Learn how to give a great teacher interview with tips that’ll help you get that exciting offer.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate or an experienced teacher looking for something new, you’ll likely face the same daunting task standing between you and your dream teaching job: an interview.
Even the most seasoned educators — capable of teaching the quadratic formula to a group of rowdy ninth graders — can find themselves growing nervous at the prospect of an interview.
With a little bit of preparation and our tips and tricks below, you can shake off the nerves and put your best foot forward.
Whether it’s your first job or your fifth, these tips will help you rock your teaching interview and get an offer at your dream school!
Teacher Interview Tip #1: Be Prepared
This one probably goes without saying, but a little homework can make a big difference.
Not only will you be ready for any questions related to the position or the school but you’ll also feel more confident knowing that you have the basics covered.
Before the interview, take a few moments to look over the school website, the position description, and the school’s social media accounts. This will give you factual information about the school and also give you a glimpse into the school’s culture.
The information you learn from your preparation will help prepare you for answering the dreaded interview question: “Why do you want to work here?”
But also, realistically, it’ll help you answer the question for yourself: “Do I really want to work here?”
Teacher Interview Tip #2: Keep Perspective
Interviewing is, at best, a little awkward. At worst, it’s downright anxiety-inducing.
Interviews have a way of making even the best teachers, those who are skilled at speaking in front of a classroom and handling any crisis with confidence, nervous.
It’s important to keep some perspective when your nerves start to take hold, which is easier said than done. Take some time to think about why you’re a great teacher. Think back to a really successful lesson you’ve led or to a student on who you know you made a positive impact.
Realize that these experiences and skills will make you a valuable asset to any school. They just need to realize it too!
Another interview strategy is to try and remember that the interviewer is likely just as uncomfortable and nervous as you are. They’re the one with an open position they need to fill before the school year starts, and they’re hoping you’re the perfect person for the job. They’re rooting for you and want you to succeed.
If you’re the right fit, they get to check a high-stress to-do item off their list and stop interviewing for this role!
Keep in mind that this interview is as much for you as it is for your new employer. You want to make sure that the school is a good fit for you and part of that process is allowing yourself to be yourself, nerves and all!
If an interviewer doesn’t empathize with the fact that most interviewees are likely a little nervous, that is a sign that this probably isn’t a great place to work.
Teacher Interview Tip #3: Practice Makes Perfect
Most people know to practice before an interview with a friend or family member, but they don’t know that they can practice everything else too!
From the drive to the school to the outfit you plan to wear, do a full dress rehearsal several days before your interview to limit any surprises that may throw you off on the day of your interview.
Anything from construction on the route you usually take to your dress shirt not quite fitting right when you sit down can cause unnecessary stress on an already stressful day.
In addition to running a dress rehearsal before your interview, think of some of the most basic interview questions that you really want to answer well.
Most interviewers start off with some variation on the basic “Tell me about yourself” or “Tell me about your experience.” If you can nail this first question with some well-thought-out answers, you’ll start the interview off feeling confident and able to quell those interview nerves.
Teacher Interview Tip #4: Expect Behavioral-Based Questions
If you’ve interviewed in the last few years, you’ve likely answered a behavioral-based question. These questions often begin with “Tell us about a time when…” and give you the opportunity to answer in the concrete (what actions you took) and in the abstract (why your course of action exemplifies something about yourself or your teaching ability).
Of course, you can’t possibly prepare for every behavioral-based question, but you can prepare for the major themes you’ll likely encounter.
Be prepared for common questions that address:
- Classroom management
- Team collaboration
- Teaching style
- Parent communication
- Family engagement
This way, when you’re asked a behavioral-based question, you aren’t wasting time racking your brain for relevant examples.
As a new teacher, you might not have a lot of experience to draw from. And that’s to be expected!
You can use examples from college, student teaching, or other jobs. If you really can’t think of an example, a good strategy is to explain that while you haven’t been in that exact situation, you believe that XYZ would be a good strategy.
Teacher Interview Tip #5: Find What Works For You
If you look for ways to reduce interview stress or how to conquer your nerves, you’ll undoubtedly find a thousand different recommendations, from meditation to positive affirmations to power posing. While some people find these helpful, others may feel downright silly.
Ultimately, you know yourself best. You’ll know what works best for yourself when you find it.
Some examples of creative ways people have successfully beaten their interview nerves are below. Use these as a starting point to come up with your own confidence-boosting strategy:
- Promise yourself a special celebratory treat on the way home from your interview regardless of the outcome. Whether it’s a coffee, new pair of shoes, or a dessert, have something to look forward to.
- Go on LinkedIn and view the profiles of who you’ll be interviewed by. This can help humanize them, reduce your anxiety, and find things you may have in common — like an alma mater or membership in a professional organization.
- Get there early and listen to your “pump up” playlist in the car.
- Practice mindful breathing before you walk into the building to relax your body and slow your heart rate.
- Schedule your interview in the morning so that you have less time to stress.
Teacher Interview Tip #6: Own a Mistake
In an interview setting, when nerves are running high and the pressure is on, many people will make a mistake. You might get tongue-tied, be unable to recall a time when you used differentiation, or mix up Piaget and Vygotsky when talking about the Zone of Proximal Development.
If it’s a quick slip-up, acknowledge it and move on. You’re human. And, presumably, your interviewer is too.
If they are the kind of employer who can’t look past a small mistake, consider that a huge red flag!
If you get asked a question you just don’t know the answer to, don’t guess or try to talk around the question. Instead, be honest while framing your mistake in a positive light.
For example, you can’t remember what Maslow’s Hierarchy is. You know you learned it, but for whatever reason, your mind goes blank. The interviewer is going to figure out you don’t know it, so don’t bother to hide it.
Acknowledge that you don’t remember the answer, and take control of how you frame your response:
“You know what, I know I learned about this, but I’m unfortunately really drawing a blank right now. I’ll go home and look it up, though — I never make the same mistake twice!”
Now you’ve acknowledged your mistake, which was going to be noted anyway, and established yourself as someone who knows how to learn from a mistake without getting flustered.
Teacher Interview Tip #7: Finish Strong
Unless something truly incredible or disastrous happens, an interviewer is most likely to only really remember the beginning and the end of your interview.
It may seem cheesy, but write down a few questions ahead of time so you aren’t left scrambling when it’s your turn to ask questions.
Questions like “How do you onboard and support your new teachers?” or “Can you tell me about the professional development available?” will not only establish you as a candidate who is serious about their success in the role but they’ll also give you the information you need to decide if this role is right for you.
It likely seems common sense, but don’t forget to thank the interviewer for their time in a sincere and personal manner.
You can, and should, thank them in person at the end of the interview, but you can also follow up with an email the next day, thanking them for their time. And don’t forget to make it personal!
For example, your follow-up email may sound like this:
Thank you for meeting with me yesterday in regards to the science teacher position at Minty School. I enjoyed learning more about the school and really appreciated the opportunity to take a tour with Ms. Jones.
I also wanted to include the link to the digital portfolio I mentioned in my interview.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I’m looking forward to hearing from the Minty School team!
Although it might be tempting to reach out again to get an update, avoid messaging without a reply unless something in your situation has changed, like getting an offer from another school or because you want to withdraw your candidacy.
With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to conquer your nerves and head into your teaching interview confident, prepared, and ready to accept an offer!
Did you find an interview pump-up playlist that rocks? Did you send an amazing follow-up email that got you the job?
We’re excited to hear about your interview success and celebrate with you!
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