Sample Teacher Job Interview Questions and Answers
In general, job interviews are like a performance in a play. For most interview questions you cannot give the most truthful answer, because you need to avoid any answers that employers believe reflects poorly on your ability to handle the job.
Teaching job interview questions, however, are far more unique. Teaching interviews are about strategies far more than accomplishments. They are looking for actual solutions for problems presented rather than a list of the achievements you had at previous employers. In many ways, teaching interviews tend to resemble behavioral interviews except that the questions revolve around hypothetical problems more so than the actual actions.
Teaching job interview questions often deal with the specific student population you are instructing. Special education teachers will have questions about students with specific disabilities. Teachers at diverse, low income schools will have questions about dealing with diversity. Higher education teachers will focus on strategies to keep students interested in showing up to class.
Interview Preparation Strategies
Because teaching job interviews differ considerably based on the student population you will be instructing, the best type of interview preparation will be to personally brainstorm all possible questions that relate to the classes/grades/education levels you under your watch and answering them truthfully. Your answers should be based on yours skills, and though basic interview techniques apply (avoiding answers with negative connotations, for example), your teaching solutions should be highlighted depending on your specific expertise.
Below are sample interview questions for various types of teaching positions. Use them to help brainstorm relevant questions for the teaching job you applied for, and follow the interview tips listed above each student population.
Special Education Teachers
A great deal of research has been placed into effective teaching strategies for special education students. Your answers to questions about various student populations (for example, autism) should be based on sound principles and current research. The school you are applying to is constantly evaluating its teaching practices to adapt to recent research revelations, so it is important that you are as equally informed. Sample special education interview questions include:
- Students are going to be at different stages of development. How do you address the needs of those that require extra instruction while still progressing the rest of the students through the syllabus?
- What personality traits do you feel make you qualified for dealing with children with developmental disabilities?
- Are there any types of behavioral disorders you feel you would be unequipped to handle?
- What disabilities, disorders and handicaps have you had experience instructing and which do you believe you could use extra instruction?
- Do you believe students with mental or developmental disabilities should be enrolled in regular education classes if they have the potential to succeed?
Public Elementary/Middle School Teachers
Public schools have been suffering. Short on finances and in desperate need of qualified teachers, applicants to public school teaching jobs need to possess qualities that will help them succeed within economically, racially and religiously diverse classrooms. You should provide answers that explain your teaching methods honestly. You should also honestly answer questions about your willingness to work in diverse, overcrowded classrooms. Sample interview questions include:
- How confident are you with teaching students whom English is not their first language?
- What methods do you use to evaluate your success as an instructor?
- How comfortable are you with a diverse classroom?
- How do you handle unruly students that actively disrupt the classroom?
- Are there any methods of instruction you plan to implement to make teaching more interesting for the students?
College level teachers have very different responsibilities compared to teachers of younger students. College classes are rarely mandatory, and students are there because they have the ambition, drive, and ability to learn from your instruction. Several interview questions are going to be about knowledge, lesson plans and basic teaching strategies. In addition, even if your goal is to complete research, academic job interviews are still going to consider teaching ability a vital skill. Sample interview questions include:
- How comfortable are you with teaching a classroom of students that may be older and more educated than you? How do you plan on addressing their needs?
- How are you going to stimulate discussion amongst students?
- What is your overall teaching philosophy?
- How well can you balance research and teaching?
- What made you decide that a career in education was right for you?
That last question is important for college level educators, as several professors consider researching first and teaching second. You should ensure that you answer that final question in a manner that emphasizes a love of teaching.
Additional Teacher Interview Question Tips
To be a qualified teacher, you must have an advanced knowledge of instructional practices, including developing syllabi, basic in-classroom activities, etc. You will be asked several questions about these practices. The employer is looking to see that you have the ability to lead a classroom of at minimum thirty students of varying backgrounds.
If you are new to teaching, you will need to answer these questions to the best of your ability. If you have some teaching experience (or advanced education in instructional systems), you should consider bringing a teaching portfolio with you to the interview so that rather than answer questions with your words, you can respond to questions by showing specific examples of what you have prepared in previous teaching roles. You should answer questions about creating a syllabus by showing a syllabus you created in the past. You should answer questions about testing with a sample test that you created for a classroom.
It is easier to show than to tell, so create a teaching portfolio and bring it with you to the interview to ensure that you are able to provide ample examples of your abilities as an instructor.