Teacher Interview Questions and Suggested Answers

Key Questions and Target Answers for Teacher Interviews

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Teacher interviews can be quite nerve-racking for both new and veteran teachers alike. One way to help you to prepare for a teaching interview is to read through questions such as these presented here and consider what interviewers may be looking for in a response. 

Of course, you should also be prepare to answer questions specific to a grade level or content area such as English Language Arts, math, art, or science. There may even be a "trick" question such as, "Do you consider yourself lucky?" or "If you could invite three people to dinner, who would you choose?" or even "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

The following questions are more traditional, and should be used to help you prepare for general education interview. Whether the questions are in a one-to-one interview with a single administrator or posed by a panel of interviewers, your responses must be clear and concise. Teaching comes with tremendous responsibilities at any grade level, and you must convince the panel that you are ready and capable of taking on these responsibilities. You must demonstrate your ability as a teacher to present information to an interviewer or panel so that they can visualize you as part of their teaching team.

If you would like additional information to help as you prepare for your teaching interview, check out Top Ten Keys to a Successful Teaching Job Interview. You might also want to see what you need to be careful of with Top 12 Interview Mistakes for Teacher Interviews. More resources

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What are your teaching strengths?

This interview question is asked across many professions and offers you the best opportunity to present additional information that is not readily available on a resume or letter of recommendation.

The key to answering this question about your teaching strengths is to provide clear examples of your strengths as they are directly related to the job. For example, you might suggest your qualities of patience or your belief that every student can succeed or your skills at parent communication, or your familiarity with technology.

Your strengths may not be immediately noticeable, so it is important to provide an example to help an interviewer or panel visualize a strength.

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What could be a weakness for you?

 In responding to the question about a weakness, it is critical to provide the interviewer with a weakness you have already acknowledged and you used in order to develop a new strength.

 For example:

  • I found that I was not well-versed in reading strategies, so I have taken some course work to improve.
  • I realized I needed to slow down and spend more time specifically addressing the directions on a project so that students would be more independent.
  • I was afraid to ask for help until I realized that the best advice came from the teachers on my team.

Generally, you should be careful to avoid spending too much time discussing a weakness question.

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How do you find new ideas for lessons?

The interviewer or panel will be looking for you to show the knowledge you have and the willingness you show to access and to utilize many different sources for content information, lesson development, and lesson enrichment.

One way to explain where you get your new ideas can be referencing current educational publications and/or blogs. Another way to explain where you may get new ideas is to reference a lesson that you saw a teacher model that you think could be used or modified to fit your particular discipline. Either way will illustrate your ability to stay on top of current education trends or your willingness to learn from fellow teachers.

During an interview, it is important that you do not say that you would follow the lessons outlined in a textbook as this would not show any creativity on your part.

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What are methods you might use to teach a lesson?

The key here is to show your ability to differentiate for the variety of learners in your classroom. This means you would need to summarize your knowledge of varying instructional techniques as well as your willingness to use these techniques and your ability to judge when each is appropriate. 

One way to show that you are aware of best practices of instruction is offer suggestions as to which method would be most applicable to a topic or content area (EX: direct instruction, cooperative learning, debate, discussion, grouping or simulation) as well as to reference recent research on effective instructional strategies. 

Make sure to mention the fact that you need to take the students, their abilities, and their interests into account as to which instructional strategies you will use in your  lesson plans designs.

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How do you determine if students have learned?

An interviewer or panel wants to see that you understand the importance of considering your lesson objectives and how you will evaluate the students at the end of each lesson or end of unit. The key is that you recognize that a lesson or unit plan that relies on measurable results, not just 'gut instinct'.

You should reference how you will collect student feedback (EX: quiz, exit slip, or survey) and how you might use that feedback to drive instruction in future lessons.

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How do you maintain control in your classroom?

Find out what rules are already in place by visiting the school website. Be sure to consider these rules in your response. Your answer should include specific rules, systems, and policies that you would set up from day one to manage the classroom.

You may want to reference specific examples (EX: cell phone use in class; repeated tardies; excessive talking) from your own experiences. Even if your experience was while student teaching, your familiarity with classroom management will add credence to your answer.

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How can someone tell you are well organized?

For this question, give one of the following as specific examples of what someone would see as they walked into your classroom that would illustrate that you are well organized: 

  • How would the desks be arranged;
  • How often you put student work on display;
  • How would students know where materials are;
  • How would you account for resources (texts, supplies) given to you.

Be sure also to mention how you would maintain timely and accurate records on student performance. Explain how these records could help you to document student growth.

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What books have you read lately?

Choose a couple of books that you can discuss and try to connect at least one to your teaching career or education in general. You may want to reference a specific author or researcher.

Make sure to stay away from any politically charged books, just in case your interviewer disagrees with you.

You may also reference any blogs or educational publication you read after you provide the titles of books.

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you are chosen for this position, you will most likely be provided with training necessary to help you become familiar with the school's policies and any technology programs the school uses. There may be additional professional development offered during the school year while you are teaching. That means the school will be investing in you as a teacher.

 The interviewer or panel wants to see that their investment in you over five years will pay off. You need to confirm that you do have goals, and that you are committed to the teaching profession.

If you are still taking courses, you may also want to provide that information or plans you may have for more advanced coursework. 

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How have you used, or how will you use, technology in the classroom?

In responding to this question, be sure to note that the use of technology should support student learning. You may want to provide examples of school data programs that you have used such as Blackboard or Powerteacher. You may want to explain how you used a software such as Kahoot or Reading A-Z to support instruction. You can explain your familiarity with other education software such as Google Classroom or Edmodo. You can share how you connected to families and other stakeholders by using Class Dojo or Remind.

If you do not use technology in your classroom, your response should be honest and direct. You may explain why you have not used technology in classrooms. For example, you may explain that you have not had the opportunity, but that you are willing to learn.

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How would you engage a reluctant student?

This question is usually reserved for middle and high school grade positions. The big answer to this question is choice. You may want to explain how you can give students some choice over what they read or what they write, but still meet the objectives in the curriculum. For example, you might explain how many of your assignments will allow for student choice in reading using different texts on the same topic,  perhaps a few with different reading levels. You may also explain that offering students the ability to choose a topic for a report or allowing them the opportunity to choose a medium for the final product can help encourage reluctant learners.

Another way to motivate students is through feedback.  Meeting with a reluctant student in one-to-one conferences can give you information about why they are not motivated in the first place. Showing interest can help engage a student at any grade level.

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Do you have any questions for us?

You should have one or two prepared questions specific to the school. These questions should not about information readily available on the website (EX: calendar year, number of students or teachers at a particular grade level).

Try to use this opportunity to ask question to show your interest in developing your relationships at the school (extra-curricular activities available) or about a particular program.

Avoid asking too many questions or ones that would give a negative impression (EX: number of days off).