Interviewing for jobs is never easy and for those entering the teaching profession, preparation is extremely important if you’re not to get caught flat-footed and struggling for an answer. Here are 10 questions that have been put to candidates for teaching posts, together with the responses the interviewer most hoped to hear.
1. If you were unsuccessful today, what would our school be missing out on?
Although it sounds tricky, this question actually presents you with an ideal opportunity to really sell yourself to the interviewer. Think of all the skills and abilities you have that would bring real value to the role and get ready to shine!
2. What would we see and hear if we came to your classroom during a really great lesson?
To some extent your response to this question would depend on the subject you were teaching. Your head teacher would certainly like to see animated discussion between you and your pupils and a clear demonstration of students’ progress both written and oral. Another important element of your answer would be to mention good engagement between you and your students; behaviour that clearly supports learning.
Be ready to discuss your experiences in the classroom and give examples of how your efforts have impacted positively on pupils’ development.
3. Why is subject ‘X’ taught in schools at all?
This is an absolute horror of a question with any number of answers. Think along the following lines when formulating a response:
- to improve pupils’ independent learning
- to gain qualifications
- for fun
- to encourage teamwork
- to develop strong literacy and numeracy skills
- to improve career prospects
- to aid memory development
4. What do you think colleagues would say when talking about you?
This question is a really popular one. The response the interviewer is looking for is all about your sense of team spirit and the contribution you would seek to make to the school organisation as a whole.
It can also be expanded on when used during an interview for a senior position by asking where colleagues would expect you to be in a few years’ time.
5. Why do you want to work at this school in particular?
This question can crop up during an interview for any job. It’s designed to see whether the candidate has done their research and is able to discuss why the way the school operates and its policies particularly appeal to them and how they would fit with its ethos.
It’s always worthwhile visiting the school prior to interview so that you can give specific examples of what you thought based on what you observed during your visit.
6. Describe a behavioural management strategy that you’ve used to engage a group of pupils.
The answer you give to this question can be theoretical but it’s better if you can demonstrate how you used a particular strategy experientially to demonstrate just how effective you can be.
7. Why do you want to work in a ‘special school’?
These days, most schools have an element of pupils who have special educational requirements. Interviewers who ask this question are looking to see if the applicant approaches such pupils with a genuine desire to educate, rather than just care for them.
8. Application-specific questions
Be wary of making impressive claims and statements in your application documents without giving details; it’s an absolute certainty that you’ll be quizzed on whatever you’ve said during the interview and you will be expected to provide details and examples about what you did and the impact your actions had.
9. What skills and qualities do you think pupils expect to see in their teachers?
This is another popular question that you can really prepare for. Good answers include:
- sense of humour
- passion for the subject
- ability to make the subject or topic interesting
- ability to make people feel at ease and happy to contribute
- great presentation skills
10. Evaluate your lesson
This is a tricky question but a critical one for the interviewer and those with the final decision on whether to appoint a candidate or not. The interviewer would like to see:
- the ability to be self-critical
- the ability to recognise when things have gone well
- someone who is happy to suggest how they could have improved the lesson with hindsight
- referral to individual pupils by name; discussion about their progress and how it could be taken forward
- an ambitious and challenging lesson, rather than a safe and boring one
This is just a selection of the questions you could be asked at an interview for a teaching post. Rather like preparing for an exam, you can never hope to cover the entire syllabus exhaustively, but with a little swotting and homework, you can at least be ready for the most commonly-asked questions.