How to Answer: Tell me about yourself.
Advice and answer examples written specifically for a Teacher job interview.
1. Tell me about yourself.
What You Need to Know
This question offers you the opportunity to share your professional journey, your career progression, and why you decided to pursue a teaching career. How you answer this question will inform them if this career path as a teacher is the right path for you. So by sharing your passion for teaching, you will assure them you won't easily burn out on the job, and will find job satisfaction in this teaching opportunity. So start by sharing who you are as a teacher, why you are pursuing this opportunity, and how far you have come along in your career so far, and where you hope to take it next.
Stay Away From
Stay away from sharing that you are trying to make money by teaching as a side gig or a way to support your passion. If you are a musician, for example, and decided to support yourself as a musician by teaching music, this says nothing about your passion for teaching, and does nothing to suggest what you have to offer them over another candidate. Having a niche or a specialty is great, especially if you can demonstrate that you can successfully teach others. But the focus should be on your passion for teaching and your success rate in furthering your students' development, on your classroom management skills, and building lasting relationships with your students.
Ultimately, they are looking to distinguish those who are passionate for their subject matter, which is of course important, from those who are primarily passionate about teaching that subject matter, and furthering the development of their students. This is especially true of public education. Knowing the subject matter is important, but not nearly as important as being able to manage a classroom effectively and being good with your students. So the trick is to focus less on your specialty and more on your passion for the success of your students.
Entry Level Example
"I had difficulty in high school. I often found myself acting out and being somewhat restless and rebellious. My grades weren't notable either. But there were a few teachers who really went out of their way to reach out to me and help steer me straight. One even modified their curriculum, tailoring their lesson plans according to my interests. I can't tell you how impactful that was. Suddenly, I wasn't nearly as bored. My grades improved, and when it was time to face going to college, I decided to pursue getting my bachelor's degree in education with a focus on history. I want to help my students the same way those teachers impacted me and the shaping of my character."
"Both my parents were educators, and it was not only their passion but who they were. They were coaching, counseling, teaching 24 7. In high school I suddenly realized I was the same way. Everyone would start telling me their life story or asking me for my advice. I found myself coaching and helping my fellow students along, and then I started tutoring. I landed in AP classes in school and pursued a bachelor's degree in literature with a focus on education. I've been teaching at a private school for six years now. My spouse and I are interested in starting a family, so we thought it would be prudent to move from our college town where we met, back to being closer to our parents so we'd have additional familial support when we start our family, which is why I am interested in pursuing a teaching position in your district."
Substitute Teacher Example
"I have a bachelor's degree in education with a minor in sociology from UCLA. I earned my teaching license and am accredited in our state. I've been working as a substitute teacher in the Los Angeles County School District on and off for the past 3 years, and can effectively work in any setting. However, roaming as I do as a substitute, I haven't had the opportunity to have as much of a hand in the development and as much of an impact on my students as I would as a permanent teacher. This is the reason I decided to become a teacher to begin with. So, that's what brings me here today. I am dedicated and would do whatever it takes."
Classroom Teacher Example
"I've been teaching at my current school in the district for ten years now. I am highly motivated, emotionally mature, hardworking, creative and focussed. I have letters of recommendation from my principal, and every associate principal at my school. I've mastered the art of managing my students, who in my current school have a reputation of being unruly. I am firm, but patient, and despite how challenging my students can be at times, I have a place in my heart for every one of them. I never give up on them, and put in everything it takes to put them on the right path. I've invested a lot of time trying to make an impact on everyone of them, and getting them as passionate about the subject matter as I am. Even though I can effectively make an impact in any setting, I am competing for a position at this school because I have reached a point where I felt like I needed a change of scenery, and wanted to try reaching out to a different student body at a different pace. This feels like a better fit for me, at this point in my career, and the opportunities for advancement feel right as well."
Department Head Teacher Example
"I am currently going to school part time working on getting my master's degree in the arts. I have a mastery of managing my classroom and am loved and respected by my students, even the most troubled and rebellious of them. My class has won our regional art competition for the last four years in a row. I see what my students can do, and I hold them to a high standard. At this point, I want to increase the impact I have on developing a curriculum for our students as head of the art department. I have some ideas, and my peers are constantly tapping me for ideas. So I feel as department chair I can have more of an impact in a more streamlined manner where everyone benefits."
Anonymous Interview Answers with Professional Feedback
Currently, I am a paraprofessional supporting an individual child; a job I enjoy doing. I have previously taught vocational skills in high school and also worked in middle school with trio programs. I am eager to join your team to provide quality education to align with the district’s mission.
I have reached a point where I felt like I needed a change to reach out to a different student body at a different pace and to remain with that body and help the district to reach its goal."