54 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 54
Do you believe you should build rapport with students? If yes, how?
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Rapport is an important aspect of influencing others. Explain how you build rapport with students and end your response with a benefit to the students.
"Absolutely, rapport is very important. Students respond to teachers when they feel like the teacher really cares and has a genuine connection with them. I build rapport with them by getting to know the people in their lives during one-on-one talks. Every week, on two different days, I assign an independent activity to the class and during that time I have a chat with each student for about five minutes. I take that time to get to know them individually, so that they know that they aren't just an anonymous face in a class of 30 kids. The students usually do better because they have a direct line of communication with me that they know they can rely on."
How would you rank these in importance and why? Planning, discipline, methods, evaluation.
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Note that 'discipline' is the only character trait that is based on you. Planning, methods, and evaluation are all skills that can be taught. If you choose another aspect from the list, make sure you justify your statements with a clear explanation. It may help to think in terms of how one aspect supports or is a prerequisite for another aspect to function.
"Discipline is the most important because your work ethic is something that you're ingrained with. Everything else is something that can be taught. You need discipline to execute a plan, you need discipline to learn new methods, and you need discipline to implement the feedback that comes from evaluation. I'm very disciplined it shows in my dedication to my students."
What would you do if 50% of a class did poorly on a test?
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It's important to show your knowledge of pedagogy. If half the class failed your test, it'd be prudent to look into your test or teaching methods. Demonstrate your professional competence by giving specific examples of what you would do.
"Clearly, I must've done something wrong. It's either the test or the lessons that went awry. I'd look into any issues with the test: maybe nearly got a few of the questions wrong, so that means that I either wrote a bad question or I didn't teach that topic well enough. I'd also talk to the class about the test and get some feedback."
How would you apply technology to enhance daily instruction and increase student learning?
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Start your answer off with a tool or technique that you used. Show what you did, what the students learned from it, then connect it with the top-level impact.
"One way that i've increased student learning is by using computer games. I teach the students about raw materials using Minecraft. I show them that in order to make glass, they need to heat up sand. This teaches them to start seeing the world in terms of inputs and outputs and how they increase value by processing raw materials. By breaking things down for them in a step-by-step manner, I was able to improve their writing ability."
It's usually best to be slightly ambitious, but not overly ambitious. Give a genuine answer.
If you have considered it, go into some detail about why and position it as an aspiration that you'll take steps to achieve over the long term. The key is to show your ambition and your proactive approach, but not so much that you appear to be a flight risk. Being concrete in your steps makes you appear professional and results-oriented rather than treating objectives like pipe dreams.
If you haven't considered it, give a quick answer as to why not and quickly segue into how teaching is your passion and commitment.
"I think most teachers have thought about writing a book at some point in their careers. We have so many stories to tell! The thought had crossed my mind, but right now my focus is on the kids. I just want to be the best teacher I can to them."
6. What attracted you to this school? It's important to show that you did a fair amount of research on that specific school. If possible, choose a specific person in that organization whose stated values or accomplishments attract your interest. You can also choose to speak on one of the school's values and why you see it as being important. Here is an answer example: "I read that Ms. Kaufman brought a cinema studies class to this school, and that tells me a lot about this school. It tells me that we're trying to create well-rounded students, that we're resourceful, etc. And that's important to me because..."7. What are your computer skills? What computer software have you used? Give brief lip service to the most common software that's currently being used. If you have any specialized knowledge, now is the time to bring that up. When mentioning software, explain what you use it for so that you can make a clearer connection to the benefit of your ability. Here is an answer example: "I use Microsoft Suite, of course. I use Google Apps to share documents with parents and make surveys. I track student performance in Google Sheets. I'm also great at using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to make presentations, graphics for lessons, and promotional or informational flyers that I pass out to teachers."8. How do you encourage students to learn? Can a student be forced to learn? Demonstrate your professionalism by explaining your understanding of how learning works. Connect that theory with your personal experience: start off with the broad strategy and give a few concise and concrete examples. Here is an answer example: "Students can't be forced to learn because learning is an active process. The students need to actively reach for that knowledge.
I encourage students to learn by making lessons relevant to their lives in that moment if I can. I get them to questions that they want the answers to. For example, if a student is currently playing a video game with dinosaurs in it, I'll use that as natural segue to encourage them to think about the natural world. How did the dinosaurs get there? What do they eat? Where do they get that food?"9. How do you deal with the unmotivated student? Student motivation is critical to everyone's success, from yours to the students to the principal's. Choose a Here is an answer example: "Student motivation is really important, and I spend as much as I can with each student, getting to know about their interests and building that trust with them so that they can come to me about any problem. Because that's usually the issue when it comes to motivation. There might be an issue at home, or with a fellow student, or maybe a bully from another grade. It could be any number of things, and I won't know what those things are unless they open up to me. Trust is the key, so I have to build that trust and develop that relationship with them."10. If a student came to you and said, 'None of the other students like me,' what would you tell him/her? Demonstrate your interpersonal ability by laying out the flow of your conversation. If it makes it easier, ask the interviewer if you can imagine an actual student by name: this makes the answer less abstract and helps you appear more empathetic. Here is an answer example: "Let's imagine that the student's name is Johnny. I'd say, 'Johnny, I feel bad that you think that none of the other students like you. Why do you think that?' I'd listen to the answer and look into the matter. If there's bullying, I'd follow school policy about that. At the end of the day, it's important to remember that this student trusted me enough to open up to me and is expecting me to improve his situation."11. How would you weigh a plane without scales? The process you use to arrive at your answer is more important than the actual answer itself. It's important to lay out the process step by step so that the interviewer can accurately gauge your lateral thinking ability. Here is an answer example: "I'd take gold bullion, which is 12.4 kilograms each, balance the plane on a fulcrum, and add gold until the fulcrum is level."12. What would you tell a parent who complained about his/her child not having enough homework? Demonstrate your ability to listen and identify the root cause of a problem by laying out a step by step description of the kinds of questions you would ask. Bolster your professionalism by positioning yourself as a problem solver or by showing that you're experienced. Here is an answer example: "I'd acknowledge how the parent felt and thank them for taking an active interest in their child's education. Then I'd ask them why they think their child doesn't have enough homework. Then I'd ask them what they thought the benefit of having more of it would be. There are a lot of reasons that a parent might say this. Sometimes it's because they fear that their child is too smart is underachieving. Sometimes it might be because the child appears to do the homework very quickly, and it might be that they're that smart or it might be that they're bullying another student to do the homework for them.
Whatever the case may be, I'd explain that there's a standard curriculum for all the students to follow and that I'd be more than happy to make individual adjustments if it's necessary. I'd work with them to come up with a plan that satisfies their desired level of achievement."13. Tell me about some specific motivational strategies you use to get students excited about a project. Take the school's values into account before responding. Be specific and give concrete examples that you've used in the past. If your past experience doesn't fit exactly with the school's values, explain some small adjustments that you'd make at this school and explain why. Here is an answer example: "I use both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
For intrinsic rewards, I'd ask each student about something fun that they'd like to do if they could do anything and they had the whole of next week to do it, no homework or assignments. That tells me a little bit about what is exciting to them. Some kids might say they want to play sports, some kids might want to play video games, some might want to ride a horse. I use these ideas as a springboard for lessons.
For the extrinsic reward, I let the kids choose a little prize from the prize box if they get enough stars at the end of the week.
Each student is different in which one motivates them more, so I adjust as needed."14. What activities has technologies replaced in your lessons, if any? If you have an example where technology has replaced an activity, explain why. Note that it's not necessary that technology replace an activity in your lessons: a technology can also supplement an activity. The most important thing to understand is that the interviewer is looking at how you use technology to improve the effectiveness of your lessons.
Tell the interviewer about your stance on technology and give an example on how you do use technology to benefit the students. Here is an answer example: "I don't outright replace any activities. The kids still need to learn penmanship. And they still need to know how to look up a word in a traditional dictionary. We can't let autocorrect and Google do all the thinking for them. I use technology to enhance my lessons.
For example, I use educational apps on the iPad so that the students can interact with lessons. This makes it more engaging and they learn better this way."15. Give me examples of ideas you've had and implemented? Identify the school's key values and choose an idea that you've implemented that is aligned with those values. Each school's leadership has different attitudes towards risk-taking, so adjust accordingly.
Define the problem by identifying the area of improvement and laying out your plan to improve it. Then show the actions you took and the resulting outcome. You may wish to quantify the outcome. Here is an answer example: "My students weren't doing at math. The class median was only 66%, and I aimed to get it up to 75%. The problem was that they thought that math was boring. So I decided to implement more math throughout the curriculum. I taught them to think quantitatively by introducing mathematical concepts wherever possible.
For example, in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', I made up a math problem for them involving the number of chocolate bars the store would need to sell in order to make a profit. By the end of the year, I succeeded in increasing the median score to 75%."16. Do you have any questions for me? This question is usually saved for the end of the interview. You can use this opportunity to end things on a positive note by asking questions that focus on success. Here is an answer example: "What are some of the areas that are most in need of improvement? If I were to start here as a teacher, and the principal said that he was really proud of me, can you tell me what she might say that I've done?"17. What's the last book you read? If you have read any books related to teaching, mention them. Regardless of the topic of the book, give a 1-2 sentence brief of what you gained from reading them (as related to teaching). Here is an answer example: "I'm actually reading The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and I'm really excited about the book because I'm learning how to teach using concise descriptions of concepts. The content itself is good too because business is relatable to concepts across different subjects like social studies and math."18. Was there a person in your life who really made a difference? Choose a person who influenced you somehow in your professional life. This person doesn't have to be someone who's in your professional life. For example, your mother or father may have influenced your decision to become a teacher. Or perhaps a professor inspired you to commit to a life of teaching. Avoid cliches and generic answers by being as specific as possible.
Explain their role in the impact that they made. Here is an answer example: "My first grade teacher really convinced me to be a teacher. I just graduated from college and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I went back to my hometown to visit family. I also visited my first grade teacher, Mrs. Bowers. I talked with Mrs. Bowers and she really inspired me to become a teacher because I realized that I remembered her even after all these years. I remember her because [XYZ reason]. And that's what I want to do for other students as well."19. Are you comfortable with the use of technology in the classroom? The interviewer is asking this question because it's important to them: the school is working on integrating technology into the classroom.
Affirm the importance of technology and explain what it enables. Then provide an example if have one. Here is an answer example: "Yes, absolutely. In fact, I think it's critical to student success and achievement. Technology lets us engage students in so many different ways, which means that we can cater to different learning styles. For example, I use iPads to create interactive presentations, which lets the student learn in whatever way is best for them—if they like reading, listening, interacting with diagrams—whatever it is, they can do really engage with the material."20. Are you an empathetic person? Give an example. Use the STAR method to answer this question. Describe the situation and the task. Describe the actions you took and the resulting outcome. When possible, bring the positive outcome around to show a benefit to the school. Here is an answer example: "Yes, I'm fairly empathetic. You need to be, in order to reach the students. They need to feel that you care about them. Otherwise, they're not going to give an honest effort to learn. For example, I had a kid who came from a poor family. When we had a one-on-one, he scoffed at me and pointed at my necktie. He said only rich people wear ties, and that rich people don't know anything about the hardships that poor people had to go through.
I asked him to tell me more about some of his hardships, and I showed him that I cared by taking note of those issues. I asked him for his permission to look into ways that I might be able to help him. I earned his respect through empathy and this led to him being more receptive to learning in my classroom."21. How can you tell that a person is a good listener? Use your knowledge of pedagogy in your response.
Example answer; "A good listener will be able to paraphrase or otherwise demonstrate that they understand what was just being said. You can't rely on physical cues because people act differently: some people might stare into the ground because they're listening intently, others might look you in the eyes and nod. The only way to really tell is to ask them to explain what you said to them in their own words." Here is an answer example: "A good listener will be able to paraphrase or otherwise demonstrate that they understand what was just being said. You can't rely on physical cues because people act differently: some people might stare into the ground because they're listening intently, others might look you in the eyes and nod. The only way to really tell is to ask them to explain what you said to them in their own words."22. What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader? If possible, do research on the leadership style of the current school leadership and mention the character traits that you can observe in them. It's important to gauge the level of authoritarianism in the school. Some schools are more egalitarian while others can be have a very top-down, hierarchical culture. Use this information when developing your response and avoid incompatible values.
In general, it's best to avoid mentioning personalities because that differs from leader to leader. Instead, if you want to be diplomatic, focus on what a leader gets done and the kinds of actions he or she takes.
If you can, research a person in the school leadership and make an example of something good that this person did. Here is an answer example: "A good leader is going to give very clear directions on what needs to be done. A bad leader lacks a clear direction. And a great leader provides not just clear direction, but also the force and motivation to get there. I really think Mr. Levitan is a great leader because [...]"23. Do you prefer to do long term or short term plans? How do you plan for instruction? Don't settle for either/or thinking and instead respond that you can do both. You can use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility and discipline.
Explain the importance of each style of planning and how it plays into your instruction plan. Here is an answer example: "I like [short/long] term planning, but both short term and long term plans are equally important. In long term planning, I identify the objectives and work backwards to plan how I'll get them there. I don't get into too much detail, I just paint in broad strokes first. Then, for the short term, I fill in the details on a weekly and monthly basis. It's important to observe the results of your work and adjust from there, so the short term plans are going be detailed but flexible: they might change from week to week to account for student performance. But the overall long term milestones are always in place are set in stone."24. How closely do you follow your plans? It's important to demonstrate your professionalism and discipline by showing that you can stick to a plan regardless of how you feel or what happens. On the same token, flexibility is also important. Here is an answer example: "I typically do stick very close to my plans. I spend a lot of time drawing them up. At the same time, if I see that the class isn't progressing according to plan, I'll adjust my plan and stick to the new version, and so on and so forth."25. What do you feel are the most important factors in classroom control? You may find it useful to interview experienced teachers to get some insight into classroom control techniques. As with most responses, it really depends on the classroom. At-risk youth will require different techniques compared to developmentally disabled children.
Be specific and explain why you use the technique. If appropriate, follow through with a benefit to the student performance. Here is an answer example: "It really depends on the kind of children who make up the class. In general, it helps to be very specific so that you can hold the students accountable. For example, if I tell a student to stop talking, he might just resort to passing notes. Instead, if I'm very specific, and I tell him to please stop talking, direct his eyes to the front of the room, and take notes, I can hold him accountable to each of those directions. This usually will help maintain order because the other students know that they'll be held accountable too. When everyone falls into place and cooperates, the entire class begins to learn at a faster pace and that results in better scores."26. Why is your GPA not higher? Turn a negative into a positive. Give an honest and direct response. If the reason lies with a personal flaw, take responsibility for it and explain how you've matured and learned from it since then. If the reason is external, explain why.
Either way, don't dwell on the negative. Be brief about it and quickly move on to ways that you mitigated the negative aspects surrounding your low GPA. Here is an answer example: "My parents got a divorce in my junior year, and it was very difficult to focus on my coursework. I learned quickly that in order to graduate, I would have to ask for help. I learned how to make good use of the resources I have available to me and, looking back, I'd act more quickly to nip the problem in the bud than let it grow into a much bigger problem."27. How do you feel about computers in the classroom? See how tightly technology is integrated into the school. Chances are that, like most schools, they are trying to find ways to use technology to improve.
Give an example of what you have done or might do to use technology to benefit the students. Here is an answer example: "I think computers are great tools to supplement traditional classroom activities. Last year, I introduced email newsletters for the parents which increased parental engagement. Some of the students seemed to be more present in the classroom as a result."28. What would you do if your Principal made a decision you did not like? Be honest about how you react to decisions that you don't agree with.
If you are a more agreeable person, explain your view on leadership and lay out the actions that you would perform.
If you are a less agreeable person, be forthright about it and move quickly to demonstrate your professionalism and ability to defer to authority.
Either way, it's important to express a willingness to put aside your temporary differences in order to act towards a common overarching goal. Here is an answer example: "We all have our own opinions, but at the end of the day I have to trust that the Principal is making decisions that are in the school's best interests. After all, the principal has more information than I do as a teacher. Depending on the situation, I might make it very clear in a polite way that I disagree with his or her decision, but that I support the schools' efforts and and will surely act in line with that decision."29. How will you instruct students with varying abilities? Demonstrate your competence and professional knowledge by mentioning a few theories and then go into a little bit of detail for each technique. If you're an experienced teacher, you may also demonstrate your understanding of how to handle such situations by simply telling the interviewer what you would do. Here is an answer example: "You're always going to have students who are slower or faster than each other. The ones who are faster tend to get bored, so I teach the base lesson and keep the faster ones busy with some more challenging pieces of work. I take note of the ones who are slower and remind myself that I need to spend a little more time with them."30. What experience have you had with students from culturally diverse backgrounds? If you have had direct experience with students from culturally diverse backgrounds, give a direct example that displays your cultural sensitivity. You may want to use a story that highlights the way you were able to adapt to the student's particular needs.
If you haven't had any direct experience handling people from a diverse range of cultures, you can give the interviewer confidence by mentioning examples of your ability to be fair and consistent yet sensitive. Here is an answer example: "The last class that I taught really didn't have much diversity because the students were all mostly from the same area. I have received diversity training and I'm very fair and consistent in the way I treat everyone. Regardless of anyone's culture, children universally respond to a teacher who listens carefully and adapts to their specific needs. I treat everyone as an individual."31. Why did you decide to become a teacher? Your response should be aligned with the school's mission and values. Material factors such as salaries and benefits are not going to impress the interviewer. Instead, focus on a reason that would give you the motivation to continue despite hard times. If possible, attribute your motivation to a personal trait and not an external factor. You may also choose to mention things that you like about the school. Here is an answer example: "Like most other teachers, I became a teacher because I really believe that children are the future and because I think knowledge is power. In college, I found out that I have a knack for breaking things down and explaining how things work. So, naturally, I became a teacher. And I'd like to teach here because..."32. Have you ever taken care of someone? Did you enjoy it? The interviewer is asking this because you'll be expected to take care of children. Most likely, you'll be teaching younger children Grades K-2.
Answer honestly and follow up with specific techniques that you could use to enable you to perform this job function. If possible, draw from an experience in which you performed well. The age of the person you took care of is less important than the fact that you were able to care for this person. End with a focus on something positive that you got out of the situation. Here is an answer example: "I had to take care of my aunt for a month or so, back when I was in high school. She has cerebral palsy. It was tough in the beginning and I didn't like it at first. But after the first week or so, I got a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that she was depending on me."33. Are you a positive and energetic person? While being both energetic and positive would be ideal for an elementary school teacher, you may not necessarily be energetic or positive. Positivity is the more crucial trait of the two, so focus on how positive you can be. The emotional content of your answer will be key, so it's best if you're able to draw a vivid picture for the interviewer. Use open and relaxed body language to underscore your positivity. Here is an answer example: "Yes, I'm a very very positive person. I thrive on the energy of my students. It's a great feeling to see all those children coming in to my classroom."34. If a student said she thought you were the worst teacher she ever had, what would you say? Show your sensitivity and professionalism by describing the way that you would handle the situation in relational terms. Acknowledge the relationship between teacher and student. Here is an answer example: "I'd acknowledge the way that she feels and ask her why she feels that way. I'd listen carefully to what she has to say because it'll give me a clue about how she wants to be treated and taught."35. If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be? You may want to ask for more information to make a more well-informed response. Regardless, you can answer hypotheticals by laying out the grounds of two different common scenarios and explaining the goals are. You can also wrap your answer up by telling the interviewer about one aspect of professional development that you would strive to work on regardless of what the school's needs are. Follow up with why you want to work on it and/or how it'll benefit the school. Here is an answer example: "That depends on what the areas of improvement are. Maybe we need to work on reading scores or math scores, in which case my goal would be to raise the scores. I'm always trying to get parents more involved though, so increasing parent engagement is one of the goals I really want to keep working on throughout my career because I've seen that students succeed more consistently when parents are supportive of what the teachers are trying to accomplish."36. Are you a team player? Affirm that you're a team player by giving examples. If you don't have much teaching experience, use examples from any of your experiences, including volunteer experience, and especially any experience involving children in this age range. Here is an answer example: "I think being a team player is very important because as teachers we can grow and improve so much more by being a part of a team. In fact, it's necessary to the smooth operation of a school. We all need to be able to rely on each other. For example..."37. What is your philosophy towards work? Give an honest answer that's aligned with the school's values. If you're a workaholic, paint a picture of dedication and tireless work. If you prefer to have more work-life balance, paint a picture of a balanced and focused individual. Imagine yourself as an engine: what is your fuel? Connect your response to how it benefits the students. Here is an answer example: "I'm very dedicated to helping children. In a sense, I see them as my own because they and their parents are trusting me to do what's best for them and to teach them what they need in order to become functioning adults. When I'm there with them in the classroom, they have my complete and undivided attention. I focus on their needs and take care of them. Then, to recharge myself and stay balanced, when I get out of work I spend some time taking care of myself; I make sure that I have what it takes to take good care of them."38. What is your greatest strength? Choose a strength of yours that most closely aligns with both the organization's values and positions you well to overcome one of the most difficult facets of the job. End your example by explaining the benefit of your strength. Here is an answer example: "I think that my greatest strength is my positive attitude. With a positive attitude, anything can be overcome and everything can be achieved because it gives me the energy I need to persist at whatever I'm doing. For example, if there's a PTA night and a student also needs my help, some people might see that as too much work. But with my positive mental attitude, I see it the situation as two valuable opportunities to help my students."39. How do you handle stressful situations? Give a brief overview of what you would do to manage your stress. Show that you have full knowledge of yourself and understand how to mitigate the negativity. End with a positive outcome. Here is an answer example: "When I get stressed, I know that I tend to get tunnel vision and I bury myself in my work. So I set timers to keep myself on track, and when I set alarms to go take a break and take a breather. When I get home, I cook because it focuses me on a task in the present moment. Then I write in my journal if I need to get anything out of my system. That way, the next morning I'm refreshed and ready to take on everything I need to."40. What is the toughest problem you've had to face? And how did you overcome it? Choose a character trait that would be critical to overcoming one of the most difficult problems that an elementary school teacher might face. Draw from your own experiences and look for times when that character trait helped you overcome an obstacle. Here is an answer example: "I had a violent student who would lash out at students and staff. I had to be very patient with him and I had to remain very calm when dealing with him because I knew that, if he saw my stress or any sign of aggression, he would lash out even more. I overcame the problem by showing him compassion."41. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Answer honestly and follow up with reasons that you would enjoy teaching. Here is an answer example: "I would retire from teaching, but only because I want to do even more than teachers can. As teachers, we can only do so much for our students. I'd definitely continue volunteering at a school to help parents and students."42. What was your most rewarding experience during student teaching? Research the school's mission and values. Relate your your experience with the mission and use the story to highlight a value that's critical to the school. Remember to use the STAR method.
In this example below, the interview is at a school for an at-risk population that lists 'agency' as one of its values. Here is an answer example: "I was trying to help a failing student pass. He claimed that he was trying as hard as he could but kept blaming his peers for distracting him. It was really rewarding when I finally broke through to him and showed him that he was the one in charge of directing his attention."43. If students were having difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do? Give a concrete example using your direct experience by starting with a specific student that you remember helping. If you don't have one, use an example where you were able to teach someone something—it could be a friend or family member.
Start with the problem: what was it that your student couldn't do or understand? Demonstrate your ability to overcome obstacles by moving into a quick overview of what you did that didn't work and progress into what did work. Sum up with the resulting positive outcome and connect it with the broader idea of the strategy you use to teach a student. Here is an answer example: "I remember a time when I taught my student how to use similes. She was having trouble dividing numbers. I tried different ways of explaining it to her. I even showed her using [...]. Then I realized that it would be best if I had her try to divide something herself. I asked her to draw a circle and decorate it like the top of a cake. Then I had her divide the cake into different parts. I realized that she learns best by doing, by interacting with tangible objects.
And so any time there's a student who has a difficulty learning something, I quickly try to figure out what their preferred learning style is."44. What techniques would you use to be sure that students understand? Answer with 2-3 techniques and explain the reason that you would use it. Here is an answer example: "I'd use quizzes, short essays, and presentations. Quizzes are good to check for basic knowledge such as terminology. Short essays are good for having the students explain things in a structured way. And presentations ensure that they know the material well enough to speak about it confidently."45. How do you feel when a student fails? Answer with an honest reaction and follow it up with why. Then connect the reason to a brief overview of how you'd improve the situation. Here is an answer example: "I'd feel like I failed my student. There are a lot of reasons that a student might fail, and I'd look at whether there was anything that I could've done better. My students deserve the best from me."46. What techniques do you use to keep students actively involved during a lesson? The implication is that it's important to keep students actively involved, so state that importance in your own words. Then give a technique that you've used to good effect before, illustrate it using a concrete example, and explain why it works. Here is an answer example: "Students need to be engaged throughout a lesson, and I make sure to call on everyone randomly to keep them on their toes. I vary the kinds of questions I use as well. For instance, I might ask them [ABC question] and then change to open-ended opinion-oriented questions. This works because [XYZ reasons]."47. Why are you the best person for this job? This is one of the few openings to really focus the interviewer's attention on your finest qualities.
It's important to research the school's values ahead of time. Choose a skill of yours that you think is aligned with these values and connect it with an innate character trait of yours.
For instance, if a school is known for being strict due to rowdy students, you may want to highlight that you're very good at classroom management. Or if a school is known for a strong liberal arts program, you may want to highlight that you're very creative.
If possible, identify a problem that the school has and ask the interviewer to confirm that it's a problem. Then show how you would improve that problem by connecting your character trait with a skill. End it by reinforcing the benefits. Here is an answer example: "I've heard that this school has a lot of discipline problems, is that right? Well, I'm a very empathetic person, and I'm also very firm. So that means that I'm very good at classroom management because students like this need to know that their teacher is in fact acting in their best interests. They can sense whether someone is genuinely interested in their well-being or if this person is just telling them what to do because those are the rules. My classroom management skills would help maintain order in this kind of environment which means that we have a much better chance of getting them to improve."48. What challenges are you looking for in a position? State your current experience and contrast it with the challenge you're looking for. Explain why you want this challenge, how it'll help you in your career, and what its place is in your trajectory. Here is an answer example: "I've been teaching the fourth grade for three years, and I'm interested in challenging myself in terms of classroom management. Everyone knows the seventh grade has the rowdiest and unruliest students, and I want to gain experience with maintaining order and discipline because I'm interested in at-risk youth and may want to be a dean some day."49. It seems like there is never enough time to cover the curriculum or to get children to master content and skills. Would you comment on that? The key here is time management. Demonstrate your ability to manage your time effectively by illustrating how you would allocate your time depending on differing priorities. Here is an answer example: "That's so true! Really, it's just about managing your time effectively and doing the best with the constraints that we're given. Plans always fall apart in the real world so it's important to adjust on the fly. You have to quickly identify which students are going to need more or less of your time. The students who pick up things faster can work more independently and usually enjoy a challenge. I might have them try to explain topic to the other students in their group in order to keep all of them engaged while I give my attention to another group or an individual student."50. What are your weaknesses? Turn a negative into a positive. Choose a genuine weakness of yours. Make sure that it is a task-oriented weakness and not a character trait.
Mention it briefly and quickly turn the conversation towards how you improved this weakness and turned it into a positive skill. If you can, connect this skill to a benefit to the school. Here is an answer example: "To be very honest with you, I'm not great at administrative work. That's why I've gotten very good at making systems to organize my paperwork. I have checklists and step-by-step instructions for myself so that I don't waste time trying to remember what I have to do next. In fact, I teach my parents about this system sometimes."51. Where would you like to be in your career five years from now? A genuine answer is perfectly acceptable. The needs of the school differ from one school to the next. Use your best judgement and look into teacher turnover rates. If they are high, then the school is most likely looking for someone who will stay for 3 years or more. An appropriate answer will depend on your level of experience. If you are new, then it's often best to show a moderate level of ambition that's tempered with patience.
What's most important is to demonstrate that you're stable and resilient, and that you're willing to put the needs of the school ahead of your own. Here is an answer example: "It really depends on how these next five years will turn out. My first priority is the students. I have to push hard and see where I'm most effective. If it means that I'll be teaching second grade instead of fifth, then that's where I'll go. After I've proven that I'm an effective teacher, I might decide to see what my options are: maybe there'd be an opening for assistant principal and I might look into that."52. Are you constantly searching for things you can show, tell, or demonstrate to students? Tell us about some recent discovery, something that you have found. Demonstrate that you're fully committed and engaged with your profession by giving an answer that shows an moment that you were inspired while going about your daily life. Here is an answer example: "While I was eating dinner, I was watching a TV show about food history, and it was about how hot dogs came to be. It was because the man who was selling sausages was losing money on the gloves that he was giving to his customers so that they could eat the sausage without getting their hands dirty. This was a perfect way to teach them about business and economics, and how the bun came out of economic necessity.
So I posed the problem to the kids: how would you fix the problem of losing money on the gloves?"53. What are you most proud of? If possible, quantify your accomplishment. Then explain how you did it; what satisfaction you got out of it, and the impact that this accomplishment had on your professional growth. Here is an answer example: "I'm really proud of the time when I improved math scores from a 76% class average to 85%. I did this by integrating math more deeply into the entire curriculum. I had the students read books where there's room to add math into it. For example, I used 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' as a fun way to teach business math. I felt satisfied that my creativity helped my students, and I think that it really helped me grow in terms of curriculum development."54. What do you like to do in your spare time? Organizations typically like to see well-rounded individuals, so share a few activities you genuinely enjoy and relate them to the teaching profession. Here is an answer example: "I really enjoy going to the movies and hiking. A lot of times, when I go on a hike, I see something that I can teach about in science class, like leaves or earthworms. And in movies, I get a lot of English lesson ideas there."
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