Resume Guide for Teachers from the DePaul University Career Center
    This PDF is targeted at recent graduates but has excellent advice for anyone writing a resume.
  • Teacher Resume Samples from
    This site provides helpful tips as well as many resume samples and templates
  • How to Make a Resume 101 from The
    This blog post has tons of entertaining general information about writing a resume.
  • Zety Blog
    Head here for posts on a plethora of topics related to writing a resume plus so much more.

5. Provide info for those writing you letters of recommendation.

If your interview committee asks for letters of recommendation, set your letter writers up for success. Provide them with a list of your accomplishments both inside and outside the classroom. Doing so will make sure they highlight your best work. You may want to consider giving the same list to anyone who will be a reference for you.

6. Think about your social media presence.

Don’t depend on your privacy settings to protect you, as they can change often. Make sure you don’t have anything inappropriate hanging around. Still have those less-than-flattering photos up on Facebook from your college days? Remove them.

On the flip side, social media can work to your benefit. If you have sites for your current classroom, make sure to put them on your resume so interviewers can see all of the wonderful things you’re doing with students!

Step 2: Prepare For the Interview

Getting an interview is one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle sometimes. Now that you’ve done it, it’s time to prepare!

Here are 9 things to do to make sure you’re ready for the big day.

ready for interview

1. Create a comprehensive teaching portfolio.

It’s so much easier to talk about what you do if you have visuals and examples to back you up. You can create a hard-copy portfolio using a binder or create a digital portfolio on the web or in another application. If you go digital, you should bring your own iPad to make viewing easier. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a hard copy backup in case technology goes awry.

This portfolio should be a collection of your greatest hits, organized so you can easily find everything. Consider creating a table of contents and using colored tabs in a binder to keep yourself organized.

Your portfolio should include:

  • A philosophy of teaching
    This should be a few paragraphs. The goal is to communicate why you feel so passionately about teaching art.
  • A copy of your resume
  • One or two of your best lesson plans
    Make sure these are well-written and connect to the National Standards. Include any planning sheets, assessments, or other materials you have designed. In addition, add photos of in-progress and finished work.
  • A sample assessment
    Administrators love to see how you will assess students. Including a sample checklist, rubric, or self-evaluation sheet you’ve developed will let them know you have this skill.
  • Other photos or items that communicate your strengths
    Ideas include:
    – Photos of student work
    – Photos of a hallway display
    – Photos of an art show
    – A flier from a community event you were involved in
    – A classroom newsletter
    – Certificates of completed professional development
    – A photo of yourself presenting at a conference or other PD event
  • Your personal artwork
    Keep this part small. Your portfolio should mainly highlight your work with students.
  • Letters of Recommendation

2. Make copies of your resume.

Even if you are asked to submit your resume electronically, be sure to make some copies to bring with you to the interview. It’s nice to leave a physical item with the interview committee before you go. Using card stock will make yours stand out.

3. Practice answering some common interview questions.

In the download below you’ll find 25 of the most common art teacher interview questions with suggested talking points. Of course, you’ll want to put your own spin on things so there is a space for you to record personal notes as well. Fill this out and practice, practice, practice!


Download Interview Questions Now

4. Research the school and district in which you’ll be interviewing.

Knowing about the school and district you’re interviewing with will serve you well. Interview committees will be impressed when you connect your answers with what is currently happening in their community. Places to start looking for information include school and district websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and Google searches. If you personally know anyone in the district to which you’re applying, reach out and see what they can tell you.

5. Brush up on current education buzzwords.

Can you talk intelligently about STEAM and PBL? Do you know what it means to teach for 21st Century Skills? Will you incorporate Design Thinking into your classroom? What about Flipped Teaching or Makerspaces? Can you wow your interviewers with the latest and greatest in the field of Art Education by mentioning Arts Integration, The Studio Habits of Mind, or Visual Thinking Strategies? And what about all those acronyms?

If you’re feeling a little rusty, here are some great resources to help you brush up!

STEAM/PBL/Design Thinking

Teaching for 21st Century Skills

Arts Integration/Studio Habits of Mind/Visual Thinking Strategies

6. Figure out where you’re going.

Before the big day, practice driving to your interview location. This may seem excessive, but knowing exactly where you’re going will take away a layer of stress on the big day.

7. Figure out what you’re wearing.

Always dress more professionally than you think you need to. A suit is never a bad choice, but you may be able to go a bit more casual depending on where you live. Use the same philosophy as your resume and add a pop of color with a fun accessory or tie. It should go without saying, but now is not the time for shorts, flip-flops, hats, or excessive jewelry.

8. Try and relax.
woman on a walk

Before your interview, make sure you find a little time to do something that relaxes you. Go for a run, take a yoga class, paint, meditate–whatever calms you down! Chances are, your adrenaline will be running high and getting out of your head a bit will be beneficial.

9. Pack everything up the night before.

Getting everything ready the night before your interview will help you feel less rushed during the day. Consider packing the following:

  • Your teaching portfolio
  • Extra copies of your resume
  • An iPad or tablet (if you’ll be showing digital work)
  • A water bottle
  • Directions to the interview location
  • An “emergency” kit with a comb, stain remover, toothbrush, etc…
  • Anything else you might need

Step 3: Ace the Interview!

If you’ve followed the advice above, you can feel confident walking into any interview. However, once you get there, it’s still easy for nerves to get the best of you.

Here are 7 simple things to do help you appear polished and professional.

person with computer and computer bag

1. Arrive early.

Sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes is much better than keeping everyone waiting. Leave early to ensure you get to your destination at least 15 minutes before the interview. This also gives you a chance to use the restroom to freshen up if needed.

2. Take a few deep breaths.

This tip is so simple but can make such a difference. Focus on your breathing for at least five breaths to help calm your nerves and focus your attention.

3. Be conscious of your body language.

When you walk into the room, make sure you give a firm handshake. This article from has some good tips. Be sure to make eye contact with everyone in the room. While you’re answering questions, avoid crossing your arms. Speak in a clear, authoritative voice, and don’t forget to smile. If these things don’t come naturally to you, it may be wise to add them to your practice routine before the big day.

4. Don’t let surprises ruffle you.

Oh, there are also four parents on your interview committee? You have to provide a writing sample? They asked a question you weren’t expecting? It’s ok! Take a deep breath and roll with it. Chances are, these things will be surprising to other candidates too, so show your interview committee you can deal with the unexpected. In the case of a curveball question, it’s ok to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts for a moment before answering.

5. Keep the discussion student-centered.

You may get a question about your personal artmaking habits or interests, but be sure not to dwell there. The interview committee is not interested in a 10-minute discussion of your amazing lithographs. They want to know how your passion will influence the students. Keep the discussion focused on your work in the classroom. Be sure to check out the interview question download to help you hone this skill.

6. Don’t forget to use your portfolio!

You put all of that work into crafting your portfolio, so make sure you use it. Any chance you can help the committee visualize what you’re saying, do so! Avoid simply passing your portfolio around the table. Committee members will have a hard time listening to you and reading at the same time. Instead, use it as a resource to guide your discussion.

7. Nail the last interview question.

More often than not, one of your last questions will be about what you can bring to the table. It might sound something like, “Tell us why you are the best candidate for this position.” Now is not the time to be shy! Practice this answer more than all the others. Think about what you do well. What are your areas of expertise? What are your biggest classroom strengths? Why would a district be silly to pass you up? Now is the time to shine!

Step 4: Follow up!

Do not let the last interview question be the last time the committee hears from you. Follow up with a personal call or email the day of or the day after. Then, send a written note in the mail.

thank you note

Address your follow up to the principal or administrator who led the interview. Thank them for the opportunity and reiterate how interested you are in the position. Remember to proofread before sending it!

Step 5: Ace all subsequent interviews!

Even if your first interview goes well, you’ll probably be asked back for a second and possibly a third. These additional interviews usually are with someone higher up like a curriculum director or superintendent. However, they may also ask you to teach a sample lesson to a group of students.

If you have to have another traditional interview, simply prepare in the same way you did for the first. If you have to teach a lesson, do not panic! This is another chance for you to shine.

Here are the five most important things to think about when deciding what lesson you will teach.

  1. Make sure your lesson is developmentally appropriate. 
    In other words, do not teach perspective to second graders or teach the primary colors to a class of AP Students. Do your research and know where the students are. If you don’t receive any direction, ask what the students are currently working on to get a sense of what might work well.
  2. Choose something that can be completed with simple materials in one class period by following simple directions.
    This does not mean the lesson needs to be boring! However, you have to be realistic. Who knows what supplies will be available or if the sample class will show up on time. Trying to jam too much in will set you up for disaster.
  3. Plan a solid introduction and conclusion.
    Checking for understanding at the beginning and end of the lesson will help show growth. It can be as simple as facilitating a 5-minute discussion, asking for a show of hands, or playing a quick game.
  4. Show off your classroom management skills.
    These are not your usual students, so think about how you’re going to get their attention and do things like lead them through cleanup. Start the lesson with a simple classroom management strategy like teaching the kids to look at you with a call and response.
  5. Remember, rapport counts!
    Most of all, interviewers are looking for how you interact with and relate to students. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

Step 6: Deal with the outcome.

Whether or not you get the job, you can feel good knowing you were well prepared. Here’s how to deal with both kinds of news.

Hooray! You got the job!

If you are offered a job, you’ll need to decide if you’ll accept. There are many things to think about when switching teaching positions. Know that it’s ok to say no if it doesn’t feel like a good fit for you. Remember, an interview is also a chance for you to find out more about the position. If you find out you’ll be on a cart traveling to four different schools, maybe you’ll decide to keep looking. Or, maybe you’ll be ready to jump in feet first!

If you get an offer and you are unsure, it’s ok to ask for a few days to think about it. However, you don’t want to hold up the process, so if you know it’s not a good fit for you, say so right away.

Once you accept, be prepared to take the next steps like signing contracts and getting set up with other HR paperwork.

Bummer. It wasn’t meant to be.

If you don’t get the job, try not to be too hard on yourself. Any interview you score is great practice for the next one. Reflect on what went well and what may have gone better and use that as information to prepare for future opportunities. You may even want to call the lead interviewer to chat about ways to improve.

Remember, you can only worry about what’s in your control. Sometimes districts have to go through the interview process even though they have an internal candidate in mind. With enough perseverance, you will land where you’re supposed to be! And don’t forget, there are opportunities that exist outside of a traditional classroom!

The job search is a huge undertaking, and there is a lot to think about at each step. Hopefully, this guide will help you feel more in control of the process. Preparation is the key to success!

Tell us, what other advice do you have for art teachers looking for jobs? 

Do you have any great interview stories to share? 

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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