What’s the best way to prepare for a teacher job interview? You can build self-confidence and reduce the stress of the interview by planning how to respond to questions ahead of time.
Start by asking yourself, “What can I do to ensure my candidacy gets careful consideration for a teaching job? How will I make myself stand out?” Then marshal examples and anecdotes that will help you to create a memorable impression.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
School principals and any other members of a hiring committee craft the questions they ask in order to determine whether you will be a good fit for their school as well as a champion for the policies established by their school district.
Learn as much as you can about the schools you are applying to so that you’ll be better able to anticipate the sort of questions you’ll be asked about your teaching philosophy and classroom management style.
Watch Now: How to Answer 4 Common Teacher Interview Questions
12 Common Teacher Interview Questions and Best Answers
Review this list of questions you might be asked during a teacher job interview, with examples of the best way to respond to each.
Questions About You as a Teacher
Share your enthusiasm for teaching, working with students, and examples of how you would teach your class. Be prepared to answer questions about why you are interested in the job, how you teach different types of learners within the same class, and how you handle challenges in the classroom. You should also be ready to discuss your teaching and classroom management philosophies.
4. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
What They Want to Know: Teaching is one of the most challenging of professions, with a high degree of burn-out. You’ll be asked this question so the hiring committee can gauge your enthusiasm for and commitment to teaching.
From the time I was young, I have loved learning and appreciated the great teachers who opened new worlds for me. It’s the only career I ever considered, because I truly want to follow their example and, now in my turn, instill a joy of learning in my own students.
2. What type of classroom management structure would you implement if you were hired?
What They Want to Know: Your interviewer is interested in how you would handle a classroom, particularly if class sizes are large in their school.
I take a proactive approach to classroom management, modeling positive behaviors for my students and encouraging supportive peer-to-peer communications. I also identify what triggers stress in individual students, and am prepared to support them when challenges arise.
3. How have you used, or how will you use, technology in the classroom?
What They Want to Know: Interactive classroom technologies have transformed learning over the past decade. Be ready to describe your familiarity with common tools like Smart Boards.
In my last classroom, the students used tablets to create and manage their own website, which proved to be a great tool for communicating with parents and allowing them to see the daily activities their kids participated in.
Questions About You as a Learner
The interviewer or hiring committee will want to know how you personally approach learning, your teaching qualifications and credentials, any continuing education you have received, and how you stay current with technological advances and new approaches to learning.
4. What approach or strategy do you use to learn new information?
What They Want to Know: This question addresses whether you consciously think about individual learning styles – both your own and those of your students.
I find I learn new material best by writing down notes as I read or as I am listening to someone giving a lecture. The process of writing down the important details works in two ways: first, it helps me absorb and think carefully about the new information and second, my notes serve as a study guide that I can reference going forward.
5. What continuing education classes, workshops, training, etc. have you attended?
What They Want to Know: All teachers must pursue continuing education in order to maintain their certification. Use your response to showcase the particular areas of educational theory and practice that you have mastered and that will add value to your school.
The district where I worked previously offered continuing education opportunities in the evenings throughout the year. I attended these sessions regularly. I especially enjoyed the literacy training sessions that focused on early childhood literature and teaching strategies. I have also been lucky enough to attend the yearly Autism Awareness conference held in New York City for the last two years. I try to take advantage of any continuing education opportunities offered to me.
Questions About You as Part of a Teaching Team and Classroom Community
Schools want to foster a sense of community within the school, especially in the classrooms. You will likely be asked questions about your ability to work as part of a team of teachers and administrators, as well as your abilities and experiences bridging the gap between the students in the classroom and their families at home.
6. What interests you about our district?
What They Want to Know: You’d be amazed at how many entry-level teaching candidates fail to research school districts before their interviews. Hiring committees ask this question to see if you’ve been interested enough to do your homework and learn about the needs of their school district.
As the parent of a 4th grader in the district, I have experienced firsthand how warm and welcoming the teachers and administrators are. The feeling of community the school district works hard to foster and maintain is something I have never experienced in any of the schools I attended or taught in. Everyone knows my daughter’s name, my name, and you can tell that everyone in the school is genuinely happy to be there working with the students and their families.
7. Would you be interested in leading any after-school activities?
What They Want to Know: Good schools are always looking for ways to enrich their students’ lives. Being willing to lead after-school activities like sports teams, clubs, or academic teams will be a strong point in your favor.
During the summer, I am the director of a theater camp offered by the art center in town. I would love to take part in any drama clubs or performances the children participate in throughout the year. Or, if there isn’t a drama club, I’d certainly love to start one, if that’s something that the school would be interested in. While theater happens to be my personal passion, if there are any other activities that are especially in need of support and that I might be a good fit for, I’d be willing to help out however I can.
Questions About Students and Parents
As a way to assess your teaching style and communication skills, you may be asked about how you would handle students and parents.
8. How would you deal with a student who is habitually late?
What They Want to Know: Your interviewer is interested in knowing how you would relate one-on-one with students displaying non-productive behaviors.
If a child is coming into school late on a regular basis, I would first talk with the child to see if there is anything going on in school or at home that is causing him or her to be late. After talking with the child, and depending on what they share, I would discuss with my supervisor the best possible approach to talk to the family about the repeated tardiness.
9. How would you engage a reluctant student?
What They Want to Know: This question is meant to prompt discussion about how you motivate students with different learning styles.
If a student seems reluctant to participate during a specific subject, I would use my experience working with different types of learners and adjust my teaching strategies to engage the student in a way that they would feel more comfortable to participate. This may be by having the student(s) work with a partner, or creating my lessons around a topic that the student may be more likely to be interested in.
10. What would you say to an angry parent about their child’s grade?
What They Want to Know: One of the hardest challenges in teaching is having to communicate with disapproving parents. Principals need to know that their teachers can work calmly to defuse criticism.
If I have a parent who is upset about a grade their child received, I would offer to meet with the parent and provide supporting evidence of the lessons the child received in preparation for the assessment. I would then ask the parent(s) to help me brainstorm ways that their child might prepare for and perform better on assessments. For example, I once had a child who consistently struggled with his weekly spelling work.
Before his parents contacted me, I reached out to them after he handed in his second weekly test incomplete. I asked the parent if we could think of some strategies the child could use both in the classroom and at home to improve the student’s spelling skills. Every situation is different, of course, but if I am able to offer a retake of the assessment, I would be more than happy to do so.
11. What would you do if you suspected neglect or abuse in the home of one of your students?
What They Want to Know: Teachers walk a delicate line as advocates for their students’ welfare. Think about how you would respond should you suspect a child has been subject to abuse.
I take my position as a mandated reporter very seriously. I am aware of the district’s daily health check system that early childhood teachers are required to implement daily. In my previous position, we also did daily checks when the children would arrive each morning. There was one child in my previous classroom who had odd bruising on both arms and I was not sure if the bruises were from rough play with siblings or friends, or from an adult being physically abusive.
Before I said anything to anyone, I reported what I saw to the principal who guided me through the process to determine the cause of the bruising. Ultimately it was discovered that the bruises were from the child’s older sibling. The way my school handled the situation enabled us to ensure the child was in a safe situation without falsely accusing or upsetting the parents.
12. If you noticed a child being bullied in your class, how would you deal with the situation?
What They Want to Know: Bullying is a huge problem in schools. What steps would you take to recognize, prevent, or respond to it in your classroom?
One of the most important large group activities I do with my class at the beginning of the year is writing our class rules together. I make it a big deal; together we come up with and agree to the rules, and we all sign the poster in a commitment to do our best to follow the rules while also helping others to follow the rules throughout the day. One of the most important rules on our poster is to not bully other children.
I use this group activity as an opportunity to talk about what it means to bully, and what to do if a student is bullied or they see someone being bullied. Part of the lesson is making anti-bullying posters that we hang in our classroom and in the halls. If I witnessed bullying, I would talk to all the children involved separately, and I would also revisit our anti-bullying lesson and posters with the whole class.
Tips to Answer Teacher Interview Questions
During your teaching interview, you'll need to do more than just give generic responses to the questions you're asked. The best candidate will be able to explain how they are qualified for the job and why they would be a good fit for the school.
It makes it much easier for a hiring manager to make a decision when the applicant spells out why they would be a great hire.
Make It Personal: Take the time to personalize your responses to interview questions. Include highlights from your background, skills, and professional experience that are relevant to the job that you’re applying for. Focus on skills most relevant to the field.
Here is a list of the teaching skills interviewers are most interested in. Of course, communication, organization, and critical thinking are high on the list of desired qualities. If you're returning to the classroom after a career break, be prepared to address the gap in your experience.
Provide Examples: The interviewer will likely ask you behavioral interview questions, which require you to provide an example of how you did something. For instance, an interviewer might say, “Tell me about a time you handled a behavioral issue with a student.” These kinds of questions require you to think of examples from past teaching experiences. To answer these questions, explain the situation and what you did to either solve a problem or achieve success.
Then, describe the result.
Even if the question is not a behavioral interview question, it is often helpful to provide a specific example. For instance, situational interview questions ask you to consider a possible future situation at work. An interviewer might ask, “How would you handle a parent who thinks you graded his child unfairly?” Although these are about future situations, you can still answer with an example from a past experience. It helps to create a list of anecdotes you can draw on, focusing on situations where your action had a clear, positive outcome.
Research the School: Research the school district and the school where you will be working if you get hired. You’ll be able to find plenty of this information on the school district’s website. Also, if you have a connection to any teachers who work in the school, the district, or any parents whose children attend the school, ask them for their insight into the job. The more familiar you are with the academics, extra-curricular activities, sports, student profiles, and the curriculum, the better equipped you’ll be to ask meaningful questions and provide nuanced answers to interview questions.
Be Prepared for a Panel Interview: When you interview for a teaching job, you may be expected to interview with a variety of different constituents.
You may be required to interview with a panel, which could include the school principal, administrative staff, other teachers, and parents. In some cases, you may need to an interview with a search committee that is charged with screening applicants before moving on to a formal interview for the job.
Prepare to Teach a Mini-Lesson: Before or after the interview you might also be asked to teach a mini-lesson to a group of students, or teachers pretending to be students, during your interview.
Be sure that you know exactly what you need to prepare for each interview, which should be clearly stated in an email or over the phone, most likely when you are arranging your interview date and time.
How to Make the Best Impression
Often at the end of an interview, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. This is when you become the interviewer and have the chance to ask some well-thought-out questions.
Review the list of good questions to ask during an interview for teaching jobs. It is important that you come prepared with questions in order to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and your interest in learning more about the role, the school or the district.