Here are 7 questions that most teaching interviewers use. You spent years preparing to be a teacher so why not invest 10 more minutes to create an interview advantage that will get you the job?
Question #1: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
What to Avoid: Giving too much personal detail about yourself, your hobbies, or talking too long.
They ask this to get an overview of you and how you meet their requirements. It’s also used as disqualification question for those who share personal details that have no relevance to the teaching position. Keep your responses focused on how you meet their needs.
Before you write out your answer to this question, start by identifying what they most want in a new teacher from their job posting. What are the key words they use? Make sure those words make it into the summary of yourself when they ask. Don’t take this question lightly.
What to Say Instead: Give succinct but relevant answer. “I’d say I’m an experienced educator who loves working in a highly collaborative teaching environment and has been very successful turning around students that others give up on.”
Question #2: How would you describe a successful principal?
What to Avoid: Complaining or disparaging former principals.
They ask this question because it’s a subtle way of asking about what you value and often leads to follow on questions about your relationship with past principals.
What to Say Instead: Highlight the values that you honestly have about a good principle but that also align with what you know about their values. “The best principals I’ve worked with balance a concern for teacher development while holding them accountable to high standards.”
Question #3: What is your classroom management plan?
What to Avoid: Not having an answer or not having one that aligns with how they run their school.
This is a standard question that most teachers I work with are prepared for, but if you aren’t or don’t know how they approach classroom management, this could be a problem question for you. Do your homework and find out their culture, values, and how they approach classroom management.
What Say Instead: Give an honest answer about your classroom management plan but tailor it their values and approach to classroom management.
Question #4: Tell me about the most stressful situation you had in your career and how did you handle it?
What to Avoid: Complaining or creating a pity party.
Teaching can be stressful and what they really want to know is, are you a stress risk? Administrators point to teachers who can’t manage relationships as one of the biggest risks and not being able to deal with stress as the second.
What to Say Instead: Identify a highly stressful situation that involves a difficult interpersonal relationship. Be honest about how difficult it was but how you got a result you are proud of.
Question #5: How would you deal with an angry parent?
What to Avoid: Looking either too aggressive or too passive.
Parent relationships are among the most difficult to manage as a teacher. They ask this question to get a feel for your style in dealing with parents. If you sound like you come on too strong or too soft, you’ll lose the position.
What to Say Instead: Talk about how you keep a good balance between respecting the parents and the student, and being clear about the problems, issues, and facts surrounding them. That way show that you hit the sweet spot they are looking for.
Question #6: What are some ways you measure a teacher’s effectiveness?
What to Avoid: Claiming that teacher effectiveness can’t be measured or the other extreme that it’s all about standardized scores.
While volumes have been written about teacher evaluation approaches, come to the interview ready to speak to all the things that you should look at in evaluating teacher performance.
What to Say Instead: The best answers are those that show a balance of measures that don’t emphasize one thing at the expense of others.
Question #7: Why should we hire you?
What to Avoid: A weak answer that sounds humble but doesn’t sell your talents.
This question is asked in most interviews yet as a hiring manager, I’m surprised that few seem to have though through this question in a way that really sells the teacher candidate’s strengths as they relate to our needs. Don’t be shy! This is your time to sell. If you don’t, someone else will and get your job.
What To Say Instead: Write out a summary of your strengths and experience as they relate to what they most value. Practice saying it. Remember that part of the response is clearly and strongly selling your talents, but the other side is making sure what you bring to the teaching position is exactly what they need. Do your homework and tailor your “why should we hire you” summary to their needs and how you avoid the risks they are most concerned about.