10 interview questions every teacher should be able to answer

Sarah Salmon

Friday, 10 May 2019

Job interviews; a necessity in life that evokes quite the juxtaposition of emotional reactions.

On one hand, you’re quite rightly elated and excited for the prospect of new opportunities, new colleagues, new culture and possible career path. On the other hand, you have to subject yourself to a quizzing multitude of probing questions, practice lessons and a situation where you have to convince another that you’re the real slim shady. Don’t stand up just yet.

All in all, interviews are a blessing disguised as the devil and you have to find a way of nailing them. No pressure, right?

interview seats

To make sure you’ve got all the tools in your bag before heading out to another teaching interview, we’ve put together some of the most common interview questions that are likely to pop up.

Our biggest piece of takeaway advice? Start your prep work now and rehearse some answers to these questions so that you keep your cool and feel prepared before stepping into that headteacher's office:

1. Why did you become a teacher?

Seems pretty straight-forward right? Don’t assume that this is an easy softball question because if you don’t have a substantial answer, the school you’re applying for won’t be able to easily gauge who you are as a teacher. Hint: teachers want to know that you’re here to make a difference and positively impact a student’s life.

2. Paint a picture of your classroom management structure.

If you’re an NQT and haven’t had the wonder of managing your own classroom, use your knowledge of observing another teacher who has done; explore what you thought worked, how you would have made things different and why. The school will want to know that you are able to take initiative when needs be.

Make sure that you know the policies of the school you are applying for beforehand so that you can drip feed this into your answers and impress the school with your prep. Showing how you will take their policy and integrate into your management structure, extra brownie points will be coming your way!

interview glass

3. How do you use technology in the classroom?

With technology being the buzzword in education right now, being social-savvy will get you extra points these days. Schools are looking for someone who is aware of current trends and research and therefore will be seeking someone who can be innovative in the classroom and use technology to better the results and progression of the students as well as the school as a whole.

4. How do you assess student progress?

This type of question gives you scope to show off and impress by explaining your methods and lesson plans of staying on top of student progress; academic, social and emotional. It may be worth preparing some lesson plan examples of certain activities that you would use to help define a students’ strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.

Showing your steps for communicating this with the student, their parents and the wider school community would also be what schools would be looking for at this stage.

interview queue (1)

5. How would you engage a reluctant learner?

As in any classroom across the Country, you will be presented with students who are there to learn and those who would rather be something elsewhere. With this type of question, the school are looking for you to showcase examples of how you can work with disengaged students to re-engage them with the curriculum and provide results both for the student and the school. Showcasing any examples or pre-thought out plans of how you would do this would be a clear winner for boosting your credibility and value to the school hiring you.

6. What do you feel you can contribute to this school?

In other words, the school are asking you why you think they should hire you! The answer? Do your research! Find out about the school – what is there ethos? What are they all about? Are they known for their brilliant extra-curricular activity programme or does their SEND department have a fantastic reputation in the county?

All this fishing around for information and background facts will not only allow you to adapt your answers so that they align with the schools’ mission but it will give you a feel for whether the school itself is a good match for you. Have a think, what is it that first attracted you to that school? Go from there.

interview queue

7. If you were offered the position, what else would you want to bring to the school?

This type of question might throw you if you haven’t prepared for it. Whilst it might sound similar to the above question, the school are essentially digging for a response that shows you have someone else, other than teaching to offer them. Whilst your main field of teaching might be English, helping to support the after-school drama class or science study group shows your willingness to help out and ability to adapt to the needs of the school.

If you have a special skill of your own like creative writing or speaking a language, that isn’t currently part of the school programme, take it upon yourself to set up an after-school class that you can facilitate. These days, teacher workload goes beyond just teaching one subject or class so showing willingness to stretch yourself will give you unbeatable kudos.

8. If your colleagues were to describe you in three words, what would they be?

Sounds like a cliché, right? It might sound fairly basic but when it comes to showing off your strengths as a person, many fall into difficulty trying to sell themselves. To save yourself being caught off guard, have a think of a few words you would use to describe yourself or ask a friend to do so beforehand.

Getting the right words here is important – too modest and you may seem too considerate and safe. Too confident and you may come across as too forward and big-headed. The types of words you should think about include: empathetic, conscientious, cooperative, creative and adaptable.

interview q

9. How will you get parents involved in their child’s learning and progress?

Maintaining harmonious relationships between school, students and home is something that schools will be looking for in any potential employee. It is important when answering this form of question to demonstrate how you can confidently represent the culture, the mission and the values of the school in a positive way.

Look to see how you can communicate with parents on a regular basis and get them involved in tracking the strengths and weaknesses of their child in a way that goes beyond a termly teacher-parent conference.

10. Last but not least, do you have any questions?

Most interviews these days will close by asking you for any questions you may have for the school. Whilst you may be itching for the interview to finish and get the spotlight off of you, it is important to use this time as a way of finding out important aspects of the school beyond what can be found on their website.

Asking questions that makes the interviewer pause and think will always leave a good lasting impression. Some ideas would include asking the school what their internal culture is like, how the school supports teacher development, do they provide regular CPD or INSET training days. Questions that show you are taking a genuine interest in the school will always be a quick-win at this stage.



About our Community Expert


Sarah Salmon

Digital Marketing Executive

With a background in social media management and editorial writing for jewellery and gemological education, Sarah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Opogo.

Sarah has extensive experience in facilitating the sourcing of industry research, editing copy, writing web content and utilising social media to secure an ever-growing social audience.

Sarah is the voice of Opogo across all our social channels.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

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