When you get a call from a school administrator inviting you to interview for a teaching job, how do you feel? Happy? Elated? Excited? Nervous? Scared stiff?
You don't need to worry about the interview if you're a well-prepared, qualified candidate. Preparing for a teaching interview is a lot like studying for a test. You can review commonly asked questions, think about what you'll say beforehand, and go in to do your best. If you're prepared, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. You'll have answers on the tip of your tongue, ready-to-go.
This will be the first question at almost every interview. Just give a brief background in about five sentences. Tell them what colleges you graduated from, what you're certified to teach, what your teaching & working experiences are, and why you'd love the job.
2. How do you teach to the state standards?
If you interview in the United States, school administrators love to talk about state, local, or national standards! Reassure your interviewer that everything you do ties into standards. Be sure the lesson plans in your portfolio have the state standards typed right on them. When they ask about them, pull out your lesson and show them the close ties between your teaching and the standards.
3. How will you prepare students for standardized assessments?
There are standardized assessments at almost every grade level. Be sure you know the names of the tests. Talk about your experiences preparing students. You'll get bonus points if you know and describe the format of the test because that will prove your familiarity.
4. Describe your discipline philosophy.
You use lots of positive reinforcement. You are firm, but you don't yell. You have appropriate consequences for inappropriate behavior. You have your classroom rules posted clearly on the walls. You set common routines that students follow. You adhere to the school's discipline guidelines. Also, emphasize that you suspect discipline problems will be minimal because your lessons are very interesting and engaging to students. Don't tell the interviewer that you “send kids to the principal's office” whenever there is a problem. You should be able to handle most discipline problems on your own. Only students who have committed very serious behavior problems should be sent to the office.
5. How do you make sure you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?
An IEP is an "individualized education plan." Students with special needs will be given an IEP, or a list of things that you must do when teaching the child. An IEP might include anything from "additional time for testing" to "needs all test questions read aloud" to "needs to use braille textbook." How do you ensure you're meeting the needs of a student with an IEP? First, read the IEP carefully. If you have questions, consult a special education teacher, counselor, or other staff member who can help you. Then, you just make sure you follow the requirements on the IEP word for word. When necessary, you may be asked to attend a meeting in which you can make suggestions for updating the IEP. Your goal, and the goal of the IEP, is to make sure the student has whatever he or she needs to be successful in your class.
6. How do you communicate with parents?
This question will come up at almost every elementary school interview. It’s fairly common in the middle school and high school as well. You might have a weekly parent newsletter that you send home each week. For grades 3 and up, you may require students to have an assignment book that has to be signed each night. This way, parents know what assignments are given and when projects are due. When there are discipline problems you call home and talk to parents. It's important to have an open-door policy and invite parents to share their concerns at any time.