Let’s discuss difficult teacher interview questions and answers. Even though many teachers have fabulous teaching abilities, it will take a prepared interviewer to ace an interview in a competitive job market. Fully prepare yourself for any question you could be asked during the interview.
Interviewers are well trained to know which questions to ask, especially if they feel you are the right teacher for the job. From looking at your resume and application, the panel will decide which questions to ask you. Mind you, the aim is not to break the teacher’s spirit. It is to see how well you, as the interviewee, can perform in difficult circumstances. The interview panel will determine if you are an excellent fit for their school community.
Listed below are difficult teacher interview questions a teacher might be asked in a job interview. I’ve included possible responses to each of these questions.
6 Tough Interview Questions and Possible Answers
Why do you want to work for our school district?
With this question, the interviewers assess if you know why you want a position in this particular institution/school district.
Do you have reasons to support your claim for wishing to work for that school?
Can you communicate why the right school for you? Or did you apply for the job opening because you needed a job and saw an opportunity?
Preparation and research are imperative to answer this question successfully. To formulate a good answer, research the school, student demographics, teaching staff, vision and Mission Statement, educational goals and objectives, unique characteristics, and achievement levels. Address them as you answer this question, referring to your unique abilities and experience to convince the panel of the value you would bring to the school.
Provide reasons why you’re interested in the school or district and explain what sparked your interest.
• What is your personal experience with the school or district?
• What do you know about its student body, faculty members, industry reputation, community involvement, educational goals and objectives, upcoming initiatives, demographics, or extracurricular activities?
This information will help you to respond to the question accurately. The word accurate is important – don’t answer the question using old information.
The interviewer is looking for evidence you want to work there and not someone that sends out applications and hoped for the best. This research will help immensely when answering other questions throughout the interview. Plan to dedicate time and energy to do this homework. Effective research will help tailor your answers to the question above and other tough questions. Preparation and honesty are the keys to a successful answer.
How do you handle classroom discipline?
For obvious reasons, everyone will have a different answer; it will depend on your teaching style, the grade you are interviewing, and past experiences. The interviewer will be looking to see if you have a plan, know how to implement it, and think that discipline is an important part of the position.
What I have found from coaching clients is they fail to provide a clear action plan. This plan needs to include backed-up real-life stories and examples to prove they have had success in the classroom.
Find out what the school or district’s discipline philosophy is; this will give you some additional information. A few things to bring up when answering this question include the following:
Bringing up the importance of developing ground rules during the first week of the class allows them to understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Five or six basic rules are plenty.
Make the rules broad, for example, “Treat others kindly by your words and behavior.” That rule covers a lot of ground: no calling names, hitting, pushing, gossiping, teasing, etc. The rules should be discussed and agreed upon with the students; this helps them show accountability and act responsibly.
In your discussion, you may want to touch on your philosophy of classroom discipline. This, of course, will depend on your style; you will have to be honest with yourself. You may believe you can reduce negative behavior by offering the students an intellectually stimulating, organized, and respectful environment. While this is generally true, I don’t think it will prevent discipline problems; it won’t. Rules, consequences, and rewards are consistently needed in any classroom.
Provide an example of your plan to interviewers; mention some real situations to show your expertise in this vital area. Whether you use a red light/green light, time-outs, or removing a student from the classroom, you must state specifically how your plan works, why it is effective, and use examples. Don’t forget to include rewards and use praise in your discipline plans, such as a few minutes of extra recess, extra game time, an occasional video, small prizes, and notes home to parents.
Indicate you know there are always two sides to every story. If an action involves disciplining two students, you must clarify you will listen to both sides. Indicate you will try to get the students to resolve their own disagreements, which may involve compromise. And end the discussion by asking them, “How will you handle this situation next time?”
Be honest when answering this question or any other question during the interview. Organize your thoughts and stories ahead of time to make your response concise, truthful, and convince the interviewers you are realistic and well-prepared to handle classroom discipline.
What personal qualities make you a team player?
This question will help determine if you have the skill set to make you a strong collaborator and the qualities that make an effective leader willing to take on additional roles within the school community. You must demonstrate that you possess strong communication, interpersonal, problem solving, leadership skills, persistence, courage, personal responsibility, and the ability to develop innovative ideas.
Furthermore, take this opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the school by outlining a desire to serve on a committee, coach a sport, or sponsor other extracurricular activities or fundraisers. This is the time to demonstrate your passion for helping the school succeed as an educational institution and place to better students and staff alike.
Instead of simply listing your qualities and goals, you may want to provide examples of leadership roles you have held or when you took charge of a group in a time of crisis. If you have letters of reference or recommendations that showcase your skills as a team player, bring them to the interview.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Although no one knows for sure, the kinds of answers you give show what kind of person you are. Are you a go-getter? Are you comfortable where you are? There is no right or wrong answer to this one. Generally, a response such as “I hope to obtain an advanced degree” or “I hope to publish a paper on the subject I have currently been teaching” shows your interest in your subject area and that you expect to grow and mature further in the subject matter.
Answers such as “I would like to be a principal or superintendent” show initiative in a different area. If your goal is to continue teaching 6th-grade science, for example, that is equally acceptable. Adding you are open to various avenues that might come in your direction is a truthful statement.
Let them know if you would like to become involved in the Chess Club or sponsor the Senior Class activities. Show you are a lifelong learner and hope to continue to take professional development courses and do a lot of self-study to develop your skills further is always recommended.
If you have future goals of being the next American Idol, you may want to save that for after being hired or keeping that to yourself. If your future goals might benefit the school, then go ahead and tell them- and be excited about it. Your “future” may come sooner than you think!
Stating you are “open to whatever the future might bring” is a blanket statement. Having a general idea gives you something to look forward to. Take time to list at least three things you would like to be doing five years from now- just in case you get asked this question.
Here is an example of a response:
Five years from now, I see myself as an expert classroom teacher experienced in handling and managing all types of classroom situations and student behavior. Enjoying and loving teaching others will continue to be my career aspiration. Imparting knowledge to my students will always be rewarding. Continuously learning and improving my teaching will be at the front of my mind. Five years from now, I’ll be one of your dedicated teachers, mentoring other teachers, especially the beginners, and spearheading committees to improve teaching and learning at the school.
How would you measure a teacher’s effectiveness?
Here is a potential answer:
A growing body of research proves that teachers make a huge difference in student achievement and that some are much more effective than others. A teacher’s effectiveness can be measured by:
• Academic gains because effective teachers produce greater results, regardless of student demographics, contrary to common belief.
• Strength to motivate and engage students.
• Planning, assessment, motivation, observation and analysis, persistence, giving constructive feedback, managing groups, and creating interesting lessons based on state standards.
• Acquire subject-specific knowledge and skills.
• Collaborate and work well with colleagues.
• Prepare students for college and work.
• Effectively use school resources to achieve goals.
• Discipline students appropriately and effectively.
• Ongoing improvement through in-service and training.
Why are you interested in teaching in an urban environment?
Schools in large urban centers are places where teachers are faced with a plethora of challenges that range from poverty, violence, cultural diversity, and a multitude of languages. Successful teaching in these low-income, urban, multicultural schools is different from teaching in suburban settings, with more homogeneous student populations, more parental support, and more stable student populations.
Students in urban schools need dedicated teachers who respect children and youth, who actually believe they can and will learn if properly taught, and understand the types of homes and cultures from which the children come.
Minority students need teachers who inspire them, who have a rapport with them, who have high expectations of them, and who can provide students with supportive environments which bolster their confidence. These teachers need to communicate with the parents, modify the curriculum where needed, and have the skills and the time to talk with students about life and its problems.
If you are applying to teach in an urban environment, you need to teach in such an environment. This is your chance to show your passion for making a difference in the lives of students who most need it. Tie your career goals into your answer if this applies.
As far as demonstrating your interest in urban teaching in the past, if you have related teaching experiences in urban environments, this would be the place to describe those experiences and what you accomplished with those student bodies. As well, if you have demonstrated a commitment to urban issues through volunteer initiatives and community activities, then describe those as well, as these experiences will point to your commitment to and enthusiasm about these issues.
Other difficult teacher interview questions could be related to your thoughts on team teaching, so having co-teaching examples to respond to these questions would be beneficial.
Make sure you are prepared to discuss the importance of parental relationships and your approach to parent-teacher conferences as well.
After reading through these tough teacher interview questions and answers, is there anything you would add to any of them?
Are there any questions you’ve been asked in a teaching interview you’d like to share?
Do you have an upcoming interview you need help preparing for? I’d be happy to assist you in preparing through my one-on-one interview coaching sessions.