Lesson Tutor : Interviewing for a Teaching Position

Interviewing for a Teaching Position
by Elaine Ernst Schneider and Joanne Mikola

The application has been filled out and submitted, your references are turned in, and now the waiting begins. Will anyone call? And what do you do while you wait? What do you do? You prepare for the next step.

First, be certain that you have applied to as many schools at which you are qualified and in which you have an interest. Use the laws of statistics to your advantage and apply in several places. Don’t set your sights on only one school and put all your hopes there. Second, organize your applications by school – you learned in the Applying for a Teaching Position article to make copies of all applications. Make a folder on each school and place your copy of the application in each. Next do research on the schools. Check out ads in the yellow pages, internet sites, and if possible, talk to individuals who have personal knowledge of the school. Take notes and put these in the file. Finally, consider how you would fit into the structure of each school and what you could bring to that learning environment, i.e. why would they want to hire you? Jot down your ideas and place these in each school’s appropriate folder.

The phone rings and someone wants to interview you. Be sure to get directions. Write down the day, time, and directions. Don’t rely on your memory. Excitement or anxiousness can distort what you remember. Find the folder on that school and read through all the information that you have gathered. That you have done your “homework” will be apparent in the interview. Make a trial run to the school to be sure you can find it and time how long it takes you. You don’t want to be late – not a good first impression. Select what you will wear. Be sure to be conservative for a first visit. You can always “lighten up” later once you know the dress code. Prepare mentally to present yourself in the best light.

Depending on the school, your interview could be with a superintendent, principal, or department head. In some instances, interviews are conducted by hiring committees. General interview questions will likely cover questions that give the interviewer information about you and how you work. His/her questions will search for answers or at least hints to show qualities like: Self Motivation, Self Directed Approach, Energy, Enthusiasm for Teaching, Dependability, Responsibility, Creativity, Communication Skills, Conflict Resolving Skills, Loyalty and Adherence to Policy, Problem Solving Ability, Team Mindedness, Stress Management, and
Organizational Skills. Have some examples of times you have exhibited these qualities in mind, even if they are not education or classroom related. If you had a student/practice teaching period, pull examples from that classroom time as well. Remember to be positive. Remember to present things that show your first interest is in your students.
Sample Questions 

  • Why are you interested in this position?  or Why should we hire you?
  • What is it that draws you to teaching in particular?
  • If we were to ask your present colleagues what kind of teacher you are, what would they tell us?
  • How would you like them to describe you three years from now?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strength?… What do you see as personal qualities or personal strengths that you bring to this job?
  • Which areas do you consider need strengthening?
  • What kind of time commitment are you realistically willing and able to give to this position in the first year?
  • Have you considered further degrees or continuing education courses?
  • Tell us about a special project which you have worked on or about a particularly rewarding experience you have had in your current position.
  • What do you think are the important differences between what you are doing now and being a full time/part time/supply teacher?
  • As a newcomer to our teaching staff, how would you go about establishing your credibility with the teachers at this facility?
  • If you had an idea that you thought might be good for the program, how would you go about assuring the cooperation of your colleagues in its implementation?
  • What is your position on discipline? How do you keep control in your classroom, establishing yourself as the leader yet still showing respect to your students?
  • Describe a meaningful educational program that you have attended in the past year and why?
  • What journals do you subscribe to? What professional organizations are you active in? joined?
  • What written/printed resources do you refer to day-to-day?  (or in the past year?)
  • On what foundation do you base your teaching style?

Sometimes, standardized forms are used by the interviewer(s). In a group interview, each panel member would have at least a copy of this form as well as a copy of your resume at hand. Each will have a predesignated role to play and take notes of what you have to say. The primary interviewer will probably be your future direct supervisor. Address your comments to the person initiating each question, then circulate your eyes and attention around the table/group to include them all in your answers.

NAME OF CANDIDATE:_________________________
POSITION APPLIED FOR:_______________________

 A. EVALUATION Poor Fair Good Very Good N/A
EXPERIENCE – Business and/or Academic (relative to job applied for)
(Relative to job requirements)
. . . . .
(Energy, aptitude, application)
. . . . .
(Ability, motivation)
. . . . .
(Maturity, poise, stability)
. . . . .
(Fluency, effectiveness, clarity)
. . . . .
(Bearing, relative to job needs)
. . . . .
(Number, kinds, leadership roles)
. . . . .
(Courses, reading, conferences)
. . . . .

(possible placement, research activities, supervisory experience, ambitions or other positions candidate could be considered for etc.)

C. TEST RESULTS (if applicable)
Type of Test and result

____ Definite interest in candidate for this position
____ Definite interest in candidate for other positions (see B above)
____ Undecided
____ Not Interested
____ Other _________________________________________________________________________

Name of Interviewer ________________________ Title _______________________  Date_______


Other Hints and Tips

  • Make a phone call before your interview requesting a copy of the job description and organizational chart with current names, if available. Go prepared for an interview on your arrival if picking these up in person rather than trusting the mail.
  • Prepare your own questions. Never, never, never be the first to bring up salary.
  • If offered a beverage before sitting down to the interview, DECLINE… unless you really have nerves of steel and don’t twitch and tremor with nervousness. Sloshing coffee or a canned drink is a dead giveaway of lack of confidence and/or ‘stage fright’ .

If you are worried about ‘stage fright’  go on to read “Enter Stage Fright… I Mean Right” . You may be relieved to know you are not alone in experiencing the jitters in all sorts of  situations.

Where and how do you start to look for the next perfect job? Start here Applying for a Teaching Position


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