How to Nail a Teaching Job Interview
Getting ready for a job interview can be a hard and nerve-wracking process. But, as it happens with most things, preparation is key! So, what does a typical job interview look like for a teacher?
First and foremost, remember that for every question you answer, you need to have a specific lesson in mind. Probably anyone can talk theoretically, but what is really going to distinguish you from other candidates is your own personal experience and how you choose to illustrate it during the interview. In other words, if you get the question "How do you maintain a positive learning environment in your classroom?" a good format to follow would be something like this:
"I usually try to ... For example, I remember when I was teaching ... I asked students to do X and Z. This helped us/me to ...".
"What should I be ready to talk about?"
Different Teaching Approaches
Which ones have you tried? Did they work well with your group of students? Which ones do you prefer? Are there any teaching approaches you haven't but would like to try in the future?
Are there any systems or techniques you use to manage your students effectively? Give some examples from your own experience with disruptive students, time management issues and ways you have used in the past to raise or lower energy levels, engage learners and draw their attention.
Teamwork plays a vital role in every teaching environment, be it from the teacher's or a student's perspective. Are you a team player? Do you share materials you create or find with your colleagues? Do you promote collaboration amongst your students?
Handling Difficult Situations
This is something you need to take your time thinking about prior to your interview. Have you ever had a conflict with your boss, a colleague or a difficult parent? How did you resolve it? What did you take out of this situation?
It's important for your employer to know that you have every intention to keep evolving as a teacher. Make sure you mention the steps you are planning to take in order to enrich your academic resume and talk about your future aspirations. Not only does that show your willingness to develop, but it also implies you are organised and goal-oriented.
Lesson Planning On-The-Spot
Sometimes, before you are asked to demo a lesson, you might be prompted to come up with a rough lesson plan on a specific target language, e.g. vocabulary, grammar, etc. It's important to remember the stages you normally follow when you teach different language areas, the main and secondary aims and the outcomes you expect as a teacher.
Study the School You Are Applying For
The interviewers will try to understand your level of interest in their school and how seriously you took the opportunity to interview with them. It's always a positive addition when you mention things you know about the school, e.g. their policy, the way they work, their achievements or anything else you came to know about them (positive things only!). You should also not miss the opportunity to ask about important things, for example when you'll get a reply, salary and benefits, extra responsibilities, etc.
Ensuring Students' Well-being
Even if you are not directly asked, don't forget that as teachers we are equally responsible for delivering successful lessons as we are for taking care of our students, and it's important to exhibit the traits of a caring and empathetic teacher when the questions allow it. Remember that one time that you had to ditch your lesson plan because you noticed your students bullying each other, or when you had to change/adapt an activity related to Mother's day because Mary was going through some family problems?
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
... And don't be afraid to be honest about them! If you show your employer that you are not capable of identifying your own strong and weak points, how could they trust you will be able to do the same for your students? No one expects you to be the perfect teacher, in fact, rumour has it there is no perfect lesson! However, do remember that when you state your strengths, you should ideally have something to back it with or how it came to be a strength (maybe observation feedback you received). Similarly, when stating your weaknesses, make sure you also list the means you are going to employ in order to improve.
Feeling a bit more optimistic about your job interview now?