Tips for Teaching Job Interviews, Advice and Interview Questions

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Advice for Interviews

I got to participate in interviews last year (on the questioning end), so I will give as much advice as I can. I will list the questions we chose, but keep in mind, my fellow kindergarten teachers and I came up with these, and they could be completely different from questions you would get elsewhere!

  1. Our first question was, “Briefly tell us about yourself. What do you enjoy doing.” I suggest answering about YOU. You’ll get to the teacher questions later. This background information let us get to know the person a bit better. It’s up to you how to answer, but I personally would tell about my family and interests… That’s what we were expecting.
  2. What are some classes you enjoyed during college?
  3. What is your philosophy of education?
  4. What personal strengths can you bring to our school?
  5. What experience do you have working with kindergarten?
  6. What do you know about developmentally approprite practices for this age group?
  7. What would your classroom look like?
  8. What knowledge do you have of Accelerated Schools, Guided Reading, Hands-on math, Brain Based Education, Cooperative Learning. With this question, we didn’t become concerned and mark someone off the list if they didn’t know about any of those methods. We were just trying to see what kind of background knowledge they had because those were things our school used. We did, however, appreciate a response other than “I don’t know,” or “Never heard of that.” It helped if they explained something they were familiar with that sounded similar to what we were asking. – I sat on in an interview with the 2nd grade teachers, and their questions were much more involved! They had some situational questions like, What would you do if you saw Johnny looking off of Melinda’s paper during a test?, etc.
  9. What was the most valuable thing you learned in your student teaching?
  10. Name your strengths and weaknesses.
More Interview Questions

A list of possible questions you could be asked in an interview, submitted by various participants at the A to Z Teacher Stuff forums…

Posted by Upsadaisy:

What is your philosophy of teaching?
How do you handle difficult students? Situations?
What is your behavior plan?
How do you reward achieving students?
What would your ideal schedule look like?
How do you motivate students?
What do you get out of teaching? Why do you want to?
Describe a successful lesson plan which you have implemented.
Describe ways in which you address various learning styles?
What is the most important element or attribute which you bring to our school?

Posted by Lanie:

I was asked many of the questions Upsadaisy mentioned but also:
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What have you been doing since you graduated from high school?
How do you keep yourself aware of changes and innovations in education?
What would you do if a parent confronted you about a situation with their child? How would you handle it?

Posted by Amanda:

These are questions I was asked in my latest interview:

  1. Tell us about your teaching experience and educational background.
  2. Why did you decide to teach?
  3. Kindergarten is a lot different than other grade levels. (Describe what you know about these differences, things you would do, etc…. I can’t remember the specific wording of this question.)
  4. Describe your communication arts program.
  5. Describe your teaching style. How do you accommodate different levels and learning styles?
  6. What experience do you have working with special needs?
  7. Why do you want to work in our district?
  8. Describe your classroom management and how you keep kids actively engaged in learning.
  9. We regularly collaborate with other teachers in our building. How do you work with others?
  10. Name 2 strengths and 1 weakness that you have.

Posted by ReadingTeacher:

I am a first year teacher who received my job in June. Let me tell you interviewing is not easy, and all school districts ask you different questions. Here are some of the questions I was asked:

  1. Describe to me what your classroom would look like?
  2. What would you do on the first day of school?
  3. Is it better to have humor or discipline in the classroom?
  4. Describe your classroom management.
  5. Describe your reading program.
  6. How would you encourage parental involvement?
  7. What would you do if a parent…?
  8. Describe your student teaching. What were the positives and negatives?
  9. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher? (BE HONEST)

Posted by sandy

  1. If your students score low in reading, what strategies will you use to raise their scores?
  2. How could you use team teaching to provide your students with a better education?
  3. What are the pros and cons of team teaching?
  4. How do you keep up with innovations in education?
  5. What is your teaching philosophy?
  6. What steps will you take to increase parent involvement?
  7. In what ways can you use technology in your teaching?
  8. What role should technology play in the classroom and in the curriculum?
  9. What is your philosophy on discipline?
  10. What steps do you take to maintain communications with parents?
  11. Tell us about the most difficult student that you’ve taught. What did you learn from that experience?
  12. One of the children in your classroom is misbehaving. How will you address the situation?
  13. How do you integrate the curriculum?
  14. Following the issuance of report cards, a parent comes to your classroom angry about the grades you gave their child. How will you handle the parent?
  15. What do you do to maintain communications with other teachers?
  16. Tell us about the most difficult parent that you’ve dealt with.
  17. How do you keep the principal informed?
  18. What skills do you bring to our school and community?\
Questions you should ask in an interview
Submitted by: Jill, middle school resource 6-8
I wanted to add more specific questions (especially for my fellow special ed teachers) I think every teacher should ask at an interview …
  1. How long will my planning be?
  2. What materials are already available in my classroom? Very important! Don’t take a job with no/shoddy materials unless they promise to purchase more.
  3. Can I meet my assistant? (if applicable)- not getting along with someone who shares your classroom everyday can be a nightmare!
  4. What committees will I be expected to serve on?
  5. What is your philosophy of special education? If you feel like they would be cool with a question like this throw it back at them towards the end of the interview. You need to know how your administration views the subject and the kids you teach.

This is often overlooked when interviewing tips are given. Remember, you are interviewing them to see if this is the right job for you, not just vice versa! You already have a steady paycheck, so be selective!

1. What is your teacher turnover like? Can you tell me why those people left? (Answers should included moving, pregnancy, stay at home parent, etc. A reluctance to answer indicates problems within the school or county. Most of the teachers should be vets or at least tenured).

2. Can you give me some back ground as to what my team members are like? {Are all the K teachers new? If so, why? How long have they been teaching? Principals will brag on their staff, so let them- you want to find out what kind of support you’re going to have).

3. What are the average class sizes usually like? (Of course this will vary, but again, a reluctance to answer tells you to expect 30 Kinderkids in August!).

4. What kind of resources can the school/ school system offer me since it is my first year in the public school system? (Laptops? Mentors? Specialists? Make sure you will get your planning time- no music and PE means no break for you. Clubs and committees? Workshops? Discretionary funds and grant opportunities?)

5. What makes this school stand out from the others in the area? (It takes guts to ask this one, but they like confidence and it shows that you take your job seriously and are not there to collect a paycheck and go home.)

6. What is your policy regarding lesson planning- would I need to keep records in my room or turn them in to you? (I would not recommend working at a school in which you are required to turn in plans every week- I have yet to hear from anyone who felt that this inspired confidence in their teaching. A better answer would be that teachers are expected to plan at least one week in advance with sub plans always out in case of emergency. You do not want a prinicpal who micromanages).

7. What is the student population like? (I would accept whatever info is offered, but I would listen for socio-ec, race, class size, parent involvement, ESL, and ‘catch area’ (the boundaries, so you can investigate the neighborhoods yourself if you want). If you work in a low-income area you need to know it ahead of time to prepare yourself for the challenges unique to that setting. Are there a lot of immigrants in your school? Good to know so you can collect billingual resources and such and again just be better prepared to meet your students. There are pros and cons of ALL demographics and you’ll have to find the setting that is right for you.)

8. Can I see the classroom that I would be teaching in? (If s/he doens’t want to give a tour, that’s not promising. I always got a ‘vibe’ from the classroom and knew right away whether it was a place I could make my own. Even in a run down old building I could see the potential. I fell in love with my current classroom because it has the best view in the school- top floor, overlooking lots of trees and the flagpole. You can’t see the street or anything- it feels like we’re on top of a mountain!)

Hopefully some of these issues will be discussed without you bringing them up. I spent a good 20 minutues ‘interviewing’ my current principal and he said he made the final decision to hire me over someone with experience at that grade level because of my personality. He said he could tell I was well-informed about what a good learning and working environment should be and by asking so many questions, he could tell I was looking to find a good school and stay there.

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