The Top Five Things You Can do To Impress at Your Teaching Interview: #1

For many teachers, job interviews can be an intimidating prospect. Unlike, for example, business study graduates, many beginning teachers aren't used to having to 'sell' their skills to others. This even goes for many of our best and brightest teachers - put them in a classroom or centre floor and they'll shine, but they'll struggle in front of an interview panel.

This means that no matter how well you teach - your performance at an interview is often the difference between getting and not getting a role, especially if you're up against other BTs with similar skill sets to yourself.

The good news is you don't need to be a marketer to impress at an interview - it's simply about being prepared. Over the next week we'll blog about the top five things you can do to impress at your teaching interview. 

Here's #1 and it's pretty simple... prepare answers to potential questions!

There are generally two types of questions asked at interviews: behavioural and traditional. Here's a good run-down on the differences between the two.

Many principals/HODs/centre managers will ask behavioural style interview questions. This will involve asking you about past situations and how you handled them:

Here are some examples of behavioural interview styles questions you might be asked at a teaching interview:

Tell me about a time when your classroom lesson or schedule was interrupted? How did you handle it? 

  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?
  • Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
  • Tell me about a time you successfully implemented a lesson in inquiry learning?
  • Tell me how you use formative assessment in numeracy?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure.

A useful tool for preparing your answers to these sorts of questions is the STAR approach. For each potential question, think of: 

S – A specific situation

T – The task that needed to be done

A – The action you took

R – The result/outcome i.e. what happened

For example, if the interviewer asked you to tell them about a time you dealt with a disruptive student in your class. A sample answer could be ‘I had a student in my class who was throwing paper at the other students. [Situation] I needed to get him to stop disrupting the class and find out why he was acting out. [Task] I took the student aside and said ‘in this class we don’t throw things at other students, why are you throwing paper at your classmates’, and he told me he had finished his work and was bored. So I gave him some more work. [Action] The result was the student stopped throwing paper and the class remained undisrupted for the rest of the lesson.' [Result] Ensure you use real life examples from your teaching placements - don't make anything up!

You can also use the STAR strategy for traditional interview questions. For example, the above example could be used to back up your answer to 'tell us about your management style, in particular how you manage disruptive students'. It's all about showing, not just telling. 

Though you won’t be able to prepare examples for every possible question, you can anticipate to some degree what you’ll be asked. Expect questions around literacy, numeracy and behaviour management if you’re a primary/secondary teacher, and if you’re an ECE teacher be prepared to talk about your teaching philosophy. Read the ad and information pack carefully, and if possible, talk to the principal/HOD/centre manager prior to putting in your application. For example, if they’re looking for strengths in e-learning, have an example to demonstrate your skills in this area. 

Reading your placement reports, cover letter and reports from associate teachers will help jog your memory and help you think of specific examples. 

Having real-life examples prepared will make you a lot more confident when you walk into the interview room.