Top 10 Teacher Interview Questions And Answers
Being a teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet…but getting those first jobs teaching can be a nerve-wracking experience.
As a teacher, it’s up to you to pass on valuable skills to your students, but when it comes to learning how to nail that interview for your dream job, it’s up to us to teach you exactly what to say…and like any good study session, it’s going to require a bit of practice!
Interviewing for a job as a teacher is similar in many ways to interviewing for any other job. You need to do your research ahead of time and practice your answers before you get to the interview.
There are, however, a few small subtle differences, and knowing how to tackle those curveballs can mean the difference between scoring the job and flunking out of the interview.
The first thing you need to do when preparing for a teaching interview is to get comfortable answering behavioral questions. As we’ve covered before, behavioral questions are questions that are asked specifically so the interviewer can learn about your past behaviors in specific situations.
These answers will help them better understand how you might behave when confronted with similar situations in the future. In essence, they want to know that you’ve got what it takes to be successful not only with the students you’re teaching, but also with their parents, as well as the rest of the teachers and the school administrators.
Luckily, we’ve pulled together some easy tips for you to keep in mind while prepping for your teaching interview.
Top Tips For Answering Teacher Interview Questions
As a teacher, you’re going to be directly involved in the lives of your students and their parents, especially if you’re teaching early education. Teacher interview questions are meant to find out more about you as both an educator and a person.
Make sure when you answer the questions that you’re giving actual personal answers and not an easily memorized generic response. Use your answers as an opportunity to highlight your skills and your background as well as your experience and how you would apply those to situations you might encounter in the future.
This relates directly to the behavioral questions and how you should answer them. Use examples from your own past and skills to illustrate exactly how you have done things in the past.
Start with a description of the example, explain the situation, and then explain what you did in response to that situation. ( The STAR Method)
Remember, only relate successful stories that put you in a positive light. Wrap up with what you learned and how you would apply that knowledge in future situations.
Just like any other job, do your research beforehand and make sure you draw attention to specific skills you have that are directly listed in the job description. Before you head into the interview, make a list of the desired qualifications based on the job description and match those up with the skills you possess.
Use that list as a guideline for building your answers. Not only will it help you reinforce to them why you’re the perfect candidate, it will help make answering those questions easier as you’re already prepared.
We’ve already said it once, but we’ll say it again…do your research ahead of time. Look into the school you’re applying to as well as the school district overall. Do you know anyone working there already? Do you have friends who have children who are students at the school?
Any and all information you get ahead of time will not only help you determine what sort of environment is at the school, but if you want to actually work there or not. On top of that, coming into an interview with knowledge ahead of time about the academics, curriculum, sports, and school programs shows initiative and enthusiasm.
Be prepared for a possible panel interview. Education interviews are often conducted by multiple individuals and may include the principal, teachers, parents, and members of the administrative staff.
In some instances, there are education committees set up specifically to interview and screen potential teachers.
We’ve said this probably a hundred times already and certainly in almost every blog post we’ve ever published, but it’s so important we’re going to just keep saying it: BE HONEST! Don’t ever lie your way into a position. You’ll only end up hurting yourself in the long run.
Now that we’ve gone over these tips, let’s take a look at the 5 most common interview questions for teachers. We’ve listed them below and included a brief explanation with each one. Think of them as a study guide to help guide your own answers…but remember…no copying! Make them your own!
5 Common Teacher Interview Questions And Answers
1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
This is probably the most often asked teacher question which means whoever is interviewing you has probably heard just about every story in the book… Giving a standard “because I love helping people learn” isn’t going to cut it here.
You want to give an answer that is heartfelt and genuine and really illustrates why you chose this field. Take time before your interview to really reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Was there someone in your past who inspired you and you want to pay that forward and inspire others? Draw from specific examples. Make your response thoughtful, genuine, and honest.
Example answer: When I was in third grade I struggled a lot with reading. I could never keep up with lessons and I was always terrified of being called on to practice my reading out loud. I started to doubt my own intelligence and was convinced that the bottom line was I was stupid. It ended up affecting my grades and I started to fall behind. Rather than give up on me, my teacher Miss Emily sat me down one day at lunch and really talked to me about what was going on. I told her how hard it was for me to read and we discovered together that I wasn’t stupid, but was having vision problems. She moved me to a desk that was closer to the front, made sure I was able to see, and met with my parents to discuss options. Because of her my parents took me to a doctor and my astigmatism was diagnosed. Because of Miss Emily I began to love learning again. I want to be that teacher…the one who takes the time to really discover why students are struggling and give another little girl like me an opportunity to learn to love learning again.
2. Why do you want to teach at this school?
This question is another common teaching interview question and a perfect example of why preparing and practicing your answers before you get to the interview is critical! Use this opportunity to provide specific reasons why you’re interested in the school by drawing on the information you gathered during your research.
Whoever is interviewing you is genuinely interested in knowing if you’re actually interested in the position or if you’re just sending out resumes and showing up for whoever calls you no matter where they are. Having specific answers tailored to your audience shows enthusiasm, initiative and dedication, all qualities that are valuable!
Example Answer: I’ve spent a lot of time researching schools within this district and I’m very impressed with what you offer here. Between an award winning teaching staff and a district that is very involved, your school has a teacher-to-student ratio that I think really allows for personalized education. Smaller classroom sizes, like the ones you maintain here, make it possible for me to give each child the one-on-one attention they deserve. On top of that, your after-school science program is exciting to me and I would hope, should I get hired here, that I might be able to become involved in that as well.
3. What can you bring to our school that makes you unique?
This question is pretty straight forward, and the perfect opportunity for you to really let your unique qualities shine. Talk about activities you’ve participated in or passions you have that can easily translate into teachable moments and classroom activities that fall outside the usual curriculum that is currently being enacted. Don’t criticize what they’re doing, but explain how what you’re bringing will augment and compliment what they’ve already got in place.
Example answer: I love science and exploring the natural world beyond the borders of the classroom. For that reason, I started an after-school explorer’s club at my last school. We would go on nature hikes, visit museums and invite local scientists and biologists to come speak to us about what they’re working on and their research. The response was overwhelming and I have students who still come up to me years later and tell me how much they loved our club and how it helped inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences. I would be very interested in continuing the legacy of the explorer’s club here.
4. What frustrates you the most in a classroom?
This question allows your interviewers to get to know what it takes to ruffle your feathers and how you’ll behave when faced with that situation. Find a situation that is fairly common for all teachers and then explain how you’ve dealt with that frustration. Remember, you want to focus on positive aspects of your teaching style, so if you’re still frustrated with a situation and haven’t figured out how to work around it yet, maybe don’t use that one as your example.
Example Answer: I have to admit, I get frustrated by the kids who think they’re too cool for school and who float through their day doing as little as possible and the teachers who play into that attitude. Rather than turn that frustration into anger or simply ignore them and wait for a slacker to drift through a year in my class, I turn that frustration into a challenge for both the student and myself. Most of the time those kids are too cool because of challenges they’re facing outside of school and their attitude is a way for them to protect themselves. Sometimes all they need is to know someone else believes in them. By giving them a little extra attention and encouragement, I’ve seen some of the ‘coolest kids’ turn into students who are focused, driven and ready to turn themselves around.
5. What is your teaching philosophy?
Everyone will have a unique answer to this question as everyone’s experiences with education, experience, and own personal history will determine how they’ve shaped their own philosophy. What drives you to teach? What is your approach to teaching and what guides you and how you run your classroom? Take time before you get into the interview to really focus on what your philosophy is and how you apply it every day.
Example Answer: I believe that the best learning opportunities are the ones that the students come up with themselves. For that reason I spend every lunch hour on the playground with my students and make myself available for them to ask me “playground-pop-quiz” questions. These questions have ranged from everything from how is the ice cream we had at lunch made to exploring the lifecycle of the mosquitos we found in a piece of playground equipment. I love challenging the students to try to stump me and as a result, they go out of their way to explore the environment around them, making learning fun and exciting.
Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
If you’ve ever been to a job interview, you know that at the end of the questioning period you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own.
This is the gold mine question and one that serves two distinct purposes. It gives you an opportunity to get information you might not have been able to gather during your research period while also allowing you one more chance to demonstrate you are the perfect candidate by having a pre-prepared list of questions you’d like answered.
While a list of questions might seem odd, it shows an interviewer that you’re so interested in the position that you’ve take the time to really think about working there and want more information.
Good questions to ask include:
- Can you tell me a little about the culture here at the school?
- What is a typical day like?
- Are there any qualities you’re looking for in a teacher that were not listed in the job description?
- Is there a teacher mentoring program here?
- Are there opportunities for furthering my education available here?
- What is the average classroom size?
- How are the classrooms equipped? Is this a wired school?
- What goals and expectations do you have for your teachers?
- Are there any challenges the school/district is facing that I should be aware of?
- Is there an active PTA here?
- How is the relationship between the parents and the school?
- Is the school a part of the community?
- How does this school handle student discipline?
- How does it handle bullying?