Congratulations on getting an interview for that coveted teaching position.
I assume you’re looking for teaching interview tips because you want to do your very best on the big day.
These 12 teaching interview tips are sure to help you land the right job.
Whether you’ll be meeting with one person or a panel, prepare yourself.
I’ve been on several teaching interviews (plus sat on quite a few interview panels as well) during my career and have picked up several pointers and tips.
Learn from my successes and failures.
Teaching Interview Tips: Before the Interview
1. Research the School.
One of the most important teaching interview tips is to know the school/district well.
Do this by studying the website extensively.
You want to appear (and actually be) knowledgeable about its mission, goals, academic/extracurricular programs, etc.
- What curriculum have they adopted for the subject area you plan to teach? Know the buzzwords associated with it.
If a district is doing the Lucy Calkins Writing program, for example, you should know what is a mentor text.
You should also ideally know the key elements of the program (whether you’ve taught it before or not).
- What are the demographics of the school and/or district? At-risk, affluent, significant immigrant population, lots of second language learners, high poverty, etc.?
Be aware of the pros and cons that come with each type of student population.
- How well did the school do on its standardized testing for the past three years or so? How could your talents help improve upon or contribute towards what’s already been done in that area?
Researching all of this information gives you an overall personality of the school/district and will allow you to speak about it knowledgeably during your interview.
Research also helps you realize what gaps in information you’d still like to know regarding the school.
Jot down a couple of questions so that you can ask them at the end of your interview. (See #8 below.)
2. Rehearse Potential Interview Questions.
Practice potential teaching interview questions.
Ideally, rehearse with someone you feel comfortable with and who can provide good constructive feedback about not only your answers but also about how you answer.
If no such person exists, record yourself answering questions and responding.
Listening to your speaking voice helps you hear objectively oral speaking habits that you might not be aware of such as repetitive use of “um” and “like”.
3. Dress for Success.
This one can vary, and and it goes back to teaching interview tip #1… research the school.
What is the professional culture like, and how does that affect dress code?
I’ve been to interviews where I’ve had to dress in a very business-like dress with a blazer, stockings, and heels.
And I’ve been on interviews where dressing like that would have been overdoing it.
Sometimes you don’t know what’s expected, but do some research so that you at least have an idea.
If you still can’t figure it out, I recommend that men wear nice slacks, a collared shirt, a tie, and a nice jacket/blazer.
Women can wear nice slacks or a dress/skirt, collared shirt or blouse, and dress shoes with a short heel (high heels are not the best choice for teaching interviews).
Some women wear a bit of makeup.
For both genders, hair should be neat and clean.
Be careful with tattoos, piercings, and “interesting” hairstyles.
Though there are exceptions, I think it’s safe to say that most schools are going to be cautious when it comes to these styles, so be “safe” and stay “conventional”.
Again, research where you’re going, and no matter what, look neat and clean.
Teaching Interview Tips: During the Interview
4. Make Eye Contact.
If you’re interviewing with a panel, be sure to make eye contact with each person when you’re answering a question or addressing a comment.
Sometimes, unknowingly, we tend to give the most attention to the principal.
Making eye contact with all of the individuals participating in the interview shows that you respect all of them equally and are interested in what each has to say.
5. Watch Out for Red Flags.
I’ve read many teaching interview tips over the years, but one tip I don’t see often enough is a warning against red flags.
- Does the school seem too eager to have you?
- Is there a high teacher or principal turnover rate?
- Are they asking you inappropriate questions?
6. Give Answers with Specific Examples.
When answering questions or responding, give specific examples to showcase your skill-set.
For example, if you have to “Tell about your classroom management style”, talk about it with a specific example.
In a concise way, discuss what actual strategy(ies) you used (or would use for new teachers).
Talk about how well it worked with a particular group of students.
Additionally, how do you support students who are struggling in a specific subject area?
Mention in detail a specific reading comprehension activity or practical math strategy that helped those struggling students improve.
If you have a teaching portfolio in hand, use it as tangible evidence to further support your specific answers (don’t overdo it though~too much portfolio showing can be a bit much).
An electronic portfolio is also a good option as the interviewer or committee can take a look at your work before or after the interview and at their leisure.
Remember, specific examples bring your answers to life.
7. It’s Okay to Not Know.
If you’re asked a question that you don’t have an answer for, take a moment to think about it.
That’s perfectly okay to do.
If you still can’t think of a decent response, just say so.
Do mention, however, that you’re open and willing to collaborate with others to improve upon whichever skills you’re lacking.
8. Have a Couple of Questions to Ask Afterwards.
Towards the end of your interview, the interviewer will most certainly ask if you have any questions.
Have at least a couple of questions prepared (those questions should not be about salary, vacation days, or benefits).
If you’ve done good research (see #1 above), then you should ideally still have a couple of things that are unanswered, so ask those.
If all of your questions have been covered, consider asking the following…
- In your opinion, what is the best thing about working at this school?
- Which is an area that needs a little improvement?
- How long will it be before I hear back from you regarding your decision to move forward or not in the interview process?
9. Be Yourself.
Teachers, especially elementary teachers, are expected to be bubbly and very enthusiastic.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but if that’s not you, don’t fake it.
It’s more important to show genuine interest in the position, fondness of kids, a team player attitude, optimism, and confidence in yourself and in your abilities.
Be polite, respectful, and warm, but above all, just be you.
If your personality isn’t bubbly or nurturing enough in their eyes, it’s simply not the right fit for you.
You want to be in a school where you can be your authentic self. That’s priceless.
Teaching Interview Tips: After the Interview
10. Send a Thank You Note.
Within 24-48 hours of the interview, send a thank you note to the interviewer and/or panel thanking them for their time and consideration.
While a handwritten note adds a personal touch, a kind email works just as well.
11. Keep Job Hunting.
No contract, no job!
Until you sign on the dotted line, keep searching.
A job offer mentioned verbally is not the same as a contract.
Administrators can be fickle.
Sometimes, school politics get involved, and things could change at no fault of yours.
So take care of you first.
Until you have a final offer signed in ink, keep your eyes open for new opportunities and keep applying.
12. “Check-in” with the School, If You Must.
If some time has passed since the interviewer said he or she would contact you, it’s okay to reach out to check on the status of the interview process.
The interviewer could still be in the process of contacting your references, interviewing other candidates ~ who knows!?
If you’re really itching to know, just send a quick email to see what’s going on. But don’t appear desperate or pushy.
It’s important to note that you could do all the best teaching interview tips in the world and still not get the job.
But don’t get down if that happens. Sometimes it’s not about you at all … there are so many factors behind hiring practices, and school politics are often part of the equation.
If you know you did your very best, don’t beat yourself up for not getting the job. Reflect, take it as a learning experience, and move on to the next opportunity. There’s a great fit somewhere waiting for you.
Arm yourself with these 12 teaching interview tips, and you’ll be on the right path to landing that teaching job.
All the best