The Job-Hunting Teacher Series: Quality Questions

Greeting Colleagues!

Today's post is all about questions - both the interviewer's and yours!


I'm not going to give you the answers to popular questions, because I cannot stress enough the importance of being yourself. Besides - then you'll be so focused on memorizing answers that you will not be able to think for yourself and answer questions that I do not cover. You want to be hired for your answers, not something your regurgitated.

I will however provide you with some potential questions and the best, most meaningful ways to respond. Let's take a look at some sample questions in both categories...

Questions You Will (Potentially) Be Asked:

General Personality Questions. You will most likely be asked some sort of question about who you are as a person and an educator. This might come in the form of "Tell me a bit about yourself" or "What do you like to do for fun?" Be genuine but include interests that may reflect who you will be as a teacher. For example, you might answer that second question with information about how you like to coach soccer on the weekends, or how you volunteer at the library. Think of the qualities about you that will be genuine, while also letting your prospective employer know what a great candidate you are.

A-Challenging-Situation Question. These questions are meant to figure out how you do under pressure. Some examples are:
  • "Describe a time in which you had to deal with an angry parent."
  • "What would you do if your coworker/paraprofessional/parent helper/supervisor asked you to do something you were uncomfortable with?"
  • "Describe a time you had a challenging interaction with a parent or staff. Explain what you did to resolve that issue, or what you would have done differently?"
Strengths and Weaknesses Questions. These questions are almost always asked: "What are your strengths?" "What is your greatest weakness?" I typically recommend being honest here, but if your weakness is something that direct conflicts with the job, I suggest choosing a different weakness to showcase. Let's just say admitting your weakness is your "trucker mouth" may not be the most beneficial way to secure a job with kids.

Another question that falls in this category might be related to something you did well in your last job or internship and something that did not go so well. These might be worded: "Tell us about a time you made a mistake" or "Describe a situation in which you felt proud as a teacher."

Job-Specific Questions. These questions are, you guessed it, specific to your role as a teacher. These will be the bulk of your questions throughout your interview, so make sure you are prepared to answer questions about your abilities as an educator. Some examples:
  • How do you assess and evaluate your students?
  • Walk us through your first day (or typical) in your classroom?
  • How will you ensure parental involvement in your classroom?
  • Describe your classroom management style/techniques.
  • How do you ensure differentiation for your students? (you will be asked for examples)
  • How do you support children with disabilities? How do you accommodate students on an IEP?
  • How have you/will you use technology in the classroom?
Remember - you are an expert in this field. You have the answers to these questions - now just provide them.

Questions to Ask:

All interviews will end with "Do you have any questions for us?" Be prepared with some questions related to the job for which you are interviewing. This is where you research comes in handy. To get ahead in the interview process, make sure you've researched your potential place of employment. This not only prepares you for the job, the staff, the commute, etc., but also shows you are professional and eager.

Some questions to consider asking:
  • What opportunities are there for progression within the school?
  • Are mentor teachers provided for new teachers? Are there opportunities to serve as a mentor teacher?
  • A question related to the school's mission statement, goals etc. For example, "I noticed that you are introducing more technology into the classrooms. What types of training opportunities are provided to ensure proper use of these resources?"
  • Ask specific questions about curriculum, if you haven't already been introduced to them by the interviewer, such as "What curricula are you using for literature?"
  • What type of school discipline plan do you have in place?
  • My favorite question to ask is less about showing how knowledgeable I am in the school, and more to give me a better understanding of my role at the school: "Can you please describe a day in the life of a (insert teaching position here)?"

Now, with all this being said, don't ask too many questions. Be genuine and relevant with your questions. Don't ask questions just in an attempt to fill time. This will not look professional. Instead, prioritize your questions based on what you want to take away from the interview. They provide you with this time at the end of the interview for a reason. Use it - but only if you need/want to. If you genuinely do not have questions, don't just make something up. Use that opportunity to thank them for their consideration and the informative interview, have one last shot to remind them why you are right for the job, and remember to smile.

Oh - and have a firm handshake.

For other posts in this series, click the button below.

Good luck on your interview! You'll do great!


2 comments

  1. Hi Rae! I'm trying to organize a MA blogger link up- are you interested?? Fill out the google form with your thoughts if you are! :)

    http://caffeineandlessonplans.blogspot.com/2014/08/five-for-friday.html

    Mandy
    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally meant "meet up" not "link up"! That's what I get for trying to do things after the baby goes to sleep. :)

      Delete

Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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