HOW TO PASS THE TEACHER INTERVIEW
When applying to schools or applying for initial teacher training, you will face many interviews. The teacher interview is particularly tough as it mixes both structured and competency based interview questions. Our complete guide contains:
- 50 sample interview questions and answers;
- A full breakdown of how to build your own answers;
- How you will be assessed – pass first time!
BECOMING A TEACHER
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.
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!
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
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.’
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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
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