Even when you know you are qualified for a job, interviewing for that job can be scary. What will they ask? What answers are they looking for? Preparing for your teaching interviews by studying common teacher interview questions will help you do your best.
There still might be an unexpected question or two but having a solid handle on the most common interview questions teachers are asked will give you a good foundation.
Tell us about your previous experiences in working with pupils with specific or additional needs.
The panel is interested in finding out how well you can integrate pupils with non-standard educational needs into your classroom, so you need to talk about times in which you have worked with children with SEN, limited English language skills, or children from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds. The more examples you can present of your success stories, the more capable you appear to be. The key here is stressing the importance of catering for individual needs within the classroom environment and ensuring adequate support.
What is your philosophy of teaching?
This is your chance to talk about your opinions about education and its importance today, both to individual pupils and society as a whole. What are your beliefs about the way in which your subject should be presented and how do you go about effecting this in your practice? How do you believe children should be treated, how should they behave while in school, and how do you ensure that this happens in your classroom? What are your goals in teaching, and what are your aspirations for your pupils?
Did you have a teacher when you were at school who particularly influenced you and why?
Again, this is a personal question, but you should quote a specific person and clear reasons why they were influential. How did they affect your life, why were they a good teacher, and how has that influenced your own practice?
How can you make learning fun for your pupils?
The interview panel wants to know that you see learning as an interactive and joyful experience, rather than an old-fashioned “sitting at desks and copying out of books” affair. Give concise examples of fun lessons and strategies that you have developed to engage your pupils and help them to learn while enjoying themselves.
What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced in the classroom?
Use this opportunity to show yourself in a positive light. The ways in which you handle complex situations and difficult problems says a lot about you as a teacher and as a person. Of course you should select a problem that reached a satisfactory conclusion and explain how you brought it about, but be prepared to explain why the situation itself was so challenging. Don’t be overly dramatic, but do make sure that you come across as confident and competent in the way you handled the problem.
What makes a school a successful one?
No doubt the school interviewing you consider themselves to be a successful establishment, so your research will stand you in good stead here. There are, of course, other standard responses regarding safety of pupils and staff, supportive and encouraging environments, and an atmosphere of positivity, equality and inclusion.
Can you describe a valuable lesson that you learned from a colleague?
The objective behind this question is to find out how well you can work cooperatively, how adaptable you can be, and whether you can take the opinions and practices of others into account when planning and delivering your own lessons. Be concise and think of a specific event that you witnessed, or lesson you observed that influenced your own practice, and why it was so valuable.
What is the best way to deal with a difficult parent?
If you have had any previous experience of handling a challenging parent, this is the time to mention it to the panel and explain what you did and how you achieved a successful outcome. If you have no such experience, you should talk about the importance of good communication skills, a non-aggressive attitude, and a listening and understanding approach. Point out the need to show willingness to work in cooperation with families but also that you would not be afraid to approach a senior member of staff if necessary. Schools want to know that you can be pro-active in handling issues but that you won’t take unnecessary risks.
How can you raise your pupils’ self-esteem?
This is another opportunity to quote real-life examples from your experience, although your response may depend on which key-stage you are applying to teach. The interviewing panel wants to know that you understand the role self-esteem plays in a pupils’ success, their aspirations for the future, and in managing their behaviour. You could talk about the value of positive praise, reward schemes for behaviour and work, and displaying pupils’ work to encourage them to take pride in their achievements.
Do you have any questions that you would like to ask us?
This is always the last question of your interview, and to say that there is nothing you want to know, leaves a poor impression. Think of a couple of small questions that you would like to ask the interview panel, without appearing awkward or confrontational. Avoid issues about progression or salary but also avoid anything too obvious.
One possibility is to ask about opportunities to run activities for the pupils, or current behaviour management strategies that are in use in the school. Remember that asking questions is a big part of showing interest in the school that you have applied for and it demonstrates that you are keen to become a part of their community.