When thinking of jobs that allow you to truly have an impact on the world, teaching is undoubtedly one of the first career paths that comes to mind. Being a teacher is one of the few career choices that gives you the opportunity to regularly see and measure your impact on the lives of others which makes it an incredibly personal and professional life experience. Plus, getting the summers off definitely has its perks too! Interviewing for a job in elementary, middle school, or high school education can be highly intimidating, but coming in prepared to master these sample interview questions for teachers will help you move right to the front of the class. On average, school principals only have about 20 minutes to decide if a candidate is the right fit for their school, so be sure to make your mark and come in ultra prepared!
The Hiring Process
The interviewing process for teachers varies in timing, length, and structure. First of all, most hiring will take place in the summer when positions open up in response to departures and changing school needs. The interview process can be as simple as a one-on-one with your future principal, to a group panel interview with your future team of teachers, all the way to a sample lesson presentation (prepared beforehand) delivered to school administrators and your future team. The length and process will depend on your target district and its needs; some will have their pick of experienced educators while some will have a preference toward taking on new grads and developing them into top teachers.
Sample Interview Questions for Teachers
1. Give me an example of a lesson that you prepared. What outcomes did it achieve?
This is one of the most important sample questions for teachers to consider prior to your interview. If you can bring in a lesson or artifacts from a prior lesson to showcase how you teach that would be extremely helpful! Teaching is an extremely individualized field, teachers go about delivering lessons in different ways, so your interviewer will want to see your teaching style and how you approach education. Be sure to discuss the outcomes that your lesson achieved. Did you encourage student collaboration? Did students experience something new? Were you able to effectively connect this lesson to other areas in the curriculum?
2. Why are you interested in our school?
Coming into the interview familiar with your prospective school is a must. Consider things like the diversity of the student population, the local community that the school serves, how the school approaches the curriculum, and its values or mission statement available on the school’s website.
3. Tell me about a time when you and a colleague disagreed? How did it resolve?
It’s no secret that teachers, much like colleagues in any workplace, often disagree. The principal will want to be sure that you stress how you will fit well into the new team and remain even-keeled when a dispute does happen to occur. This would be a great time to discuss a past example of a team dispute and how you worked together to resolve it.
4. How do you collaborate with your fellow teachers?
Again, collaboration as a teacher is truly a daily requirement. You and your fellow teachers are working together toward the shared goal of surpassing expectations and getting students prepared to tackle their next grade. Talking about a time that you were proactive in encouraging or structuring a recurring collaborative working time with your team would be the cherry on top of a good answer.
5. What is your philosophy regarding discipline and correction in the classroom?
Working with children of all ages is in no way an easy task. Sometimes, classroom behavior will get out of hand and your interviewer will want to see how you won’t get overrun in this scenario. Explaining how you work with students to understand how their behaviors affect their fellow students around them is a good start. Alike, being proactive in terms of classroom management is key. You make sure students understand how your classroom works, which discourages bad behavior before it starts.
6. What is your favorite subject to teach to students?
This question is a great opportunity to showcase some of your personal motivations and your “off the resume” background. Make a mark by showing that you bring a real passion to education, something that your interviewer is no doubt looking for. Don’t be afraid to share how you have a love for a subject or a couple of subjects in particular!
7. Are you flexible regarding the grade levels that you’d teach?
States have varied licensing and regulations regarding what grade levels you are able to teach. While it’s not necessary to be able to teach multiple grade levels, having flexibility is a huge plus. Sometimes there will be a shortage of students in 5th grade and a boom of students in the 7th grade classes, being able to meet that transition within your school can be super helpful.
8. What is your biggest weakness as a teacher?
The weakness question comes up in nearly every single interview, teaching or not. Discuss something that you were lacking as an educator and how you worked to overcome or improve that weakness where it is now one of your strengths.
9. How do you handle pressure?
Dealing with difficult parents, challenging goals from your school and district, conflicts with team members, and an often-lacking work life balance will have you feeling the pressure as a teacher. Highlight to your interviewer how you thrive working under pressure and how you can quickly shift gears to meet the constantly changing requirements expected as a teacher.
10. Why did you want to become a teacher?
The summer vacations, duh! No, for real here is a good example on how to answer this question that will certainly pop up in your interview.
11. How can you meet the needs of your classroom while dealing with a differentiated learning student?
This a good time to discuss your experience working with students with varied learning needs, maybe you’ve worked with an ESL student, or taught a student working with in-classroom assistance. Show how you handled working with those students while also meeting the educational needs of the classroom as a whole.
12. How would you handle a disruptive student?
Unfortunately, having a disruptive student in your classroom is nearly a guarantee. A trap would be speaking negatively about your prior students. A good approach instead is to show how you can relate to students on a personal level. Talk about how you work to understand the root cause of their behavior. Show how you work hard with the student and parents to come up with a collaborative plan to work with the student to alter those behaviors. Remember there are no quick fixes, show how you can take the time to work through challenging situations over time.
13. Discuss a time when you worked with your team to overcome a challenging situation?
Teachers have individual goals to adhere to, but they also have team-wide goals, so efficient teamwork is critical. Consider a past scenario where you worked with your team to collaborate on a solution to a difficult problem. Did you lead the path to a collaborative solution? Did you facilitate teamwork on the problem? What was the final outcome? What could you have done differently?
14. What is your philosophy regarding technology in the classroom?
Educational technology is quickly becoming ubiquitous in classrooms, and its usage will only increase over time. Your interviewer will want to hear how you adapt easily to different technologies. Discuss how you encourage students to engage with technology in the classroom.
15. How do you handle negative feedback from parents or administrators?
Try your best to remain neutral when discussing negative situations. Talking poorly about past experiences will assuredly be a red flag to your interviewer. Instead, discuss how you take feedback in stride and continuously work hard to improve your skills as an educator.
Teaching jobs can be extremely competitive to land. Be sure to arrive at your interview ready to crush it!
Consider these sample interview questions for teachers but also come into your interview prepared to talk about specific topics like the school’s mission statement, its educational philosophy, the local community surrounding the school, and the specific needs of its student population.
Remember that you’re interviewing them as well! Make sure that this school, its curriculum, and your future team are a good fit for you.