The difference between who gets a teaching job and who doesn’t is confidence. And to get that confidence, you will need to focus on preparing for your teacher interview.

Many teachers have the confidence to work with students, but not adults. 

Truth bomb: You should be hired for your will NOT your skill. 

Your degree or license shows that you already know the basics of teaching. My mentor principal always reminded me of this before every interview. 

Your interview will allow the team to see if you will fit in with the culture and goals of the admin team and school.

Preparing for an interview allows you to answer questions AND show your personality.

Unpreparedness leads to nervousness. You may not answer questions fully and/or give a positive first impression. You will most likely not get the job.

Avoid the following mistakes that most teacher interviewers fall into:

  • failing to research the school and/or district
  • not being prepared for a panel interview
  • trying to answer questions you don’t understand

If you’re not sure about leaving your toxic school because you love your team, check out this article.

When Preparing for Your Teacher Interview, Don’t Forget to Do Your Research

This should be a no-brainer. But, too often than not, teacher candidates have no idea where they are applying. This goes beyond demographics.

Researching the school and district before you interview (or even apply) can save you a lot of time. It can also prevent you from being in an environment that doesn’t fit your teaching pedagogy. 

Start by looking for their mission statement, vision, and core values. See if they align with your own.

Check out any school information like grading scales, policies, and schedules. If the school focuses on Standards-Based Grading, and that’s not your thing. Save your time and move on.

Then, spend some time looking at what they are posting on their website or social media about the school. Are there some programs that would interest you? Or that you have experience with. 

If so, you can weave your own experiences into your responses to their questions.

Finally, use the website to generate your response to the closing question. “What questions do you have for us?”

You could ask for more information on a policy. Or further explanation on programs that they offer. 

Administrators and staff are proud of their school and love to brag. Your further interest in their school will win you favor.

Prepare for a Panel for Your Teacher Interview

Example: I want to be able to give access to student supplies (markers, crayons, c

In my teaching career, I have never had a one-on-one interview. In reality, it is for legal reasons that most interviews are conducted with a panel. The panel stays the same and the questions stay the same.

You could experience two or more people on your interview panel. It may be comprised of just administrators, a mix of administrators and teachers, or could include parents and students as well. 

Just know, it won’t be you and one other person. 

Knowing and understanding that there will be more than one person is great, but you can do more. You can prepare for this.

In my former life (like before teaching), I participated in a lot of scholarship programs and pageants. Later, I ended up running several of my own both locally and at the state level.

Like teaching interviews, pageants use panel interviews. In pageants, participants strive to make everyone in the interview comfortable. Their goal is to win over the judges. 

Your goal is to win over your teacher interview panel.

Here’s what pageant participants are taught that you can use in your teaching interview. Use eye contact. Not just with the person who asked the question, but everyone on your panel.

To this day, I have not had a teacher candidate look at me when I was not the one to ask the question. It makes me feel like I am an outsider and intruding on the conversation.

This is how it works:

  1. Person #1 asks you a question. 
  2. You start by looking at person #1.
  3. Scan all the other panel members as you continue to answer.
  4. Finish your answer by looking back at person #1.

This does take practice. Practicing with multiple people is ideal, but not always possible. To practice at home (without multiple people), pretend there are more. 

You can do this by printing out photos of 3 or more people, and taping them to the mirror and walls in your bathroom.

It will feel awkward at first, but it will increase how comfortable everyone feels in your interview. 

When Preparing for Your Teacher Interview, Practicing Answering Questions–Not the Answers

Oh, how we love our acronyms and eduspeak. (We can sometimes seem like we’re speaking a different language.)

One question that is asked a lot in our district is:

“The XYZ District uses the PLC framework. Tell us what you know about professional learning communities and how you could add to a team.”

You may or may not have studied Rick DuFour’s PLC framework in Learning By Doing. And that’s okay. This question is really wanting to know how you’ll work with your colleagues. But, too many teacher candidates get hung up on the acronym.

You will get a question that you don’t know the answer to.

Prepare for your teaching interview by knowing what to you when you get a question like this.

You may be able to avoid not knowing the answers (or at least what they are talking about) by checking out their website.

But, when that question that you don’t know comes up, it’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to ask for more explanation. 

That is much better than guessing what is being asked a hoping you are answering the question.

Here’s what that can look like:

“I’m not familiar with that framework, but I do work well with others. I’ve had extensive experience working with teams with I was working at ABC Company. On my team there, I was able to use my love for data and technical know-how helped our team make decisions and document them.”

In Summary

Preparing for your teacher interview can greatly increase your confidence. 

Research the school and district beforehand. See how the school aligns with your own personal teaching pedagogy. You can also be prepared to ask valuable questions of your interviewers.

When you are preparing for your teaching interview, make sure you practice for a panel. Practice including all those on your panel, not just the person asking the questions.

Avoid fumbling over questions you don’t know the answers to. It’s okay to ask for clarification. Find the root of the question and answer that.

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