6 Answers To The Most Common Teaching Interview Questions
Question: Which States can I teach in after I graduate?
Answer: After you graduate, you can teach in the state in which you hold your new teaching certification. However, if you want to teach in another state, you would have to research the requirements, as they are all different. All states require a bachelor’s degree, a form of teaching certification (traditional or alternative) along with a background check.
You can also look into programs such as National Board Certification and American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence. There is a lot of research to do if you want to teach in a different state outside of your native certification. I would suggest beginning this research as soon as you think you might want to make a change.
Question: Is it okay to ask about extra duties I may have during the interview?
Answer: Absolutely-don’t hesitate to ask. In all likelihood, your pro-activeness will be appreciated. You want to make sure that this role is everything you want, just as much as the school wants to make sure you are a good fit. It is essential that you are aware of any/all extra requirements during and outside of the typical school day.
However, please keep in mind, it is not unusual for administrators or principals to ask a teacher to take on extra activities during the school year, as new things arise such as clubs, activities, and programs. Changes always occur during the school year and always be prepared for the unexpected. For example, a teacher may have to take a leave of absence or an influx of students may arrive, which means your role can change within the school too. As a teacher, flexibility is critical; and is something to keep in mind when you evaluate any offers.
Question: How do I find out what type of support system is available in the district and the school to support new teachers?
Answer: That is a great question. First, you can go to the district website to see what type of support the district offers to new teachers (mentors, professional development, community training).
Not all districts will have this information posted. However, you can call the school district office as well as ask during your interview. New teachers need a lot of support, and depending on the district’s budget, the level they can provide will vary.
You can also reach out to other teachers in the building to find out about any mentoring programs. If you are taking over a support staff role (such as ESL/Bilingual), keep in mind that those roles can offer less support and resources because they are a bit more isolated regarding working with other teachers on teams. Try and make contact with other teachers in your specialty area throughout the district as well as see if you can reach out to the prior teacher. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask; most people are willing to help.
Question: How long should I wait to follow up after an interview, and what is the best way to reach out?
Answer: After your interview, it is important to follow-up with a “thank you” note within two business days. Keep the letter short, to the point and address it personally to those who interviewed you. A hand-written note displays your appreciation and genuine interest in the position.
However, a note via email is acceptable under various circumstances. You can send an email when it has been the primary means of communication, if there is a short hiring deadline, or if the interviewer has expressed a preference for email communication.
The purpose of the note should reiterate your interest in the position and can include relevant information you forgot to share (i.e., you are working on a new endorsement in the fall). You should include your appreciation for interview events (classroom tours, meeting other teachers, etc.) as well as topics discussed to personalize the letter.
Remember to remain professional, courteous and appreciative even if you do not receive an offer. Quite often, principals from different schools and districts get together for meetings and network socially. The way you handle your post-interview can have a positive effect in the future, as principals are always thinking ahead, reaching out and evaluating future potential candidates (especially when they are looking for referrals).
Your post-interview professionalism and positive behavior with a school or district that didn’t hire you at the time can lead to potential opportunities in the future.
Question: I’ve been offered two jobs that are very similar (teaching 3rd or 4th grade), and I have an interest in both roles. I don’t know which position to take. How can I make the best decision?
Answer: First, congratulations on being offered two jobs; as this speaks volumes about the type of value schools see in your potential. I would suggest sitting down and making a pro/con list for the positions. Take note of all the things you want out of each role, along with the most substantial impact you believe you can make on the lives of the students in each school.
Secondly, listen to your instinct. The right role can stand out for you rather quickly. After you take all of those ideas into consideration, make your decision and don’t look back with regret. Everything is a learning experience, and I am sure you will choose the right fit for you and for the community in which you are fortunate to work. Best of luck, and please keep us posted during your journey!
Question: Is it okay to ask about the culture and mood of a school during an interview? I heard there were many changes at a potential school of interest. Will this inhibit my chances of getting a job?
Answer: Asking about the culture and current mood of a school is acceptable. However, you want to make sure you ask in the right way. For example, you may have heard rumors about teacher turnover, tenure discussions, etc. You should not go in and ask questions based on rumors because quite often, others can state inaccurate information; and it will appear that you are basing your assumptions on the words of others. Also, obtaining information from teachers who are upset with their situation can leave you with an overall negative feeling about the profession; which can start your career off on the wrong foot.
You are a young and new teacher with ideas and gifts to give to the world, and it is important to remember that if you walk into a current thunderstorm at your new school-the rain will pass. Everyone’s experience is unique, and relationships differ with the administration, as this is how it is working anywhere.
Therefore, if/when you do ask, go in with facts in hand. If you know there were recent changes, you may ask if the school had lower enrollment, more retirements from last year, and different changes that caused a shift in infrastructure. A principal will appreciate your interest in the dynamics of the school and respect your educated question.
If the school is having problems (i.e., going on strike), this will be public information, and you will see the mood/culture for yourself at the time. However, keep in mind that tough times can hit any district and change is constant and flexible in the education environment. I took my first teaching role during a strike, and both the teachers and the administration were empathetic toward my situation. I was fortunate enough to receive guidance on how a first-year teacher should handle strike time.