Whether you are a first-year teacher or a seasoned veteran, interviewing for a new teaching position can be stressful. The best way to combat the butterflies and show off your skills is to be prepared for (almost) anything. So before you face the hiring committee, check out these 20 commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them.
Teaching interview questions to prepare for:
1. Tell us about yourself.
This question doesn’t obligate you to reveal personal information. In fact, it’s probably just a way for the hiring committee to assess your communication skills. If you’ve given some thought to the things you want to share about yourself (so that you don’t ramble or overshare), this question is a great way to set a warm, positive tone for the teaching interview.
2. What are some of your most successful classroom management techniques?
Keep it simple. Talk about things like using equity sticks, establishing consistent routines, or creating a class contract. You don’t have to prove that you have mastered all aspects of student behavior, only that you use thoughtful techniques to keep things running smoothly.
3. How do you handle difficult students?
Be familiar with the school’s disciplinary procedure and discuss how that would look in your classroom. Be sure to talk about setting clear expectations and boundaries and how you communicate these with students. Finally, talk about building positive relationships with students as a way of dealing with and minimizing behavioral issues.
4. How would you deal with a difficult/demanding parent?
Talk about strategies you have for keeping conversations with parents professional and amiable while still making your point. And be sure to mention documentation. Because when it comes to difficult parents, you definitely want a paper trail.
5. If I walked into your classroom on a typical day, what would I see going on?
As if there’s such a thing as a typical day! Talk about your routine—the types of bell ringers you use, how you introduce a new lesson, how you monitor independent or group work, and how you assess learning. When answering this question, it’s a good idea to throw in a few “typical” buzzwords.
6. What do you look for in a colleague?
This can be a tricky one because what admin wants to know is if you will be a team player and positive addition to the faculty. But what the other teachers on the committee want to know is if you’ll be a fun teacher friend! So, try to sound positive and professional but at the same time, like you are totally down with cracking jokes during a faculty meeting.
7. How have you used data and/or research to inform your teaching?
You could show your commitment to research by explaining that (based on the research) you will be bringing back nap time, offering more recess, and providing lots of time for independent reading, but that probably isn’t the answer that will land you the job. Still, it isn’t crucial that you’ve spent hours poring over data to answer this question. If you haven’t, simply talk about how you have used data informally with things like exit tickets or formative assessments.
8. How do you feel about evaluations? What do you consider a successful evaluation?
Again, honesty is a good policy here. No one loves being evaluated, and it’s okay to admit that (especially if there are other teachers on the hiring committee who probably also don’t love being evaluated)/ Just be sure to point out that you do recognize the value of the process, and try to share about a time when you did receive helpful or encouraging feedback.
9. How will you approach ______ grade/subject differently than ______ grade/subject?
If you have the opportunity, talk to a teacher who teaches in the grade or subject you are applying for so that you have a good handle on the differences between say, 3rd graders and 6th graders or between what’s expected in a science classroom versus a social studies classroom.
10. What is your greatest strength as a teacher? What is your greatest weakness?
If you are on good terms with your current administrator or supervising teacher, this is an excellent question to ask them in preparation for a teaching interview. And it’s not a bad idea to let the hiring committee know that you asked this of your last supervisor. It shows you are self-reflective and open to criticism.
11. Why are you passionate about ______? How would I know if I observed your class?
This is actually a really fun question, because if you love literature or history or science, or if you are crazy about working with young children or middle schoolers or teenagers, you will naturally want to talk about it. Still, passion does not always equal eloquence, so be sure you’ve given this question some thought so that you can enthusiastically and clearly articulate your love for what you do.
12. How do you use technology in your classroom? Is there a technology you’d like to use but haven’t had the chance yet?
For techie teachers, this question is a no-brainer. For everyone else, take some time to brush up on technology trends and talk about the ones you are interested in implementing. You’ll sound informed and open-minded.
13. What extra-curricular activities would you be willing to be involved in?
To be clear, “I don’t have time to take on extra duties right now,” is a legitimate answer. Coaching cheerleading or sponsoring the Key Club should not be determining qualifications for a professional educator. That said, if it comes down to two well-qualified teachers and only one is willing to take on extra duties, most schools will go with the teacher who can fill other necessary roles.
14. How do you feel about [insert whatever education technique the school is focusing on]?
If possible find out what this particular administration feels are “best practices” and educate yourself on those. In fact, it might be a good idea to brush up on a variety of buzzwords just to cover your bases. These could be anything from co-teaching to block scheduling to inquiry-based learning – and more!
15. Describe some successful differentiation strategies that you have used.
How have you differentiated for English Language learners and students with an IEP? What about gifted students or students with special interests? How have you modified your teaching to meet the needs of various learning styles and preferences? How have you been all things to all people and managed to document all the ways you have been all things to all people with rigor and equity? Piece of cake!
16. Talk about a professional development book or training that has improved your teaching.
If you haven’t read a PD book in a while, here are some great options! Knowing a great PD book and pursuing growth in your practice will really stand out in a teaching interview.
17. What is the last book you read?
Even if you aren’t a literacy teacher, this question is likely to come up. Knowing what you read, will help fill in the blanks on some questions the hiring committee might not be able to ask. And if you say you’re not a reader or that you haven’t read a book for pleasure in years, that will also tell them something about you.
18. How do you prepare students for standardized tests?
Pro-tip: This is probably not a good time to talk about how you really feel about standardized testing—unless of course, you love it. Instead, talk about keeping up with essential standards, and throw in a few test-taking strategiesyou have used or hope to use.
19. What are some ways you build relationships with your students?
Any school worth working for is going to want to know this. If the only questions they have are about things like data and testing strategies, you might want to keep looking.
What is your classroom/teaching statement?
A teaching statement is usually a brief essay and is often a requirement for an education degree. But for the purpose of an interview, it should be a succinct personal statement about your educational philosophy and how that philosophy shapes your teaching. What is the purpose of education? Do you have an end goal? What are the best strategies for educating children and inspiring them as learners? How do you create an engaging, equitable learning environment? If you have never reflected on these questions, now would be a good time to do that.
When it comes to a teaching interview, there’s no way to be prepared for any and all possible questions. But these commonly asked ones will definitely give you a leg up. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!