- 50 Sample Interview Questions & Answers
- A full breakdown of how to build your own answers
- How you will be assessed - pass first time!
How To pass the teacher interview
The teaching profession is now more varied than ever before. Modern teachers are more than just curriculum educators. They are role models, leaders and innovators; the first line of contact that our children have with a brighter and better future. With this in mind, it’s essential that schools are employing the right type of people for the job.
In our book, we’ll show you how to demonstrate that you ARE the perfect person for the role. We’ll cover a wide variety of interview tips and techniques, show you the questions that you are most likely to be asked AND provide sample responses to show you the best ways to answer them. By the end of our guide, you will be in a perfect position to ace your teaching interview, and secure your dream role.
Structure of the Teacher Interview
There are generally three parts to a teaching interview, and we have covered all of these in extensive detail within our guide.
The three parts are:
- The teaching section. In this section, you will be asked to teach a full practice lesson. You’ll be informed about the subject material that you need to teach in advance of the interview, so that you can fully prepare.
- The ‘getting to know you’ section. In this section, you will be asked questions about yourself, your motivations and interest in the role, your background and your knowledge of the position.
- The competency based section. In this section, you will be asked questions surrounding the teacher core competencies, and your past experience of dealing with teacher related scenarios.
How to prepare for the Teacher Interview
Before you attend your teaching interview, it’s imperative that you have a sustained knowledge of the following topics:
- What a teacher does, their role in school, and their responsibility towards students.
- What a teacher at the school YOU are applying to does, their role in school, and their responsibility towards students.
- Your subject, and why it matters in a wider context.
- The core competencies/expectations of a teacher.
- The policies of the school that you are applying to.
You’ll be asked questions on all of these topics during the interview, so make sure you conduct a period of extensive research beforehand.
There are two invaluable resources for you here:
- Firstly, you can use the website of the school to find a list of the school policies, expectations and guidelines. School websites usually have downloadable newsletters and lists of any key accomplishments/awards they have received. Make sure you can bring knowledge of their history to the interview, because this will give you a crucial edge over other candidates.
- Secondly, there is the job description itself. In the job description, you’ll be given a list of requirements for the role. Make sure you pay close attention to these.
Lead and communicate with students on a daily basis.
- This is clearly indicative of the fact that you will need great leadership skills, and must be a good communicator.
- Communication can be broken down into listening and responding to students.
- Leadership can also be broken down into taking initiative, making difficult decisions and acting responsibly.
For further preparation tips, make sure you pick up a copy of our amazing guide!
Teacher Core Competencies
Now, let’s take a look at the teacher core competencies. The core competencies are a set of standards required for teachers. In this section, we’ll look at what these are, and why they will be essential in your interview.
Organisation. One of the most fundamental skills for any teacher to have is good organisation. Organisation will separate the good teachers from the bad, and many people would argue that this is actually the most important competency. Without good organisation and time management, you will really struggle to succeed as a teacher. The most common complaint from teachers is that they just don’t have enough time to complete all of the tasks that they need to. Teaching is the ultimate time consumer!
Lesson Planning. You will become extremely familiar with lesson planning as you progress in your career. Lesson planning is absolutely vital. It will help you to stay organised, keep your classes on track, stay up-to-date with which classes still need to learn which material, and plan out every single day that you are teaching. The problem with this is that lessons don’t always go to plan. In fact, it’s extremely rare for a lesson to go exactly the way a teacher wants it to. Classroom disruptions, overrunning discussions, and slow students are all issues that will take away from the chances of your lessons running smoothly. However, one of the great things about being a teacher is that no two days are the same. You will face a variety of different challenges, demands and questions on a daily basis. Once you start planning lessons, you’ll really start to understand why your teachers used to get so frustrated with pupils who were disruptive.
Leadership. As the teacher, you are the leader of the class. Students will look up to you and require guidance. You will also act as the authority figure for the group, so you will need to be able to live up to this role. It’s true that some teachers, when they start out, might struggle with this. Leadership isn’t for everyone, and it’s often difficult to deal with at first. You might see yourself as a great teacher, but not necessarily a great leader. However, the reality is that the two go hand-in-hand. Think about it like this; you want your students to learn from you and take on board the lessons you are teaching them. What is the best way to achieve this? The answer is to win their respect. If your students respect you, you’ll have a far easier time teaching them.
Why are these competencies important?
Well, apart from showing you how you need to behave as a teacher, they will also be fundamental during the interview. As we’ve explained, the teaching interview is made up of 3 stages. The 2nd stage of the interview will not only test your knowledge of the competencies, but will also require you to demonstrate occasions where you have used these competencies in the past. For example, you might be asked to talk about a time when you have demonstrated your organisational skills. In the interview section of this guide, we’ll break down exactly how to do this.
For more core competencies, check out our fantastic guide!
Now, let’s look at the three sections of the teacher interview in more detail.
Along with answering interview questions, many interviewers will also ask you to teach a practice lesson. This is so that they can assess how well you are actually able to teach, rather than how well you can talk about teaching! In many cases, the practice lesson will come before the interview itself. The reason for this is so that the interviewers can ask you questions based around your lesson. For example, you might be asked to assess how you felt the lesson went, and identify areas in which you struggled or were strongest in. While we can’t actually show you how to run a lesson in this book, we can give you some top pieces of advice for planning and executing your lesson to perfection.
Organising the room. The way your students are sitting in the room is really important. Very often, this can have a huge impact on the way in which the lesson pans out. Your seating plan should correspond with your teaching style. While you don’t want to be rearranging the classroom for every lesson, the way you intend to teach needs to match the organisation of the room. For example, if you are a teacher who uses large amounts of group work, then you need to have students sitting fairly close to each other, so they can collaborate effectively. You also need to be able to move around the room and interact with different groups yourself. You could also use the circle seating approach, which is becoming more and more popular. By placing students in a circle, the focus becomes directly on interaction with the group, rather than simply interacting with the teacher.
Interacting with the class. When speaking to the group, it’s essential that you are talking loud enough for the whole class to hear. As we mentioned in the organisation section, if students can’t hear or see you, they’ll become distracted and start misbehaving. Speaking loudly and clearly is also important because it allows you to develop a clear sense of control and authority. Obviously, yelling at the top of your voice won’t do you any favours, but you need to make sure that it’s clear that you can and will raise your voice if necessary. It’s also important that you don’t speak too quickly. This is a common problem, especially for newer teachers who are nervous.
Lesson Material. It’s essential that you keep your lessons interesting, and make sure your students are focused and on track. Generally, the older students get, the more focused they become. This means that if you are teaching younger age groups; you can expect to deal with more distractions (although this isn’t always the case!) This extends to talking and idle chatter too. Most teachers despair of this, but you can actually turn idle chatter to your advantage. Part of good teaching involves using real-life experiences as a platform for learning. Creating communication activities, where students can relate certain topics with ideas and situations from their own life; is a great way to minimise time wasted in the lesson.
The first part of your teacher interview will generally consist of ‘getting to know you’ type questions. What do we mean by this? Well, you’ll be asked questions based on:
- Your research into the position.
- Your personality.
- Your subject knowledge and understanding of what makes a good teacher.
Since you’ll be working with children, it’s essential that the interviewers can get to know you properly, before they make a decision on whether to hire you. The school need to be assured that you are a safe and responsible individual, who can provide great leadership to their students. Although you will need to pass a DBS check anyway to gain a position as a teacher, it’s important for the school to make certain beforehand. They don’t just need to know that you are safe and trustworthy, but that you are reliable, hardworking, organised and able to cope under pressure.
Remember that when you are being interviewed for a teaching position, you aren’t just being interviewed for any job. Teachers aren’t just teachers; they are carers and role models, and therefore it’s essential that schools choose the right candidate for the job. The last thing that a school wants is to employ someone who will crumble under pressure when faced with a class full of students. With this in mind, they need to make sure that they have a personality that fits with the role.
Throughout this chapter, we’ll be showing you how to put this across in your answers. Our sample responses are aimed at helping teachers across any level. Whether you are a trainee applying for that first job or an experienced teacher, our answers are sure to help you.
Let’s get started, by looking at some typical ‘personality’ type questions.
Q1. Tell us a bit about your skills, background and motivation for applying
for this role.
This gives you a chance to tell the interviewer about who you are as a person, what has led to your interest in teaching, and give some opening details about your skills and experience. It’s a common way for most interviews to start. Essentially, you need to sell yourself to the interviewer. This question can make a huge difference to the way in which the rest of the interview goes; you will want to set a professional and enthusiastic tone. Of course, first impressions mean a lot, so make yours count. Another important point to remember when it comes to answering this question is that you don’t need to just talk about yourself. You can expect to be asked questions on your knowledge of the school, but try to briefly link your personal qualities with those of the school. For example, telling the school that you are someone who has worked with a number of charities, and that you know they are keen supporters of various charities and trusts, will link your ethos to theirs. Schools want to hire someone who shares their values and believes in similar causes. Even at this early stage, showing that you have this quality will go a long way to securing the job position, and create a fantastic first impression.
‘I am a confident, enthusiastic and responsible person, with a genuine passion and desire for improving the education of young people. I myself have a great standard of education, and achieved high GCSE grades, A-Levels, undergrad and postgrad marks in my subject field – English Literature. I recently completed my PGCE teacher training, and now I am ready to move into the world of work. I believe that I am a great fit for a career as a teacher, and for your school. As a result of my PGCE training, I have picked up large amounts of experience in different school settings; including working in a special school for children with behavioural difficulties, and in various secondary institutions. I have also worked part-time as an English tutor for young people, on and off, for several years. All of this has taught me a great deal about how to conduct myself with integrity and professionalism, and how to impart my wisdom on others. I’ve conducted thorough research into your school, and was hugely impressed by what I have discovered. The learning style, ethos and range of extra-curricular activities that you offer are extremely appealing to me. I want to teach children that learning doesn’t have to be limited to the school environment; it can be something that they enjoy doing after school is finished. I believe that I am the right person to demonstrate this.’
Q2. What skills do you have which distinguish you from other candidates?
This is a great question, and one that directly invites you to sell yourself. So, sell yourself! Another way of wording this could be: ‘what are your biggest strengths?’ The interviewer isn’t actually looking for you to tell them why they shouldn’t hire other candidates, or for special qualities that they’ve never encountered before. Let’s be honest, your answers and those of your competitors are probably going to overlap. Yes, everybody has different skills but unless you can juggle whilst standing on one leg, it will be extremely hard for you to show the interviewer something completely new (not that this would be relevant to the job role!) No, when answering this question you need to show how and why your skills and qualities are extensive enough for the position. The best way to do this is to demonstrate your skills via past examples. In your examples you should show that you have the ability to take things further and go the extra mile. This is what will distinguish you from the other candidates, and help you nail the answer to this question.
‘Great question. I believe that I have a number of qualities which set me apart from the crowd, and make me an ideal candidate to work in your school. Firstly, there is my level of teaching experience. While it’s true that I have only just finished my PGCE, I feel that the level of experience I picked up before and during this course is unique. Throughout my course, and prior to this, I went to great lengths to gain extra experience on top of what I was already doing. Coupled with a rigorous course, which involved numerous placements in school settings, I have also gone out of my way to gain other experience in schools. I spent extra time almost every single week in my school placements; wherever possible, learning from the staff and assisting students with extra-curricular learning activities. I assisted with both the Creative Writing and after-school English clubs, which were designed to help students improve the quality of their grammar and writing. Both of these assignments gave me a chance to interact on a one-to-one basis with students, and further my teaching skills. I found this extremely rewarding and believe it has greatly enhanced my teaching skills.
Secondly, there is my subject expertise. As someone with a PHD in English Literature, I believe that I am fantastically placed to deliver the curriculum material to your students. Teachers are role models, and who better to act as a role model than someone who has achieved top level marks from GCSE onwards? I feel that my age benefits me in this respect. As someone who is young and near fresh out of university, I will have no problem identifying and bonding with my students. For me, this is an essential part of successful teaching.
Finally, I firmly believe that my passion and drive to succeed in this role is unrivalled. I’m sure you’ll hear the same thing from other candidates, but I believe that my experience and history of taking initiative backs this up. I have always gone out of my way to excel and improve myself, and I would take the same attitude with this position.’
Once you’ve got through the initial stages of the interview, you’ll move onto stage 2. This is the competency-based section, and is much more difficult. In this section of the interview, you’ll be asked questions based around the core competencies listed earlier in this guide.
Let’s get started, by looking at some typical competency based questions.
Q1. In this school, we really encourage our students to be creative and think outside of the box. How do you approach creativity in the classroom? Give me an example of when you have tapped into the creative side of your
‘I’m aware of the fact that your school is so encouraging of creativity, and this is actually one of the reasons that I would love to teach here. I’m a very creative person myself, being an English student who is currently in the process of writing her own novel, and therefore I would absolutely welcome creativity with open arms. I know that some teachers in this country are scrutinised for ‘robotic’ approaches to teaching, and I really want to be a part of improving students’ creative and individual mindsets. As teachers, we should do everything that we can to encourage our students to think ‘outside of the box’ whilst still recognising that solutions can also be found ‘inside the box’, so to speak.
Throughout my training, I have done my utmost to get my students thinking creatively and in an original way about the subject. I actually feel that my own writing experience comes in really useful here, especially when analysing texts. One way that I like to introduce students to a new book is to ask them to draw character plotlines and write down their thoughts on the book. So, for example, if we’ve just started a book and been introduced to a specific character, I like to ask the class to write down their impressions of the character and what they think their motivations will be. We then compare this against the way the character is written. I’ve always found that this creates great discussion and really gets the group thinking about why things are written in the way that they are. Another exercise that I like to do is to ask the class to write a paragraph from a character in the book’s perspective. This gets them thinking outside of their own head, about other motivations, and the way that other’s think. I think this is great for stimulating the mind and encouraging creativity.
Overall, creativity is really important and I believe that it’s one of the most important qualities for us to foster.’
Q2. Give me an example of a time when you have worked constructively, to
resolve an issue with a work colleague.
‘Very recently, when I was working in my current role, I had an issue with a teacher from another department. Every Tuesday morning, my Year 9 English group would arrive at least 10 minutes late for their lesson. After questioning the group on why they were always late, I was informed that their Maths teacher was keeping them behind every lesson; for misbehaviour and other reasons. This was extremely frustrating for me, and it cut out an important section of my lesson plan.
My first step was to try and encourage the class to behave in their Maths lesson. I fully understood that their teacher might have been frustrated, and I didn’t want to exasperate this issue by asking him to change the way he ran his lessons. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. Upon further questioning, the class admitted that they didn’t feel they had misbehaved and were unsure as to why the teacher was keeping them behind. I decided to tackle the problem head on. Without needing to be confrontational, I sent the teacher in question a polite email explaining the problem and asking him to try and get in touch to resolve it. The teacher in question responded back almost immediately, questioning the accuracy of my claims. I asked him to take a look at his ‘sign out-logbook’ which we used to show when a lesson was finished, to show that I was right. He then apologised wholeheartedly and informed me that he hadn’t realised his lessons had been overrunning, and would do his utmost to send his class out on time in the future. This fixed the problem, and my class were on time for the rest of their lessons.
I believe I acted professionally, responsibly, and with the right amount of restraint in dealing with this situation. I was polite at all times, and respected the needs of my fellow teacher in dealing with his classroom situation. We resolved things constructively, and this was to the benefit of everyone.’
For more sample interview questions and answers, check out our guide!
Teacher Interview Questions and Answer
This incredible guide has been created by Richard McMunn, an expert within the industry. His top tips will provide you with all of the knowledge you need in order to ACE your teacher interview. Absolutely rammed with incredible tips on practice lesson, core competencies and interview technique; this book is essential if you want to secure your job as a teacher!
The topics and information within this book include:
CHAPTER 1: Teacher Core Competencies
CHAPTER 2: Teacher Interview – Part 1
CHAPTER 3: Teacher Interview – Part 2
CHAPTER 4: The Classroom Survival Guide
CONTAINED IN THESE CHAPTERS, YOU’LL FIND:
In this guide, you will find:
- A comprehensive overview of the 3 different interview sections, with tried and tested advice on each and every single one!
- Top tips on how to APPLY the core competencies to your responses!
- FIFTY sample interview questions and responses.
- 4 incredible chapters, designed to help you secure your dream career!