Updated on August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 33
Have you ever taught a class with special needs students, or students with a disability? If so, how did you adjust your teaching style or curriculum?
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The interviewer would like to know if you have experience teaching students who have special learning needs. Show that you are willing and able to accommodate the needs of your students. Give a specific example, if you can.
"Yes, I currently have a student in my class who is hearing impaired. For that class, I have special slides to go with each lesson so that he can follow along easily. I have found this to be helpful for other students who have specific cognitive challenges as well. As a teacher, I feel it is my responsibility to happily and readily accommodate my students."
The interviewer would like to know which subjects excite you! Whether you love teaching math, or have a penchant for the arts, show the interviewer that you have a true passion for your craft. There is no right or wrong answer here but be sure to avoid speaking poorly of a certain subject, especially if you may be asked to teach that curriculum down the road.
"I enjoy a wide range of subjects; however, my favorite subject to teach is Chemistry. I like that it's so hands on, and the knowledge can be applied to many other areas of science and even math."
How would you handle a student being disruptive in the classroom?
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The interviewer would like to know more about your style when it comes to corrective discipline in the classroom. As a High School teacher you will come across students who are challenging, or push your limits. That's a given! Show that you can handle the situation professionally and in a way that demands the respect of your students.
"As a High School teacher, I have had my fair share of experience with disruptive students. Because I am teaching teenagers, and not children, my philosophy is to treat them the same as an adult. I will let them know that they are being disruptive and will give the student the option of ending the disruption, or leaving the classroom."
The interviewer would like to know how you go about earning the respect of your students. As a High School teacher you must be able to command presence in the classroom while also being a mentor-type that your students feel they can easily approach with questions and other education related needs. Discuss a bit about your work personality, teaching style, and how your students respond to you.
"I truly believe that respect needs to be earned, and not demanded. I earn the respect of my students by becoming invested in their education, their performance, and their needs. I make myself approachable and am open to feedback."
What qualities do you believe make an excellent teacher?
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List for the interviewer some of the qualities that you feel are most important for a High School teacher to possess. Be sure to tie in the fact that you personally possess these qualities!
Some great qualities could be:
- Concern for kids
- Determined and persistent
- A confidante
- Committed to professional development
"I believe that an excellent teacher should be a strong listener, and have the ability to flexible, and versatile in their day. I believe that I possess these qualities and am also highly approachable. My students can come to me for anything, and that's very important."
6. What is your teaching philosophy? According to the University of Minnesota, a teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your beliefs about teaching and learning. It should also discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom. Every teacher, you should have a base philosophy that drives and motivates them every day. Talk to the interviewer about your philosophy on teaching. It's best to write this out and memorize it- similar to how a sales person would have an elevator pitch. Here is an answer example: 7. How do want your students to remember you? At the end of the school year, or when your students graduate - how do you want them to remember you? As a High School teacher you have an excellent opportunity to be a positive influence on a younger generation. Keep your answer brief, and positive. Here is an answer example: "I want my students to remember me as the teacher who listened to them and accommodated their learning style. My hope is that every student that I teach will look back and feel that they were accepted and given an opportunity to succeed."8. What types of activities keep you busy, outside of work? The interviewer would like to know what keeps you busy outside of the workplace. Having hobbies and interests outside of work is a very important part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Talk to the interviewer about the activities that interest you outside of the workplace. Here is an answer example: "I have a variety of hobbies that keep me busy outside of work hours. First, I have 2 children who are involved in basketball and gymnastics. I also play on a baseball beer league, I volunteer at our community church and like to read."9. We were initially looking for someone with 5 years' experience in a similar role. Considering you have just 2 years' experience, would you be willing to accept this position at a lower salary? Are you willing to earn your way up if the interviewer does not want to offer you top compensation? Discuss with the interviewer what you would expect for compensation if you were offered this position. Here is an answer example: "I would be happy to earn my way to the top compensation level, if required. I do assure you that, despite my being shy of experience by a couple of years, I am a top performer and you would not be disappointed in my performance."10. Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume. The interviewer would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your resume. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your kids, or relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewer that you are a real person, too. Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate!
Focus on special non-work related skills or hobbies. For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewer to stop you and ask you to perform your skill on the spot when its possible! (This will make you unforgettable!) Here is an answer example: "I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last 8 years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."11. What motivates you? Typically, employees are motivated by environments where they feel supported and encouraged. The interviewer wants to know how they could motivate you - even on the toughest of days! Be open with the interviewer about the ways you can stay motivated on the job, even when the going gets tough. Here is an answer example: "It does not take a lot to keep me motivated. If I work in a positive environment with a forward-thinking team, I am a very happy employee. If you see me going above and beyond, a quick thanks or small recognition of my hard work is good enough for me."12. How do you handle stress on the job? Are you someone who is able to handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."13. Tell me about your leadership qualities. The interviewer would like to know what you consider to be strong leadership qualities. When describing leadership qualities, try to avoid general terms and give some unique ideas.
A great leader is someone who people naturally want to follow. They have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with nearly any personality type. A respected leader will take ownership for their mistakes and will always lead their team by example. True leaders see the importance in motivating others and recognizing even the smallest achievements. Which of these qualities do you most identify with? Here is an answer example: "I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize my students' small wins because that motivates them to continue achieving."14. What are your salary expectations? The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn a salary of $65,000 per year. I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."15. How do you deal with distracting coworkers who stand in the way of your productivity? Even the most well-meaning coworkers can distract you from getting things done at work from time to time. Let's be honest, the funny and entertaining coworkers who like to chat online and send YouTube videos are often the ones who can get in the way of your productivity if you let them. How do you respond? Show off your ability to set professional boundaries, when needed. Here is an answer example: "I typically just set a kind, but clear, boundary and tell my coworker that I really need to focus. I will offer an alternate time for a catch up, over lunch for example. It is important for the sake of workplace culture to set aside time to be social with coworkers, so I usually just let them know when I'll be available for a quick break in the day."16. Rate your communication skills from 1-10 with proper examples backing your given rating. On a scale of 1-10, how skilled are you in communication? Why did you choose that particular rating for yourself? Here is an answer example: "I rate my communication skills as a 9/10 as I will, on occasion, have times when I am not as clear as I would like to be. My faculty will attest to my clear and concise communication skills. Because I am an open communicator, my coworkers and students will let me know if I need to clarify anything."17. Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator? In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer and support your answer. Here is an answer example: "I prefer verbal communication because I feel that with written communication, a lot can be misread due to lack of tone, fluctuation, expression and body language. I will always choose a face to face conversation whenever possible."18. Describe an ongoing problem at your current or former employer that you were able to overcome. Every place of employment will have it's challenges. Talk to the interviewer about a specific issue that you were able to overcome in your previous role. Be sure to remain positive. Avoid complaining or saying negative things about your previous employer or co-workers. Here is an answer example: "In my most recent position we had an ongoing concern with our most popular stock depleting before the new shipment would come in. Customers would become annoyed and upset, which then became an issue for me as the Customer Service Manager. I decided to document the cycle and then approach the Inventory Manager about my concern. We were able to work on a solution for ordering from that particular supplier. In the end, this solved the majority of supply issues."19. When have you had to lead by example? The interviewer wants to know that you are aware of the need to always lead by example.
"All the time!" As a leader, your actions, decisions, and demeanour are always under some form of scrutiny. The most stressful workplace situations often surround change so it's a great idea to talk about a time when your organization went through a major change. Change can be very challenging for some people. Discuss how you accept change with a positive attitude.
Perhaps a new software system was being implemented. Maybe your company was being acquired. Perhaps a change occurred in your senior leadership. Talk about how easily your team could have leaned towards negativity by becoming unmotivated, or acting fearful of the change. Highlight that you have genuine excitement surrounding the possibilities that come with change and that this excitement rubs off on your team. Here is an answer example: "All the time!"20. What interests you most when it comes to teaching at the High School level? The interviewer would like to better understand what is motivating you to teach at the High School level. Give one strong example of why being a High School Teacher is an exciting career path for you. Discuss how this role will help you to feel fulfilled in your teaching career. Here is an answer example: "What interests me most about teaching at the High School level is that I am able to make a direct impact on our next generation of leaders. The teen years are so critical and I love the idea that I can directly help form their thinking, improve their work ethic, and increase their self confidence."21. What are you reading right now? The interviewer would like to know what you choose to read in your spare time. Do you feed your mind on a regular basis? What kind of literature do you prefer and why? Talk to the interviewer about a book that you are currently reading. If you are not currently reading a book - talk about one that has impacted you the most. Here is an answer example: "Currently I am reading 'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday. It is a book about ambition, resilience and success. I feel that every professional should read it - it comes highly recommended."22. Out of curiosity, what type of student were you in high school? This question is designed to break the ice a bit and allow the interviewer to see your personality a little bit better. Briefly discuss they type of student you were in High School. Be sure to keep it light and tie in how your own High School experience has helped you be a better educator. Here is an answer example: "In High School I was a bit of a trouble maker, to be honest. I definitely challenged my teachers; however, I think it is what makes me able to adapt to many types of personalities in my classroom."23. Have you ever received an award or special workplace accolade? Be sure to add any special awards and accolades on your resume! If you do have these listed on your resume, the interviewer is asking for you to elaborate on the information you have provided. Briefly review any award, what the circumstances were surrounding your nomination, and end with discussing what it meant to you. Here is an answer example: "I received the 'Teacher of the Year' award at my current school, last year. Nominations were by the student body as well as the faculty. When I won the award it was such a boost to my confidence! I know that my work is appreciated and my efforts are noticed. It was really special to me."24. What is your communication style with the parents of your students? The interviewer would like to know how you would describe your communication style, when it comes to your interactions with the parents of your students. Whatever your communication style may be, be sure to describe it in a concise manner that will resound positively with the interviewer.
Some ideas of communication styles:
- succinct Here is an answer example: "My communication style with the parents of my students could best be described as informal, and conversational. I want parents to be comfortable coming to me with their concerns and questions."25. How do you prepare students for standardized assessments? The interviewer would like to know that you are able to properly prepare your students for standardized testing. Briefly talk about the ways that you help prepare your students for these tests. Here is an answer example: "There are a few significant ways that I help my students prepare for their standardized tests. I first make sure that my daily lesson plans align well with what they will be asked in the tests. I will also help students with their test-taking strategy if they need it. Some students stress around the idea of standardized testing so I try to alleviate that as much as possible by offering practice tests on a regular basis."26. Why are you the best teacher for us? Bragging about yourself in an interview can be really tough to do but this is your time to shine! Which characteristics and career accomplishments have made you a stand-out candidate? Perhaps you have received some academic awards or have been given special accolades in your most recent position. There is nobody like you and now you need to express that to the interviewer. Here is an answer example: "I am the best teacher for you because I have a consistent history of excelling in my previous teaching roles. I have been nominated and awarded Teacher of the Year for five consecutive years. In addition to these successes, I have a strong ability to make fast and effective relationships with my students."27. In your opinion, what is the most rewarding part of being a teacher? This is the time to let your passion for teaching really shine through! Talk about the parts of your role as a High School teacher that you love the most.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Seeing students reach that "ah-ha" moment when I am explaining a concept
- The fact that I am shaping others for the future
- Every day is unique
- A huge variety in personalities from my students
- Being a safe place, or listening ear for students who struggle emotionally
- Helping students socially, as well as academically
- Seeing my teaching strategies work with struggling students Here is an answer example: "ah-ha"28. You have been hired as the newest member of our teaching team. How would you first introduce yourself to a group of parents, students, and teachers from our school? When an interviewer asks an open ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is a great opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring. Here is an answer example: "I am a nurturing individual who is driven and likes to mentor my students in unique ways. In addition to my 15 year teaching career, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."29. Tell me about one of your own teachers that made an impact on you. The interviewer would like to get to know you a bit more personally. Think of a time when you were in High School, or University, and a teacher or professor made an impact on you. Briefly explain the experience to the interviewer. Here is an answer example: "I had a teacher in Grade 5 who taught us that she cared for all of us, and for our individual success. She was attentive and wrote impactful affirmations on the chalk board every morning. Those written affirmations were the boost of confidence that I needed many days. I love the quote from Josh Shipp that says 'Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.' It's absolutely true and this teacher lived by that philosophy."30. How often do you send your students with homework? What is your philosophy on homework? The interviewer wants to know your practices surrounding the amount of homework you send your students home with. It's a hot topic between educators, students, and parents! Share your thoughts but try not to pigeon hole yourself into one answer (IE: Avoid saying, "I NEVER give homework"). Here is an answer example: "I NEVER give homework"31. Tell me about a time that another teacher has influenced you. The interviewer wants to see that you are able to be positively influenced by fellow co-workers and professionals. Show that you are open to assistance, and feedback, when needed. Your real life example can be kept simple! Perhaps a coworker helped you to multitask better during finals, when you were feeling overwhelmed. Maybe their teaching style inspired you. Or, perhaps they gave you great advice on how to handle a student with behavioural concerns. Here is an answer example: "When I first started teaching, I was mentored by a more seasoned educator. She taught me how to prioritize my work better, and how to keep consistency with my grading. It helped me in my career immensely!"32. What is the most challenging part of your job, as a teacher? The interviewer would like to know the areas of your job as a High School teacher, that you find to be the most challenging. Everyone has challenges in the workplace, and that is okay! Avoid talking about difficulty surrounding core requirements. Your example could be related to some technology, or perhaps a specific part of curriculum development. Here is an answer example: "For me, the most challenging part of being a High School teacher is understanding how to keep each student motivated. Classroom sizes are always growing, and students are becoming more and more complex. Although it is challenging, I do embrace that challenge. I love how everyone is unique and it keeps me on my toes as an educator!"33. What area of professional development are you currently focused on? The interviewer would like to know that you take professional development very seriously. As a teacher you should be looking for opportunities to improve, on a regular basis. Talk briefly about the areas that you are dedicated to improving at the moment. Here is an answer example: "Professional development is immensely important to me. I am currently involved in a collaborative curriculum development program. Working with other teachers to design new planning materials, teaching methods, resource materials and assessment tools has proven to be really helpful in my own subject matter knowledge."
Author of High School Teacher Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 03/09/2014 Last modified on: 08/30/2018
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