Everyone needs to go through job interviews, and they can be terrifying.
The more you prepare, the better you’re likely to do. Making sure that you are prepared for both what you’re going to say and how you are going to say it can make a huge difference.
But what do you prepare? How can you ensure you’re ready to present yourself at your best?
Research the school and district.
Before your interview, definitely research the school or district where you are interviewing. Nothing says that you’re disinterested more than not actually knowing anything about the school that you’re interviewing at.
All schools will have their mission statement, values, and goals on their website. If the school is associated with a particular religion, ensure you are prepared to answer questions about how you will embed the school values in your practice.
Culture is essential in schools, and knowing what culture you’re walking into will help convince them that you’re a good fit.
Prepare your responses.
For teaching job interviews, there is a range of questions you could be asked. All of them will be either about your teaching practice or how you work with others in a school context.
Because of this, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers is a good place to start. These standards outline exactly what teachers are expected to do in Australia, and so can help you prepare.
A few common interview questions:
- Why do you want to work at our school?
- This question is really asking what you know about the school. Make sure you’ve done your research!
- What inspired you to become a teacher?
- Do you have a passion for teaching? Are you in this job for the right reasons? Your answer to this question can also be an opportunity to show your interviewers that you know the school’s mission and values. Connect your own experience to them!
- How do you differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students?
- How flexible are you in your teaching? Do you care more about getting through the curriculum or your students’ learning? As a teacher, you need to ensure that you don’t leave any students behind. A story about a student that you’ve taught is a great way to answer this question.
- Can you provide an example of a successful lesson or project you have implemented in the past?
- How do you actually teach? What strategies do you use? And most importantly, can you think of a time when you were truly proud of your teaching? Don’t feel embarrassed to really show off here.
- How do you handle challenging behaviour in the classroom?
- Who do your students see you as? How do you build relationships with your students while still supporting their learning? Many teachers struggle to walk the line between having a strong positive relationship with their students while still managing their behaviour effectively.
- How do you stay current with educational trends and best practices?
- Are you still learning and growing as a teacher, or are you inflexible and resistant to change?
- How do you involve parents and guardians in their child’s education?
- Do you maintain consistent communication with parents? How do you manage parent complaints? Building relationships with parents is key, and it requires constant, consistent work.
- Can you provide an example of a time when you had to overcome a difficult situation in the classroom?
- How do you manage a crisis? Do you try and handle it yourself or do you seek help? If you don’t think you handled the situation you’re discussing as well as you could have, that’s fine! Your interviewer will also want to hear how you’ve grown after the event and what you now know to do next time.
- How do you measure student progress and adjust instruction accordingly?
- Do you know where your students are at? How do you adjust the pace of learning to support them?
- How do you work with colleagues to create a positive and productive learning environment?
- Do you work well with other teachers? Do you want to be a part of the team, or do you just want to do your own thing? How do you make the most of these collaborative opportunities?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of what to expect. Make sure you’re ready for questions that cover the entirety of your teaching; you don’t just want to talk about curriculum or teaching strategies and be completely unprepared to talk about how you connect with parents.
Share specific examples.
Make sure you have plenty of specific and detailed examples of how you have helped students succeed. This will help paint a picture of your practice and give evidence of what you do.
There is a specific structure that is recommended when you’re giving examples of your practice. You should present the context or problem, what you did about it, the outcome, and how you have changed and grown after the experience.
The people who are interviewing you are highly likely to be teachers. Giving examples of how you’ve helped specific students who were having a hard time will show your passion and ignite their own. Similarly, telling a story of a difficult situation you overcame can lead the interviewers to empathise, which is fantastic for your chances of getting the job!
It’s not enough to verbally communicate your experience and expertise in your interview. You also need to show how much you care.
Teaching is all about caring. A teacher who isn’t enthusiastic about teaching is unlikely to be doing the best job. If you show that you’re excited by the opportunity to work at a particular school, you’re halfway to winning the job.
Don’t just be excited about the opportunity, either. Being excited by your teaching is very different to being excited about getting a job. You want to light up when you give examples of the students you’ve helped, as this shows that you’re also excited to help your students in the future.
Job interviews are tough. The benefit of being a teacher is that you can be pretty sure of what to expect.
As long as you’re ready to talk about all aspects of your teaching practice and how they connect to the specific school that you want to work in, you’re likely to present your best self in your interview.