Teaching is a meaningful career and like many people, you might find yourself drawn to becoming a teacher. The steps following this decision include getting teacher certified, updating your resume, and beginning the interview process.
The interview process can be daunting. Job interviews may seem intimidating at first, but after reading through these tips you’ll be able to go into your teacher interview with complete confidence.
Before you go into an interview, you should contemplate and research the following teacher job interview questions.
Keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive. It simply includes the essential steps you should take when preparing to secure the teaching position you want. Carefully thinking through these questions will not only help you during the teaching interview but will also help you be a better teacher.
1. What Do You Love About Teaching?
Other questions to consider include:
- Why do you want to be a teacher?
- What is it about teaching that is motivating you to leave your current job?
- Who was one of your favorite teachers in the past and why?
Hiring managers want to know that the person applying for the job is both qualified and cares about being there. A job such as teaching magnifies the importance of caring because a teacher is there to serve young people. So make sure you emphasize how passionate you are about teaching.
Before the interview, think through what you love about teaching and why you want to pursue a career in that profession. Writing out your thoughts can be a helpful way of processing them. You want to answer your interview questions with solid reasons, concrete examples, and personal stories, where appropriate.
A few common reasons people want to teach are:
- they love learning and being in a learning environment
- teaching is a job with a lot of variety
- teaching is a way of serving their communities
- they like the creativity and independence teaching offers
- they want summers off
- they want to make a difference in people’s lives
Questions about your love of teaching are an excellent opportunity for you to show that you are genuine and personable. If you can, share a story about one of your childhood teachers or someone else who inspired you to pursue teaching. Stories have a special way of resonating with people. Whatever you say, let your enthusiasm and passion for teaching be clear in your answer.
2. What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?
Questions about your teaching philosophy will focus on what you believe is the purpose of your discipline and the best ways to fulfill that purpose. It can be helpful to write out your teaching philosophy ahead of time so that you can base your answers around it and clearly share your ideas during interviews. As you explore your teaching philosophy, consider:
- Why is your area of discipline important to society?
- Why does it matter whether anyone learns it or not?
- What is your role within your discipline?
- And what are your specific teaching methods that support and fulfill your philosophy?
In addition to your beliefs, you also need to explain how you are going to apply your philosophy in the classroom. How do you implement both formative assessment and summative assessment? This will naturally depend on the ages of your students.
Make sure you clearly understand the “how” as well as the “why” of your philosophy. Knowing the “how” will help you prepare for questions about your teaching style and classroom management.
3. What Are Your Teaching Style and Methods?
Being able to explain your teaching methods demonstrates that you are competent and prepared to be a teacher.
- How do you help students to learn your subject?
- How do you help children with various learning styles?
- How would you help a student struggling to keep up with the material?
You will learn a lot once you start teaching in a classroom, but there are some basics about your discipline that you should be familiar with before you start.
Your teaching methods are the practical side of your teaching philosophy. What assignments will be most effective in helping you to achieve the purpose of your discipline? How can you capture your students’ imaginations and bring your subject to life?
People learn in different ways. Some different methods include learning visually, aurally, or kinesthetically. How can you engage all five senses with your assignments? Perhaps you could do a formative assessment by having students visualize a concept through drawing or painting. Incorporating crafts into lessons is a helpful strategy, especially for elementary teachers.
Musical students will appreciate you incorporating music into the lesson. Some students enjoy being outside or being active more than discussing ideas in class. What can you incorporate into the lesson plan in order to get these students interested? Some Middle school students struggle with the transition to a new school with no more recess. What activities or projects can you assign that will engage those students?
The team of teachers you work with will be extremely valuable and help you come up with new ideas to implement in the classroom. In the meantime, there are many online resources you can browse to get advice about teaching your subject.
4. How You Will Manage Your Classroom?
Knowing how you will manage your classroom demonstrates that, in addition to being competent in your area of discipline, you can also lead and relate to students well.
Note that classroom management overlaps with teaching style. The more organized you are, the more you will be able to avoid misunderstandings between you and your students.
The interviewer might ask you:
- Are you a tough teacher or an easy one?
- Has there ever been a time when you had to deal with a particularly difficult student?
- If so, how did you handle that situation?
Teachers work with students that have varying levels of interest in the subject being taught. Not every student will be excited about being at school. That’s why it is essential for you to be familiar with classroom management.
Classroom management is especially important for Special Education teaching positions. Special ed teachers need to be familiar with a variety of strategies for keeping students’ attention and dealing with disruptive students. They also need to be able to explain how they’ll help students persevere with a difficult task.
Use your past experience or online research to come up with tactics appropriate for the age level and type of student you’ll be teaching. Do some research ahead of time to learn about the disciplinary procedures at the school where you’re applying. Then you can tailor your answer accordingly. Know what you would do, and show how your methods fit the school’s philosophy.
For example, if you’re an elementary teacher, you could use the following strategy: Every time someone breaks a rule write one letter of the word “sorry” on the board. Explain to your students that if you spell the entire word the class will lose a fun activity for the day. This classroom management strategy could be useful for encouraging good behavior.
In your interview, It’s also a good idea to mention how you would prevent conflict from arising ahead of time. You can make it a habit to make eye contact with each student throughout the day or greet each one at the beginning of the day, showing you’re happy to see all of them. The more your students know that you care about them, the less likely they are to act out.
5. What Is Your Greatest Strength?
It’s common for hiring managers to ask you questions regarding your greatest strengths. Your answer to this question can demonstrate how you qualified for the teaching position.
Don’t think of it as bragging about yourself. You are objectively explaining how you are a good fit for the school. If you don’t have any relevant strengths, why would anyone hire you?
Before your interview, brainstorm what your best selling points are. Consider them in a professional and personal context.
- Has your boss praised you for any achievements in your current job?
- What have been your recent successes at work, and what skills contributed to those successes?
- Have your coworkers ever pointed out any of your strengths to you? If you can, ask them what they are.
You can ask the same question of your friends and family. Even though these are people you know on a personal basis, they can help you identify your primary character qualities.
For example, if people know you as an exceptional communicator, give recent examples of that strength. Then explain how you’ll use that skill in a teaching context. That skill could be public speaking, setting clear expectations for your class, or contacting parents in a timely manner. Whatever you mention, make sure you give specific examples from the past and apply them to the teaching position you’re seeking.
6. Why Do You Want to Work in This Job/School/District?
Never go into an interview not knowing anything about the organization interviewing you. Answering this question well shows that you care about getting the job and also helps you determine if the job is a good fit for you.
Some common mistakes made in interviews include:
- Not being prepared
- Giving cliché answers
- Seeming bored
Doing your research and thoughtfully preparing for the interview will help you avoid the first two mistakes. Communicating your enthusiasm for teaching, as mentioned earlier, will ensure that you don’t make the last mistake.
Find out what you can about the job itself, as well as the school and the school district.
- What are the school’s characteristics?
- Do the students in that school district have any specific needs you feel you are suited to meet?
- Is there anything about the administration’s philosophy that you appreciate?
- What is the school doing well that makes you excited about working there?
Researching the position will help you with all of your interview questions. You can use whatever you discover in your answers where applicable.
7. What Is Your Biggest Weakness?
Be prepared to answer a question about your shortcomings.
- What is your primary weakness as a teacher?
- What do you dislike most about teaching?
- What do you find to be the most challenging part of teaching?
Everyone has weaknesses. This question is an opportunity to demonstrate your honesty and how you learn from your mistakes.
It’s understandable if you fear that answering this question truthfully will make you seem unqualified for the position. But you can give an accurate response while still presenting yourself as a strong candidate. All people face difficulties in their jobs, and all jobs have aspects to them that are not enjoyable. These are just facts of working life.
One way to use this question to your advantage is by describing how you deal with challenges. Or maybe you had a major weakness in the past that you have since overcome. Describe how you did so and what you do differently now.
8. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
You do not want to get to the end of the interview and have nothing to say when the interviewer asks this question. This is another opportunity for you to demonstrate you care about getting the job and to determine whether you actually want it.
Having questions for the school shows you are sincerely interested in the teaching position. But it’s also a chance to discover the information you cannot get through your own research.
If there is anything you’re particularly concerned about, this is your chance to ask about it! Your questions might include:
- How would you describe the culture of the school?
- What are the students like?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each grade?
- Are the teachers supportive of each other?
- What are the administration and parents like?
- What are some challenges the staff has faced this year, within the school itself as well as within the school district?
- How does the school relate to the community?
Don’t ask about time off or salary at this point. Questions like that are inappropriate until the school offers you the teaching position.
Across the country, the teacher shortage is growing. Schools are in need of qualified and dedicated teachers like you. The process of finding a teaching job and going through the interviews can seem like a lot but we can help you get prepared.
Follow these teacher job interview tips, and face the application process with confidence.
PS – if you are struggling with the Teacher Test – make sure to take a look at our teacher testing tips!