Interview Questions for Teachers
School principals and any other members of a hiring committee craft the questions they ask in order to determine whether you will be a good fit for their school as well as a champion for the policies established by their school district.
1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Teaching is one of the most challenging of professions, with a high degree of burn-out. From the time I was young, I have loved learning and appreciated the great teachers who opened new worlds for me. It’s the only career I ever considered, because I truly want to follow their example and, now in my turn, instill a joy of learning in my own students.
2. How Would You Handle a Difficult Student?
Difficult students, naturally, exist in every classroom. And difficult can look like so many different things. For me, the first step would be to pull them aside and address the issue privately. My biggest questions would be about deciphering what might be the root cause of this student’s bad behavior. Once I know what may be contributing to their difficulty, I really try to work with them to come up with a solution
3. How have you used, or how will you use, technology in the classroom?
Interactive classroom technologies have transformed learning over the past decade. In my last classroom, the students used tablets to create and manage their own website, which proved to be a great tool for communicating with parents and allowing them to see the daily activities their kids participated in.
4. What approach or strategy do you use to learn new information?
This question addresses whether you consciously think about individual learning styles – both your own and those of your students. I find I learn new material best by writing down notes as I read or as I am listening to someone giving a lecture. The process of writing down the important details works in two ways: first, it helps me absorb and think carefully about the new information and second, my notes serve as a study guide that I can reference going forward.
5. How do you Motivate Students?
Similar to the question above, interviewers want to see how you influence students to do what you need them to do. Positive reinforcement is super important to keep a student motivated, so one thing I like to do is throw out rewards or bonuses when they perform especially well. This could be candy or a star, a sticker even just a compliment—whatever I can tell students enjoy receiving, and it’s different for everyone.
6. What interests you about our district?
You’d be amazed at how many entry-level teaching candidates fail to research school districts before their interviews. Hiring committees ask this question to see if you’ve been interested enough to do your homework and learn about the needs of their school district. As the parent of a 4th grader in the district, I have experienced firsthand how warm and welcoming the teachers and administrators are. The feeling of community the school district works hard to foster and maintain is something I have never experienced in any of the schools I attended or taught in.
7. How much do you want to know about your students in order to be most helpful to them?
This is another of those interview questions for teachers that depends on the school’s philosophy. I need to know a student’s learning styles, passions, and challenges. One difficult student, Tim, was disruptive in class. I joined him on the playground on and off. It turned out he was being bullied after school by his brother’s friends.
8. How would you deal with a student who is habitually late?
Your interviewer is interested in knowing how you would relate one-on-one with students displaying non-productive behaviors.
If a child is coming into school late on a regular basis, I would first talk with the child to see if there is anything going on in school or at home that is causing him or her to be late.
9. What is your teaching philosophy?
Teacher interview questions like this ask, “Are you a good fit for our school?” It’s the teaching equivalent of “tell me about yourself”?
I believe in teaching to each student’s passion. For instance, in one kindergarten class, my students had trouble with punctuation. I observed that one student, Mary, suddenly got excited about apostrophes.
10. Tell Me About a Time When You Helped Someone Become More Successful?
If there’s one thing that can’t be taught, it’s care for students. “The rest of the stuff educators can teach. She did everything for the [child],” he explains. “If she needed to do a house visit and spend hours there on a Saturday, she would do [it]. And so the whatever-it-took mentality and the investment in, ‘I’m going to make sure that you succeed despite all the barriers’ was impressive.”
11. How do you use technology in the classroom?
Technology is at the forefront of education, so your interview is the time to show off that you’re savvy. Talk about why you’re excited to use technology with students. Explain how using SMART Boards improved your students’ test scores or describe the incredible website your last class created together.
12. How will you encourage parents to support their children’s education ?
The home-school connection is imperative yet tough to maintain. Administrators lean on teachers to keep open lines of communication with parents. They even see you as a “publicist” for the school, reinforcing the culture, strengths and values of the school to parents. So, answer this question with concrete ideas. Share how parents will volunteer in your classroom and how you’ll maintain regular contact, providing updates on both positive and negative events. It’s great to also share your plan for providing resources to parents when students are struggling.
13. How will you engage reluctant learners?
Teaching in an age when we must compete with Fortnite, Snapchat, and other forms of instant entertainment makes this question valid and necessary. An anecdote of how a past student (remember to protect privacy) that you taught was turned on to your subject because of your influence would also help your credibility here.