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The Most Common Questions Teachers Are Asked at Job Interviews

job interview

I stumbled on a brilliant article in the Guardian where Head Teachers share the questions they regularly ask at job interviews and the rationale behind their questions.

I hope this article comes in handy next time you interview for a new teaching position:

If I walked into your classroom during an outstanding lesson, what would I see and hear?

“I’d like to hear about: animated discussions, students clearly making progress as evidenced in oral and written contributions. High quality visual displays of students’ work showing progress. High levels of engagement. Behaviour that supports learning.”

Helen Anthony, head teacher, Fortismere school

“After hearing a candidate’s response I try to get them to talk about their experiences in the classroom. I try to get a sense of the impact that they have had on pupils’ achievement.”

Tim Browse, head teacher, Hillcrest primary school

• Why do we teach x in schools?

“This question really throws people. If it is maths or English they sometimes look back at you as if you are mad. They assume it is obvious – a very dangerous assumption – and then completely fail to justify the subject’s existence.

“Whatever the subject, I expect to hear things like: to improve skills and independent learning; to encourage team work; to gain a qualification; for enjoyment (very important, rarely mentioned); to enhance other subjects; to develop literacy, numeracy and ICT skills; to improve career prospects; self discipline; memory development; to encourage life-long learning in that subject. The list goes on…”

John Kendall, head teacher, Risca community comprehensive school

• Can you tell me about a successful behaviour management strategy you have used in the past that helped engage a pupil or group of pupils?

“This allows candidates to give a theoretical answer – one that anyone who swotted up could give you – balanced with a personal reflection that shows how effective they are.”

Tim Browse, head teacher, Hillcrest primary school

• If you overheard some colleagues talking about you, what would they say?

“This is one of my favourite questions (it’s based on a question my National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) coach used to ask me) because it gets candidates to think about their contribution to the school organisation and their team spirit. If I’m interviewing for a senior leader I would follow this up with: what would you want them to say about you in three years time? This way I can get a sense of where they want to develop as leaders.”

Tim Browse, head teacher, Hillcrest primary school

• Why do you want to work in special education?

“We’re looking to see that the person genuinely recognises that we’re in the business of education as opposed to simply caring for the children (surprisingly, some applicants don’t really see it that way).”

Sean O’Sullivan, head teacher, Frank Wise school

• Why do you want to work in this school?

“We want to see clear indications that candidates have done background work about our school and can talk about why the way we work appeals to them. We’d always want candidates to have visited the school so they should be able to flesh this out with specific examples of what they thought based on their visit.”

Sean O’Sullivan, head teacher, Frank Wise school

• A question that is specific to the candidate’s letter of application

“A candidate may have made a grand statement in their letter, but not gone into details about ‘how’ or the impact it had.”

Tim Browse, head teacher, Hillcrest primary school

• What are the key qualities and skills that students look for in teachers?

“Liking young people. Fairness. Consistency. Sense of humour. Passion for their subject. Good at explaining new concepts/ideas. Able to make the topic or subject relevant. Able to make everyone feel comfortable and confident about contributing.”

Helen Anthony, head teacher, Fortismere school

• Evaluate your lesson

“Teaching a one-off lesson in an unfamiliar school with students you have never met before is a difficult task, but a useful one for candidates and those making the appointment. The evaluation of the lesson by the candidate is crucial. I need to see someone who can be self-critical but who also recognises when things go well. Someone who makes suggestions as to how the lesson may have gone better, what they would do differently with hindsight. I like to hear them talk of the individual student’s progress in the lesson, and how they would follow it up. Remembering pupils’ names is always impressive. I’d rather see an ambitious lesson that goes a bit awry than a safe boring one.”

John Kendall, head teacher, Risca community comprehensive school

• If we decided not to appoint you, what would we be missing out on?

“This is great as it enables candidates to sell themselves and really tell us what they are about.”

Brett Dye, head teacher, Parc Eglos school

Click on the link to read The Profession You Choose When You Don’t Want to Get Fired

Click on the link to read The School They Dub the “Worst Primary School in the World”

Click on the link to read Education New Year’s Resolutions 2014

Click on the link to read Eight Fundamentals that Every Student Deserves

Click on the link to read 21 Reasons to Become a Teacher

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3 Responses to “The Most Common Questions Teachers Are Asked at Job Interviews”

  1. kedavis99 Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I was just thinking about writing a post on teaching interview questions. I haven’t done it yet but when I get around to it I’ll be linking back to your post. Now if only these answers could actually help me get a standard classroom again 🙂

  2. teachmefirst Says:

    Reblogged this on Teach ME First and commented:
    In the next few months I anticipate many interviews. Ok, maybe that’s a bit optimistic, but hopefully I’ll get at least 5!
    As such, I should probably spend some valuable time scouring these questions and developing these interviews. Hellooooo weekends!

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