This post may contain affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Teacher Interview Tips from a Middle School English Teacher
Going to any interview is stressful, but I found that going on my first professional interviews was more stressful than any of the other interviews I had experienced in my life. I received a call for my first interview in February of 2018. I had been student teaching for less than a month, and I was honestly clueless about what to expect. I tried to be prepared and throw together a portfolio, but I felt extremely underprepared and unorganized. Being organized is how I manage anxiety, so it was definitely not an ideal situation going in. That interview went okay, but I wasn’t blown away by my performance at all, so I doubt they were. Haha.
After that situation, I decided I had to get my life together and be more prepared for the next one. I felt a lot better about getting ready because:
1. I had survived an interview
2. I had an idea of the types of questions I would be asked
Also, I wised up and decided to use my resources. I turned to YouTube and Google to find teacher interview tips from other teachers, which was THE BEST DECISION I MADE DURING MY INTERVIEW PROCESS. If you are getting ready to interview, listen to what other teachers have to say. It is SO helpful. If you only choose to watch one video to help you prep, I highly recommend you check out this video from Michelle Ferre from Pocketful of Primary.
Finding My Home
I then went on three more interviews and received some calls for interviews at schools I decided just weren’t right for our family, mostly based on location. These interviews were completely different than my first one. I felt way more confident, and I had a great portfolio to point to as evidence when giving answers. I ended up accepting my first teaching job on April 9th, and I can’t wait for August to get here so that I can start my first year.
From my experiences during my application and interview process, I decided to create a list of teacher interview tips that I have for other new teachers, so here it goes!
Teacher Interview Tips:
1. Apply Everywhere
You may have this picture in your mind of where you think you want to be, but I invite you to expand that picture, and be open to something different. I ended up accepting a job at a school three and a half hours away from where we are currently living. I went to the interview not really expecting to be able to actually accept the job, but I fell in love with them. They asked me not to accept another position without calling them first, and I agreed to do that. I left the interview, called my husband, and started bawling because I loved it so much. Even if you think you know that you won’t or can’t take a job, listen to what they have to say, get the experience interviewing, and make the best decision you can with all the information.
2. Dress comfortably
Yes, you need to dress professionally. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t look very professional for each and every interview you go on. Instead, I want to remind you that if you don’t feel comfortable, that can have a huge impact on your performance and your self-confidence, so be sure that your interview clothes not only make you look good but also make you feel good.
3. Take Water
It’s okay to take water to an interview. It can help you to clear your throat from talking more than you are used to, and it can give you a small break if you need to think about an answer.
4. Research the School
I would highly, highly recommend that you research the school you are going to be interviewing at. Make sure that you have multiple nuggets packed away that you can mention so that the interviewer or panel know you are serious about their school and took the time to learn more about them. Some examples of things I have been able to mention are class sizes, enrichment programs, curriculum and activities from teachers websites in the department I am interviewing for, and interest in extracurricular openings.
5. Practice your Answers.
Gather questions that will probably be asked. There are tons of lists of teacher interview questions. For the big ones, prewrite out an answer and practice it, almost like a speech. You will probably end up making small changes when you are actually sitting in the interview, but hopefully, you will seem well prepared, not have to rack your brain for something to say, and not end up going on any weird tangents.
6. Every Answer Should Tie Back to Education
During nearly every interview, the interviewer will ask you to tell them about yourself. Make sure that you taper this answer to education. If you are an English teacher, find ways to show your love of reading or writing. It’s okay to talk about your family if you are married or have children, but you ultimately want to use this as an opportunity to sell yourself and show your excitement about joining the teaching field. This is my “prewritten” answer below.
I received my Bachelor’s in English with a Creative Writing Minor from SIUE. If I wasn’t becoming a teacher, I would have pursued an MFA program to write and teach writing at the collegiate level. While I was working on my Bachelor’s Degree, I married my husband, and we have two children. My daughter, Ashlynn, is in 2nd grade and my son, Nolan, is in Preschool, both at Moye Elementary in O’Fallon.
After I finished my Bachelor’s I moved to McKendree University to work on my Master’s Degree. I knew I wanted to teach Middle School, and at the time, the only way to do that was to get a Secondary Degree and add a Middle School Endorsement, so I started my field practicums at Collinsville High School. While I was there, I taught a few lessons about Fahrenheit 451, including the short story The Pedestrian and introducing the novel.
After that field experience, I talked with my guidance counselor and told her that I really knew I wanted to do Middle School and asked her what we could do to help get me more focused and experienced in that area. She gave me two options. First, she said I could stay in the secondary program and just have middle school placements the rest of the time I was in the program, and get my endorsement. The second option she gave me was that the Middle School MAT had just been approved, so I could switch majors and go into the Middle School program. This would push my graduation date back one semester, but the Middle School program offered me more middle school focused instruction as well as some classes that the secondary program didn’t have, such as classroom management. I knew right then that I needed to switch, and I did. I haven’t regretted it for a single second.
I love middle school, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had so far to work with them, and I’m looking forward to getting to establish my own classroom and work with them for a long time. In the future, I would love to get a Reading Specialization and look forward to continuing to learn how to be a better teacher by collaborating with colleagues and seeking out other opportunities to grow.
7. Know Your Classroom Management Strategy
Classroom Management is a HUGE deal today. Make sure that you have a solid idea of what you would like that to look like for you and look into the school-wide programs in your area. PBIS is a big one in my area that some schools carry into Middle School and some stop at 5th grade, so I made sure to have a general knowledge of how it worked.
8. Be Ready To Talk About Specific Lessons
Talking about lessons includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Every lesson you mention should show growth. When you talk about a lesson that went well, make sure you are backing that statement up with how you know it went well. For a lesson that did not go well, make sure you mention how you grew and what you learned. We all make mistakes. They aren’t looking for perfection, but they are looking for lifelong learners.
9. Know Response to Intervention
Know what it is, and have a good understanding of the Tiers. Be ready to answer questions about your knowledge. If you have specific strategies that you know or have used, bring examples if you can. The interviewers asked about RTI in every single one of my interviews.
10. Always have questions for them
This is another way to show interest in them. Make sure you prepare questions ahead of time so that you don’t have to scramble to remember them. Have a notepad to write down answers. Remember to respect their time, and don’t ask them more questions than they asked you.
Bonus – Be ready to NOT use your portfolio
During my first interview, I started to use my portfolio to back up an answer and the Principal told me she just wanted to hear what I had to say and not see it. I never had that experience again, but it is good to be prepared to answer questions with or without it.
I hope that some or all of these tips will be useful for you! If you have great ideas to share with interviewing teachers please leave them in the comments! To keep up to date with all things Coffee & Cardis, sign up for my newsletter here.