You know you’ll be a great teacher but are you a great interviewer? The best way to ensure you have a great teaching interview is to prepare. Take the time to study a few interview questions for teachers like the ones below. Think through how you might answer. Do some practice interviews with a friend.
These 15 questions are some of the most common questions prospective teachers will be asked. Knowing how you would handle these questions will give the confidence necessary to nail your interview.
What are your professional development goals?
Professional development is key to every teacher’s career plan, but you need to show your ambition without appearing arrogant. Saying that you want a fast track to headship may not necessarily be the best way forward. On the other hand though, you need to demonstrate that your career goals are more ambitious than vegetating in the classroom for the rest of your teaching life.
Even if you have no interest in joining a leadership team, you should still appear keen to progress and branch out into other areas. Talk about areas within the school that interest you and that you would like to explore, and think about ways that you can incorporate your existing skills and interests into your professional development plan.
What do you think are the most important issues affecting education today?
There are no right and wrong answers to this question – the purpose behind it is to find out how much you know about your profession as a whole, and whether you have enough interest and commitment to your vocation to be aware of wider issues through research. You should be prepared to talk about some of the current political issues affecting education and offer some suggestions about how these challenges can be addressed in schools.
How would you lay out your ideal classroom?
If you have had the opportunity to look around the school before your interview, this will help you to give an informed answer based on the style of classroom you have seen. You should also address the issues around the effect of layout on behaviour and achievement, and talk about dedicated areas for particular topics, and the importance of display.
How do you think your current or former colleagues would describe you?
This is another opportunity to emphasise the positive side of your character. Good suggestions for keywords here are positive, outgoing, dynamic, creative, engaging, inspiring.
What recent CPD have you undertaken?
This is usually an easy question as most teachers have attended a host of courses as part of their ongoing career development plan. Pick out the most important courses that you can discuss fully and explain why they have been useful to you.
What do you think is the importance of home learning?
The key here is to emphasise balance. The panel wants to know that you know the reason you are setting homework, and the sort of tasks that you might be asking the children to complete. Encouraging parent participation in their child’s education, reinforcing classroom learning and expanding their field of knowledge are all important to emphasise.
How have you contributed to the development of your current school as a whole?
Mention any whole-school projects that you have worked with, or any policies that you have drawn up or introduced. If you have run any clubs or activities, you can mention these now, as well as any mentoring or tutoring that you have helped with.
How do you communicate with parents regarding pupils’ achievements?
This question is designed to make you express the importance of parents as partners. You need to stress how vital it is to keep in touch with parents about their child’s progress or any problems they are experiencing in class. At this point, you need to talk about home/school books, open door policies, and occasions when you have had to call in parents.
How do you use a cross-curricular approach to the curriculum?
Schools today want their teachers to address several subjects at the same time, for example, a historical topic can be explored through English by using diary writing skills or news reports. The panel wants examples of times you have used cross-curricular links in your teaching practice and ways in which you can promote this in your classroom.
What would you say is your greatest weakness as a teacher?
This is a tricky question to answer, as you don’t want to give a poor impression of yourself, but at the same time you cannot come across as arrogant. The best way forward is to choose a “weakness” that is actually a positive in disguise. For example, you have a tendency to be too enthusiastic about your subject, or that you spend too much time planning and preparing your timetable for the week ahead and have a poor work/life balance.
What are your hobbies and interests?
The interviewer wants to know that education isn’t your whole world. Although school life is important, to be a fully rounded teacher you need to experience and enjoy other facets of life. You can talk about any sports that you play, with the associated benefit of teamwork thrown in, any musical activities you pursue highlighting the commitment such a hobby requires, or any drama clubs that you attend that reveals an outgoing and confident facet of your personality.
You could also discuss any books that you are currently reading, and why you are enjoying them, or creative hobbies such as crafting, baking or crocheting – anything that shows that you have a broad spectrum of interests. The panel does not want to hear, however, that you spend all your time planning and preparing lessons, or, even worse, that you spend every night watching soaps on TV and playing video games.
Which subject do you dislike teaching most, and how do you overcome that dislike in your practice?
As a teacher, it is important to admit that you don’t have an equal passion for every subject. What is important to the interview panel is that your lack of interest in a subject does not come across to the children, who need to be convinced of your passion for all areas of the curriculum.
How do you show enthusiasm for a less appealing subject? In which ways do you encourage children to enjoy and engage with the less attractive aspects of the curriculum? Think of examples from your current practice and use them in a concise manner.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching as a career?
Your answer here must be personal to your own experience, but you can tailor it to be an opportunity to emphasise your skills as a teacher. For example, by saying that you enjoy seeing disadvantaged pupils make exceptional progress, or pupils with special needs integrated into a regular classroom, shows your abilities as a professional. Try not to be too generic, the panel wants to know that you have thought about the impact of teaching as a career on pupils’ lives, and a well-thought-out response reveals your commitment to the profession.
Explain your time management strategies.
Effective time management is the key to a successful classroom. The panel wants to know that you will always meet your deadlines, carry out all your planning and ensure that all marking of work stays up to date. Use this chance to explain to the interviewer that you understand the importance of effective time management strategies, and how you always ensure that you stay on top of your workload.
Which qualities are essential in an excellent teacher?
The school needs to know that you understand the values and skills that an excellent practitioner displays, and there is a lot more to that than excellent planning and delivery of lessons. Although you can stress the point on both these fronts, you shouldn’t forget to mention the importance of good working relationships, pupil understanding, communication skills, parent-handling, time management, flexibility, and dedication.