If you’re looking for a teaching role that’s top of the class, it all comes down to preparation.
No matter what stage of your career you’re in, interviews are always nerve-wracking. Especially if you’re not used to answering the most common interview questions that come up.
So how do you go beyond the generic answers, and really stand out to recruiters in the education industry? And how do teacher interview questions differ from the norm?
Teacher interview questions
You’ll know from working in a school already, whether you’ve taught for years or you’re a newly qualified teacher starting out in the education sector, that teaching is nothing if not varied.
You’ll often undertake numerous different tasks and experiences, from providing pastoral support and taking part in extra-curricular activities, to actually teaching.
The interview process will reflect just this – with a wide range of questions giving you the opportunity to showcase your varied knowledge and expertise to your interviewers.
Although it’s by no means an extensive list, some of the most popular teacher interview questions that could come up include:
- Why do you want to work in this school?
- Why did you decide to become a teacher?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do students look for in a teacher?
- How would you handle a student who always hands in work late?
- How would you manage a parent who is angry with their child’s results?
- If we didn’t hire you, what would we miss out on?
Why do you want to work in this school?
This question may be predictable, but it can be tough to come up with a unique response on the spot.
To ensure that you can give an interesting and detailed answer, do your homework and research the school you are applying for. For example, does it offer extra-curricular activities that you’d love to assist with? Do you identify with its ethos and values?
With questions like this one, you can show off your personal skills and attributes, and describe both how and why you are the best candidate for the job.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
With this question, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answer.
Everyone will have a different response, as everyone has different experiences. So be honest, give examples and tell stories: were you inspired by a teacher or family member of your own? Did you read something in the news that prompted you to apply?
Personal anecdotes will set you apart from other candidates, and show how much you care about the role and the education industry itself.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
It’s important to be honest here – especially if you have to teach a lesson as part of your interview.
Think about your teaching style (e.g. your lesson planning and time management skills), and your soft skills, for example your ability to communicate with students/parents and colleagues. Where you can, always try to give a real life example of where your strengths have shone in the classroom.
When discussing your weaknesses, you can also describe to your interviewers how you work to improve them.
For example, if your weakness is time management skills, you can suggest methods of lesson planning that you have tried, or are planning to try, to develop your skills.
What do students look for in a teacher?
This question offers the opportunity for you to show off the qualities that make you stand out from the crowd, and demonstrate how you’ll engage your pupils.
Again, examples here will be key. And try to think outside the box. Good communication skills, for example, will no doubt be necessary – but they certainly won’t stand out as an answer.
Relatability, respect, trust and humour are all better answers here.
How would you handle a student who always hands in work late?
OK, so this question is a little different – focussing on a situation that you will undoubtedly encounter in the classroom.
Think about any examples of this kind of behaviour that you’ve experienced and handled in the past. Describe how you would act professionally, whilst keeping your student’s interests as a priority.
How would you manage a parent who is angry with their child’s results?
Once again, this question requires you to think carefully about all parties involved – the pupil, the parent, the school – and respond in a manner that considers everyone.
You might also want to consider if, and how, you would seek support from other members of your department at school, and how you can work as part of a team to manage the situation.
If we didn’t hire you, what would we miss out on?
Finally, this is your chance to sell yourself.
Outline to your interviewer exactly why they should choose you. Make sure you think about any quality you have that sets you apart from the crowd and makes you interesting, so that you leave a lasting impression behind.
Finally, always have some questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview. This will show that you have prepared well, and gives you a chance to ask anything extra you may want to know about the school, so you can decide if it really is the right place for you.
And if you’d like to find out more about what schools look for when it comes to recruiting, getting in touch with a recruitment specialist is always a good place to start.
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