6 Questions to Ask in a Teacher Interview
by Nina Silva
When I was searching for my first teaching position, I applied for every job I could find. I submitted 58 applications, went on 12 interviews, and was offered four full-time teaching positions. I was lucky to have a college professor who thoroughly prepared me for the interview process. One of the most important things she taught me was what kind of questions to ask during a teacher interview.
Interviewers will likely have a set of core questions they ask every candidate. These questions are intended to weed out unprepared and underqualified candidates. What remains are a few people who appear to have the proper temperament, subject matter knowledge, and pedagogy skills to do the job well.
You earned this teacher interview with a resume and cover letter that highlighted your skills and experience. Now is the time to learn if this position suits your career goals. Asking the right questions can offer you helpful insight into the school community, environment and history. It also indicates to the interviewer that you are a serious candidate who has invested time and research into the position.
Here are six questions to consider asking your interviewer.
1. Does your school offer formal mentoring for new teachers?
Teaching is not an easy job. Teachers are leaving their jobs in record numbers, saying they feel undervalued and underpaid. According to the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), 44 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. This is a significant and revealing statistic. One way to help teachers feel less isolated and more appreciated is through robust mentorship programs.
Ask your interviewer what their mentoring program looks like, how long it lasts, and what types of activities are involved. If they have no formal program in place, ask them where you can go to get support within the school community. Their answers will give you a good idea of the type of investment the school is willing to make in its teachers.
2. Will I have my own classroom?
Unfortunately, budget cuts and overcrowding mean that some schools require teachers to share or transfer classrooms over the course of a school day. Teachers who specialize in one content area and work with small groups of students are more likely to be asked to work from a cart or in a non-traditional classroom setting. This may not be a problem for some subjects or teachers, but others may struggle to bring all of the necessary supplies from place to place. If you are offered a job without a dedicated classroom, you need to genuinely consider if you'll be able to perform your job well under less-than-ideal circumstances.
3. What is your school's average class size?
The number of students in each class impacts the classroom dynamic significantly. A class of twelve kindergarteners is substantially easier to work with than a group of thirty. More children mean more noise, more needs, more supplies, more social conflict and less of your attention to go around. Consider how much confidence you have in your classroom management skills and make an informed decision about how many children you feel you can handle at a time. Ask your interviewer what the average, minimum and maximum class sizes were last year and what type of enrollment trends they expect for the next year.
4. What kind of technology is available for teachers and students?
The technology available to teachers and students varies greatly from state to state and school to school. Ask about any technology you would like to use to support your lessons, such as:
The quantity and quality of technology the school has available will give you some indication of their funding and priorities.
5. What does your teacher evaluation system look like?
Just as with mentoring programs, teacher evaluation systems vary depending on the school and district. Evaluations may include:
Some schools will have an administrator observe you twice a year, while others require five or more observations.
- Self, peer and student evaluations
Ask how often these evaluations are performed and how they are maintained.
- Supporting documentation
The school may require documentation such as student performance data, copies of student work, artifacts showing home school connection, and self-reflection journals.
The administration will exert varying degrees of control over your yearly teaching goals, which can sometimes lead to frustration for teachers. In my opinion, evaluation systems are most useful when the teacher can choose their own goal. This process is less likely to become cumbersome when the teacher can take the lead in choosing goals that are both challenging and realistic.
6. How long did the previous teacher hold this position?
There are plenty of good reasons a person might leave a job, such as retiring, continuing their education, relocating or finding a more appealing position. If the previous teacher held the position for three or more years, that can be a strong indication that the school is a stable working environment. If, on the other hand, there have been three different teachers in the last three years, this can indicate there is something about the position or school that may be driving people out of the job.
Although interviewing for a job can be an exhausting process, finding a job that's a good fit is worth the effort. If you come down with the pre-interview jitters, stay calm and remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Preparing a list of teacher interview questions to ask beforehand will help you leave your interview with a better understanding of how you will fit into the school community.
If you're applying for teaching positions and not getting called for interviews, your application materials may be holding you back. Take advantage of our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Templates to make your application stand out to employers.