If you would like to become an instructional coach, you must understand the many different instructional coach questions you may be asked. Most people enter instructional interviews without understanding the most commonly asked questions and how to adequately respond to them.
As a result, they put themselves in a position to miss out on opportunities and potentially not acquire the job they desire. All go these negative consequences can be tied to the individual’s lack of preparation. The solution?
You must learn to understand the interview process to feel more confident and become prepared. In this article, we will highlight the best preparation strategies for instructional coach interviews as well as the commonly asked interview questions for coaches.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for an instructional coach position?
Managers often have many different job candidates to choose from for every job opening they have. You need to stand out as a candidate to get their attention and acquire your dream job. Every company has different goals, values, current employees, and more.
Therefore, you cannot expect every company to have the same ideal candidate, even if the position description seems similar on the surface. However, a few skills can improve your likelihood of getting the job you desire. These skills include:
Teachers and coaches alike need to ensure they can build long-lasting and trusting relationships. As an instructional coach, you need to ensure your students trust you. If they do not, they will not take your advice seriously, and your relationship will be hindered.
Students will not be able to achieve their top potential if you do not know how to build relationships. How do you acquire this skill? By using active listening and engaging students, you can build stronger bonds and long-lasting relationships.
As a coach, you need to have a student-first mindset. When you are focused on students, you ensure that they receive the greatest quality education they can get. Education should be all about furthering the student’s knowledge and helping them reach their dreams.
Too often, coaches get caught up in their own selfish desires, or overwork teachers too hard to the point of hurting them, that they lose the student-focused approach that many great coaches start out using. Ensure you keep this skill throughout your career.
Coaches should make informed decisions, not emotional ones. One way to ensure you make great decisions is by utilizing facts and data. Data-informed decisions help you maximize positive outcomes for students.
They help eliminate personal bias and human weaknesses when making decisions. Of course, no decision-making process is perfect. But, if you use a data-centered approach, you will likely see your pupils succeed more.
Questioning Without Judgement
You need to find a balance between constantly questioning and taking ideas at first glance. Ensure that when you are proposed with an idea, you look deeper into the suggestion. For example, if the person you are coaching suggests extra weekly math problems for their students, ensure you evaluate their student’s schedules.
Are they fit enough to add the extra work? Will they handle it mentally? Ensure that when someone tells you something you do not believe, you question them, but do not judge them. Judgment often hinders relationships.
Knowledge of High Impact Instructional Practices
You could have the perfect classroom with all of the latest gadgets and the perfect school district. However, if you do not hone your teaching and interpersonal skills, students will likely not succeed. You need to coach teachers about the top high-impact teaching strategies.
These high-impact practices include: and tailoring teaching methods to individual students, harnessing technology, and much more.
Risk-taking may not seem necessary to beginner coaches. After all, most people associate risk with jobs like stop trading, not coaching. But, taking calculated risks is necessary to help your client succeed.
You need to help your client realize that using the same teaching strategies year after year does not give rise to the greatest results. Instead, help them experiment with new, innovative teaching strategies, and help them adapt to the ever-changing educational field.
Staying Current on Best Practices
As previously mentioned, the teaching field is not stagnant; rather, best practices are constantly improving. As a coach, you need to have a solid understanding of this industry. You can do this by staying aware of best practices and communicating these changes to your clients.
You can learn about best practices by communicating with other coaches, reading teaching innovation magazines, or even researching on the web. The key is to make sure you communicate these strategies effectively and directly to your clients.
10 Instructional Coach Interview Questions and Sample Answers
Now that you know of the many different skills employers all looking for in instructional coach candidates, you may be seeing yourself succeeding in this position. The next step to reach your success is preparing for the interview.
Many individuals do not know how to effectively do this. Preparing for an interview as a coach does not have to be complicated. In fact, knowing how to answer some of the most common interview questions can set you on a successful path for your interview. Some of the top instructional coach interview questions include:
1. What makes you interested in a career as an instructional coach?
Schools and coaching companies alike want to hire coaches who are passionate about their field. They want candidates to have a strong ‘why?’ behind their work, whether it be personal moments that impacted you to choose this career or seeing the impact a coach had on your loved one.
Coaches that are committed to their work and have a meaningful reason behind choosing this career are less likely to abandon the job, and thus tend to be greater, more passionate, candidates.
One way you could respond to this question is: “I became interested in a career as a coach for teachers after speaking to one of my favorite teachers from high school. She told me that she was only able to succeed because of the help she received from a teaching coach. I knew that I wanted to make an impact on teachers, to help them reach their potential and assist the most students. This is the best career to do that.”
2. Tell me about yourself.
This question is asked to nearly every job candidate, regardless of the field they are interested in entering. You need to highlight a few of your goals, passions, values, and strengths when answering this question. Try to use some emotional appeals, such as by explaining how your values align with this job position and what you plan to achieve as a coach for teachers.
To answer this question, you could say something along the lines of: “I have been a coach for the past 15 years, and I have seen firsthand the incredible effects coaching has on students and teachers alike. I have worked with teachers from across America, and I found that I enjoy working with teachers in low-income school districts most. It gives me immense joy to see teachers reaching their potential and helping students achieve their dreams thanks to a few of my tips and their own hard work.”
3. Do you have experience coaching teachers? What is your educational background, and how will it help you in this career?
If you have experience in this field, it will give you a significant advantage over inexperienced job applicants. You should highlight why your educational background and prior job experiences will help you succeed in the role you are applying to.
Highlight how you can benefit teachers and the team you would like to join thanks to the skills you learned in training.
When answering this question, say something like: “I have a background in education. During one of my prior jobs, I got to assist teachers in making their lesson plans. I witnessed firsthand how stressed they were, and how much they appreciated my support. This helped me develop and optimize strategies for making lesson plans. I can apply these strategies to working with new clients as well.”
4. Describe what you believe the typical day of an instructional coach should be.
This question tests your understanding of this industry as well as your preparation. You should mention some of the tasks listed in the job description you applied to. Additionally, this query also reveals what you believe an ideal day is.
This shows the employer what you value most in your work, and what you would like to spend the most time doing. These are both key parts of your coaching style.
To respond, you might say something such as: “First, the coach would look through their emails and phone calls to work with clients that reached out to them. Next, I would go through a few meetings with clients. I would help them find new teaching strategies and optimize their lesson plans. After that, I will research new teaching strategies and tools to stay on top of industry trends. I will look at data to see how well student outcomes are improving after changing the teacher’s teaching style, too.”
5. How would you make sure you build a trusting relationship with your clients?
Trust is a key part of any coach-client relationship. This certainly applies to instructional coaches and the teachers they work with, too.
You need to outline a few strategies you would use to build these long-lasting and trusting relationships. Be specific, and outline how these strategies previously worked successfully if you have examples.
An example answer could be: “I have built several long-lasting relationships with clients who still reach out to me to this day. To achieve these outcomes, I ensured that I was always available to talk with clients. I actively listened to their concerns, and tracked student outcomes over time to see which teaching strategies worked and which did not align with the teacher’s students.”
6. Suppose a teacher is uninterested in coaching. How would you assist them?
You could be a fantastic coach, but even still, some teachers will be unwilling to work with you. If you are hired by a school district, they may want you to work with all teachers, even those resistant to your help.
You should be willing to listen to these more stubborn teacher’s concerns and tailor your coaching approach to their unique needs.
To respond to the question, you could say something along the lines of: “I understand there may be some teachers that resist change. To help them, I would first try to illustrate why listening to my advice would help not just them, but also their students. If they are still resistant, I will try to understand why they are stubborn. We will have an open dialogue about potential changes and I will bring data to support my suggestions. Ultimately, I cannot force a teacher to adapt, but I will do my best to communicate the benefits my help has.”
7. What are your top coaching strengths?
Everyone has their own unique list of strengths and weaknesses. As a coach, you need to be well aware of your own strengths. Be confident in using your abilities. If you are not sure of your strengths, you may not be able to harness them to help your clients.
Explaining your top strengths and how they benefit your clients will increase your likelihood of getting hired. Be specific, and try to give examples of you using these strengths.
To answer such a query, you could respond with: “My top coaching strengths are communication and decision-making. I always listen to my clients and engage them in all the conversations I have with them. I ensure that I clearly articulate my assistance and suggestions to them. When making decisions, I create a list of pros and cons for each option. I look at data and consult clients, too. This decision-making process has helped one of my clients boost student test scores by 20%, for example.”
8. Tell me about your coaching weaknesses.
If you want to be a successful instructional coach, you need to be self-aware. Self-aware individuals understand they can always grow and improve. They have a thirst for knowledge.
By acknowledging you have weaknesses, you show the employer you are aware of your imperfections, and you will try to correct them. After all, if you are unaware of your weaknesses, there is virtually no way to correct them.
A sample answer to this question is: “My top coaching weaknesses is time management and stress management. I often work with so many clients, and I want to help all of them. Sometimes, I get so involved in helping one client, that I leave little time to help another individual, so I need more work on my planning skills. This lack of time management often contributes to my stress, and it causes me to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, clients can sense my stressed feelings, and I want to avoid showing these negative emotions.”
9. What are your thoughts on assisting adult learners?
Not all teachers and coaches work with children. Sometimes, you will work with teachers at the college level, who teach adults. Also, remember that your client is a sophisticated and grown individual with autonomy. Do not try to control them as you would if you were a coach for a child.
When answering this question, you can say something along the lines of: “I believe that it is crucially important to help adult learners. I have had experiences when my teaching suggestions helped college professors unlock the potential of their adult students. The professors told me about how much more engaged and motivated their pupils were after changing a few things about their teaching method. I also ensure I give teachers autonomy and space to think about their goals.”
10. If you have any, which questions would you like answered by us?
When asked this question, it is your opportunity to dive deeper into the topics you are most curious about in regard to their organization. Ask the employer, not about salary, but about company values, who you would work with, the coaching style the company prefers, and other similar, meaningful questions.
You can respond to the question like this: “I would like to know which coaching style you prefer I use, if any. I tend to tailor my coaching method to the client I work with. So, I would like to also know who I will be seeing as my clients. Will it only be the STEM and literature teachers? Will I be involved in coaching art, music, and gym teachers? Am I responsible for helping administrators and other school personnel? Thank you.”
Questions for You to Ask in an Instructional Coach Job Interview
After answering a plethora of questions about yourself during a coach job interview, you are likely sighing a sigh of relief. It probably feels like you have a weight lifted off of your shoulders.
However, you should not feel like the interview is completely over yet. If you check out mentally after the questioning period is over, you miss out on an opportunity to show your engagement and passion about this career.
To ensure you optimize your odds of acquiring the job, ensure you ask the interviewer a few questions about the role before you leave. These questions should be meaningful and relate to key aspects of the job.
A few examples of queries you could ask include:
- When would you like to hire a candidate?
- Who will be my boss? Do I report to teachers, administrators, or someone else?
- Do you have any required coach training courses before starting the job?
- Do you review the impact my coaching has on student test scores and overall teacher performance? Which testing methods do you use?
- What is the management style school administrators use?
- How would you describe the ideal instructional coach for your organization?
How To Prepare for an Instructional Coach Job Interview
If you ask any coach whether their job can be stressful at times, they will likely say yes. One of the most stressful times during a coach’s early career is applying for coaching work. Many are afraid of rejection and do not know how to properly prepare for interviews. However, there are a few steps you can take today to minimize your stress and effectively get ready to enter the interview room as a confident, capable job candidate.
For one, you need to understand the basic principles behind coaching. Coaches should not force teachers to do anything; instead, they are there for suggestions and support. You need to be aware of the tasks you will be performing on the job. To do this, you should read over the job description. Get an understanding for who your clients are by reading about the school district.
Next, understand the commonly asked interview questions. We have provided a list of some of the most commonly asked interview queries above, but you should try to gain more information by asking other coaches already employed by the school if you know any. Create brief answers to each of the commonly asked questions. Also, be clear on what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you answer questions during the interview. To find your strengths quickly and efficiently, you can take an assessment such as HIGH5 online.
Finally, you should also create a game plan for your interview day. To ease your stress on interview day, prepare what you will wear, what you will bring to the interview, who will drive you, and so on a few days in advance. Ensure you have a solid understanding of what makes you unique as a candidate before you enter the interview room, so you are not stumbling to find an answer when asked such a query, too.
Understanding the Six Principles of Andragogy
As an instructional coach, you need to be aware of the six principles relating to andragogy. These principles relate to how instructional coaches can effectively teach adults and they were originally developed by psychologist Alexander Kapp, who was also an education expert.
By understanding these principles, you will learn how to ensure a client maintains autonomy but also grows with your advice.
The first principle is the need to know. Your adult clients should have a reason for why they want your assistance, and they should be willing to listen. If they have a motivation for growth, they will be more willing to work hard and take your advice.
Next is the concept of self principle. Here, coaches recognize that clients are individuals and autonomous. They assist their clients by boosting their self-awareness and help them accept themselves while working on a growth mindset.
The third principle of andragogy is experience. Coaching provides individuals with a chance to try new things and experiment with the world around them. It also gives people the chance to reflect on their prior knowledge and experiences.
After that, the coach should foster a love of learning in their clients. When a client is eager to learn, they do not view coaching as degrading or work. Rather, they see it as a chance to boost their current strengths and acquire new abilities.
The fifth principle of andragogy is an orientation to learning. Some new teachers do not have a specific list of values and make decisions based on whim. However, with coaching, these individuals begin to think in the long-term and adopt a much more student-oriented approach to thinking.
They no longer fear change as much and embrace growth. Finally, instructional coaching brings motivation to learn. It encourages individuals to think in the long term and helps them view setbacks as an opportunity to learn and become a greater teacher.
Instructional Coach Interview Questions FAQs
What are the 4 key instructional skills?
Every instructional coach has a different skill set, as well as different strengths, weaknesses, values, personality traits, goals, and more. However, there are some traits that nearly every instructional coach needs to have.
Firstly, instructional coaches need to know how to build long-lasting and trusting relationships. This will help the clients take their advice more seriously and get the client comfortable with the coach.
Next, the coach should be a great communicator. Communication is not just about providing clear advice, though. It also means active listening and engaging the client.
After that, the coach needs to stay on top of information and stay knowledgeable. They should be able to provide their client with the most up-to-date teaching tips.
Finally, they must be willing to adapt. Every client has unique needs and needs a unique coaching style to match them. Plus, coaches will need to adapt their methods based on data reported from student tests and other metrics.