Your resume is complete, the interview is scheduled, but… now what? Time to nail down how to answer those tricky little interview questions we all know we’re going to be asked. Pedagogy? No problem. Differentiation? You’ve got this.
Edit: I would like to clarify that I am sharing the knowledge I’ve learned from previous interview circumstances. This knowledge helped me achieve my current position which I LOVE and plan to be in for years and years to come 🙂
If you Google “teacher interview questions” plenty of results are going to appear. The various topics discussed during an interview are pretty standard and will most likely highlight today’s popular educational theories and practices. That being said, I’ve compiled three tips that will help you answer any interview question that comes your way.
First, take a deep breath and a moment to think.
Your interview panel will not judge you if you pause for a moment to collect your thoughts. In fact, it will show recognition that our best answers aren’t always the ones we jump into right away. If you need a minute to work through your thoughts, I suggest starting with a phrase such as “To me [insert topic here] means…” or “To me [insert topic here] is important because…” At this point, you should have a pretty good sense of where you stand concerning a lot of educational concepts. It also seems more genuine to share your opinion rather than a textbook definition. You don’t need to prove that you know something inside and out- you need to prove that you can learn, adapt, and apply.
Second, tell a good story.
A professor in college gave me this advice and I have used it in every interview since. For every educational theory and practice your panel throws at you, have a really good story ready. I’m talking about a moment in your career or educational experience that demonstrated just how awesome you are as a teacher. Take what the interview committee gives you and expand. If they ask about parent communication, talk about a time you actually communicated with parents. If they ask about a time you create a lesson that crosses disciplines, tell them about one! If you have been in a classroom, whether in practicum, student teaching, substitute teaching, or just volunteering, you have had valuable experiences that you can speak to in your interview.
Third, it’s okay to not know the answer.
If your panel throws out a question that you just don’t feel confident answering, be honest. In the interview for my current job, a question came up about Reader’s Workshop. Well, I had taught science for the two years prior and in that moment, I totally blanked. So, I took a breath and said, “Because I haven’t used Reader’s Workshop the past couple years, I would definitely need a refresher on how one should run. However, I would be more than happy to learn from an experienced teacher. That being said, if we were working on [insert topic here] in reading, I would offer the following activities to my students….”
If you don’t know an answer to an interview question, admit it. Then, you can answer the question to the best of your ability and if it’s a little bit different then what they were looking for, they’ll understand why. Reader’s Workshop is specific. I shared that I could not speak directly to the topic but I still offered a few reading activities I had used in the past. It wasn’t exactly what they wanted but it was an adequate enough answer.
I’ve included the most common interview questions/topics that I’m familiar with below. While I would not suggest writing out answers word for word, I hope you utilize them to practice.
Teacher Interview Questions
- Tell us about yourself and why you want to work in our district.
- Why did you become a teacher and how does this come across in the classroom?
- How would you incorporate SEL practices into your daily curriculum?
- How do you use data to differentiate for the various learners in your classroom?
- Tell us about a time you worked in a team setting successfully.
- How do you use technology to support your students as 21st century learners?
- How do you support literacy across all subjects?
- What strategies do you use when communicating with parents?
- How would you handle a student who is misbehaving in your classroom?
- How do you create a strong classroom community and promote positive relationships with students?
- What are three words your students would use to describe you?
- What is your greatest strength as an educator? What is your greatest weakness?
Note: This year, I anticipate that if you’re interviewing, there will be an increased frequency of questions related to teaching during a pandemic. I could see the following being ask, but these may not apply to all positions:
How did you keep students engaged during distance learning?
This past year, how did you ensure that students followed the safety guidelines set in your classroom?
How do you think the experiences we’ve had in this pandemic should inform our teaching, moving forward?
My rule of thumb: try to remember that your panel isn’t asking interview questions because they think you don’t know the answer. They’re giving you an opportunity to demonstrate who you are as an educator. Do your best and be yourself and I promise, positive results will follow.
Looking for more? My full “Actionable Interview Guide for Teachers” is available on Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s. However, you can get it free for a limited time when you sign up for my email list! Start your educational career off on the right foot and start moving one step closer to your dream job.