School districts use interviews to learn more about potential candidates for teaching positions. Some interview questions will be quite basic; for example, interviewers commonly ask teachers what grades and subjects tthey've previously taught. Other questions will be more difficult, because principals want to see evidence of an insightful, reflective teaching practice. When asked interview questions that require self-examination, avoid glossing over mistakes or offering a pat answer. Take time to formulate an insightful response that reflects not only your experiences but your beliefs about teaching and what you can bring to the school.
Principals might ask potential teachers about their pedagogical beliefs. When asking for this type of insight, interviewers are curious about what you believe about the practice of teaching and how to best serve students in a classroom. For example, you might respond that you believe all children learn within a sociocultural context and because of that, differentiation is the essential key to reaching each student on an individual basis. Prior to the interview, think about how you can frame the strategies you've chosen as a teacher within a philosophical context about children and learning. Your strategies should be justifiable based on research and experience, and principals want to see you make those connections.
Interviewers will want to see insight into your own teaching practice, and asking about previous mistakes is a common way to access that information. Before the interview, try to think of a genuine mistake that you learned from rather than sidestepping the question by not owning up to any mistakes. Explain the situation in a few brief statements, avoiding any negative comments about previous students, families, co-workers or employers. The majority of your response should center on what you learned from the mistake and what you've done differently to improve future teaching.
Another way to gain insight into potential hires is to inquire about their self-knowledge. Sample questions might ask you about strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, according to Education World. You might also face hypothetical questions about what you'd do in various classroom or school-site situations. Again, principals want to see evidence of genuine engagement, so don’t offer strengths disguised as weaknesses; for example, stating that you're a perfectionist or work too hard. Think about something that you struggle with but which shows active attempts at improvement, according to the resume writing service Resumes for Teachers.
Interviewers may want insight into your long-term teaching goals, according to the University of Iowa. Whatever your goals, state them in a way that demonstrates commitment to teaching. Be careful about indicating interest in eventually becoming a principal or school administrator, because schools might question whether you actually want to be in the classroom.
- Resumes for Teachers.com: What Are Principals Really Looking for in a Teacher?
- Education World: 50 Great Questions for Teacher Interviews
- Education World: The Interview: Principals Share 30 Favorite Questions For Future Teachers
- University of Northern Iowa: Interview Tips for Teaching Candidates
- Oklahoma State University: Common Interview Questions for Teachers
- St. Norbert College: Teacher Education Interviewing Guide
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.