Setting yourself apart during a teacher interview takes time and effort. As the old saying goes, you must practice, practice, practice. And the key thing to practice is how you might answer questions you will be asked.
Most principals or hiring officials have a list of questions that they pull from in an interview. However, almost every question falls into one of six basic themes. Knowing these themes and practicing the possible questions in each of these will help to best prepare you for your interview. Check them out below!
PHILOSOPHY: The purpose of philosophy questions are to gain a better understanding of you and your educational beliefs. Questions often include:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for our district/school?
- Would you describe an experience you’ve had that’s helped prepare you for teaching?
- Why did you choose to become a school teacher?
- What do you consider to be your biggest achievement? Why?
ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION: In schools, we teach what we assess and we assess what we teach. Principals need to make sure you will be able to use informal assessment (observations, questioning techniques, class discussion, projects and rubrics) and formal assessment (quizzes, exams and benchmark tests) to improve student learning and increase the efficiency of instruction. Questions typically include:
- How do you evaluate lessons/achievement?
- How would you determine grades for the lesson you described a few minutes ago?
- What procedures do you use to evaluate students other than tests?
- How would you use both informal and formal assessments?
CURRICULUM AND LESSON DESIGN: Principals need to verify you have a sound background and understanding of basic instructional strategies and pedagogy. Lessons should be planned with a clear learning objective, lesson delivery targets, learning styles, readiness and abilities, as well as multiple activities that keep the students engaged. The overall lesson should focus on student-centered learning. On-going assessment and closure are also key components of good, strong lesson plans. Questions about Differentiated Instruction, Cooperative Learning, and Learning Communities are not uncommon. Common questions include:
- Describe a good lesson. Tell me about the parts. How do you know it is good?
- Learning Style: Discuss activities and delivery methods that target the Multiple Intelligences.
- Learning Readiness: Discuss assessments and activities that identify different levels of learning readiness.
- Learning Abilities: Discuss strategies that target the gifted learner, the average and the slow learner.
CLASSROOM AND DISCIPLINE MANAGEMENT: Classroom Management is about routines, procedures, learning environment and protocols. Having well-prepared materials, lessons that engage the students and seamless activity transition help promote good classroom management. Discipline Management deals with setting up boundaries that promote respect in the classroom. It is important to have a repertoire of strategies that you can discuss when asked. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is your discipline philosophy? Give me an example of how you used this philosophy.
- How do you get students to do what you want them to do?
- Describe your management style.
- Compare positive and negative reinforcement and the effects of each on students.
- What are rules and what are procedures? When do you use each?
CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT: Building a classroom environment that is warm, motivating, inviting and safe is critical to your success. You can be the most amazing instructor, but if there is hostility in your room, students will not be able to contribute to the lesson. Principals want to ensure you have the skills and strategies needed to make your classroom environment supportive of student learning. Questions you need to be prepared for include:
- What would I see if I looked in your classroom?
- How will your students know you care about them?
- Describe how you are going to make your room a warm and inviting location that all kids want to be a part of.
- You have a child who just moved into your classroom. What will you do to make them feel like he or she is part of your class?
- How do you engage students? / How do you engage parents?
PROFESSIONALISM AND DEVELOPMENT: Principals want to make sure you are going to be a team player. It is not uncommon for a principal to ask questions about your history of dealing with others and adversity. The variety of questions is as vast as the category, so it can be hard to prepare for this theme. We have included several questions that are commonly asked:
- What will make you a good teacher?
- If I called your last supervisor, what would he/she say about you?
- What would you include in your Open House presentation to parents?
- How could you use team teaching to provide your students with a better education?
- How do you keep your principal informed?
To get more interview tips and sample questions to help you better prepare for your upcoming teacher interview, visit https://www.teachersoftomorrow.org/arizona/teacher-resources/job-search-2.