26 Teacher Interview Questions and Tips for Answering Them
1. What encouraged you to join the teaching profession?
This will reveal to the interviewer something about your character and motivations. The reasons behind deciding to pursue a teaching career can show the panel that you see the profession as a vocation rather than just a job.
2. Why do you want to leave your current school?
It’s important to never say anything negative about your current employer no matter the reason for wanting to leave. Say lots of positive things about the school that is interviewing you and reasons why they could offer you better career prospects.
3. Why did you choose to apply to our school?
This is your opportunity to show off your research about this school. You could mention its excellent results, its good local standing, its reputation and opportunities that it can offer you in the future.
4. What can you offer our team?
This is your chance to demonstrate your assets. Any specialist skills, interests or experience that you have should be mentioned here. For example, if you are prepared to run an after-school club for the pupils, assist with a school sports team or mentor pupils, make sure to emphasise this now.
5. How do you view the role of a teacher?
Don’t stop at the basics. Yes, you can mention the primary duties, but there is a lot more to the teacher’s role than that. The interviewer wants to know that you understand both the educational and pastoral elements of the teaching profession.
6. Which key stage do you prefer to work with?
It’s important not to tie yourself down here. Although you may be applying for a role in one key stage, schools often move teachers around, so you may end up working in a different part of the school.
Show your commitment to the profession as a whole and say positive things about all key stages, although it is acceptable to say that the majority of your experience is in one particular area.
7. How would you describe your working relationship with other professionals in your classroom?
The interview panel wants to know that you value and respect your colleagues, their ideas and opinions. If you will be working with a teaching assistant, a job-share teacher, or external professionals working with individuals in your class, the school needs to know that you are capable of working cooperatively and productively without causing friction.
8. How can you ensure that your whole class learns effectively?
This is your chance to talk about different styles and teaching methods. Talk about providing a range of opportunities for those who learn in different ways, such as kinaesthetic, visual and auditory learners. Provide examples of times that you have done this in the classroom and achieved good results.
9. How can you ensure good behaviour management in your classroom?
First and foremost, you must stress here that you will always adhere to the school’s own behaviour management systems and strategies. If you can, before your interview find out which strategies and methods are being used in the school’s classrooms and talk about using them effectively in the interview.
Give examples of times that you have managed behaviour well and talk about a few different strategies that work well for you.
10. What do you think is the best way to encourage active learning?
The panel wants to know that you are the kind of teacher who can really engage their pupils in their work. In today’s schools there is an expectation that children will actively participate in their work rather than simply sitting at desks copying out of textbooks.
Talk about opportunities for encouraging children to actually get up and get active to cement their learning, from making a human model of the solar system to creating and performing their own plays.
11. How do you see the parent’s role?
The panel wants to hear that you support parent participation and understand the vital role that families play in their child’s education. Offer examples of times that you have involved parents in the classroom or in home learning, and emphasise the importance of parents in partnership with schools.
The message you are giving here is that good working relationships with parents is key to persuading children of the importance of education.
12. What qualities do you have that makes you stand out as an excellent teacher?
This is another opportunity to sell yourself, however this question is not only about your qualifications and experience, it is also about your personality too. What is it about you that makes you special in the classroom? How does your individual character help you to get better results from your pupils or forge stronger and more positive relationships?
13. How can you motivate your students?
This question gives you the chance to talk about your classroom practice and experience. Which tactics have you used to encourage hard work and good behaviour? Whether you give certificates for achievement, a star of the week badge or rewards for receiving a target number of stamps for good work, be sure to mention your successes.
14. How will you provide work that suits the needs of all pupil abilities?
This is a differentiation question. The interview panel needs to know that you understand that all children learn at different rates and need work to suit their level of skill. They want to hear that not only will you provide less difficult work for the least able pupils but you will ensure that the most capable children in your class will be challenged and pushed to achieve even more.
Don’t forget to talk about careful deployment of learning support assistants – it’s important for the more able groups to benefit from learning support assistance too and for teacher focus to be spread evenly throughout the week on all ability groups.
15. What achievement in your educational career are you most proud of?
This will of course depend on your own personal circumstances, but ensure that you have picked an achievement that shows off your ability to engage with your pupils and achieve excellent results. You may have made excellent inroads with a pupil who arrived at the school with very little English, or turned around the poor behaviour of a troubled pupil.
Perhaps your class achieved the best results in the school, or you were instrumental in setting up a particular school policy or scheme of work. Your achievement should be something that sets you apart from the crowd and demonstrates your excellence as a teacher.
16. 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 for progression and to branch out into other areas. Talk about areas that you have an interest in exploring within the school and think about ways that you can incorporate your existing skills and interests into your professional development plan.
17. 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 context regarding education and offer some suggestions about how these challenges can be addressed in schools.
18. 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 make an informed answer here based on the style of classroom you have seen. You should also address the issues around the effect of layout on behaviour and achievement as well as talking about dedicated areas for particular topics and the importance of display.
19. How do you think your current or former colleagues would describe you?
This is another opportunity to emphasise the positive sides of your character. Good suggestions for keywords here are positive, outgoing, dynamic, creative, engaging, inspiring, ambitious…
20. What recent CPD have you undertaken?
This is usually a fairly 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.
21. What do you think is the importance of home learning?
The key here is to emphasise balance. The panel want to know that you know why 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.
22. How have you contributed to the development of your current school as a whole?
This is the time to talk about any whole-school projects that you have worked with or any policies that you have drawn up or introduced. If you ran any clubs or activities you can mention these now, as well as any mentoring or tutoring that you have helped with.
23. 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. Home/school books, open door policies, and occasions when you have had to call in parents should all be talked about at this point.
24. 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 to know examples of times you have used cross-curricular links in your teaching practice and ways in which you can promote this in your classroom.
25. What 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.
26. Do you have any questions that you would like to ask us?
This is almost always the last question of your interview and to say that there is nothing you want to know always leaves a poor impression. Think of a couple of good questions 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 demonstrating that you are keen to become a part of their community.