17 Helpful Teacher Interview Tips for Success in 2023
Updated March 6, 2023
As you apply for positions at different schools and institutions, your interview may be the most important phase of the hiring process. The interview is an excellent way for you to establish a good rapport with your interviewer and show them who you are as a teacher, and it provides you with a great opportunity to share your story as an educator and to demonstrate your passion for helping students become the best version of themselves. Preparing for your interview may help you give the best responses to demonstrate your skills.
In this article, we share some teacher interview tips to help you prepare for upcoming interviews.
17 teacher interview tips
Your teacher interview allows the principal or superintendent to understand more about your unique experiences and how they qualify you for the job. Since teachers are consistently interacting with students and other teachers throughout most of the day, your responses allow the hiring manager to gauge how personable you are and whether you have the ability to lead a group. It's important to remain professional and engaged in the conversation and to answer questions with details and examples.
Here are some tips to follow when preparing for an interview:
1. Convey your passion for teaching and students
The teachers and administrators at the school value the well-being and education of their students, so they search for teachers who feel this way as well. This is why it's important to express your passion for teaching by explaining why you decided to pursue this profession and what makes you so excited to be a teacher. Your passion may increase the likelihood of employers hiring you for the position as this means you will enjoy being a part of the school and may remain an employee for many years to come.
2. Research the school
Every institution is different, so you should research the specific institution you're interviewing for to elaborate on its uniqueness and why you want to teach there. Learning about the school's teaching philosophy and approach to education may help you decide if it's the right place for you to teach. For example, some schools maintain a more traditional approach to teaching, but others continue to adopt new, more student-centered approaches. It may also be beneficial to learn about the school's expectations and practices for parents' and guardians' participation in students' learning.
Start by researching the school online, and use the website to learn about its values, extracurricular activities and current teachers. If possible, contact teachers or other faculty members who work there to ask specific questions. Gathering information can help you adjust your answers to best align with the school's mission and demonstrate how your qualifications, skills and ideas qualify you to work at the school.
3. Discuss professional development
Education specialists often search for ways to boost their education, such as by attending conferences and workshops and gaining insight from experienced individuals. During the interview, you can talk about different educational practices you'd like to learn more about or any recent conferences you've attended. This can help the administration understand your enthusiasm for developing new skills by attending any workshops or sessions to which they may send you.
It's essential for teachers to continue to learn about developments in education and explore ways to implement these ideas in their classrooms. Express your desire to participate in professional development opportunities, and emphasize your willingness to continue learning. This can help them recognize your commitment to your career and may help you begin a conversation about your career goals as a teacher.
4. Focus on your students more than yourself
Interviewers may ask you to describe experiences with students, teachers or administrators at your current or previous institution to learn more about your classroom management style or teaching philosophy. While the interviewer does care about getting to know who you are, it's typically more important for them to understand how your experience and skills could benefit their students. Use examples to demonstrate how you use your professional development opportunities to benefit your students, such as a new method you've recently tried in your classroom, how students responded to it and what you might do differently in the future.
When discussing your experiences and students, it's important to remain positive in your answers. Speaking positively about challenges you experienced at your school or with students helps demonstrate professionalism. Focus on how students benefited from your actions and what the solution was more than what the problem was that you experienced.
5. Be engaging in the conversation
Since you're around students regularly, the administration wants to hire teachers who provide a positive atmosphere for their students and engage them in learning. Show positivity during the interview by smiling throughout the conversation and keeping a positive approach to each question, even those discussing challenges. It's also important that you can keep the interviewers engaged in the conversation because this suggests to them that you can do the same with a class of students. Be confident in your answers, and ask good follow-up questions to re-engage the interviewers.
Read more: How To Appear Confident in an Interview
6. Plan to tell stories about challenges and successes with students
Your interviewers may try to gauge an understanding of how you interact with students, so they may ask you many questions regarding your experience with students. Before interviewing, think about your interactions with students, and pick at least three or four of these instances to share. They may ask you to tell them about times when you had to work with a challenging student or about a time when you positively impacted a student's life. Try to include as much detail as possible when answering, and describe each step of the process when working with your students to resolve issues.
7. Be ready to discuss your teaching philosophy
Interviewers may ask you to explain your teaching philosophy. Before your interview, prepare an idea of your philosophy that you can discuss, and describe your approach to educating your students with supporting examples. For example, you may prefer a more student-centered approach to learning, or you might talk about project-based or inquiry-based strategies you like. It's also important to share examples that align with the school's approach to teaching to show how your skills match the school's preferences.
8. Create good rapport with your interviewer
Show your interviewers that you're engaged and interested in what they have to say by using the conversation to build good rapport with them. An interview is a great opportunity to develop your relationships with the principal or other decision-makers, so it's important to show they can relate to you and trust you. Listen carefully to what they say, ask good follow-up questions and keep a friendly attitude. Making friendly small talk or sharing some appropriate humor can be effective for helping the interviewers connect with you.
9. Prepare a portfolio of your past teaching achievements and experience
To best explain your previous teaching experience to interviewers, you can build a portfolio to bring into your interview. You can make this portfolio as creative as you please, as long as it remains easy to read and professional. Expressing your creativity through your portfolio can be a great way to both display your achievements and stand out from other applicants.
Your portfolio can include the following elements:
Sample lesson plans
A copy of your resume
Degrees you've received
Certifications you've earned
Awards you've won
Sample syllabus, if you're applying for a higher education role
10. Tell the interviewers about yourself
Often at the beginning of the interview, the interviewers may ask you to tell them about yourself. You can answer this in different ways, such as by giving an overview of your professional background or explaining why you started teaching. This includes sharing stories about any past teachers who inspired you or other stories regarding your teaching experience. Your response can be a great way for interviewers to get to know you and understand what it may be like to work alongside you every day.
11. Learn about the school district
Many schools and institutions are required to follow standards for their curriculum provided by the state or district. Learn about the district's goals, practices and challenges to find out more about the community, what you may be teaching and how you can best serve these students. Use this information to share relevant examples or modify your answers to highlight how your experience aligns with what the district teaches and wants in its educators.
12. Remain professional when discussing parents
Interviewers may ask you to share your experience working with students' parents. Share stories about times when you discussed sensitive topics with parents or guardians, such as low test scores or bullying. Try to remain professional when sharing these stories and talk about how you worked to solve any problems with parents. Principals want to know that you can remain professional when handling challenging parents, so displaying professionalism when answering this question may impress them.
13. Talk about extracurricular activities
Many teachers participate in schools beyond their daily responsibilities in the classroom. Discuss your previous experience assisting with extracurricular activities, such as clubs or school activities. It may also be helpful to talk about goals you have with regard to extracurricular activities, such as starting a study club or staging a school play. This may help the interviewer understand how you could benefit the entire school community.
14. Give plenty of examples when answering questions
Try to use as many examples as possible when answering questions to help interviewers better understand your teaching style and methods. For example, you can mention how a recent project-based lesson you facilitated inspired students to become active and contributing members of their community. Giving detailed examples helps interviewers gain a better idea of what you may be like as a teacher in their school.
15. Show that you're tech-savvy
Institutions are adopting new technology in their classrooms, such as tablets, applications and online learning platforms. Discuss what methods you like to incorporate and how often you use technology in your classroom, and highlight how this benefits students. Try to provide specific examples of how introducing new technology to your classroom provided a better experience for students. It may be useful to share an example of a lesson you taught both with and without technology to emphasize how it improved learning and student engagement.
16. Have your own set of questions prepared
Once the interviewers have finished asking you questions, ask them your own questions you've prepared for them. If you're unsure of what to ask, research common questions to ask your interviewers or you can ask more about their institution and company culture. Having questions ready shows your preparedness and commitment to learning more about the role.
17. Review common teacher interview questions
Researching some of the most common questions asked in a teaching interview may help you anticipate what an interviewer may ask you, especially if you're interviewing for your first teaching position. Look for questions relevant to the specific type of teaching job you're interviewing for, such as interview questions for a preschool teacher or a high school teacher. Reviewing the questions may help you understand why an interview committee asks certain questions and prepare responses for them.
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