While some schools will include a trial lesson as part of their teacher recruitment process, many rely on a traditional interview process. Every teacher bears a tremendous responsibility for the educational and personal development of their students, so the teaching interview questions need to get to the heart of how they run their classroom.
The scope of these teaching interview questions is incredibly diverse and there are far more questions than we can include in this article. Having said this, most teaching interviews only last for 60 minutes. You can be sure that 80% of the conversation will cover the most common areas of teaching practice, classroom management, subject matter expertise and teacher motivation. In the following guide, we will consider:
- What are the qualities of a fantastic teacher?
- The most common teaching interview questions
- Suggested answers for teaching candidates
- One thing to remember in a teaching interview.
The right interview questions for teachers will offer them a stage to transport the interviewer into their classroom.
How do I prepare for a teacher interview? When you prepare for a teaching interview, you need to focus on the experience of your students. What do you do to help them learn? How do you meet their educational needs? What is it like in your classroom?
What are the qualities of a great teacher?
While there is no one definition of a great teacher, schools will look to hire people with the following basic qualities. Think back to your favourite teachers. Do these traits ring true?
- They knew their subject matter inside out (and in their sleep)
- Working on their teaching skills was a lifelong journey of continuous improvement
- They ran an organised classroom where students knew what was expected
- Creativity, curiosity, and intellectual risk-taking were encouraged in class
- They can adapt to change a lesson plan at a moment’s notice
- Classroom excellence was about their students, not the teacher
Excellent teachers set a high bar for learning and take the class on a journey of intellectual exploration. They should relish answering the questions we highlight next.
Most common teaching interview questions
When it comes to teaching, there are numerous predictable questions that will come up in any behavioural interview. While you should not prepare answers verbatim, it is worth having a deep think about what these questions mean in the context of your teaching career.
Every teacher is passionate about their work, so expect to get a little emotional as you think about your answers. You make a difference to your students because of your passion — lean into it and feed off it during your job search. It will certainly come across in any interview.
Here are 10 teaching interview questions with a brief exploration of suggested answers. This is some initial food for thought. Your responses will be far deeper and more personal.
1. Why do you want to be a teacher?
Teaching is a vocation, a calling that comes from deep within. Everyone will have started out for different reasons. Why you stay in the most demanding of professions will be deeply personal. Be specific and share your unique differences.
You could say: “I believe that teachers are uniquely placed to influence young minds in an age of social media that is seeking to distract and polarise. I am proud that my classroom is a place for curious and safe exploration — free of prejudice and extremism.”
2. What is your teaching style?
Great teachers raise the standards of the entire class in varying ways. You might be a teacher who embraces technology to inspire students, or you might believe in the power of peer learning. Whatever your approach, you need to be able to explain it clearly.
Take this sample answer: “I like to mix the class up wherever possible. Pairing students of different abilities can offer dual benefits. More able students benefit by having to explain complex concepts and less able students have extra time to soak up the knowledge.”
3. How do you handle a disruptive student?
Behaviour management is an essential part of every teaching toolkit. Disruptive students can torpedo an effective lesson in a heartbeat. They may exhibit challenging behaviour for a variety of reasons, so how a teacher handles the disruption will vary on a case-by-case basis.
You could say: “I reinforce my behavioural standards in the classroom without exception. My students know that disruptive behaviour is not acceptable. I always try to get to the bottom of such outbursts after the lesson has finished – and try to help whenever I can.”
4. How do you manage relationships with parents?
Most parents come from a place of wanting the best for their children. Many know their kids well, but it is the parents who are not so close to their kids that are the most different to handle. Communication is key to managing expectations and changing mindsets.
Something along these lines may work: “I make myself available to parents at set times every week. They know I am present for them to listen to their concerns. These boundaries ensure that I am not distracted at other times. Obviously, there are the odd exceptions.”
5. Tell me what an outstanding lesson looks like
No one lesson is the same, but there are certain ingredients of what an outstanding lesson looks like: engaged students, challenging material, and improved results. Testing and feedback are central to an effective lesson — you need to know what you don’t know.
Potential answer: “No teacher should stand at the front of the class and preach. I engage my students with original content and interactive opportunities to display knowledge. I give students the chance to lead the lesson wherever possible — I am not the only one in charge.”
6. How do you ensure equal opportunities in the classroom?
Many classrooms contain students from different backgrounds and with different family circumstances. Education should be a level playing field. It is important that there are equal opportunities for all in a mixed-ability and culturally diverse student body.
How to approach this: “I try to get to know my students as well as possible so that I am aware of any barriers to their learning. When teaching in a mixed-ability class it is important to push the top students and make sure that the less able are not left behind.”
7. What is your experience with remote teaching?
Remote teaching has become a reality of life for every educator, but there are many situations when it will become part of normal school life too. If a student can’t get to school for whatever reason, remote learning can ensure continuity of education.
Address the question: “I learned from my own mistakes during the pandemic and have come up with some rules for online learning. Lesson material should be on the screen, not me. Students should have their cameras on. Everyone must participate.”
8. Why do you want to work in our school?
This is a different question that will require a significant degree of research. Investigate the culture of the school and understand the mix of pupils that attend. Do they have a particular approach to teaching? What about extracurricular expectations?
Suggested answer: “I want to work in a school with a significant number of students with additional needs. I enjoy working with kids from deprived backgrounds and mental health challenges. I would like to find an inclusive school where every child matters equally.”
9. What qualities make an effective teacher?
Most teachers will be able to answer this question with ease, but it is the nuances of your answer that will set you apart. Make sure that you put the kids at the heart of your response — their ongoing development as well as the educational outcomes.
Impressive reply: “Every teacher should have a passion for their subject and a twinkle in their eye when the inevitable difficult questions come along. They go the extra mile for their students with a patient approach to learning. They encourage their kids to think.”
10. Is there anything you would like to ask?
I am not going to suggest questions that you should ask the school in question here. Simply know that you should have three or four questions ready to go. A passionate teacher who is looking to find the right fit for their next role will likely be brimming with questions. Be honest about what concerns you and do your best to fill in the gaps.
A teaching interview should be an enjoyable exploration of how your methods and attitudes are able to influence the minds of tomorrow. When preparing for teaching interview questions, don’t forget the following advice:
- Define what a great teacher looks like and answer accordingly
- Always put the development of your students at the centre of answers
- Consider the culture of each school — classroom expectations will vary
- Don’t be afraid to answer with a hint of passion. You can’t teach without it.
Good luck with your teaching interview. Your students are waiting for you!