Being a teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet but getting those first jobs teaching can be a nerve-wracking experience.
As a teacher, it’s up to you to pass on valuable skills to your students, but when it comes to learning how to nail that interview for your dream job, it’s up to us to teach you exactly what to say and like any good study session, it’s going to require a bit of practice!
Interviewing for a job as a teacher is similar in many ways to interviewing for any other job. You need to do your research ahead of time and practice your answers before you get to the interview.
There are, however, a few small subtle differences, and knowing how to tackle those curveballs can mean the difference between scoring the job and flunking out of the interview.
The first thing you need to do when preparing for a teaching interview is to get comfortable answering behavioral questions. As we’ve covered before, behavioral questions are questions that are asked specifically so the interviewer can learn about your past behaviors in specific situations.
These answers will help them better understand how you might behave when confronted with similar situations in the future. In essence, they want to know that you’ve got what it takes to be successful not only with the students you’re teaching, but also with their parents, as well as the rest of the teachers and the school administrators.
Luckily, we’ve pulled together some easy tips for you to keep in mind while prepping for your teaching interview.
Our studies have shown that teacher interviews are not only made up of teaching-related questions, but also of both traditional and behavioral interview questions commonly found in a non-teacher interview.
But don’t worry, because we’ve put together cheat sheet that will outline the most common interview questions you can expect to be asked:
10 Common TSC job Interview Questions And Answers
1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
This is probably the most often asked teacher question which means whoever is interviewing you has probably heard just about every story in the book… Giving a standard “because I love helping people learn” isn’t going to cut it here.
You want to give an answer that is heartfelt and genuine and really illustrates why you chose this field. Take time before your interview to really reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Was there someone in your past who inspired you and you want to pay that forward and inspire others? Draw from specific examples. Make your response thoughtful, genuine, and honest.
Example answer: When I was in third grade I struggled a lot with reading. I could never keep up with lessons and I was always terrified of being called on to practice my reading out loud. I started to doubt my own intelligence and was convinced that the bottom line was I was stupid. It ended up affecting my grades and I started to fall behind. Rather than give up on me, my teacher Miss Emily sat me down one day at lunch and really talked to me about what was going on. I told her how hard it was for me to read and we discovered together that I wasn’t stupid, but was having vision problems. She moved me to a desk that was closer to the front, made sure I was able to see, and met with my parents to discuss options. Because of her my parents took me to a doctor and my astigmatism was diagnosed. Because of Miss Emily I began to love learning again. I want to be that teacher…the one who takes the time to really discover why students are struggling and give another little girl like me an opportunity to learn to love learning again.
2. Why do you want to teach at this school?
This question is another common teaching interview question and a perfect example of why preparing and practicing your answers before you get to the interview is critical! Use this opportunity to provide specific reasons why you’re interested in the school by drawing on the information you gathered during your research.
Whoever is interviewing you is genuinely interested in knowing if you’re actually interested in the position or if you’re just sending out resumes and showing up for whoever calls you no matter where they are. Having specific answers tailored to your audience shows enthusiasm, initiative and dedication, all qualities that are valuable!
Example Answer: I have spent a lot of time researching schools within this district and I’m very impressed with what you offer here. Between an award winning teaching staff and a district that is very involved, your school has a teacher-to-student ratio that I think really allows for personalized education. Smaller classroom sizes, like the ones you maintain here, make it possible for me to give each child the one-on-one attention they deserve. On top of that, your after-school science program is exciting to me and I would hope, should I get hired here, that I might be able to become involved in that as well.
3. What can you bring to our school that makes you unique?
This question is pretty straight forward, and the perfect opportunity for you to really let your unique qualities shine. Talk about activities you’ve participated in or passions you have that can easily translate into teachable moments and classroom activities that fall outside the usual curriculum that is currently being enacted. Don’t criticize what they’re doing, but explain how what you’re bringing will augment and compliment what they’ve already got in place.
Example answer: I love science and exploring the natural world beyond the borders of the classroom. For that reason, I started an after-school explorer’s club at my last school. We would go on nature hikes, visit museums and invite local scientists and biologists to come speak to us about what they’re working on and their research. The response was overwhelming and I have students who still come up to me years later and tell me how much they loved our club and how it helped inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences. I would be very interested in continuing the legacy of the explorer’s club here.
4. What frustrates you the most in a classroom?
This question allows your interviewers to get to know what it takes to ruffle your feathers and how you’ll behave when faced with that situation. Find a situation that is fairly common for all teachers and then explain how you’ve dealt with that frustration. Remember, you want to focus on positive aspects of your teaching style, so if you’re still frustrated with a situation and haven’t figured out how to work around it yet, maybe don’t use that one as your example.
Example Answer: I have to admit, I get frustrated by the kids who think they’re too cool for school and who float through their day doing as little as possible and the teachers who play into that attitude. Rather than turn that frustration into anger or simply ignore them and wait for a slacker to drift through a year in my class, I turn that frustration into a challenge for both the student and myself. Most of the time those kids are too cool because of challenges they’re facing outside of school and their attitude is a way for them to protect themselves. Sometimes all they need is to know someone else believes in them. By giving them a little extra attention and encouragement, I’ve seen some of the ‘coolest kids’ turn into students who are focused, driven and ready to turn themselves around.
5. What is your teaching philosophy?
Everyone will have a unique answer to this question as everyone’s experiences with education, experience, and own personal history will determine how they’ve shaped their own philosophy. What drives you to teach? What is your approach to teaching and what guides you and how you run your classroom? Take time before you get into the interview to really focus on what your philosophy is and how you apply it every day.
Example Answer: I believe that the best learning opportunities are the ones that the students come up with themselves. For that reason I spend every lunch hour on the playground with my students and make myself available for them to ask me “playground-pop-quiz” questions. These questions have ranged from everything from how is the ice cream we had at lunch made to exploring the lifecycle of the mosquitos we found in a piece of playground equipment. I love challenging the students to try to stump me and as a result, they go out of their way to explore the environment around them, making learning fun and exciting.