So, you've made it through most of your teaching interview and you're feeling pretty good about how it's gone so far. Then comes the dreaded question from the interview panel: "Do you have any questions?" This is where even the best interviewees can get tripped up.
In this blog post we'll discuss the #3 best thing you can do to impress at your teaching interview - ask the right questions.
There's a surprisingly wide divergence in opinions on what's a good question to ask the interview panel. The Guardian Teacher Network (an excellent resource for teachers) asked several experienced interviewers for their advice and it ranged from "don't ask too many questions" to "ask about professional development opportunities". (The whole article is well worth a read, link here).
Our opinion is that there's no magic question you can ask that will win you the role. The questions you ask should evolve naturally from your research on the school or centre, as well as what you are actually interested in knowing!
So while we can't tell you exactly what to ask, we can advise you on how to come up with questions and ask them. Here are a few key steps to asking the right questions:
1. Prepare 2-3 questions based on your research
In our previous blog post we discussed the best methods for researching a school or centre. Once you've completed this research you'll have a treasure trove of incredibly useful information to base a couple of questions on. For example, from reading an ERO report you could ask the question "I see you are looking to build on the Te Reo programme at your centre, I'd be really interested to know a bit more what you've got planned for that in 2014". Asking these kinds questions will make you look on point and knowledgeable. Having said that, make sure you...
2. Actually ask questions you want to know the answer to!
While the whole point of an interview is to demonstrate your strengths, don't ask questions you're not actually really that interested in knowing the answers to, just to make yourself look good. A good way to demonstrate your knowledge as well as your genuine enthusiasm is to the thing about the school you're most excited about and ask about that. For example, if you're an ICT geek, an example question could be "I'm really excited about your school's focus on incorporating e-learning into the curriculum. What kind of e-learning strategies are teachers currently using at your school?"
It's also totally okay to ask questions about things that affect you directly, such as the department you'll be working in or the mentoring and induction process for provisionally registered teachers at their school or centre. Don't, however, ask about workload, hours, pay or non-contact time - wait until you've been offered a role and negotiate then.
3. Be flexible with your questions
While it's a great idea to have 2-3 prepared questions up your sleeve for the interview, you don't have to ask them all. If you think of a better question during the course of the interview, ask that instead. Or if you sense the interview panel has had a long day and their attention is waivering, you can ask 2 questions instead of 3. And in the case that they've answered all of your questions through the course of the interview, you can simply thank them for answering all of your questions and for the opportunity to have an interview.