A teacher interview can be intimidating. But as long as you study common interview questions for teachers ahead of time, you’ll be just fine!
“Tell me about yourself”. I don’t know about you, but this simple interview question isn’t so simple when asked in an interview. “Describe a time when you had a classroom management situation and how you responded”. Suddenly I have no idea what I do in my classroom. These are just two of the many interview questions for teachers that you may be asked. In this post, we’re going to talk about some tips you can use when you’re interviewing as a teacher, and also look at some common interview questions for teachers.
Before the interview starts
I don’t know about you, but talking about myself is not something I enjoy. Quite honestly, I usually avoid talking about myself. Talking about your classroom, philosophy on teaching, and experiences can be challenging and personal. I have spent weeks, if not a few months, applying for jobs. In that time I have done a handful of interviews. Interviews are nerve-wracking and intimidating. You may be talking with one person on the phone or 4 people in person. No matter what the interview may be, here are some important areas to focus on:
1. Prepare ahead of time
The worst feeling I have had in an interview is complete panic when asked a question that I know I should be able to answer or when I can’t think of any questions to ask. Always research the school that you are interviewing with. Read about their mission, vision, and values. Look into teacher sites or blogs from the school. Write down questions that you know you want to ask. You would rather have the questions and just need them on a piece of paper than to risk seeming not interested by not asking anything because your nerves got the best of you! It can’t hurt to also bring extra copies of the application materials, like your resume, cover letter, references or essay question responses.
2. Dress for success
I am a really casual person normally, even for school. For interviews, however, you can’t go wrong with a blazer. You only have one chance to make a first impression on your potential future employer. Take your interviewing time as a chance to do a little shopping. Find an outfit that gives you an added confidence to walk into your interview, ready to impress!
3. Be yourself
I have spent three years of my career figuring out who I am as a teacher and as a person. You will find a school that is the right fit for you. Answer the questions honestly, even if you think it isn’t what they want to hear. Don’t have the experience that they want you to have? Offer to take classes or pursue professional development to learn more. If you don’t know the answer, ask for clarification to the question or answer how you think is best. Give it all you’ve got and be genuine!
4. Follow up
The interview doesn’t end with a final handshake. Take the time to write a thank you note to the people who interviewed you or arranged for the interview. It’s the little details that will set you apart.
Common interview questions for teachers
Once you’ve got the basics for your interview down, it’s time to start preparing for the questions that are going to come up. Now, as with any interview, there’s no way to pin point exactly what they’re going to ask you. But there’s a lot of common interview questions for teachers that tend to pop up that you can be prepared for ahead of time.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
You can be sure this question will come up whether you’re interviewing as a teacher or not. It’s a standard interview question that’s used to get to know you. Don’t start to panic and think you have nothing interesting about yourself. Be yourself, what’s important to you in your life? Hopefully it’s not just sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Start by talking about your career; if this is your first interview and you haven’t had a job yet out of college, talk about school. Why did you pick teaching? What makes you like it? After you’ve made it clear you’re in the right career path, talk briefly about any hobbies or volunteer work you might do. Again, don’t panic here if you can’t think of anything. Worst case scenario, just stick to your career.
2. What is your discipline philosophy?
Your classroom needs discipline, and they want to know what your method is here. Every teacher likes to handle this differently, so this is a really important question for them because they want to know what type of discipline you’re going to bring to one of their classrooms. Don’t be alarmed when you hear something like “Philosophy” or anything. They just want to know your approach to this. We’ve written on classroom management ideas before that will help you if you don’t know where to start. What will your philosophy be? We also love this article about discipline philosophy by Kelsey Bickford called “Philosophy of Discipline and Classroom Management“.
3. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
One of the best ways to answer this question is to talk about one of the teachers you’ve had in your life that has been a huge influence on you. Grade school, high school, it doesn’t really matter when. Just talk about what they did specifically to make such an impact on you. Maybe it was their approach to teaching that seemed different than other teachers. Maybe they made you feel excited to learn. Whatever it was, make sure it comes up in your interview.
4. How will you use technology in the classroom?
This is another typical question in a teacher interview that comes up. Think about technology you’ve used when you were at school and growing up. How has it changed? What can you do to incorporate these new techniques in your classroom? If you’re terrible with technology, be honest about it. But make sure that you make it clear that you’re open and willing to learn.
5. Do you have any questions for me/us?
This is typical of any interview, not just for teachers. But it bears repeating. And yes, you should have follow up questions. This shows them that you were prepared for the interview and you’re interested in their school. This is as much an interview for them as it is for you. You need to see if this school will be a good fit for you, so ask about any concerns you might have. Was there a certain policy at your previous school that you didn’t agree with? Ask if they have the same one. See what you’re going to be getting yourself into, and express your interest in their school.
I know how tolling it can be to apply for job after job, only to be turned down or never contacted. Be prepared ahead of time, study these common interview questions for teachers, and think up answers ahead of time. Stick with it, stay strong, and you will find the best school for you!