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Interviewing for a Teaching Position

Compiled By: mshunny

Interviewing for a teaching position can be a daunting task. Preparation can help you ease into a successful interview. Good luck!

Learn About The School Before the Interview
Posted by: mshunny

Learn as much as you can about the school or district you are applying to. The more you know about the school, the more comfortable you will feel in an interview.

Here are some things you should know about a school or district.

1. The interview format
2. The names and positions of those who will interview you
3. The size of the school/district
4. The programs in the school/district
5. What the community is like
6. Evaluation of teachers.
7. Professional Development opportunities offered by the school/district

Possible Interview Questions
Posted by: mshunny

It is always a good idea to look over possible interview questions. You will never know exactly what you'll be asked, but it is a good idea to practice some interview questions.

1. What is the role of the teacher in the classroom?
2. How has your education and life experiences prepared you for this position?
3. What is the most exciting thing happening in the area of education?
4. Describe the physical appearance of your classroom.
5. What rules have you established for your classroom?
6. Describe the format you use to develop a lesson.
7. What should schools do for students?
8. How do you handle the different ability levels of students in classes?
9. How would your students describe you?
10. What is the toughest aspect of teaching today?
11. What is the role of homework?
12. What is your system for evaluating student work?
13. How would you handle a student who is a consistent behavior problem in your class?
14. How would you handle a student sleeping in your class?
15. What would you do if a student has been absent from your class for several days?
16. What do you like most about teaching?
17. What aspects of teaching do you like best?
18. How do you involve parents in the learning process?
19. Why do you want to be a teacher?
20. In your opinion, can a school be too student-oriented?
21. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
22. How would you respond if a parent said that your marked to hard?
23. Define current curriculum trends in your area.
24. In what professional associations do you hold a membership?
25. Could a student of low academic ability receive a high grade in your class?
26. What five words would you use to describe yourself?
27. What provisions have you made for the gifted?
28. In what areas do you feel you need improvement?
29. Do you like laughter in your classroom?
30. What is the role ofthe student in your classroom?
31. Describe an assignment that you recently gave to students.
32. Have you supervised students teachers, interns, or practicum students?
33. What field trips have you arranged for your class this past year?
34. Describe a lesson plan that you have developed? What were the objectives?
35. How do you cope with stress?

More Possible Interview Questions
Posted by: mshunny

I have included another batch of possible interview questions.

1. What questions have I not asked that you wish I would have raised?
2. If you were selected for this position, whatcand we do to help you become successful?
3. In what kind of environment are you most comfortable?
4. How do you individulize learning in your classroom?
5.How would you motivate the hard to reach children?
6. do you consider your education as a valuable experience?Why?
7. Are your grades indicative of your ability?
8. What changes, if any, would you make to your education?
9. what type of person do you not get along with?
10. In less than two minutes, describe yourself.
11. What values are the most important to you?
12. How would you define teaching as a job? As a profession?
13. How do you receive feedback? Criticism?
14. What do you base student evaluation on?
15. What limitationsdo youhave the would impact your performance in this position?
16. Why should I hire you?
17. What failures have you experienced and what did you learn from them?
18. What extracurricular activities have you participated in andwhat did you gain from them?
19.Tell me about a recent problem you have experienced and how you went about solving it.

Questions to Ask at an Interview
Posted by: mshunny

When going to an interview it is important to ask questions. You are not just being interviewed, you are also interviewing the school. The more information you learn about the school/district the better choice you can make about taking a position in that school. Asking questions shows that you are interested in their school.

Here are some questions, you might want to ask at you next interview.

1.Which grades are responsible for what topics?
2. Whohas the responsiblity for a particular topic?
3. May I have a copy of your scope and squence?
4. How does the administration work with teachers to improve instruction?
5. What types of media resources are available?
6. What textbooks do youuse in this subject area?
7. How would you describe the typical professional staff members in this district?
8. What professional skills do you expect of the person you hire?
9. How does the staff feel about new teachers?
10. How active are teacehrs in working with community organizations?
11. Tell me about the students who attend this school?
12. How involved are parents in school activities?
13. What do parents expect of their teachers?

Posted by: vateacher

I always check the school's website before an interview. I also thought very carefully about what I expected in my classroom. What I expected from a school and I made sure to have a few questions concerning the school just to make you seem prepared. As for the portfolio. I took a paper based one and never once had the opportunity to crack it open. So I wouldn't worry. If you have the portfolio's site you can always leave a card with your resume that has the portfolio address. Every interview I've gone to has asked me about my language arts block, my behavior model and my teaching experiences. I've also been asked situational questions like "what would you do if the school lost power for an extended period of time" or "describe how you would handle a difficult parent approaching you at the mall"
I've never been in an interview that had that many people. Mine were always principal/assistant principal and that's all so I can see how you might feel intimidated. Just realize that you're there for a reason. That you're wonderful. I think when you go in confident it really helps. Good luck! You'll do fine.

View Thread
Posted by: Tounces

Congrats! I've had the opprotunity to be on both sides of the interviewing table. Here are a few things I've picked up along the way.

First of all, it is a bit overwhelming when interviewing with a room full of people. It is very common in teaching. Enter the room with a smile and a firm handshake for everyone present. One thing to keep in mind is that the principal will probably guide the interview while the others observe and take notes. Try to ignore the note taking and concentrate on the questions instead. They too will probably ask a few questions. Remember to keep good eye contact on all the people in the room though. Believe it or not, a lot of times its HOW you talk during the interview that is just as important as what you say.
Research the school district before the interview. The questions usually fall in 6 or 7 categories. Instead of trying to guess at all the specific questions and remember and think out tons of answers, I usually prefer to come up with answers to fit these broad categories.
1. Describe yourself
This question could be-Tell us about yourself, what are your strenghts or weaknesses etc. List all your best qualities i.e. I'm creative, dynamic, enthusiastic etc. You're trying your best to sell yourself here. Don't give personal information like your age out. That has nothing to do with how you will do your best job for them.
2.Educational Philosophy-what is it, show them you are a good match, a lot of districts have a page about what they think is important at their schools. You might put this is when they ask "Why do you want to work here"? I believe that children... I think I would be a good match because I have seen .... here.
3.Discipline-expectations, rules, classwide behavior techniques etc.
4. Academnics-Reading program familiarity, Math, manipulatives experience, assessments, cooperative grouping (include words from your research on the school here)
5. Collaboration-How do you work with others in the school, special ed., speech, assistants, modify assignments to meet needs
6. Experience with diverse populations-how do you include experiences in your room
7.Parents-types of communication, how would you deal with a difficult parent etc.

Give specifics when you can to back up your answers. For example, if they ask about Math instruction you can include Math workshops you took or show pictures from your portfolio for an example. This is the best way to use your portfolio. Usually they don't have much time to look at them. Work it into your anwers whenever it seems appropriate. This will also help keep you calm. Show them and you are more likely to come across as enthusiastic. Smile during the interview but keep things professional.

Always prepare questions to ask them. If its something that they already addressed let them know that and ask another one. Keep child-centered/teamwork questions in mind i.e. how much planning time will I have with my team?
Leave with another handshake and thank them for their time.
Write a thank you letter and send it promptly. Restate and highlight the positives that came up in the interview. Leave phone number again and how you can be reached.

Best of luck!

View Thread
Posted by: Amanda K.

My first grade team and I just went through interviews. Here were the questions that were the most important to us. The candidate that we chose had obviously already given some thought to these things, and we liked that about her. She gave very good answers that really showed us that she knew a bit about what teaching this grade level will entail, even though she will be a first year teacher next year.

1. Knowledge about how children learn to read. What process do they go through, from letter/sound awareness through blending and sight words? What strategies can you use to help teach students how to read?

2. How do you differentiate instruction, particularly in the area of reading? What will your reading groups look like? How will you manage the other kids while you are doing guided reading groups?

3. What will a typical day look like in your room? You can sit down and plan out a day, including reading (shared reading and guided reading), math, and writing. The lady we hired was able to give us a general idea of when she wanted to teach which subjects, which showed us that she really cared enough about this job to sit down and figure all that out. She was really prepared for that, and we liked that.

4. How will you use technology in your classroom. What will you use computers for, and how much exposure will the kids get?

5. What sort of classroom management plan will you use? It's a good idea to have an idea for that, too, even though you may change it when you actually get in the classroom.

Other advice: The theory and techniques in Donald Bear's, et. al, book _Words Their Way_ can give you some outstanding ideas for how to answer questions about reading. It's available on Amazon, if you don't have it. In our district (and I suspect this is pretty standard), 60% of all reading instruction from grades K-6 is done in first grade. So, if you want to do well in an interview, you really need to focus on your method of reading instruction.

I also suggest getting a copy of your state or district's academic content standards for first grade. It helps to be knowledgeable of what will be expected of you so that you can refer to it in your interview. Preparation is the key.

If you have any other questions, post back here. I'm sure you'll get a lot of other great ideas from the first grade teachers on this board, though.

Best wishes for a successful interview!

interview jitters
Posted by: Carolyn

One thing I did when I went interviewing is to assemble a portfolio of my ideas--samples of work that I had students do, rubrics that I composed, a copy of my discipline plan which outlined consequences, etc. I felt I was very much prepared when I went to the interview with this stuff, because the moment they asked me a questions about something I believed in doing, or about my discipline policy, I just pulled it out of an organized folder. Being this organized alone is enough to impress them. Better still, you are able to answer their questions with concrete examples, rather than sputtering over questions you're not sure they'll ask or not.

Have a friend pretend he/she is an interviewer at a job. Assemble all of the questions you could possibly include in the interview. Definitely include questions about your classroom management plan. Principals always ask about that. You may also be asked to tell about your strengths and weaknesses.

One thing I also found helpful was to give a huge smile at the interviewers the moment I walked into the room to interview. Chances are great that they will smile back at you. This sets a pleasant and relaxing mood for everybody.

In spite of it all, I think that some interviewers are just on a power kick. They want to try to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. I encountered this. However, keep in mind that most of the people who are interviewing you remember what it was like to be in your place. They are "pulling" for you and want you to do well. I once went to an interview where there were three teachers and a principal interviewing me. Now that could have been very intimidating had they been on the power kick. But they spent a lot of time laughing and joking among themselves, for some reason, and I couldn't help but laugh and joke with them. This is an extreme in the other direction. LOL

Just remember, too, that you are interviewing the principal. I met a teacher a couple of days ago who had interviewed in a school. He could tell within the first five minutes that he and the principal didn't "click" philosophically. He also did not especially like her personality. So, he spoke up right away and told her that he didn't think they should continue the interview any longer because he didn't feel it was a good match. He then left the interview.

You will have a mixture of experiences as you interview. Some will be pleasant, some not so pleasant. If you don't "click" with a certain principal, as I know I didn't at times, then the job just wasn't for you. Something better is in the works for you. The principal will decide if he/she likes you or not--not from the words you speak, although they are important--but from the way you appear to get along.

questions and preparing
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

First of all don't worry about the curriculum right now. You are right in that until you know the grade level you can't know all the curriculum that is required for each grade level. It doesn't hurt to take a quick glance at curriculums just before an interview if you are interviewing for a specific grade, but those interviewing you know you do not know all the different things and they are not expecting you to.

I was hired literally 3 weeks before school started for a kindergarten class. I had one week to buy all my furniture and get moved and then 2 weeks more or less to figure out what I was doing. And even then I couldn't get into the school until about 4 days before school started. You do not need to know everything before the first day of school. You start more general to begin with, classroom management, rules, getting to know one another, etc., throughout that first month you will have time to really start to focus in on what you need to cover for that grade.

So the main thing is to get through all those interviews.

As far as reading goes - I would mention things like having a lot of print in the room (magazines, books, poems, etc.,) Depending on the grade I would talk about having a blend of structured teaching including phonics and just experiencing reading through story times, novel reading, paired reading, quiet reading times, etc., Even talking about younger grades vs older grades. Younger grades you would spend more time with structured learning with reading. However things like word walls, teaching blends and digraphs, reading novels, short stories, picture books, can be a part of any of the elementary grades.

Mentioning things such as being willing to look for new ideas, programs and methods of teaching to help meet the needs of all your students. Ensuring all your students are reaching their potential through individualed learning. Thus modifying or enriching your regular program as necessary.

A lot of questions are more general in interviews and don't be afraid to say that you would like to have a bit of time to think about your response - could you go on to another question and come back to this one. I know my Principal was impressed when those he interviewed took time to think through their responses.

Posted by: Cathy-Dee

Having sat in on a few interviews for my school I have learned so many things.
First appearance does make a difference but only to a point. As long as you are dressed nicely, etc., that's generally all that really matters.

Voice - depends on the position - but someone who whispers or talks too quietly may get looked-over. Same if someone is too loud or boisterous.

I think nervousness is part of the equation - I hate being interviewed myself - but not the deciding factor. I know many of the teachers or aides we hired were very nervous but still were able to answer the questions and fit our criteria.

Unfortunately you rarely know the criteria and that makes a difference. If we are looking for someone who will be able to take on the gym classes or music as an extra class and someone we interview has those qualifications chances are they will get the job. They may not be the main position so they will not be mentioned in the advertisement because if nobody had those extra qualifications we would then hire someone else. And often someone gets the job because everyone who was conducting the interview felt that individual would best fit into the school, staff and community.

If you treat interviews as learning tools - each time you will come away knowing more tips and techniques to help you with the next one. My sister-in-law just got a job in her field (Registered Dietician). She just moved to the States and in 5 months I would say she had over 20 interviews perhaps even up to 30. Most weeks she went on at least one interview. One hospital interviewed her 3 times. Then last week she had two job offers on the same day. She knew she was qualified and an excellent worker so she just kept at it.

You have put in your time, you finished your degree, did your student-teaching, it might take time but you will get a job. Don't forget that although it seems more hopeless right now, quite often school divisions have last minute openings in the beginning of September due to higher enrollment figures or teachers needing leaves for some reason. Also over the summer some teachers find themselves expecting a baby so short-term positions also open up - they are a great way to get your foot in the door. And substitute teaching is also an option.

Practice questions, think through your answers. I know during the interviews I sat in on, I was always impressed with those who asked for time to think about their answer or who asked for clarification to the question. And use common sense with your answers - one of the questions my principal loved to use was "Is there any type of student you would not like to have in your classroom"? You wouldn't believe how many said they would prefer not having a student with too many special needs or one with very difficult behaviour problems. Of course if we could always have the perfect class, but we know there are challenges and I know my principal was looking for those who were willing to face any challenge.

Remember you are selling yourself - what is the best qualities you have! Think about them and this is what you want to sell those who are interviewing you on.

Good luck to all of you, I really do hope that the right jobs come along for you soon

Getting a job......
Posted by: Susan/5th

I've said this to people before, and I was told it before I got my first job...... you have to show up at the places. I was told the same thing you were over the phone. That's not good enough. Do this:
1. Have your resume in a folder with you, along with your college transcript (if it's especially good!)and any references.
2. Go to the schools you're interested in and just tell them you're interested in the school and would like to speak to the principal. They're going to tell you to leave your resume. Tell them no thank you, you'd like to speak with him/her personally about their school first. No kidding! It'll get you to the principal!
3. Talk to the principal about the school. Tell her you're a new teacher and that you heard good things about the school and wanted to check it out for yourself. Ask for a tour (if the principal has time) and ask what they look for in a teacher. Basically YOU'RE interviewing the school!! It shows your interest and how serious you take your job.
4. When you're done flattering them(never say anything negative!), ask if you can show them your resume to see if you would be someone that is well suited for their school. Tell them you can see where you could add to their school (think of ways ahead of time - what your strengths are, that you like working as a team, etc...).
5. NOW.....ask if there's a possibility of a job opening this coming year. Ask if she/he will be giving any formal interviews and let them know you're interested.
6. Thank them for their time and praise them on a job well done on THEIR school (they like ownership).
7. Write a thank you note and mail it the next day. It will be an added reminder to them.

They won't forget you!! I did that with all 3 of my jobs and I got all 3 of them. Because I'm a fabulous teacher? No, they didn't know how I taught. Because I was visible - and interested! They want someone they know will be around a while and is teaching because they want ownership in the school and children - not because they can't find anything else and it's the last school left. Does that make sense?

I thought it was great advice, so I wanted to pass it on!!!!!

My biggest interview tip...
Posted by: Lisa

Share that enthusiasm you have with them! You obviously have a tremendous passion for teaching. If you communicate that to the interviewers, especially right at the beginning, it will really help you out. Schools want teachers who love teaching and will work very hard to be successful.

Other tips-
Have a classroom management plan
Make sure you know as much about the school and the district beforehand as you can
Know the basic curriculum for the grade
Have a strategy for teaching reading
Have a plan for parent interaction
Have ideas for integrating social studies and science into your curriculum
Have questions prepared to ask your interviewers!!

Good luck!

sound of voice
Posted by: Carolyn

I have had so many interviews in my life for teaching positions that I can't begin to name how many there were. My general impression was that interviewers LIKE enthusiasm--an enthusiastic voice draws them in. If you show a sense of humor and have a sparkle in your eyes, so much the better.

I also had some interviews, especially when I first began interviewing, where I probably showed my lack of experience in interviewing. I know for sure that I showed some body movements, fast talking, stuttering, and hesitation. My interviewers were kind and sympathetic, maybe even thinking I was pathetic, but they didn't hire me.

Being confident, displaying enthusiasm and a sense of humor helped me obtain a teaching position. Don't be afraid to say something funny to break the ice.

Sending a Thank You Note
Posted by: mshunny

After every interview, I always sent a thank you note to the person who interviewed me. I think that it is the polite thing to do.

Thank them for taking time to interview you. Explain how you would look forward to teaching in their school.

I just think this is one way to make you stand out. Make sure you send it out as soon as possible. The quicker the person receives it the better.

Posted by: Tabitha/5th

I have been on an interview committee this whole week. First off try to relax. Take a deep breath and think about what you want to say.
Some of the questions we asked were:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and working with children. What led you to becoming a teacher?
2. Have you heard of "At Risk Students?" What does it mean? What are some of the causes? What do you think should be done to help counteract this problem in the classroom?
3. If we come into your classroom during reading/ElA time what would we see in your room?
4. If we come into your classroom during math time what would we see in your room?
5. What is one major challenge you might find in your classroom? What would you do to remedy this challenge?
6. How would you go about assessing and setting goals for your students?
7. Have you ever used technology in a classroom?
8. What do you think you could bring to our community in this school?
Then he asked if they had any questions or concerns and we left the interviews like that. For the most part they took an hour to complete. We also looked at the portfolios that they brought with them as well. Try to remember what the buzz words are and what they mean in the classroom setting. Good luck on your interviews. I will pray that you get a job.

Posted by: Jennifer

The best piece of advice that I can give you is to be confident. Don't let this guy shake you. If you are confident in an interview it translates to you being comfortable elading a group of children. Talk about strategies and be specific. What behavior strategies work for you, what decoding, etc... Be able to cite a lesson that worked very well and one that you chnaged after reflection. Be able to constructively point out your strengths and be realistic about a weakness, but again be confident in your abilities. I was in a similar situation. The superintendent of a school district I wanted to be in (and ended up in) was giving mock interviews at my college to prepare us. I spoke of a behavior strategy which was titled "Rules, rewards, punishment" he got hung up on the fact that the word punishment was used. He said that it was unprofessional for me to use that term and that it made me appear to be too severe. He then proceeded to tell me that there was no such thing. He marked me down and I was crushed. I checked w/ a prof who backed me up on the title. The worst thing was that I knew I was going to have to face this guy again because I had submitted a resume to the district. Luckily I got to interview with the board and got the job. I hope that things turn out as postively for you. Remember, be confident! Good Luck.

Posted by: Anna

Not that this would make you feel any better, but I went on what seemed like hundreds of interviews before I got my first job. I, too, would freeze up and not be myself in front of a panel. Needless to say, they wouldn't want to hire someone so nervous and timid that couldn't seem to put thoughts together quickly.

Here's what worked for me. This may sound silly, but I would practice answers to interview questions in front of a mirror at home. When I left an interview, I would write down all the questions they asked, then rehearse what I'd say if I were asked that question again (and you usually are asked it over and over).
Try it and see if it works for you. Just know where you stand on certain topics (discipline, style of teaching, management, how to handle upset parents or students, homework policy, etc...). If you know what answers you will give, you'll be more comfortable answering them. Also, if your spouse will help you, have them throw out unexpected questions to see how you will react to thinking quickly.

I don't know you, but I'm sure you are an intelligent, personable person who just lacks some interview confidence. Maybe just relaxing will help you to be yourself and not freeze up.

I think we've all been there, but we wish you the best of luck!!!

Posted by: Niki

I hope I am not too late! I recently went through the interview process but for a different reason.

I was nervious but I didn't let it show (easier said than done, right!). An interview requires preparation. Don't just assume you can automatically go in and ace it. I had to prepare myself mentally and having a strong faith God and yourself helps a great deal.

To help me prepare, I bought a book called "Interview Power", by Tom Washington. This book gave me some great tips and it was very inexpensive. I also searched various websites and read interviews of various people just to get and idea.

Some questions that they may ask is:

How could you use team teaching to provide your students with better education?
What is your teaching philosophy?
In what ways can you use technology in your teaching?
What steps do you take to maintain communication with parents?
What skills do you bring to our school and community?
I had to know about chartered schools. Be sure to be up to date with current events.

I hope this helps, knowing this helped me but most of all pray!