Interviewing for a teaching position can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. I should know – I have participated in MANY teacher interviews! Luckily, I was able to land a teaching job three different times. Through my experiences teaching and interviewing (successfully) in Illinois, Virginia, and Kentucky, I have learned what interviewers are looking for and how to best impress them (as well as 20 Common Teacher Interview Questions that I discuss in this post). I would like to share that knowledge with you to help make the process a little easier. Here I have compiled a list of top teacher interview tips (click here to get the printable cheat sheet FREEBIE!) to help you get the teaching job you want.
Teacher Interview Tips
1. Start with a good attitude.
The first teacher interview tip is to have a good attitude as you begin the process. People automatically pick up on your attitude through non-verbal cues and body language in a very short amount of time (anyone read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell?!?). Plus, teaching requires patience and calmness when faced with difficult scenarios. Think of the interview as a practical test of your response to stressful situations. If you go in with a positive attitude and a big smile, no matter how nervous you are, it will make a great impression!
2. Dress the part.
Remember that you are interviewing to be a teacher – not a lawyer, but also not a custodian. You need to dress appropriately for the position you want. Be professional. That means not too fancy and not too casual. Your goal is to stand out because of your qualifications and interviewing skills, not your outfit. Also, keep in mind what the school is like. If you are interviewing for a position at an elite private school that requires students to wear uniforms, then you should dress accordingly. On the other hand, if you are interviewing for an inner city school that serves underprivileged students, then you should probably dress a bit differently. Always remember who your audience is!
3. Listen carefully to the questions and answer appropriately.
When the interviewer asks a question, listen carefully to what he or she is asking. Make sure you answer THAT question! At one group interview I attended, the interviewer asked about classroom routines or procedures that we thought were important. I was the only one who actually named routines and procedures (arrival/dismissal procedures and early finisher routines, if you’re curious)! The other interviewees talked about behavior management or classroom activities. And guess who got the job? (I did!) Listening and following directions is not only a skill for students; administrators also value employees who are good listeners and can follow directions.
4. Use specific examples in your answers.
This teacher interview tip is super important! Don’t be too general when you answer questions. Whenever possible, use an example of something you have done in your answer. For example, if the interviewer asks about classroom management, tell about strategies you have used in the classroom or about incidents you have handled effectively. Not only will the interviewer be more likely to remember your answer (and you!), but it also shows that you can APPLY your knowledge.
5. Do your research.
This teacher interview tip is also very important! Before you go to any interview, you need to find out about the school to which you are applying. You should know specific things about that school, such as what kind of population it serves, what kind of programs are offered, and what the mission statement is. Then, when you are answering questions, you can tailor your responses to that particular school. By doing this, you show that you are prepared for your interview AND that you are interested in that school, not just getting a job in general (even if that really is your goal!). In addition, interviewers will often ask why you are applying to their school. If you have done your research, you will be ready with an awesome answer!
6. Ask questions!
At the end of each interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. You should always have questions! This indicates that you are interested in the job and can think critically. If you don’t ask questions, that is an automatic red flag to the interviewer. Some good questions to ask are “What’s the best thing about your school?”, “What kind of technology is available at your school?”, or “What type of intervention and enrichment opportunities does your school offer?”.
7. You can bring a portfolio…but you don’t have to.
Many people say that you need to bring a teaching portfolio to interviews. Your portfolio would include examples of lesson plans, communications with families, data collection, etc. While this sounds like a wonderful way to impress a potential employer, I have NEVER had an interviewer look at my portfolio. In reality, there just isn’t enough time during the interview process, especially since many interviews are now group interviews. And portfolios take a loooong time to assemble. You could use that time to prepare for your interview instead, which I believe is more likely to help you get the job. If it makes you feel better, though, go ahead and bring that stunning portfolio…just don’t be disappointed when nobody looks at it.
8. Follow up!
My last teacher interview tip is to follow up with whoever interviewed you. The best way is to send an email thanking the interviewer for his or her time and complimenting something specific you liked about the school. You could also send a note (although this could take a while to arrive) or call him or her on the phone. However you go about it, though, you should follow up in some way to remind the interviewer about you and to show that you are invested in getting the job.
There you have my top teacher interview tips! I hope you have found something useful in this post and that it helps you in your search for a teaching job. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below or click here to send me an email. If you would like to download a printable cheat sheet FREEBIE of these teacher interview tips, click here. Or click here to read my post on 20 Common Teacher Interview Questions to learn more about the teacher interview process. Good luck!