Music, PE, and Art Teacher Job Interview Question Guide
by Nina Silva
In an era of school-system budget cuts and standardized tests, competition can be fierce for elective subject teaching positions. If you're hoping to become a music, art or PE teacher, you'll have to jump through all the standard teacher certification hoops, plus a few additional challenges.
No matter which subject you hope to teach, your first step should be creating a killer resume. The purpose of your resume is to highlight your experience and credentials and earn you a coveted interview. Our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates are excellent resources to get you on the right track.
Once you make it to the interview stage, the most striking difference between a general education interview and a specialist interview is the audience. Unlike general education teachers, art, music and physical education teacher candidates are routinely evaluated by people who have little or no content-specific knowledge or teaching experience. This setup places you in the delicate position of not only communicating your teaching style and philosophy, but also the finer points of your subject matter.
The best answers to music teacher interview questions may be entirely different from those you'd give for art teacher interview questions. PE teacher interview questions will be similarly unique. You'll need to have an in-depth understanding of your subject and a desire to share your passion. Employers are seeking a competent, personable professional who will engage with students and fit into their school community. Striking the appropriate balance between passion and professionalism can seem daunting, but these dos and don'ts will help you answer the toughest music, art, and physical education teacher interview questions.
Do: Show passion for your specialty
Whether you teach music, art or gym, chances are you chose your path because the subject made a positive impact on your life. Tell the interviewer what your specialty did for you and explain how you hope to do the same for their students. If you're applying for a position as an elementary music teacher, discuss your formal music training and how you will help your students explore their own talents and creativity.
Schools will be more likely to take a chance on a young, inexperienced teacher if you show them your enthusiasm and passion.
Don't: Let your emotion overwhelm your purpose
Musicians, artists and athletes tend to be passionate by nature. It is impossible to become successful in any of these fields without hard work, sacrifice and dedication. These qualities can help you become an excellent teacher, but you need to be careful to strike the right balance in an interview.
Tell them why you are passionate about your specialty, but stay focused on what the interviewers want to learn. If you were a college athlete, draw from your experience in competition and teamwork. Just remember to tie your personal experiences and passions back to how they will enable you to perform the job's duties successfully.
Do: Show a concrete evaluation system that suits your specialty
Be sure to arrive at your interview with a fully realized evaluation system appropriate to the grade and subject for which you are applying. With today's high-stakes testing, accountability has become a major focus of the national education community. You must be able to articulate what, why and how you teach your subject. Additionally, interviewers will be expecting you to present a data-based evaluation system to prove the students are learning what you are attempting to teach.
Don't: Alienate your interviewer by overusing content-specific language
Remember that the people interviewing you may have only ever experienced music, art or PE when they were in school. Your art education may have taught you the difference between Pointillism and Impressionism, but your interviewer may not appreciate that knowledge. Instead, try to draw on your education to illustrate how your students will benefit from your experience. If you must use a content-specific term, be sure to have a short, simple definition ready.
Do: Show how you will fit into their unique school community
It's not enough be an excellent music, art or PE teacher. Interviewers want to know how you will work with the rest of the staff and what you will contribute to the school community. One easy way to do this is to look up the school's mission statement and core values online. Reviewing these documents before your interview will help you get a sense of the school's priorities and goals. For instance, a PE teacher may want to look for a focus on healthy living and friendly competition. An art teacher could look for ways to bring art to the local community.
If social-emotional learning is part of their mission statement, be prepared to speak about how you would support it in your classroom. Showing an interest in their community and goals will help the interviewers see that you would both "fit in" and be an asset at their school.
Don't: Undersell your subject
Music, art and PE classes are far more than fun electives. Students who participate in classes like art learn skills that transfer to all areas of learning and can even create a stronger society. Do some research and be prepared to mention how your subject supports student literacy, math and social-emotional learning.
Do: Show that you are a team player and stress flexibility
Most school administrators make decisions with an eye toward growth and development. Administrators are constantly changing, trying new things and attempting to improve their students' educational outcomes. Your interviewer will want to know that you can adapt to new situations cheerfully. They may ask you difficult hypothetical questions to test your creative problem-solving. Be ready to answer nimbly, even if it's a question you've never considered before.
Don't: Panic at difficult questions
Delivering a thorough answer to an interviewer's question will show you are creative, adaptable and solution-oriented. But if you get stumped by a question, don't stress. When you don't know an answer, take the opportunity to tell them about your network of support.
The friends you made in your teacher program, your professors and your cooperating teacher are all ideal resources. Show the interviewers that when you face a challenging task, you don't freeze, get frustrated, or ramble. Instead, take a breath and explain to them how you'd use your resources and community for help. No one expects first-time teachers to have all the answers fresh out of college. Recognizing and acknowledging when you need help conveys more maturity than trying to fake your way through a problem.
Do: Remember your goal
Although job hunting is stressful and sometimes unpredictable, realizing your dream of changing young lives through teaching will be worth the effort. If you're working on constructing your application materials, take advantage of our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Templates. These tools will help you build a resume and cover letter that stand out from the competition. You can do this!