Interview techniques for teachers
If you’re on the hunt for a new teaching role, knowing what to expect in an interview can make all the difference.
Whether you want to look for a new role within your current school, are pursuing a role elsewhere, or are a newly qualified teacher looking to embark on your career, here’s what you may want to consider.
Preparation is key when it comes to teaching interviews and interviewers will be able to spot when you’ve put the effort in. Do your research ahead of the interview and seek out all the information you can about the school, its history, ethos, policies and the like. Understand the approaches that are taken to safeguarding, behaviour management and assessments for learning, and refer to them when answering questions during the interview itself.
Plan your journey to the school and give yourself enough time to make the journey comfortably and without rushing. Being on time is vital!
What to wear to an interview
First impressions can make all the difference and it starts with your attire. Dress smartly, be friendly and have a smile on your face – these factors may seem simplistic, but they don’t go unnoticed.
What to take with you
Make sure you have all the necessary documentation so you can go equipped with it all to the interview too. Have a copy of your DBS certificate and have ID handy, as well as any other papers that have been requested.
During the interview
Be prepared for tough questions and prepare answers, and parts of answers, in advance. If you can, discuss them with a friend or family member as you may find that you can expand on parts of your answers or add in lines on certain experiences. Be sure to relate your answers to the teaching role and the school you are applying for.
The interview/demo lesson
As a fantastic opportunity to showcase your skills in action, engagement can be key to getting to know a new set of pupils quickly. Include lots of question and answer sessions in the lesson and don’t be afraid to do something different if it engages the class.
You should have several copies of your lesson plan to hand too, as interviewers can see what you are planning to do. If the demo lesson is cut short for any reason, at least your intentions can be seen.
Questions to prepare for
Why did you apply for this particular role?
You should talk about the key aspects of the role and what specifically attracted you to it, as well as wider points related to what attracted you into teaching. Your answer will be unique to you and it will provide plenty of insight into why you have made the choices you have. You can also show passion for teaching and link in your career aspirations if you’re an NQT.
Why did you choose to teach this particular age range?
Again, this answer will be unique to you and is an opportunity for you to detail why you prefer to work with specific year groups, or why you differentiate between primary and secondary school teaching. You may want to talk about the rewarding nature of the work and the ability to deliver various different outcomes.
Why do you want to work at our school?
Showcase your research and highlight what makes the particular school standout from others – be it achievements, its ethos or other factors. Know key information around results, the school’s reputation, its catchment area and anything else you think is relevant.
How would you work with a teaching assistant in your classroom?
Discuss how you can work with others and highlight the need for collaborative working in the classroom. Show how you would integrate a teaching assistant into your lesson plans and to what degree you would rely on them for assistance. This will vary by teacher and by the lessons being delivered, so you should showcase flexible approaches to teaching where possible.
How will you manage challenges at work?
Teaching brings with it numerous challenges and the interviewer will want to see that you recognise that. Refer to instances from your time in teacher training or during your NQT year and detail how you overcome them. Did you struggle to balance lesson planning with a full teaching caseload? If so, talk about it. Or if you’ve had additional responsibilities in past roles that required more time than anticipated, discuss how you found a solution.
What are the core skills and qualities that pupils look for in teachers?
This question should enable you to showcase your teaching style and to explain how you feel it fits in a classroom environment. Recognise that different styles exist and showcase the positive aspects – including your drive, passion for teaching, patience, sense of humour and ability to communicate – that are associated with your particular way of doing things.
What qualities do you have which would make you an effective teacher?
Take this opportunity to assess the role you are applying for and to relate your skills to the key requirements of the role. Aspects such as patience and flexibility could be considered, alongside how a role can be rewarding. Think about the means of creating and delivering lesson plans and of the need to adapt to different situations as they arise.
Describe a good lesson
Look to mention the importance of preparation and refer back to successful lessons you have taught in the past. What worked well and what didn’t, and discuss how the experience enabled you to shape your teaching style as a result. This is a chance to show that you analyse your lessons on a regular basis and that you can pick out strengths and weaknesses to work on and develop.
Describe the teaching method you find most effective
Showcase the need for flexibility and that different teaching styles can be required in different situations. Although you will likely have a predominant style that you prefer, it’s an opportunity to highlight how you can use various approaches as you see fit. You may also want to discuss why you feel some methods are more effective than others in those situations.
How would you deal with a pupil who is not co-operating?
This is an opportunity to discuss behaviour management strategies and to talk about what works for you in detail. Refer to previous experiences and talk about situations where you were able to bring a difficult, or potentially difficult, situation under control. It’s likely you’ll have plenty of examples, so you can showcase how your approaches have the desired results.
Show examples of how you have achieved each of the Teaching Standards
Highlight your knowledge of the Teaching Standards and remember that they represent the bare minimum of what is expected. Look to showcase examples where you excel and approach each standard individually when answering.
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