How To Ace Your Teaching Job Interview

Learn how to make your teaching job interview go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Are you looking for tips for your teaching job interview? You have arrived at the right place!

The actual interview is a lot like the day of the big game in sports.  You have put hours and hours of prep work in; now it is time to show your stuff.  

Today let’s talk about a few suggestions to make your interview go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Find Out The Basics

  1. Get some basics on the actual interview.  If possible, find out the names (pronunciations and preferred pronouns) of the person(s) who will be interviewing you. 
  2. Ask if there is a specific place you should park, the entrance you should use, and where you should go once in the building.   
  3. Find out if there is anything, in particular, they would like you to bring. Depending on the position and a school’s preferences, you may need nothing, or they may want you to bring a portfolio, a sample lesson to teach, or even written responses to questions.  

Finding these things out with as much time to prep them as possible allows you to put your best foot forward.

Do Your Research

Research the school and district – check out their websites, their social media accounts, look at the teachers’ websites and social media accounts linked through the main website. Try to get a real understanding of what is important to the school and the current principal.  

How big are they, what is their school mascot, what is the official name of the department you will be a part of, what sports/academic/team victories have the school had lately, etc.?  

Knowing these things and being able to reference them when appropriate in your interview can help set you apart as an applicant and show your interest in the school beyond just a possible paycheck.

Rehearse Your Answers

It is very important when preparing for your teaching job interview to prepare yourself with sample interview questions.

Presenting yourself as confident and knowledgeable goes a long way toward a successful interview.  Practice helps you do this. Think about questions you might be asked and practice giving good answers. I ask friends who have been interviewed recently what types of questions there were asked. Then I write out my own answers and practice saying them out loud. This helps me remember specific examples from my teaching career that I can share during the interview. 

Think about posture – how do you shake hands, sit, hold your hands and arms, etc.  A strong handshake, an open body posture, and a pleasant and engaged resting facial expression go a long way toward first and lasting impressions.  

Finally, think about your voice and tone. Are you loud and clear enough? Do you project calm confidence? Do you talk too fast when nervous? Practice all of these things, and if at all possible, practice with other individuals. Recruit your sister, roommate, or partner to help. They can just listen or even play the part of the interviewer. If you are still in teacher’s college, your education department might even offer mock/practice interviews – take these opportunities. Solicit feedback and constructive criticism, and then take it and use it to improve. 

Be Early!  

One of my coaches in high school used to drill into us the mantra that “early is on time and on time is late.”  This mantra applies here too.  It is spectacularly unprofessional to be late for an interview, it really starts you off on the wrong foot.  

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for parking, finding the office, and a quick stop in the restroom to check your appearance and take care of any business.  

Also, sitting in the office for five to ten minutes before the start of the interview not only projects responsibility, it also can give the secretary a chance to chat you up. 

Present Your Best Self.  

Consider the moment your car pulls into the driveway as the official start of your interview.  You never know who you will run into in the parking lot or hallway. Be polite, be professional, and be confident. Be conscious of your posture, your handshakes, your smile, etc.  

First impressions as well as ongoing body language play a significant role in most interviews.  It is okay to be nervous, but do your best to not let that show – remember, even if you are fresh out of college, you are an educated individual who is qualified to be there.  Going in with a positive and confident mindset makes a world of difference.

Dress For Success

It does not matter if your current school allows you to wear athleisure and/or jeans every day. These should never be worn to a job interview. Check out this fashion blog post and gain some inspiration on what you could wear. You can also search on Google or Pinterest for job interview clothing ideas. I bring a change of clothes to work in a garment bag when possible and change before I leave school. I try not to wear the clothes I taught all day into the job interview. 

Remember, While They Are Interviewing You, You Are Interviewing Them As Well.  

Interviews are about finding the correct person for the opening.  No matter how good of a teacher you are, a poor fit can be detrimental to everyone involved – teacher, administration, students. Going in with your own questions (not too many, but a few important ones) can help you determine the possible fit as well as show that you have given the position serious thought. Questions will be situation-dependent, but consider things you want to know and what a question might reveal about the school.  

Here are some examples:

  • What does continue education look like here for teachers?  This can give you an idea of how and how well teachers are supported at the school.  Is this all done in-house or are conferences and classes encouraged?
  • Review the school’s website and social media channels and ask a direct question that shows you have done your research e.g., I noticed on your website that you are an EcoSchool – what opportunities are there for a new staff member to contribute to maintaining that status? 

Pay attention to what is said as well as what is not said in these answers.  

Are test scores talked up, but academic rigour never mentioned? This may indicate a school that emphasizes teaching to the test. If the first thing that is mentioned is student body unity, the school might be particularly interested in the social-emotional development of its pupils. 

These are not fail-safe or completely in-depth questions, but they can give you some insight into what sort of school you would be walking into.

Leave a Positive Impression 

After your interview (that day or the day after), consider taking a moment to write and send a thank-you note in the mail or via email. Something handwritten and in the actual mail can make a significant and lasting impression.  

It should simply be a brief note that says:

  • Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
  • I enjoyed talking with you.
  • I particularly enjoyed _______ (something specific from the interview itself – the school tour, the chance to discuss a particular educational philosophy, meeting some of the students, etc.)
  • I hope to hear from you again.

This thank you note allows you to leave one last positive final impression, and while it may not guarantee a job offer, it does set you apart and help you stick out in a positive manner.

Remember that even if you are offered a position, you are not required to take it.  If the job feels off or the position is not what you thought it was, don’t be scared to take some time to consider it and possibly even turn it down.  

The school is not doing you a favour by offering you a position, they are proposing to enter into a contract with you. Finding a position that is a good fit for you, your talents and skills, and your career goals are important and can make the difference between and long and happy career and burnout.

I hope this blog post gives you some ideas on how to be prepared for your teaching job interview.

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