Top Teaching Interview Mistakes

What to Avoid During a Teacher Interview

Teaching interviews are your time to show your knowledge and your love for the profession. However, you will have a hard time showing these if you are making common interview mistakes. Following is a list of common interview mistakes with suggestions on how to avoid them. Do not be one of the individuals who was almost good enough, if only they wouldn't have ...

Talk Too Long

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While you want to be descriptive and answer each of the questions posed to you thoroughly, there comes a point when you are just being too long-winded. You should use visual clues as you are speaking to let you know if the interviewer is ready to move on. Remember, while your interview is most important to you, sometimes you will be on a tight timeframe with your interviewer. They might have a whole day of interviews scheduled. You definitely don't want the interviewer to cut the questions short because you took to long answering one question.

Be Argumentative

I've witnessed a few interviews where the interviewee disagreed with one of the individuals conducting the interview. This typically happens after the first round of interviews where the same questions are posed to each individual. Often, schools will conduct a second interviewer where an individual meets with one or more administrators in a less formal setting. If this happens, it is best to be tactful and avoid an argument. If you want a job, it is less important to be right than to be hired. For example, if you have an administrator who is praising a "professional development" program that you have attended and disliked, the interview is not the time disagree with his or her beliefs about the program.

Use "Big" Words or Slang

Don't try to impress the interviewer with your huge vocabulary. This does not mean that you shouldn't use the right words. However, when you have a couple of choices for words, choose the one that is more common. You want to appear approachable. By the same token, don't revert into slang when you are interviewing. You want to put your best foot forward and part of this is showing that you know and use proper English.

Answer Questions With a Simple Yes or No

While there might be a few questions that you just want to stop with a yes or no, avoid this. I was in an interview one time that lasted about 10 minutes because the individual being interviewed answered every question with as few of words as possible. By the end, we knew nothing about the person. Remember, you are selling yourself in an interview. Find a way to answer each question to put you in a positive light.

Fidget or Look Distracted

Don't shake your leg, look at your watch, twist your hair, or do any other action that makes you seem like you are not 100% engaged in the interview. Even if you have something happening in your life that you are worried about, put that aside when you walk into the interview. You can always pick that worry right back up when you walk out.


Do not interrupt your interviewer when they are speaking. Even if you know the answer to their question before they are done, let them have their say. This is very rude and will offend some interviewers enough that they won't hire you because of it.

Act or Dress Inappropriately

Don't arrive late, chew gum, bite your nails, use profane language, or smoke. Make sure that you choose a professional outfit. Make sure that it is ironed. Be well groomed. Put on underarm deodorant. However, be cautious with your perfume or cologne. Your makeup should be understated. Make sure you have trimmed your nails. While all of this might seem obvious, it is a fact that individuals show up to interviews all the time without paying attention to their dress and actions.

Bad Mouth Anyone

Don't speak badly about former coworkers or students. If you are asked a question about a challenging experience or about a time when you disagreed with a coworker, always answer in as positive a manner as possible. Don't gossip because this reflects on you. Also, make sure not to name names when you are talking about a person with whom you had an issue in the past. It is a small world and you definitely don't want to be caught talking about someone who is the interviewer's friend or family member.

Be Too General

Use specific examples if at all possible. Generic answers like, "I love to teach," are great but do not give the interviewer anything upon which to base their decision. If instead, you followed that statement with an example of why you love teaching, the interviewer will have a greater chance of remembering your answer. For example, you might tell of a time when you could see the lightbulbs come on for a group of students struggling to grasp a difficult concept.

Be Disorganized in Your Answers

Try to organize your thoughts quickly. Don't jump around in your answers. Finish your thoughts and use transitions to move to additional examples. Avoid going back to previous answers if at all possible. You want to appear to be an organized individual, showing a disorganized mind will count against that. Interviews with individuals who jump around in their speech are dizzying and difficult for the interviewer.

Be Cynical or Pessimistic

You are trying to get a teaching job - the ultimate in helping others succeed. You don't want to appear like you don't believe success is possible. You must be upbeat and optimistic. On the same note, you want to make sure that you show your love for students. Unfortunately, some teachers love their topics but not teaching students. If this is the case for you, maybe teaching really isn't the job you should have.


Obvious but true. Your stories should be based no fact. If you are answering a question with an example that you found on the Internet, you are setting yourself for failure. Lying is a dead end and a sure way to lose all credibility. People are fired each day for being caught in lies - even white ones. Don't lie.