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22 Mar 2021 Austin Belcak

Top 10 Teacher Interview Questions And The Best Answers

There are probably many reasons why you became a teacher. Your love of learning, wanting to make a difference in someone's life, or the flexible schedule. But I’m guessing preparing for teacher interview questions wasn't on the top of your list when you went to college!

Luckily, you don’t need to love them! But you do probably want to prepare for them so you can land a teaching job you love.

In this post, I’m going to share the top 10 questions you’re likely to hear in a teacher interview. And, I’m also going to show you how to craft interview answers like a top performer in any field so you can stand out as the teacher to hire!

Let’s start by going over some general tips on how to best prepare to answer teacher interview questions.

Tips On How To Prepare Teacher Interview Questions

What you do to prepare for a teacher interview isn’t much different from how you prepare for any type of interview. Generally, how well you do in the interview will depend on two things in particular:

  1. How well you’ve researched the company — in this case, the school — so you can tailor your answers
  2. Whether you’re able to answer each interview question in a clear, concise, and memorable way

Do Your Research

When researching, don’t just scan the school’s website. You may find some valuable information that way. But you’ll still only know the same things as your competition. And how much is that going to boost your confidence? Probably not much.

Consider digging a little deeper. How? By reaching out directly to some of the school’s current teachers. Most likely, you can find them on LinkedIn. From there, you can shoot them an email and ask questions like: What do they think is special about the school’s culture? What would be their advice to a new teacher coming in? What’s an area the school is currently looking to improve?

Why do this? Because the more you know about the school, the more relevant you can make your answers to the interview questions. And, believe me, your interviewer will love this!

Deliver Memorable Answers

Generic answers aren’t going to cut it. At least not if you’re after a competitive teaching position. So, what does work? What does a great, memorable answer to a teacher interview question look like?

Well, no matter the job, a good way to approach this is to follow the STAR method. If you’ve never heard of that, the STAR method is a popular technique for remembering how to answer interview questions, particularly problem-solving interview questions.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation: the context for your story about solving a problem
  • Task: the problem you encountered
  • Action: what steps you took toward solving the problem
  • Result: the resulting outcome

If that’s not clicking in your mind yet, don’t worry. The answers I’m about to share for the most common teacher interview questions follow this method!

10 Most Commonly Asked Teacher Interview Questions (With Answers)

1- Why did you decide to become a teacher?

What inspired you to become a teacher? Is there one particular moment that was the catalyst? Use that story to demonstrate your drive and commitment to what you do. This is one of the most commonly asked teacher interview questions.

Sample Answer

“I fell in love with teaching when I was in high school. Every Saturday, I volunteered at my local library as a math tutor for underserved kids in my community. There was one kid named Daniel who was so sure that he’d never be able to understand Algebra when we met. But I knew that if I could help him see how the material could be used in daily life, he could get it. After weeks of him struggling, I’ll never forget the moment when the concepts started to click. It was like he’d unlocked something inside his mind. And once it did, his confidence grew and everything became so much easier for him. Since then I’ve pursued teaching as a career because, for me, there’s nothing quite like the moment when you help a child see that, with effort, they can learn anything.”

2- Why do you want to teach at this school?

What sets this school apart from others? And how have those unique qualities led you to apply to work there? In short, this is the classic “Why do you want to work here?” interview question.

Sample Answer

“I’ve been a science nerd for as long as I can remember. So, when I saw that your school had a Junior Science Institute, I was immediately intrigued. And as Mr. Brown, one of your current chemistry teachers, shared with me, the impact of this program is significant. He told me about one student who is only 13 years old but already doing advanced level physics. That’s amazing! It’s also something I want to be a part of. On top of that, I also value your administration’s approach to supporting your teachers with professional development and career advancement opportunities. Everyone that I’ve spoken to so far has expressed how much they love working at this school!”

3- What is your teaching philosophy?

Your teaching philosophy will give the interviewer an idea of what you’re like in the classroom. What are your values and beliefs when it comes to teaching? What standards do you have for yourself and how you structure your classroom’s learning environment?

Sample Answer

“My philosophy as a teacher stems from the idea that I have just as much to learn from my students as they do from me. But, I learned this the hard way. Early in my career, I unintentionally acted as if I was the one who determined the best way to interpret literature. I wasn’t open to discussions of how certain texts were similar to pop culture events. And anytime my student mentioned it, I dismissed it as a joke. Luckily, my students kept pressing me, and for one of their final projects, one group of students did an in-depth comparison of Romeo and Juliet and one of their favorite reality shows. I was shocked at how good it was! Since then, I’ve approached teaching with an open mind and feel no shame when my students prove me wrong.”

4- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?

There’s no need to lie when discussing your strengths or weaknesses as a teacher. With this type of question, the interviewer wants to gauge your level of self-awareness and confidence in your teaching abilities.

Sample Answer

“Do you remember mad libs? The story game where you’re asked to fill in the blanks with adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc. Well, in a recent English lesson, I decided to use mad libs as a fun activity to test my students' understanding of the different parts of speech. Most of the kids thought the exercise and the silliness of the resulting stories were entertaining. But there were a few students who didn’t participate. They were either too shy or quiet. Undoubtedly, they didn’t get much out of this lesson. So, while I think my strength lies in finding ways to make lessons fun and engaging, I’m still learning how to make sure what I’m doing is effective for all of my students. For that reason, recently, I’ve been diving deep into research on the best way to nurture the academic development of introverted children.”

5- How do you motivate students to stay engaged in class?

As a teacher, you know there’s more to your job than sharing knowledge. You’re also responsible for keeping your students engaged and motivated throughout the learning process. What strategies do you use to accomplish those goals?

Sample Answer

“I encourage failure. I know that sounds strange. But on the first day of class, I like to teach my students about the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. Not enough students know that most things in school don’t require any special talent. They just require consistent effort and support. So, I reward the students who take risks with trying things outside of their comfort zone like raising their hands to answer difficult questions. In doing so, I find my students are more willing to try and less worried about embarrassing themselves for getting something wrong.”

6- Tell me about your process for assessing your students’ progress.

For better or worse, part of your success is determined by how your students perform on both formal and informal assessments. How do you evaluate whether they’re progressing toward successful results?

Sample Answer

“One of my best students last year failed the first two exams. In class, he showed a proficient understanding of the material. But each time those exams came around, he panicked. He was a nervous test taker. And while I considered it my duty to help him calm his nerves before big exams, I also knew I couldn’t evaluate him or any of my students on exam scores alone. So, in my classes, I like to use a variety of classroom assessment techniques. That way, most students get a chance to shine. It also gives me a chance to test different ways of teaching the same material and find what works best.”

7- How do you make sure parents and guardians are involved and up-to-date on their child’s education?

For this question, you’ll want to be specific about the strategies you use. Do you send email updates, make phone calls as needed, and/or schedule virtual meetings?

Sample Answer

“In my first year of teaching, there was one parent who had no idea that his son was repeatedly failing assignments until the end of the term. I took this to be a huge mistake on my part. Since then, I’ve made sure to have at least one check-in by phone or email per term with the parents of any student who is struggling in my class. Parents usually appreciate this. And it’s made a significant impact on motivating kids to do their best on exams.”

8- Tell me about a time you had to use discipline in the classroom.

Few teachers like to discipline their students. But, as you know well, it comes with the territory. Do you have experience handling these types of situations with confidence and tact?

Sample Answer

“In my classroom, my students always know that I don’t tolerate plagiarism of any kind. But, at the beginning of last school year, one of my students broke that rule by turning in an essay that she clearly didn’t write. I knew that this needed to be addressed right away. But also knew that she was having a hard time with the material we were learning in class. She had been visibly embarrassed by this for weeks. So, instead of making a big deal about this during class time, I met with her one-on-one after class and asked her why she plagiarized the essay. This is my approach to most classroom situations that require discipline. I don’t just want to reprimand them for what they did wrong. I want to discuss what’s causing that behavior without putting them on the spot in front of the rest of the class. With the student who plagiarized, I was able to help her see that her way of thinking about the material was good enough and worthy of her belief in herself.”

9- Tell me about a time when someone gave you feedback and how you handled it.

Throughout your time as a teacher, you’ll be challenged to grow and improve just as much as your students. Can you handle constructive criticism and use it to grow?

Sample Answer

“During my first teaching assessment, I was a nervous wreck. I stayed up all night lesson planning and worrying about every little thing that could go wrong. But, the feedback I received from my mentor was so valuable in helping me become the teacher I am today. I took note of everything she said and devised ways to practice my weak spots in the ensuing lessons. After a few months of diligent practice, I invited my mentor back into my class for another observation. Unsurprisingly, she still had some notes. But we both acknowledged that I’d improved drastically from the last time. I now make sure I’m regularly getting feedback from other teachers and my students.”

10- What questions do you have for us?

This is one of the most predictable interview questions. Yet, it’s one that stumps many people who aren’t prepared for it. So, what’s the best way to respond to this question? Here are a few examples:

  • In your opinion, what’s special about the culture at this school?
  • What qualities do this school’s most successful teachers share?
  • Is the school currently facing any challenges I should be aware of?
  • How is the school’s relationship with the surrounding community?
  • What’s something that might surprise me about being a teacher here?

Final Thoughts

Becoming a teacher isn’t easy. But you’re already so close. You’ve just got to crush those your interview! Use the tips I’ve shared here on how to best answer common teacher interview questions and knock it out of the park. And don’t forget to follow up on a successful interview with a post-interview thank you email!

Also, if you’re really looking to increase your chances of securing a job offer, consider showing how well suited you are for the job before the interview with a Value Validation Project!

Austin Belcak

Austin is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people land jobs without connections, without traditional experience, and without applying online. His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, & Fast Company and has helped people just like you land jobs at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, & more.

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