Teacher interview questions are often difficult to answer, even for the most skilled and prepared educators. They can be confusing, and many candidates do not even know where to begin when answering them.
Teachers know the importance of articulating their answers to these queries. They understand that answering a question improperly could cost them the job of their dreams. However, there are a few simple strategies for understanding how to answer virtually any teaching interview question.
Once you learn of these tips, you will become more confident as well as calm. In this article, we will discuss the most common teaching interview questions and the best answers you could give.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing teachers?
Every employer and school district has a different set of specific skills they want to see in their teaching applicants. This is so because the makeup of every school board is different.
Thus, teaching requirements and administrators are all different from school to school. In general, though, most administrators and employers can agree that the following skills are desirable for teachers:
It is somewhat obvious: a teacher should have teaching skills! However, this is a very broad skillset. Many people do not even know what ‘teaching skills’ entail. Simply put, teaching skills are the knowledge and interpersonal abilities that allow a teacher to better connect with their students.
It also allows teachers to better educate students and allow students to achieve more than they thought was possible. More specific types of teaching skills are listed below.
Qualifications and certifications on the subject matter
When you send your child to a school you clearly want them to acquire a high quality education. To trust a teacher, you would probably want them to have a high level of education.
Administrators have specific sets of educational standards for their employees to ensure they are ready to teach children. This could be a bachelor’s degree in education, or a subspecialty certification in literature, depending on the role you are applying for.
Knowing how to interpret data is crucial for teachers. Students will constantly take tests. You need to collect this data to optimize your teaching method. If you cannot do this, the students will get a suboptimal learning experience.
Some schools also collect data about student emotions through social emotional learning programs. You must also understand this data.
Teachers do not work alone. In fact, they are part of a large organization of teachers, administrators, custodians, and other school workers. All of these individuals must work together to give the children the best education they can get.
You should avoid drama with other teachers and administrators. Try to learn from the mistakes of others, as well as gain insights from their successes.
Accountability and organization
Teachers will often tell their students that responsibility and accountability are important character traits. This also applies to teachers. If you are not willing to be accountable for your actions, neither will your students.
This will also make you seem reckless to your colleagues and interviewer. Instead, being organized and accountable will highlight your humility.
Commitment and responsibility to students
When you become a teacher, you cannot put in 50% each day you work. This will mean you are not helping kids unlock their full potential, which could negatively influence them for the rest of their lives.
You must put in 100% to not only help your students, but also feel satisfied in your own performance as a teacher. Administrators and interviewers can quickly assess your passion and commitment within the first few months, especially if times get tough.
So, you must stay committed, even when you are challenged.
More experienced teacher will tell you, that for as amazing as this job is, teachers will stay encounter problems. This could be conflicts between parents or students, difficult tasks from administration, teacher drama, lack of resources, and much more.
To be successful in this job, you will need to be a great problem solver. That takes some creativity and willingness to learn from others as well as your own mistakes.
Resilience to stress or provocations
One of the few drawbacks of being a teacher is being faced with stress. Kids will inevitably sometimes get on your nerves. You need to know how to stay calm in these heated situations. Other times, parents may insult you, and you must respond appropriately.
Great teachers know how to stand their ground, stand up for their beliefs, while at the same time respecting their students and helping advance their interests.
What made you want to become a teacher?
The interviewer wants to find out what motivates you as a candidate. If you have a specific event that inspires you, you can emotionally connect with the interviewer.
They will also take notice of these motivating factors, as they know teaching can get tough at times. You need to have a solid motivating factor leading you to push through these times, and answering this question well can help you do that.
Do you have a particular teaching style?
Every teacher uses a slightly different methodology for educating kids. The goal of this question is to find your unique style of teaching. The administrator wants to ensure your teaching style is not only appropriate for their school, but also unique and engaging.
They do not want teachers to be exact copies of one another, too. If you can present a unique personality, and also ensure you use the appropriate methods of presenting information to children.
In essence, this question not only asks you about your teaching methods (how you use technology, speaking style, and more) in addition to some of your unique strategies for engagement.
How do you get kids excited to learn?
There are so many different ways to get kids excited about learning. Unfortunately, there are still many individuals who are uninterested in school and learning in general. The interviewers know they need to fill these gaps in their school.
They understand the importance of providing everyone a high quality education. You need to tell the interviewer about how you plan to ensure all the kids are able to engage students.
Tell them about your speaking strategy, use of technology, how you plan to engage individual students, and more.
How are you advancing your knowledge outside of work?
Learning is something that the greatest teachers do not ever stop. This question will reveal some of your key personality traits, such as your own love of learning, curiosity, and more.
These traits will also translate to your work in the classroom. So, the administrator wants to make sure you keep learning and advancing your knowledge outside of school. It is those teachers who do this that are most passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects, after all.
How would you structure a class?
Think about the average class. Many students are disengaged, the teacher seems out of touch, and grades as well as opportunities are not maximized.
These classes almost always use the same structure. Many individuals believe that the structure of the class, or how you present yourself and which activities you perform with students, is key in how well they learn and perform.
Therefore, you need to clearly answer this question. Which tools do you plan to use in the class? When will you ask questions and answer them? How will you begin lessons? These are just a few questions to think about.
What event was most influential in you becoming a teacher?
Some teachers are made through just one event. One event, in fact, could trigger someone to become a teacher. The goal of this question is to see what motivates you. The interviewer understands that there will always be difficult times in teaching.
If you remember the moment that made you choose this job, it may serve as great motivation. Your answer to this question will also reveal elements of your personality. Give the interview a “picture” of what caused you to choose teaching as a profession.
In you can, include emotional language, as you likely felt a certain way during that time (passionate, energized, etc).
How do you address stress and burnout?
This is a question asked both to teachers about themselves, and to how they deal with stress and burnout with students. Yes, the students will probably have access to counselors. However, many students feel more comfortable revealing their stress to teachers, because they are already familiar with them.
Tell the interviewer how you plan to emotionally help students, if you would reduce workload, and so on. When it comes to your own stress, you need to acknowledge that this job is inherently stressful.
There will be times when you feel burnt out. However, tie this question to your prior answers to ‘what made you become a teacher?’ and ‘what motivates you?’
What parts of online learning are enjoyable to you? Which do you dislike?
The COVID pandemic forever changed teaching, whether it be for the better or for the worse. Many schools are now exploring more online options for learning, with some districts even implementing asynchronous learning.
The interviewer wants to know if this is something that would interest you. Answer honestly; do not just say yes to acquire the job. If you arrested not a fan of digital learning, say so and be sure to explain why.
They will see that you may be able to better engage students in person, proving you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
How do you plan to include technology in your lessons?
Technology has become a key part of the classroom. Whether it be simple emails, presentation software, or complex softwares that identify student strengths and weaknesses, you need to highlight what technology you are already familiar with.
If the interviewer mentions a specific technology you are not familiar with, tell them you will consider incorporating it into your lessons are analyzing it. Articulate why all the technology you will use in your classroom benefits students (grades, mental health, etc).
How do you manage a class?
There will inevitably be hubbub in a classroom filled with rambunctious students. You need to be a leader and manage the classroom effectively. However, simply saying you will lead and control the classroom is not specific enough to answer the question.
The interviewer wants to learn about your specific strategies. These strategies should allow the class to stay on track, but should also respect the individuality and (appropriate level of) autonomy for the children.
What are your thoughts on outside observation or walkthroughs?
Many schools occasionally allow administrators to sit in on lessons to evaluate how a teacher is performing their job. This is done to ensure they are teaching appropriately and serving students well.
To answer this question, you should not only state your opinion on walkthroughs and observations, but also highlight why you feel that way.
Most interviewers want candidates to be on board with walkthroughs, so it may be wise to explain why you think walkthroughs can potentially benefit students. If you are against walkthroughs, tie this back to student needs, too.
In what ways have students have changed following the COVID pandemic? How will you address these changes in your teaching?
As previously noted, COVID has created some permanent changes in teaching and teaching strategies. However, these changes also impacted students. If you have taught during COVID, tell the interviewer how. Is it their mental health?
Did engagement, test scores, attitudes, technology use, and more change? Once you highlight these changes, you can tell the interviewer how your teaching strategy address these new parts of the student personality and new student needs. Ensure you highlight technology as well.
What are your strategies for social-emotional teaching?
More and more schools are realizing that kids need to learn about more than just algebra and Greek literature. They are also going through very emotionally difficult parts of their lives. Social emotional learning helps a student better understand how to cope with these changes.
As a teacher, you should highlight why you believe it is so important to teach kids about their emotions. Ensure you talk to students one on one if they come to you. Also, highlight how you will utilize the school’s existing social-emotional teaching guidelines to ensure you provide appropriate emotional education.
What is the impact of trauma on learning? What is your plan to address these impacts?
For some kids, the grade they get on their next math test does not matter. They have more serious worries to think about. The role of trauma in the classroom is ever-present. The interviewer wants you to acknowledge this, and also offer a few strategies for addressing it.
For example, you need to understand how addressing the root of the problem would be the best way of helping kids who are traumatized.
Then, create a plan to address these facts. How will you keep in contact with the kids who are traumatized? Will you involve the parents? Will you alter homework and work requirements to better support them?
How will you promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your classroom, and in the school as a whole?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all key parts of new programs at most schools. As such, you need to not only be aware of these concepts, but have plans for implementing these values into your daily work.
For example, you could highlight how you will help students include one another during their projects. You could also educate students about systemic problems and empathy and encourage them to think about inclusion and equity outside of your classroom, too.
What is your plan for ensuring parents are involved in their child’s education?
While it is great to be a highly successful and determined teacher, it is even better to form a great parent/teacher relationship. After all, a kid’s parent plays a significant role in their education. They do not stop learning outside of the classroom.
And, many parents are naturally curious about what their child is learning at school. It is your job to ensure you communicate with parents and teach in a way that gives their kids the greatest opportunities.
Which metrics do you use for tracking student growth?
There are numerous ways to keep track of student growth and progress. Some of these strategies are used more often than others, and should be tailored to each unique classroom.
The interviewer wants to understand the specific method you will use. Beyond just testing, will you do anything else? Potentially, some teachers choose to use surveys. Others will keep track of how students respond to social-emotional learning lessons.
Do you believe grades truly reflect student learning?
Grades are still used to measure student progress in nearly every school. However, educators have been questioning whether they are as insightful and accurate as they may seem. To answer this question, you should highlight both the downsides and benefits of using tests as a way of measuring student progress.
This will show the interviewer you are not simply following the standard of testing just because it is conventional. It shows you think about these topics yourself and are interested in progress.
What makes you interested in working at this school in particular?
In every city, there are probably quite a few different schools you could work at. There needs to be something meaningful behind your choice to apply to a particular school.
Answering this question well will reveal that you are committed to focusing on this specific community and group of students, which is generally viewed positively by interviewers. A commitment to your community and students shows you are a focused individual and willing to work hard.
As a teacher, what are the biggest challenges to success in your work?
Every individual faces some challenges in their careers. They must be able to push beyond them to succeed. This is true for teachers as well. The interview needs to understand what is challenging to you.
This is similar to asking about your weaknesses, and it shows how you are self-aware. Give them a couple of examples on how you overcome teaching issues, both on a daily basis and with your most difficult problems. Being honest and open will also reflect positively on you.
If a parent disagreed with your teaching approach or curriculum, how would you handle this conflict?
Throughout history, the debate between the balance of teachers and parents has been a delicate one. On one hand, classroom teachers need to power to freely teach facts. However, parents also need to know about what their child is learning and actively weigh in on it.
If a parent criticizes your teaching approach, tell the interviewer you will try to understand them. Empathize with them. Communicate why you disagree with the parent and try to avoid making the conflict even greater.
This is what an effective teacher ultimately does. It is up to you to decide whether you will still push your curriculum, change the curriculum, or give an exception to the individual student.
What is your plan for helping children with IEPs?
For some kids, the standard educational curriculum is not well suited to their needs. This is why individualized education programs, or IEPs, are created. Teachers need to understand how to navigate teaching students with individualized needs.
To highlight your ability to do this, speak about the fact that you are open about learning each child’s unique needs. If you have experience teaching kids with IEPs, mention how you did so successfully.
Excellent teachers know how to adapt to different curriculum, so this should not be a major struggle for those who are open and willing to communicate with parents, students, and other teachers.
If you believed an IEP was not fully individualized to a student, would you advocate for changing the plan and how?
IEPs are not always written perfectly. Sometimes, teachers find that the curriculum listed in an IEP does not truly fit the student’s needs.
To show that you are willing to take action, advocate for students, and look deeply into curriculum, tell the interviewer that you will have a hands on approach to changing the plan.
You could also mention that you would seek advice from others and consult with parents, to ensure they are involved in the child’s education as well.
For advanced learners, what strategies will you use to boost engagement and interest?
Just like some students use IEPs for personalized education, many schools also utilize advanced learning resources to help students who learn quicker. To be the best teacher you could be, and show this to the interviewer, you will need to highlight your adaptability.
You should be willing to work with advanced children and find ways to keep them engaged, nurture their curiosity, and continue their growth rate.
How will you address disengagement in students?
One of the most common problems even the most fantastic teachers will face is disengagement. However, there are actions you could take to decrease the level of disengagement in your students.
For one, tell the interviewer about how your personality could help students become more engaged. Humorous and passionate teachers tend to be more engaging.
Then, talk about how you could use technology. If you have any personal experience with disengagement, that could be quite meaningful to bring up.
Tell us about a troubled student you taught. How did you help them unlock their potential?
There will be some students you encounter that are troubled, either by trauma, family issues, mental health, or something else. These individuals need to be nurtured by the teacher, and should have their unique situations be analyzed individually.
If you have experience with helping troubled students, the interviewer wants to understand how you helped them overcome their issues. This does not necessarily mean you have to have so,bed all of their problems.
Rather, just that you helped them be happier, brought an issue to administration, talked to them in depth, and so on.
Describe a moment you made a mistake in your teaching career. How did you correct it, and what were the ultimate results?
Every great teacher still makes mistakes, sometimes major ones even. You need to have humility, be honest, and be open. Therefore, you should openly express an event where you made an error in your teaching career.
Then, make note of what that lesson taught you. How does it still influence you today, and how did it make you a better person?
Answering this question reveals how you learn from your mistakes and shows you are open-minded to improving your teaching style instead of being stuck in your ways.
Are you able to sponsor any clubs or activities if given the opportunity? If so, which?
Teaching is the primary responsibility of educators. However, many teachers decide to also sponsor clubs and activities they believe in. Doing this will make you seem invested in the community and the students.
This is especially true if you highlight why the club you wish to sponsor is meaningful to you (instead of just sponsoring any club which needs a sponsor). Note your personal experiences if you have any. This can set you apart from other potential candidates who may not be able or willing to sponsor a club.
If asked to describe you in 3 words, what your friends and colleagues call you?
The goal of this question is understand how well you understand the way you are perceived by others. You should be honest, and if there is any memorable quality that you could include, do so.
If you have any stories of people describing you in such a way, include them. They may make your answer more interesting to the interviewer (especially when many candidates describe themselves in similar ways).
Try to be authentic, not just appealing to what you think the best qualities are for acquiring the job.
In what ways can you contribute to this school’s PLC?
A school’s PLC is a professional learning community, or the group of educators who work together to advance student interests and learning. The interview needs to understand how you can benefit not just other educators in the field, but ultimately, the students.
Try to give a few specific examples of ways you could contribute to the school’s community. You could volunteer, go to meetings, help create student surveys, or simply anything that is helping the school and students.
Look back at your accomplishments. Which are you most proud of and why?
For many individuals, their accomplishments keep them motivated and excited about their job. Your accomplishments are a key part of what helps the interviewer decide to hire you. They are proof of your competence and ability.
Thus, ensure that you are specific about your accomplishments. Then, you will need to explain why these moments are important to you and how you use these lessons in your current life. If you found success with a certain strategy, the interviewer may note this strategy could be useful to students in their school.
What do you want to be doing 5-10 years in the future?
Schools like teachers who think in the long term, not just about day to day activities. The answer to this question will reveal your ultimate commitment to teaching and innovation.
When answering this question, many will say that they are committed to performing the same work they are doing now and your commitment to students.
You could also add other goals, such as helping students outside of school or even founding educational organizations if you have the desire to do so.
Is there anything else you would like to know about this opportunity?
Tale the opportunity to ask a few questions. This will show your curiosity and engagement in the conversation. If you ask a very memorable question, it will reflect the fact you are thinking deeply during the interview, which is great for the interviewer. Find out more about the culture of the school, students, and additional work opportunities.
Questions for You to Ask in a Teacher Interview
During your interview, it is just as important to ask great questions as it is to answer questions well. The way you answer these questions leaves a significant imprint on the interview’s mind.
It will show you are engaged, passionate, interested in student wellness, and much more. In some interviews, there are so many great candidates. What could separate you from others is the way you ask questions.
Therefore, your questions could potentially help you acquire the job of your dreams. As such, you should come prepared with numerous questions you could ask during or after the interview.
Here are just a few example of queries you could ask:
1. What goals can I expect to meet in the first year?
2. What’s the average number of students in the classroom?
3. What’s the school’s psychology and culture like?
4. Do you have a PTA?
5. What is the interaction like between the school and the parents?
6. How do you deal with and handle bullying?
7. How do you approach student discipline?
8. How do you measure teacher success?
Tips For Preparing for a Teacher Interview
Many teachers feel immense stress leading up to their interview. They are often confused on how to approach it and nervous about the outcome of the interview. Before you enter the interview room, there are a steps you could take to prepare.
For one, you should be familiar with the school you are applying to. Knowing about some of the school’s core values, the community, budget, and so on show you have done your research. Interviewers like organized and prepared candidates.
If you mention some of the school’s key values, you will show how you are emotionally in line with the school’s needs. Plus, if you can bring up some of the gaps in the school, you can prove how your skills can help benefit the community.
If you know anyone from the school you are applying to, it would be wise to speak to them. They may reveal some of the schools more difficult to find problems. Plus, you could gain some insights on how interviews are done at the school. This will boost your confidence and decrease your stress.
As previously mentioned, asking great questions can be extremely impactful to interviewers. This can set you apart from other job candidates.
Ensure you tie back these questions to your desire to help students. For instance you could inquire on whether the school has a PTO or if they use social-emotional learning programs.
Finally, be sure to contact the interviewer again some time after your interview is over. In your follow up, thank the interviewer for their time.
This will leave a positive image in their mind, leading to them thinking you are gracious, which could benefit students. It shows you can be a positive role model. Remember to mention your passion and excitement about teaching as well.