15 teacher interview tips to help you start teaching

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

After gaining your PGCE or other relevant teaching qualification, your next step is to seek teaching job vacancies in the area of your choice. These jobs require candidates to participate in a teacher interview, which is often conducted by existing staff members to judge an applicant's compatibility with their particular institution. Preparing for your teacher interview as much as possible means you can approach it with complete confidence. In this article, we provide 15 teacher interview tips to help prepare and explain why these interviews are important.

15 helpful teacher interview tips

Here are 15 useful teacher interview tips to keep in mind both in the run-up to the interview and during the interview itself:

1. Dress professionally

Standard teaching interviews are professional affairs, which means that you're expected to dress with this in mind. The way that you dress is a physical indication of how you present yourself, so take careful consideration of your outfit. Dressing in business attire, such as a suit, blouse, skirt and smart shoes are reliable choices if you're unsure. By dressing professionally, you can also demonstrate to employers that you're committed to this role and want to impress them.

Related: What not to wear to an interview (and what to wear instead)

2. Demonstrate your passion for teaching

The primary aim of any good educational institution is to promote and enable the well-being of its students. This means that employers typically seek applicants that clearly display a passion for the role, as this then translates to ensuring that students have an enjoyable learning experience. During your teacher interviews, try to speak candidly about why you enjoy teaching others and what made you decide to pursue this profession. Demonstrating this type of passion can also increase your chances of gaining a long-term position.

3. Prepare a portfolio

Many teaching interviewers expect to see a portfolio prepared by yourself of your previous experiences within teaching environments and roles. As long as the portfolio is legible and professional, you can be as creative as you wish with it. This can be especially beneficial for teaching subjects that have a more subjective focus, such as art and humanities. Here's what to include in a portfolio for teaching interviews:

  • example lesson plans

  • copy of your CV

  • relevant degrees

  • teaching certifications

4. Show your willingness to learn

During your interviews, it's helpful to note that teaching is a role where you're expected to continually learn. It's a demanding, yet rewarding job that you can become more natural at as you progress in your career. Candidates that show an awareness of this fact and are willing to develop their own skills in response to this are more likely to attract employers. Additionally, embracing that you don't know everything right away can make you more responsive to new knowledge.

5. Provide practical examples

When answering questions during a teacher interview, aim to provide as many practical examples as possible. This includes how you deescalated student conflicts, what your teaching style is and how you manage a busy workload. If you've just finished your teacher training, you can use examples of what you've learnt on your course or what you observed during your placement. Additionally, try to make the examples as specific as possible to the questions they ask.

6. Remain positive throughout

Educational institutions seek candidates that can help to provide a positive environment for their students. During your interviews, you can show that you're the ideal person to champion this by maintaining a positive demeanour throughout. This includes smiling regularly, making eye contact and appearing enthusiastic by using hand gestures and being attentive to your interviewer. Even if an interviewer asks you a challenging question, try to stay positive and take a moment to recollect so you can answer with confidence.

Related: How to maintain a positive attitude in 11 simple steps

7. Consider your teaching ethos

One of the most common interview questions for teachers is 'What is your teaching ethos?'. This is a chance for prospective teachers to explain what their philosophy is when it comes to teaching. For example, you may believe that an active approach to learning yields better results than a passive approach does. Before you attend your first teaching interview, consider what the institution's values are and how your teaching ethos aligns with them.

8. Research the interviewing institution

A good tip before any interview is to research the hiring organisation or institution. This is especially recommended for teaching interviews. Before the interview, make sure that you're familiar with the specific syllabus that the school offers. For instance, familiarise yourself with the novels taught at the GCSE level if you intend to teach KS4 English Literature. Some institutions also have unique teaching styles, so if this is the case, ensure that you're aware of them.

9. Reflect on your good qualities

Before attending your teaching interview, it's a good idea to prepare answers to questions that relate to why students would like you as their teacher. Students learn more when they have a teacher whom they can trust and have built a rapport with, so it's vital for employers to hire individuals that can do this. With this in mind, think about your good qualities and consider some examples of when you demonstrated these traits. For instance, you may decide to discuss your sense of humour and patience.

10. Tell interviewers about yourself

During a teacher interview, employers seek assurances that you can handle the challenges that teaching roles bring. Alongside this, employers wish to know more about your personal characteristics. In your teaching interviews, try to tell interviewers some relevant facts about yourself as this enables them to learn more about your character and judge whether they think you'd be a good addition to their team.

Related: Interview question: 'Tell me about yourself'

11. Focus on the students

Educational institutions function to provide a service to students, so try to answer questions in a way that focuses on this. For example, if you're asked why you want to teach, you might consider mentioning how you can positively influence your students' lives by providing them with useful knowledge and skills. Additionally, you can consider discussing how you're excited to help the next generation to reach their full potential.

12. Demonstrate your technology knowledge

Much of the modern classroom is full of technology. From smart boards to smartphone-supported quizzes, technology is rapidly evolving the way that teachers engage with their students. Schools, therefore, expect new teachers to be confident in handling such technology. Where possible, explain how you've used technology to enrich the teaching experience for students. Remember to also give practical examples so that the employer can assess your competency in this area.

Related: IT skills: definitions and examples

13. Practise sample teacher interview questions

There are some teacher interview questions that you can expect regardless of the specific interview you're attending. Due to this, it's recommended that you familiarise yourself with these questions and prepare answers for each of them. One effective way of doing this is by asking a family member, friend or colleague to ask you some questions so you can practise your reply. Some of the questions you can expect include:

  • 'Why do you want to teach?'

  • 'How do you manage challenges?'

  • 'What experience do you have in schools?'

  • 'How do you engage reluctant learners?'

  • 'Why do you want to teach this subject in particular?'

  • 'What's your teaching style like?'

14. Explain confidently and concisely

Teachers explain many topics throughout the academic year. Often, a teacher may dedicate an entire lesson to covering a single topic. For typical one-hour lessons such as this, you'd require solid lesson plans that focus on specific topics each time, which lead to students gaining a comprehensive understanding of a particular subject.

During a teacher interview, a prospective employer typically looks for evidence that you can explain subjects with clarity and conciseness. To demonstrate this, consider mentioning examples of when you explained a topic to someone and how you'd create lesson plans for students that clearly and concisely outline a topic's key points.

Related: How to sell yourself in an interview

15. Have your own questions ready

The most sought-after teachers are those that are as equally inquisitive as they're knowledgeable. This means that they're keen to continually develop their understanding of their subject and are eager to undertake any progression opportunities that arise. During your teacher interview, you can impress employers and demonstrate your inquisitive nature by preparing some questions to ask them. These questions can relate to specific responsibilities, career development opportunities, what it's like to work at the institution or anything else that you can think of that relate to the job vacancy.

Why are teacher interviews important?

Teacher interviews are the most important part of a teaching institution's recruitment process when looking for a new teacher. The purpose of these interviews is to ensure that the chosen candidate is suitable for the institution's needs. As teachers interact with students and assume a figure of authority, it's critical that they can demonstrate their teaching skills and their ability to maintain discipline within the classroom. These interviews are also an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate how they engage with others, which allows employers to learn more about their personal and professional traits.


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