A teaching interview is often your chance to showcase your skills, knowledge, experience and passion for the role. Despite having years of experience and the right professional qualifications, it is natural to feel nervous before an interview. Adequate preparation can help you overcome nervousness, attend the interview confidently and showcase your personality effectively. In this article, Pritish Kumar shares the top ten tips for acing a teacher’s interview and discuss some strategies to clear the interview.
10 tips for acing a teacher interview
Here are the top tips for acing a teacher interview when you interact with the school’s principal, board of directors, head of departments and other senior employees in an educational institution:
1. Be aware of the interview style and process
Schools and colleges usually conduct several rounds of interviews before hiring a teacher. The interview style can vary depending on the position you are applying for and the institution. Some of the popular interview styles for teachers include:
. Panel interviews: These are traditional question and answer sessions with the headteacher, head of department or principal. They can typically last around 30 minutes or less, and the interviewer may ask the interviewee several questions about their teaching style, experiences and qualifications.
. Informal discussions: These are informal interviews where the head of the department, a senior teacher, or other staff members take the interviewee on a school tour while asking questions about their experiences and qualifications. This is an excellent opportunity for you to understand the culture of the school or college and ask questions to the interviewer.
. Teaching a trial lesson: Several schools and colleges ask applicants to conduct a demo class for students or the interview panel to evaluate their teaching methodologies. During the interview, the interviewers may ask you questions about your lesson plans, learning outcomes, teaching aids, assessment techniques and other practical aspects of the lesson.
. Group discussions: A group discussion assesses your knowledge of a topic and your ability to work as part of a group. They are more common for teachers applying for senior secondary school posts and higher educational institutes.
. Pupil interviews: As the pupils interact and engage with the teacher daily, several schools include students during the interview process. Students ask questions to the applicants and rate them according to a given scale.
. Presentations: Some teaching roles require applicants to create and give presentations as part of their teaching routines. The hiring manager might ask you to present a topic to the interview panel as part of the interview.
You can connect with the HR department of the school or college to understand the type and format of the interview they follow. Being aware of the interview process beforehand helps you prepare better. For example, if the educational institute requires you to take a trial lesson, you can prepare the teaching materials, lesson plans, quiz sheets and other supporting material ahead of time so that you feel confident on the interview day.
2. Research the school
Before attending a teaching interview, take some time to know more about the school or college. You can find information about the school on their website and social media pages. Understand the school’s objectives, the number of students enrolled and their various educational initiatives. This helps you align your interview answers and experiences to match the requirements of the school. For example, if the school has an active quiz club, you can explain how you have previously coached quizzing teams to win district-level events.
3. Understand the job responsibilities
Being aware of the job requirements can help you align your answers to meet the expectations of the interview panel. Here are some of the common qualities that interviewers may look for in a teacher candidate:
. Teaching skills: Demonstrate to the interviewer how you work with students as a group and individually. Exhibit your awareness of different teaching methodologies like activity-based learning, student-centred, inquiry-based learning and flipped classroom.
. Data proficiency: As classrooms become technology-oriented, teachers require proficiency in data handling. For example, you can explain how you use individual test scores to analyse the overall class performance metrics.
. Subject expertise: Check if you have the necessary qualifications to handle a particular subject at a specific level. Most educational institutions have strict eligibility requirements for teaching subjects to students of different classes.
. Organisational skills: Most schools prefer candidates who can complete deadlines and meet classroom goals as per schedule. Demonstrating your organisational and administrative capabilities can help you gain an advantage over other applicants.
. Commitment to students: Whether you teach elementary or senior secondary, educational institutions look for candidates who prioritise the best interests of students and commit to them.
4. Know yourself as a teacher
Most interviews begin with a common question, ‘Can you tell me more about yourself?’ Being ready to tackle this question can give you the confidence to handle the rest of the interview. Prepare an impressive answer and rehearse it out loud before the interview. Speak of your previous teaching experiences, qualifications, certifications and teaching philosophies shortly and concisely. You can even add specific details or experiences that you would like to highlight to reflect your personality and differentiate yourself from other applicants.
5. Showcase your teaching portfolio
A teacher portfolio is a valuable tool to help you prepare for a teaching interview and a powerful way to showcase your skills and experiences. It provides documented evidence of your teaching experiences from various sources and demonstrates your accomplishments and talents. Generally, teacher portfolios include student work samples, lesson plans, classroom materials, teaching aids, certificates, recommendations of your work ethic from colleagues and faculty and student feedback. It can help the interviewer get a positive overview of your teaching career and personality.
6. Prepare answers to common teaching interview questions
Besides inquiring about your teaching experiences, the interviewer is likely to ask you about your teaching beliefs, philosophies and methodologies. You can prepare a document listing the common questions and your answers to the same. This helps you answer these questions confidently and not miss any critical information you would like to share with the interview panel. While preparing answers, make sure to align your answers to the school’s objectives. For example, if the school focuses on STEM learning from an early age, you can explain how you incorporate STEM practices at the elementary level.
7. Provide examples and evidence in your answers
As it is an interview for a teaching position, the questions are most likely to focus on teaching methodologies, student learning techniques and lesson strategies. An excellent way to frame your answers is by beginning with, “If you were to walk into my classroom, you could notice……” approach. This helps you provide actual examples and highlight incidents from your teaching career, helping the interviewer understand your teaching practice as it happens in a classroom.
8. Share positive stories about past students, parents and employers
Interviewers may ask you to share your experiences with past students, parents and employers. They might ask you to share a challenging situation and how you handled it. Avoid speaking negatively about previous experiences, as it can make you seem unprofessional. Instead, explain the challenge objectively and how you solved it. For example, if you dealt with a student who consistently avoided doing homework, explain how you handled the situation without blaming the child or their parents.
9. Dress appropriately
Several schools and colleges enforce a strict dress code for the faculty. Make sure you find out the institution’s dress code and dress for the interview accordingly. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident while remaining modest and professional. Make sure that you comb your hair neatly and wear minimal accessories. Appearing professional and well-groomed can help you impress interviewers as it demonstrates that you take the role and institution seriously.
10. Close the interview on a positive note
Generally, interviewers ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview session. You can use this opportunity to leave a strong impression on the interviewer. Prepare a few thoughtful questions that you would like to ask. For example, you can ask the following questions to showcase your interest in the role:
I would love to hear what you love about your school.
How much freedom do teachers have in preparing lesson plans?
Do teachers work collaboratively on planning the curriculum?
What are the technologies and tools you use in your classroom?
What is the student-teacher ratio?
Beyond academics, can you explain the initiatives the school takes to aid the growth of each student?
What makes this school a great place to work?
At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for the opportunity and let them know you are looking forward to being a part of the teaching team. You can complete the interview by saying, “Thank you so much for this opportunity. It was wonderful to interact with you and learn more about your school’s initiatives. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
A teaching interview is often your chance to showcase your skills, knowledge, experience and passion for the role. Despite having years of experience and the right professional qualifications, it is natural to feel nervous before an interview. Adequate preparation can help you overcome nervousness, attend the interview confidently and showcase your personality effectively. In this article, we share the top ten tips for acing a teacher’s interview and discuss some strategies to clear the interview.