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 Teacher Interview Questions and Tips
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. The following are some typical personal 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 that 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’re 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 teacher interview question, teachers can discuss an obstacle or a challenge they and their team members faced and how they worked to resolve it. Discussing challenges allows teachers to highlight the communication skills and problem-solving techniques they’re adept at using.
Interview Questions About Teaching Methods
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 positive outcomes for special education students. The 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 their common indications. 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.
Teacher Interview Questions About Social Relationships
Building trust and creating meaningful relationships lie 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 teacher interview 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.
How to Prepare for a Teacher Interview
Having a successful interview isn’t solely about knowing how to answer teacher interview questions. It takes a good deal of preparation to optimally engage during the interview process. Using several tactics to proactively get ready for the interview experience can allow teachers to provide specific details about themselves during the interview experience that can help them stand out in a competitive field. These details can often show the prospective employer that the candidate truly cares about pursuing a role as a teacher; this in turn may assure the school that its students are in good hands.
The key steps a person can take to prepare for a teacher interview include the following:
- Research the interviewing school. Visiting the school’s website, reviewing its social media accounts, and looking up news articles online can provide you with important information about the school, its history, its connection to the community, and the reputation of its leaders before the interview.
- Practice potential responses. Rehearsing answers to questions likely to be asked during the interview process can carry a similarly positive impact as rehearsing a speech in a public speaking class. It can improve response flow and minimize stammering and sputtering, thus making the individual look more confident.
- Bring a portfolio. Having a portfolio handy can provide the interviewing school with a snapshot of past achievements and accolades, as well as examples of how success may be achieved in the classroom. The items in the portfolio can include sample lesson plans, earned certifications, and past awards.
- Show up prepared and professionally dressed. Interviewees should arrive at the interview professionally dressed and ready to discuss teaching philosophy. If possible, show up a few minutes early to allow for further mental preparation before the interview.
- Stay positive. An interviewee who remains positive throughout the interview conveys a positive attitude, which can give the school a glimpse of how a prospective teacher may look in the classroom. Part of staying positive is looking positive; this can require being cognizant of body language.
Questions to Ask Interviewers
At the end of the teacher interview questions, it’s common for the interviewer to ask job candidates if they have any questions. This provides an ideal opportunity to demonstrate preparedness for the interview, passion for the teaching profession, and a commitment to helping students achieve their educational goals. It’s best to use this opportunity to ask effective, targeted questions that pull the focus away from the candidate. These questions can be grouped into the following categories:
- Job-related questions. These questions can provide individuals with more specific details on what they may expect if they get hired. They can involve asking about why the position opened, what a typical day may be like, and long-term expectations concerning the position.
- Support-related questions. These questions can provide insight into how a school supports and advocates for its teachers. They can concern topics like mentoring programs for new teachers, available resources like classroom technology, school culture, and developmental support for teachers.
- Student- and classroom-related questions. These questions can allow candidates to glean further info on a school’s learning environment. They can cover topics like average classroom size, the collective character of the student body, the teacher-student ratio, and curriculum flexibility.
- School-related questions. These questions can dig deeper into the school’s mission and philosophy. They can involve asking about the goals achieved by the school and its district, the challenges facing the school and its district, the school’s discipline plan, the school’s antibullying measures, and any ongoing campus issues.
- Community-related questions. These questions can provide information about the school’s place within the surrounding neighborhoods it serves. They can be about parent involvement, communal support, and the activeness of its PTA group.
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Child Mind Institute, “Tips for Recognizing Learning Disorders in the Classroom”
Education World, How to Answer the Tough Questions
Indeed, “16 Teacher Interview Tips”
Indeed, “32 Questions to Ask Your Interviewer in a Teacher Interview”
Learning Disabilities Association of America, Support and Resources for Educators
Prodigy, “20 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples (+ Downloadable List)”
Reading Rockets, “Building Parent-Teacher Relationships”
TeachThought, “Why You Teach: Developing a Teacher Mission Statement”
The Muse, “25 Common Teacher Interview Questions—and How to Answer Them”