Are you a teacher starting off your career or looking to transition jobs? Are you preparing for an interview to get your next job as a teacher? In this article, you will find common questions asked during a teacher interview and how you can answer these questions.
There are generic questions that can come up during an interview. But if you are going to ace the interview, you need to know more than just generic questions.
In this article, you will get to know the following:
Responsibilities and skills required for a teacher.
What an employer is looking for in an ideal candidate
Top 20 teacher interview questions and answers
While the responsibilities of a teacher may vary from one institution to another, specific responsibilities remain constant. They include:
Present lessons in a comprehensive manner and use visual/audio means to facilitate learning
Provide individualised instruction to each student by promoting interactive learning
Create and distribute educational content (notes, summaries, assignments etc.)
Assess and record students’ progress and provide grades and feedback
Maintain a tidy and orderly classroom
Collaborate with other teachers, parents and stakeholders and participate in regular meetings
Plan and execute educational in-class and outdoor activities and events
Observe and understand students’ behaviour and psyche and report suspicions of neglect, abuse etc.
Develop and enrich professional skills and knowledge by attending seminars, conferences etc.
To be a great teacher at any institution, here are some basic hard skills you must possess.
Knowledge of Testing and Grading Systems
Ability to plan lessons
Math and Data-driven Skills
Basic First Aid Knowledge
Virtual Teaching and Basic Technology Skills
Every employer has a picture of the perfect candidate for the role of a teacher in his institution. When interviewing for this role, the specific traits and competencies an employer seek will always revolve around these.
Teaching Skills: No matter what other skill you have, the most important skill you must have is the ability to teach. Whether it is teaching students in groups or together, an employer wants to know that you can teach.
Organization and Accountability: Teaching is a job that requires a certain level of organisational abilities from the ideal candidate. During the interview, the employer will want to be sure that you can be organized and accountable while teaching. Once you can show this, you establish yourself as the right person for the role.
Qualifications and Certifications: Every employer wants a trained, qualified and certified teacher. If you will be the right candidate, you must ensure to be qualified and certified for the job. Some institutions may even require a certain qualification to employ their ideal candidate.
Relevant Skills: Skills are non-negotiable when seeking the role of a teacher. To get hired at your dream job, you must possess the necessary hard and soft skills required for a teacher. With it, you increase your chances of being seen as the ideal candidate.
These competencies required for getting the ideal role are not only shown in how you answer interview questions. It also begins with the content of your CV, and then your ability to defend them. The recruiter must see these traits well represented in your CV as the right candidate.
To prepare for your next interview, here are some common questions you’d likely be asked and the best kind of answers for them.
Why do you want to be a teacher?
What is your teaching style?
How do you motivate your students?
If you had a student that was difficult to teach, how would you handle him?
How do you build relationships with parents?
Why do you want to work at our school?
What do you find most difficult about teaching?
How would you relate with and prepare your class for teaching on your first day?
How do you evaluate your students?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
How do you use technology in the classroom?
Describe your classroom management structure.
How will you encourage parents to support their children's education?
How would you handle a parent challenging your teaching method/curriculum?
Tell us about a mistake you made with a student and how you handled it.
How would your previous colleagues describe you?
How would your previous students describe you?
As a teacher, what are your greatest strengths?
As a teacher, what are your greatest weaknesses?
What would you do if you weren't teaching?
Being a teacher is not a walk in the park. The employer wants to be sure that you are rightly motivated for the job, especially because it will get difficult. To answer this, find something specific to you and not just a generic answer.
“In my 4th grade, I had issues with math. I couldn’t get my numbers together, so I believed I was a failure at math. Then came Mrs Sarah, our new math teacher. Not only did she take extra time to break it down for me, she also made sure to let me know that I was not a failure and I would excel. By 5th grade, it was as if I was a different human at math. It made me realize that being a teacher wasn’t just about teaching but inspiring young minds. I vowed to be a teacher after that experience.”
Teaching does not just involve getting children to be good at math or science. It is also about helping them develop their abilities, inside and outside. Every recruiter wants to be certain that you understand it and that it reflects this. Here is a way to answer this.
“I believe that teaching children is not just about getting them to have good grades, but also to inspire their passions and guide them to overall success. To do this, I try to challenge students with realistic goals that can help them develop themselves all around. With this, I partner with them and support them to do well with their grades while also unleashing their potential.”
As a teacher, it is important that you know how to influence your students to do the right thing. This question is often asked because the recruiter wants to know how you can do this. It is always even more important when you have to teach virtually because motivation over an online platform is very different from it in person.
“For me, keeping students motivated comes from a place of positive reinforcement. This I do by creating a system of simple rewards and bonuses when they do well, no matter how little. It could be a star, candy, or even a compliment. It could also vary from student to student, but the idea is to let them know that their efforts are noticed. That way, they are inspired to do more and be more, without having to breathe down hard on them.”
All students are not the same. They behave and learn differently, which may make it hard to have them all in the same class at once. Also, “difficult” could mean different things for different students. It could be falling grades or disrupting classes. Whichever way, the recruiter wants to know that you are aware of what you may be up against and that you can handle it when need be.
“When I have a student like that, I try to take them aside and have a conversation with them to understand them better and what the challenge could be. Once I do that, I then begin to work with them to come up with a solution to help them move past that. I’ve used this technique with a student before who was always anxious and couldn’t seem to sit at a place for lessons. After speaking with him, I realized that he felt nervous whenever he sat for so long. However, I explained to him how his actions affected the rest of the class. We then agreed that anytime he started feeling anxious, he could raise his hand and I’ll let him go to the back for a while. This helped him over time and he improved.”
Being a teacher also means you would work with parents and guardians as they have an influence over your students’ behaviour. Building a relationship and trust with parents and guardians help you ensure that the students get the complete attention and support they require.
“I believe that it’s important to have a relationship with parents to enable students to do better. To achieve this, I usually schedule meetings with parents at the beginning of the academic year to get to know them, their background and how it could influence the student. Then, I always try to send in assessment forms for the parents on a monthly basis. The information I receive helps me build relationships with the parents over time.”
If you are going to get this question right, you must have made some research about the school. The recruiter simply wants to know if you understand what the school represents and how you fit into their institution. When answering this, focus on the school values and how it aligns with your personal values too.
“I love the values that Pretoria High School portrays for education. The goal of educating a total child is something that resonates with me so much because I was raised by a teacher who believed that my life was more than my grades. This is why I want to be a part of this institution, knowing that my skills and values are consistent with the values of the school.”
Teaching is not a very easy task and even your recruiter knows that. The unspoken reason for this question is to know how you are able to manage the challenges that come with the job. So, when giving your answer, feel free to talk about what you may not enjoy about it, while also sharing what you are actively doing to work on it.
“I usually have a challenge with bright children who become overconfident and do not work on themselves. I have noticed over the years that it has led to much-wasted potential. In my last position, I worked with several children who weren’t trying. I implemented a research-based program to incorporate student ideas into the lesson plan. The addition of their thoughts created more complete engagement. Test scores went up 15% in just two months.”
Your recruiter wants to know that you are able to settle in on your first day at work. That way you can connect with your students and set the tone for the academic term/year. Here’s how you can give a good answer.
“I want my classroom to be welcoming and nurturing. I also make the ground rules obvious. A welcome sign and labelled desks help students feel at home from day one. Engaging posters and other visual aids help create a sense of excitement. Beyond fun, a large list of rules and consequences at the front of the room helps the class start on the right foot.”
It is always important to the recruiter how you measure performance. This happens because the way a student is evaluated determines if they are inspired to improve or not. To answer this question well, you can make references to instances of this in the past and probably how it helped a student.
“I evaluate students with formal and informal methods, including quizzes and tests. I also grade in-class activities like reports, recitations, desk work, and group activities. One student, John, showed a strong grasp of concepts during in-class activities but performed poorly during testing. Through working closely with him, I uncovered an undiagnosed vision problem. Terry got corrective lenses and his test scores rose to match his in-class comprehension.”
The goal of this question is to tell the recruiter where you are headed with your life, and how it aligns with the company. No one wants to employ anyone who may have the tendency not to be with the organization for a long time. The recruiter is asking to be sure that you really want to be a part of the organization.
“In five years, I want to have been able to impart to over 1000 children helping them build the required confidence they need to start off their lives. In five years, I also would have obtained another degree in Child Psychology to improve my work and help me teach as many children as I can effectively.”
Being technologically inclined as a teacher is a huge advantage to being effective, especially in the 21st century. Most times, it may not be about very huge things. Using technology in the classroom may be for things as simple as record-keeping to make teaching easier and more fun.
“For me, using technology in the classroom has gone beyond being a choice to become a necessity. For my teaching, I often bring in my laptop to enable me to show my students what I believe they ought to see. Also, I give my students assignments that encourage them to make research online with the consent and guidance of their parents. Finally, I often find a way to have virtual classes for students who need extra attention, more importantly when we cannot find a convenient time within school hours.”
Every teacher must have a classroom management structure that will help them teach better and more effectively. The recruiter will ask this because he wants to know that you understand the importance of organization as a teacher and that you are able to prioritize and manage your space for effective learning for the students.
“To manage my classroom better, I always have a set of rules which every student is well aware of. Also, I come up with a schedule beyond the class timetables that enable us to know what we ought to do every time. This way, everyone knows what is expected of him/her and decorum is maintained in the classroom.”
Helping a child attain excellence in their academics and life, in general, won’t just come from you. The parent/guardian also had a role to play in the child’s education and every teacher is aware of that. The employer needs to know that you can bring in the parents where necessary to help the student.
“I understand that it is important for parents to be involved in the education of their children. With this, I always ensure that I keep parents directly informed about the general performance of their children. I also try to find out what the routine of the student is like at home, to understand the situation better. Then I ensure to always let the parents know what they can do to support their children academically and encourage them to do so while following up.”
This is the recruiter’s way of knowing how you would handle conflicts when they arse. Parents can at times, question the methods of the teacher. It is then important that you know how to adress these conflicts without it escalating into a bigger challenge.
“Parents are often concerned about methods for their children and I totally understand that. If I have such a parent, I’d first try to make them see that we are on the same side of wanting the best for the child. Then, I would proceed to explain why the method/curriculm works and the advantages of using them. I’d also try to explain and encourage the parent to give it time an see the outcome of the method on his child. And on special occasions, I can offer to do extra work with the child if need be.”
Because you are not a superhuman, you are bound to make a couple of mistakes. The recruiter wants to know your ability to understand your mistakes and make adjustments where you ought to. Here's a good answer.
"One time, I had a student who was always less interested in classes. Initially I thought he was just being lazy and didn't want to study. This made me become harder on him. But, the harder I was, the worse he became. Later, I decided to have a conversation with him to find out what was wrong. Turned out to be that his parents were going through a rough divorce and it was taking a toll on him. I then realized my mistake and apologized to him. I also recommended that he had a meeting with the school guidance counselor and it helped. In a couple of weeks, he bounced back and picked up interest in his studies again."
Every recruiter wants a team player, and this question is simply geared at that. What they're simply asking is "Are you a team player?"
"I am certain that my former colleagues would have really positive things to say about me. They would tell you that I am a team player who doesn't drop the ball, no matter how hard it is. They'd also tell you that I am very empathetic and I am good at communicating clearly and promptly."
Teaching is first for the students and not you. Also, students' perception towards their teacher affects their ability to respond well to what is being taught. Your recruiter wants to be sure that you understand this and can influence the students rightly.
"I strongly believe that my students are a reflection of me and the work I do. This is why I always ensure to teach them the way they ought to be taught. As such, my students would tell you that I am a disciplined but impactful teacher. They would describe me as fun, but also result driven. With me, they would always say that they can't but be at their very best."
Everyone has a strength, and your recruiter wants to know what your strengths are. Keep your answer within the context of what is beneficial to the job role.
"One of my strengths as a teacher is my ability to be organized. I always tend to place things in their order of priority and it has helped me maintain a good grip of my work expectations. Also, I pay attention to details that others may miss. When others see an angry student, I see a love-deprived student. This helps me connect with students better to enable them to do well, in and off school."
Everyone has a weakness, including you. Your recruiter wants to know that you are self-aware and also that you are deliberately doing something about your weaknesses.
"One of my weaknesses as a teacher is that sometimes I can be impatient. Because I want to achieve a lot of goals, it makes me forget sometimes that I am not the only variable in the scheme of events, and so when things do not go my way, I tend to become impatient. However, I have also come up with a system that enables me to put myself in check. I recently coined a motto I recite to myself every morning that says, “Patience is a virtue. Exercise that virtue today.” As little as it may be, it has helped me tremendously.``
This is not a trick question, so you don’t have to be triggered by it. The recruiter simply wants to know you better to enable him to also know how you fit in. just be honest about what you would do.
“If I wasn’t teaching, I’d probably be a project manager. I love executing projects from start to finish and achieve mind-blowing goals. In my last school, the school headteacher even noticed and always placed me in charge of planning school events and campaigns.”
These are some of the questions that you would be asked during your interview and how you can answer them. With this, you are sure to excel at any teacher interview you find yourself.
All the very best!
You can also read: Questions to Ask in an Interview