Below are some sample teacher interview questions. These questions are quite common for high school, middle school, and elementary teacher interviews. The difficulty level of these questions vary from easy to more difficult, but all of which are typical of a standard interview. When given an interview as a teacher, it is important to realize that you can prepare for it just as you would for an important test. The Introduction Questions Why are you a good fit for this job and our school district?
What makes you qualified for this teaching position?
Tell us a little about your professional experiences.
Do you have a professional portfolio you would like to share with us?
Why did you become a teacher?
Name three words that describe you.
What is your philosophy on teaching?
What separates you from other teaching candidates?
Questions about College and Student Teaching How well has your university prepared you for teaching?
What was the most useful college course you have taken?
What is the most important thing you learned from your cooperating teacher?
What was the most important thing you learned from your overall student teaching experience?
Describe your student teaching experience.
Personal Information Where do you see yourself in ten years?
What are your three greatest strengths?
Name three of your weaknesses.
What is the most satisfying thing about teaching?
What is the biggest challenge in teaching?
What is the scariest thing about teaching?
What part of teaching do you look the most forward to?
What is the last book you read? When did you read it? Tell us about it.
Are you interested in extracurricular involvement at our school?
What are the important aspects of a good principal?
Mistake #1: You didn’t speak directly to the school culture and needs. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking every school is alike. While the trappings may look similar, schools are as different as the people who work, teach, and learn in them. And, beyond school culture, there are also circumstantial differences—some schools are in growth mode, adding students and grades; others are in turnaround mode—starting over, fixing what’s broken. Research the school prior to the interview so you can weave highly relevant thoughts, ideas, and experiences into your answers. For example, talk about how your experience leading a grade-level team through a curriculum overhaul makes you a good choice given this school’s adoption of new textbooks next year. Conduct your research by talking to teachers and others familiar with the school, checking out the school’s website and social media accounts, and reading the local paper.
Mistake #2: You weren’t specific enough about your experiences. In a lot of ways, this one comes down to your storytelling skills. Most teachers, if they’ve been in the classroom long enough, have made a connection with a hard-to-reach student, dealt with a difficult parent in a tricky situation, and successfully prepared reluctant students for state tests. What makes you and your experiences different? Take an English teacher’s advice and distinguish your stories (and interview!) from others by “showing, not telling.” Use students’ names (they can be changed), set the stage, build tension, describe emotions, etc. Don’t go overboard, but do bring your stories to life for your interviewer. Good, concise storytelling makes you memorable.
Mistake #3: You sidestepped the “failure” question. Everyone fails at some point in their career. You know it and your interviewer knows it. That’s why she asks about it. When you respond that you can’t think of a time you failed or you describe a team failure that was mostly everyone else’s fault, you appear disingenuous. So, be honest, not evasive. Keep in mind the previous point and tell your interviewer about a time you let yourself and others down, and then—most importantly!—tell her what you learned and how you do things differently now. This is not a “gotcha” question—it’s designed to reveal your growth mindset and level of self-awareness.
Mistake #4: You appear “distant” during the interview. It happens to the best of us—despite hours of preparation, you flub the answer to a question that just hours earlier you’d delivered flawlessly in front of the mirror. But your biggest mistake isn’t the flubbed answer, it’s what happens afterward: you re-run your answer through your mind and ever so slightly, you grimace as you do. The problem is two-fold: one, by dwelling on what you’ve already said, you’re taken out of the present moment, causing you to appear distant, even uninterested. Second, your interviewer is perceptive enough to pick up on your pained facial expressions but not so perceptive to know they’re directed inward and not at him.
To avoid this problem, practice positive body language. Oh, and give yourself a break if you miss an answer. It’ll be OK, you probably did better than you think.
Mistake #5: You didn’t speak to results. Numbers matter. They’re attention-getters on the resume and deal-cinchers in the interview.
One last thing about not getting an offer after an interview—it’s not always you, sometimes it’s them. You might have been fantastic in your interview, but for other reasons (which you may never know), you weren’t the right fit. If you are honest with yourself, you probably felt it too. Don’t worry, the right fit is out there. Just keep interviewing.