Job Application Tips: Common Interview Questions for Teachers

November 5, 2020

Landing a teaching position requires preparation. But how can teachers separate themselves from the other well-dressed, enthusiastic, articulate job candidates? Researching potential employers and preparing thoughtful responses to common interview questions for teachers helps job candidates put their best foot forward.

Typically, teachers can expect three types of interview questions: questions about who they are personally, questions about their teaching methods, and questions related to teaching’s social aspects.

Personal Interview Questions for Teachers and Tips for Answering Them

Personal interview questions help interviewers discover a teacher’s unique passion. These questions allow teachers to share what motivated them to get into the profession. Following are some typical personal interview questions for teacher interviews and tips for how to respond.

What Made You Decide to Become a Teacher?

Teachers should be able to confidently explain who they are as educators and what they have to share. Discussing how they decided to become teachers is their opportunity to shine.

Tips for Answering

Teachers can share what inspires them about teaching and offer personal stories about what drew them to the profession, such as recounting an experience with a special teacher who made them see the power teachers have to affect other people’s lives. Teachers should also express their purpose for teaching. What do they hope to accomplish? Sharing goals and plans with interviewers shows that the teacher has a vision and has thought about how to accomplish it. By taking time before the interview to list their long-term goals and detailing how they plan to achieve them, teachers will be better prepared to answer this question clearly.

What Are You Currently Learning About and Interested In?

Schools want educators who are excited about their own learning. This question gives teachers a chance to describe their personal love of learning and show they have a curious nature, a quality they can then pass on to students. The question also presents an opportunity to showcase the ways teachers are taking the initiative to develop themselves personally and professionally.

Tips for Answering

From books and podcasts to volunteer commitments and online courses, teachers should consider both the formal and informal ways they are engaged in their own learning. For example, teachers may talk about:

  • The language club they participate in that keeps their college French in shape
  • The science blog they follow that teaches them about the latest quantum physics discoveries
  • A recent visit to Florence, where they took a tour exploring Renaissance art

Regardless of the particulars, job candidates should use their examples as a means to express their personal dedication to growth and development, as well as their excitement about lifelong learning.

Describe a Time You Solved a Problem in a Team

Educators often collaborate in teams to plan and address schoolwide initiatives and issues. Interviewers may ask candidates to describe a time they solved a problem in a team to determine how well they work with colleagues to get a job done.

Tips for Answering

When answering this question, teachers can discuss any obstacles and challenges they and their team members faced and how they worked to resolve them. Discussing challenges allows teachers to highlight the communication skills and problem-solving techniques they’re adept at using.

Teaching Method Interview Questions for Teachers and Tips for Answering Them

Teaching method questions focus on strategies, philosophies, and practices teachers rely on to guide their instruction. The questions give teachers the chance to show the careful thought they put into their learning activities, assessments, and projects.

Moreover, they can demonstrate how they approach issues such as increasing diversity, integrating technology in the classroom, or promoting outcomes for special education students. Following are some common teaching method questions, plus tips for answering them.

How Do You Identify and Address Learning Disabilities?

General education teachers play an important role in identifying students who need individualized education programs. When replying to the question “How do you identify students who need individualized education?” they can describe not only how they identify students with learning disabilities but also how they differentiate instruction.

Tips for Answering

Teachers should demonstrate familiarity with different types of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, and the common indications of them. Additionally, they can describe the differentiated teaching strategies they use in their lessons. For example, they may discuss how they use grouping as a tool to offer focused teacher attention to students who need specialized support.

Describe a Typical Lesson

Schools want teachers who deliver well-structured, high-quality lessons. An interviewer’s request for candidates to describe a typical lesson allows candidates to not only describe their lessons’ components but also share their thinking about how they structured those lessons.

Tips for Answering

When describing a lesson, teachers should start with how they engaged students with the topic. Next, they can discuss the activities and the assessments they used to check student learning along the way. They can also describe how they may tweak an in-progress lesson to address gaps in understanding. This demonstrates a teacher’s ability to respond in the moment to student needs and use student input to mindfully drive instruction.

How Do You Motivate and Engage Students?

Today’s schools value student-centered learning. The question “How do you motivate and engage students?” allows teachers to highlight how they embrace the concept and incorporate it into their teaching.

Tips for Answering

Teachers can describe how they make space for student voices in the classroom and create opportunities for students to direct their own learning. For example, they can discuss how they offer students’ choices, whether it’s allowing them to select their own role in group work or letting them choose which questions they’ll answer on an assignment.

Additionally, teachers can describe their techniques for building lessons around student interests, engaging students in reflection about their own learning processes and helping students connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world.

Social Interview Questions for Teachers and Tips for Answering Them

Building trust and creating meaningful relationships lies at the heart of successful teaching. Schools want to know that the teachers they hire can bond with students individually, build healthy supportive communities in their classrooms, manage discipline issues, and work effectively with parents. The following questions give teachers a chance to show how they accomplish those things.

What Is Your Method for Dealing with Difficult Parents?

This question seeks to understand how teachers manage uncooperative, unsupportive, or dissatisfied parents. When replying, teachers can explain how they steer clear of avoidable problems and defuse tense situations with parents. The question also allows for a discussion about cultivating partnerships with parents.

Tips for Answering

The key to working with parents involves listening and empathy. Teachers can describe how they would listen to parents’ concerns and get clarification about what troubles them, expressing their shared interest in meeting children’s needs. Next, they can describe how they would invite parents to work with them to arrive at a satisfactory solution. Additionally, teachers can describe their strategies for staying in regular communication with parents, such as in-person meetings, online gradebooks that parents can check, newsletters, and phone calls.

How Do You Handle Disruptive Students?

Teachers inevitably encounter disruptive students, so schools want assurances that teachers have effective methods for dealing with them.

Tips for Answering

Disruptive behaviors can have many causes, from student anxiety to boredom. A good response to an interview question about handling disruptive students should discuss how teachers identify and appropriately respond to the causes of disruptive behaviors. For example, a teacher may describe pulling aside a disruptive student to discuss what the problem may be. This shows the teacher’s ability to meet students where they are and the ability to use a collaborative approach to handle disruptions.

How Do You Cultivate Positive Relationships with Students?

A question about how to cultivate positive relationships with students allows teachers to describe how they approach classroom management. Schools want to know how teachers nip disruptive behavior in the bud and how they encourage student cooperation.

Tips for Answering

Teachers can discuss their strategies for establishing, maintaining, and restoring relationships. For example, teachers may describe greeting students at the door to make them feel welcome and to get a sense of their moods. Teachers may also describe how they offer student-specific praise, schedule one-on-one meetings, or plan check-ins with students. When describing how they repair relationships, teachers can highlight how they use empathy and a solution-focused approach that separates the behavior from the student.

Explore How a Master of Arts in Teaching

Interview questions for teachers help schools evaluate a teaching candidate’s level of thoughtfulness, expertise, and motivation. With an advanced education degree, aspiring teachers can develop the knowledge and skills they need to tackle education challenges and succeed at any school.

Explore how American University’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching program prepares students and current teachers to thrive as educators and transform lives in the classroom.