TEACHER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
(WHAT WILL THEY ASK YOU?)
(WHAT WILL THEY ASK YOU?)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Interviews are your chance to prove to your potential employer that you are the right person for the job. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to miss the mark when trying to convey your value while answering THEIR questions. Even if you have extensive interview experience, teacher interviews can be a whole different ball game.
To help you ace the interview, we have compiled a list of common interview questions that you will likely hear. We separated them into three categories: Introduction, Personal Questions, Pedagogy Questions, and Professional Responsibility Questions.
Continue scrolling or jump to specific portions of the article with the links below:
“Tell us about yourself.”
- PURPOSE: This question is meant to give you the opportunity to speak about your background, education, qualifications to teach, and why you would love the job.
- TIPS: Don’t overload them with your qualifications; don’t feel the need to go over every single qualification. Pick the most impressive qualifications and the most relevant background/education information on your resume.
- PREPARATION: Look over your resume and choose the qualifications/education points you will speak of.
“Are you a flexible teacher? Explain how.”
- PURPOSE: Use this question to show your awareness of the diversity that will make up your classroom. How well do you work with students from different socio-economic groups, or with students with differing retention rates? Show how you will be able to adapt your teaching style to meet the diverse needs in your classroom.
- TIPS: Give specific instances of when you have had to be flexible in the classroom. Try to think of students who were starkly different in their retention rates and how you were able to adjust your teaching style to ensure neither was overlooked.
- PREPARATION: Think of the examples you will give prior to the interview so you can say them off-hand.
“What did you find to be the most difficult aspect of student teaching?”
- PURPOSE: This question is self-explanatory: simply share what areas you found difficult as a student teacher, and how you would work in those areas with your own classroom.
- TIPS: Do not just speak of the areas that you found difficult, but expound on what you learned from those things and how you walked away better prepared to overcome or endure those obstacles well.
- PREPARATION: Consider the ways those difficulties developed you as a teacher.
“Do you know what is going on in education today? Do you stay current with educational trends?”
- PURPOSE: This is an opportunity to show your passion for the profession. Show how you have devoted yourself to being a life-long learner, specifically in how you will continue your education throughout your career. Especially show your competency in technological trends and how you could incorporate these into the classroom setting in an effective way.
- TIPS: If you have not already considered it, consider how you will push yourself to be a life-long learner. They will be looking for someone who is passionate enough about the profession that they stay current with education trends and are planning on using those to grow as a teacher.
- PREPARATION: Study education trends and make a plan for how you will pursue life-long education.
“Do you enjoy teaching children? If so, how would I know if I observed your class?”
- PURPOSE: Don’t just say that you enjoy teaching children; explain why you enjoy teaching children. Then transition into how this delight would shine through in your day-to-day teaching habits and the environment of your classroom.
- TIPS: The best ways to show that you actually enjoy teaching children is by giving an example of a child who has impacted you as you did student teaching. Try to think of the moment you realized teaching gave you joy.
- PREPARATION: Consider specific moments that gave you joy to teach children.
“What can you contribute to our school community/teaching team?”
- PURPOSE: This is the opportunity to transition into what your contribution to the overall school culture would be. How would your presence on the teaching staff positively affect the staff culture? What will you bring to the table as a co-worker?
- TIPS: Think specifically about how you will be beneficial to the staff. Do not just think on how being an effective teacher will help, but give ways you will seek to make a positive impact on the staff.
- PREPARATION: Consider the impact you have had on other teams in the past and ways you anticipate to benefit your co-workers.
“If you overheard some colleagues talking about you, what would they say about you? What would you hope they said?”
- PURPOSE: This question is meant to get you thinking about your contribution to the school organization and the overall culture. How will your colleagues be benefited by your presence on the staff?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Think specifically about how you will be beneficial to the staff. Do not just think of how being an effective teacher will help, but give ways you will seek to make a positive impact on the staff.
“The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything…”
“Why do you want to work at this school?”
- PURPOSE: Use this questions as an opportunity to give an indication that you have done some background work about the school, and explain what appeals to you about how the school functions.
- TIPS: Be specific about the school, do not give generalities on why you want to teach. Show why you would flourish as a teacher specifically at the school you are interviewing for.
- PREPARATION: Do some research on the school’s history and how it has structured things.
“Why did you decide to become a teacher?”
- PURPOSE: This is a chance to show your passion for teaching. Whatever inspired you to be a teacher will directly translate into your disposition in the classroom.
- TIPS: Be clear about the inspiration. Stay away from generalities. Try to give a specific instance in which you felt especially inspired to teach.
- PREPARATION: Take time and write out what you will say as your inspiration.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
- PURPOSE: Interviewers and principals will use this question to gauge your serious for the job and how well you are able to seek out and identify potential issues.
- TIPS: Think through what your ideal work situation would be and then ask questions about how this school and your ideal work situation might differ. For example: How does the principal handle discipline issues when you might send students to her office? Under what conditions should a conflict between teachers escalate to the principal’s attention? What are the expectations for in-service and after-school duties? All these questions are great to determine YOUR fit in the school, should the position be offered to you.
- PREPARATION: Think of important aspects of teaching and job performance that are influenced upon the principal/authoritative figure(s) and use those aspects to create good questions.
“Why do you want to work for our school district?”
- PURPOSE: This is another question that is meant to show that you desire to work in the specifics of this school or this school district. Show that you have done your research on the school district and that you don’t just generally want to be a teacher, but want to be a teacher at that district.
- TIPS: Pick 3 things about the district that you find in your research that you can mention as to why you want to work in that school district.
- PREPARATION: Research the school district in regards to success/failure rates, graduation rates, and the overall history of the district.
“What is your idea of a successful principal?”
- PURPOSE: This is a subjective question used to gauge how well you will fit in the dynamics of the school. If your ideal principal is a strict authoritarian and the current principal is not, this may not be a good fit for you.
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Think through what attributes you would want in a principal.
“What would your cooperating teacher say about you?”
- PURPOSE: Use this question to describe how your master teacher during student teaching would describe your teaching abilities and teaching philosophy, as well as your overall competency and energy.
- TIPS: Try to give actual descriptions from the person who oversaw your student teaching.
- PREPARATION: Get in contact with the person who provided oversight for your student teaching and ask them what they would actually say.
“What unique experiences and perspectives will you bring to our teaching team?”
- PURPOSE: This question will show what kind of influence you will have among the teaching staff. Most of your time will be with the students, but your role as a teacher on staff is pivotal.
- TIPS: When it comes to this question, don’t be shy or timid. Step into this question with boldness, giving clear experiences that have and will affect your role on a teaching staff. Be specific, and connect how that experience or perspective will benefit your role on staff.
- PREPARATION: Consider what has shaped you not only as a teacher but as a coworker. Write down two or three experiences that give you a unique value as a teacher/coworker.
“How would you prepare your classroom?”
- PURPOSE: This is an opportunity to show your organizational skills. The motivation behind this question is to see not only how well-organized you are, but to what depth you have thought about your classroom management. Use this question to show how well-run your classroom will be.
- TIPS: When giving examples of how you would prepare your classroom, try to include how that preparation would serve for a better classroom environment for the students.
- PREPARATION: Consider ways you will prepare your classroom.
“How will you prepare students for standardized assessments?”
- PURPOSE: You will want to use this as an opportunity to show familiarity with the standardized tests, which are given at almost every grade level. Describe how you’ve helped students prepare in the past.
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Research how well students are doing on standardized tests in that district/school. Research how you can shape lesson plans to help prepare students for standardized tests.
“How do you teach the state standards?”
- PURPOSE: Every school administrator will be focused on state, local, and national standards. Have your lesson plans in your portfolio explicitly tie your teaching into the state standards.
- TIPS: Try to hit on specific ways your lesson plans will serve to meet the state standards. Also, do everything you can to make sure you are not ignorant of any updated state standards.
- PREPARATION: Look over and research state standards. Research specific lesson plan ideas that serve to help children meet state standards.
“What ways do you assess and evaluate students?”
- PURPOSE: What will determine a student’s success in your classroom? How will you assess their educational development? Will it only be through exams and quizzes, or will you also bring participations such as recitations or group activities? What day-to-day activities will you use to assess the student’s progress and education?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Look over the research others have done on how to properly assess and evaluate students, such as this page on comprehensive assessment.
“How would you use student-data to drive curriculum planning and classroom instruction?”
- PURPOSE: How will you use student test scores and other diagnostic assessments to alter or adjust classroom curriculum and teaching?
- TIPS: Students take assessments for a reason- so that the results can influence future teaching. If students are performing poorly in an area, that area needs to be re-taught in a different manner.
- PREPARATION: Find out what common assessments the school or district uses and understand how those results can be interpreted to adjust curriculum and teaching.
“If most of the students in your class failed an assignment, test, or project, how would you respond?”
- PURPOSE: This question is meant to give you the chance to show how well you can adapt a lesson plan when what you thought would work just simply didn’t. How well can you adjust your plan to fit the classroom’s needs?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Find and provide specific examples that show how well you can adapt. Is there a time that this has happened? Share how you responded and adapted.
“How would you handle a student who is earning an “A” in your class?”
- PURPOSE: If a student is earning an “A” in your class, is it because the material is too easy, the student is being challenged and performing well, or is the student smart and the material is easy for the student? Each situation requires a different response.
“How will you adapt your teaching to meet the needs of a gifted student?”
- PURPOSE: It takes special attention and awareness to meet the needs of a gifted student. Use this question to show how you will adapt the gifted student’s curriculum and expectations to ensure he is progressing and not growing bored by not being challenged.
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Understand how to create appropriately challenging assignments and assessments. Also, understand how to best meet the needs of gifted students.
“How do you make sure you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?”
- PURPOSE: Students with special needs may need to be given an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Describe how you will ensure that the child’s needs are being met, with the child’s success as the goal.
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Familiarize yourself with an IEP and the appropriate response to designing instruction. An IEP is a legally binding document, so fully understanding the implications of an IEP is necessary for a career in teaching. Learn more about an IEP here.
“What type of classroom management philosophy will you implement?”
- PURPOSE: Inevitably, there will be the need for discipline in your classroom. Describe how you use positive reinforcement and how you would handle consequences for inappropriate behavior. Show how you would be able to handle discipline issues on your own and not have to send students to the principal on a regular basis.
- TIPS: In addition to explaining your discipline philosophy, try to include some research as to how effective those discipline tactics are.
- PREPARATION: See if there’s been any research done as to how effective each discipline tactic is. Use the Classroom Management Strategies links below.
“Can you give an example of a successful behavior management strategy that you have used in the past?”
- PURPOSE: This will give you the chance to show more than your theoretical philosophy on discipline, but rather to show a personal example that proves your philosophy of discipline as effective.
- TIPS: Provide specific details about your success. Who was the behavioral issue (no real names), what was the cause of the behavior problem (ADD/ADHD, boredom, rebelliousness, etc.), what strategy did you use and why. How did this strategy work?
- PREPARATION: Think through successful behavior management strategies you have implemented.
GENERAL TIP: People remember specific stories better than generalizations. Make sure to provide vivid details in your responses and tell stories that address the question. This will make your answers stand out and allow the interviewer to better remember you.
“What would you do if your classroom management was not succeeding?”
- PURPOSE: This is a question about how you can adapt in the classroom. If your original classroom management strategy failed, what would you do next? How many strategies do you know/can you use?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Know a variety of classroom management strategies and in what context they are best used.
“Describe your use of technology in the classroom.”
- PURPOSE: Technology is one of the major components of modern life, so inevitably it will play a major role in the classroom. Technology can have a major impact on a student’s success in the classroom, so this question is to show the extent to which you allow technology to benefit your classroom.
- TIPS: Along with the benefits of technology in the classroom, give examples of how you will prevent the misuse of it. Show that you will allow technology to not be a distraction but helper in your classroom, one that is not central to the classroom but beneficial.
- PREPARATION: Use the resources below that show how you can use technology to benefit your classroom.
“If I walked into your best classroom lesson, what would I observe?”
- PURPOSE: This question is to understand what you think is an ideal teaching lesson. What activities, technologies, and preparation does the lesson entail? How do students respond to the lesson and how do you nurture excitement in the activity? Where is your priority as a teacher? All these aspects are going to be gauged by your answer.
- TIPS: The lesson must be realistic (no weeklong field trips to New Zealand or teaching Lord of the Rings), but it should be the best lesson you can imagine. Your best classroom lesson will only happen when you employ specific strategies.
- PREPARATION: Create an ideal lesson that incorporates the best teaching strategies you know. To see some helpful strategies, read the 9 Ways to Make a Great Lesson article below.
“If I were to walk in on your worst classroom lesson, what would I observe?”
- PURPOSE: How honest are you in your assessment of your own teaching abilities and how well do you understand what can go wrong during a lesson?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Be honest and think of a lesson gone terribly wrong. You can use real-life examples, always good, but make sure you identify areas you learned from your mistakes. All teachers will make mistakes and have a bad lesson, but a good teacher will learn from those mistakes.
Professional Responsibility Questions
“How do you communicate with parents?”
- PURPOSE: How will you keep parents in the loop on what their child is learning and how they are progressing? Do you have an open-door policy for parents to come in and share their concerns? Will you have a weekly parent newsletter that you send home?
- TIPS: Show that you aware of the impact that parent involvement will have on students’ success. In the examples you give, be sure to show that you’ve considered how important this actually is.
- PREPARATION: Prepare specific strategies to keep parents involved and interested in their child’s education.
“How will you communicate with parents about an at-risk student?”
- PURPOSE: Not every student will be successful, and some may even be at risk of not passing. This is a situation that needs to be addressed with the parents, and this question is meant to see if you have a strategy of how to communicate the student’s needs to the parents.
- TIPS: When answering the question, be sure to emphasize how key the parents’ influence on the child is, even in their education. Try to show how you will work to not just keep the parents informed, but also make them a part of the solution.
- PREPARATION: Speak with other teachers who have been historically successful in this area. Try to learn from how they have kept parents involved in their student’s education, even when the student is at risk of failing.
“Have you worked or how would you work to be an advocate for students who are at-risk in your school?”
- PURPOSE: This is an opportunity to show your empathy and the ability to act on the awareness of a struggling student. Use this question to show how you would “be there” for a student who was at risk in a way that keeps them engaged in their education and moves them forward.
- TIPS: This will be an area that will expose whether you are truly an empathetic teacher or not. Be sure to show that at-risk students are not a burden for you, but rather the empathy you feel for them will push you to advocate for them.
- PREPARATION: Research ways that at-risk students have been helped to not just endure in their education but also grow. Research the at-risk rate at the school/district you are interviewing for.
“How would you get to know your students?”
- PURPOSE: Among many other things, teaching that is catered to the individual personalities of the students will bode well for how effective you are as a teacher. This question is meant to discover how you would appropriately get to know your students so that you can better teach them.
- TIPS: Show specific strategies you would use to get to know students in an appropriate way.
- PREPARATION: Speak with veteran teachers about ways they have succeeded in this area, and ask how this has benefited their success as a teacher.
“How would you deal with bullying?”
- PURPOSE: One of the roles you will play as a teacher will be a protector. Schools know that bullying can run rampant if it is not dealt with. They will want to see how you will be aware of the bullying in your class and how you will deal with it in an effective and timely manner.
- TIPS: This is another area to let your empathy shine through. Show that you have given significant thought to the impact bullying can have not only on a student’s education, but on their entire life.
- PREPARATION: Take a look at the resources below on bully prevention.
“How would you try and engage disengaged students in your classroom?”
- PURPOSE: Every class has disengaged students. The difference between a good teacher and a great teacher is how well they engage the disengaged student.
- TIPS: Make sure you have a few strategies.
- PREPARATION: Find a few strategies by talking with veteran teachers and reading teacher blogs.
“How would you seek to raise student’s self-efficacy?”
- PURPOSE: Self-efficacy is one’s perception of oneself. In teaching, nurturing a positive self-efficacy with students is essential to getting the most out of students. Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re normally right.”
- TIPS: Know how to identify low self-efficacy and understand ways to engage it.
- PREPARATION: Read the following articles as a good starting point on self-efficacy: Self-Efficacy: Helping Children Believe They Can Succeed and Strategies to Improve Self-Efficacy
“Can you provide an example of how you worked well in a team-teaching setting?”
- PURPOSE: How will you fit into the culture and team-teaching atmosphere of the school?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Be honest about past experiences and how you resolved conflict. Also, give specific examples of ways you compromised and reached out to teachers to avoid potential conflicts.
“Can you provide an example of how you did not work well in a team-teaching setting?”
- PURPOSE: How honest are you in your assessment of your own personal communications skills and how well do you understand what can go wrong in a team-teaching environment?
- TIPS & PREPARATION: Be honest and think of personal conflicts you have encountered. You can use real-life examples, always good, but make sure you identify areas you learned from your mistakes. All teachers will have conflict with co-workers and principals, but a good teacher will learn from those conflicts.