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Teaching Questions

During an interview for a teaching position, many of the following questions may be asked by a potential employer.

Teaching Questions

Personal Questions (Usually Asked First or Last)

  • Share with us your reasons for applying for a 6th grade position at our school?
  • Tell us about yourself, your background, experiences and what caused you to want to be a math teacher?
  • Tell us about your background and teaching experience and why you are interested in this position in our district.
  • Why do you want to teach middle school?
  • Tell us a little about yourself - your work experience and your background - whatever you think is important for us to know.
  • Tell us a little about yourself.
  • Prior to this interview, you were provided with the district's mission statement and core values. Is there one that really resonates with you and your teaching style? Can you give examples?
  • Share with us what prompted you to apply our particular district.
  • We are a grade 3, 4 and 5 building, why are you interested in being a member of our staff?
  • Why are you interested in our school?
  • We are interested in what accomplishments you are proud of, could you list 2 or 3 of them for us?
  • What are your greatest accomplishments?
  • What materials do you read for your own enjoyment?
  • What are the greatest challenges that you have faced as a teacher?
  • How will you use the summer to prepare for the teaching year?
  • What do you see yourself doing in 15 years?
  • What was the last book you read? What was the most important thing you learned from that book?
  • Is there anything that we didn't ask you that you want to share with us? This is your opportunity to really sell yourself.
  • If we were down to three finalists, why should we choose you?

Professional Knowledge Based Questions

Elementary Grades

  • Could you describe the steps of the writing process and how you would integrate writing across the curriculum?
  • Can you give me an example of how you would integrate writing into a social studies lesson?
  • What instructional strategies would you use to help students who have challenges in reading, writing, listening and speaking?
  • We have children with autism in an integrated class. Think about a 3rd grade level, and tell us how you would create a positive learning environment for these children.
  • How would you integrate ELA with other instructional areas (social studies, science, and math)?
  • How would you facilitate student learning using a balanced literacy framework?
  • What strategies/ideas would you use to bring a language arts focus to your class? What are the key components to a balanced language arts program? How would you assess students? Do you have any experience with running reading records?
  • What is your understanding of guided reading? What is the role of flexible grouping in a reading program and how would you use them?
  • What does developmental reading mean to you and how would you work with this in your class?
  • You have been instructed to do an inquiry-based math program. What activities would you introduce at the primary grade level that would meet this requirement?
  • Talk about your experiences teaching reading.
  • How can mathematics be integrated into the teaching of other curricular areas?

Middle School/High School Grades

  • Can you tell us how you will motivate your students to learn? We find the toughest periods to do this are first period, right after lunch and the last period of the day, do you have any ideas?
  • How much weight do you give homework in your grading system?
  • Which math concepts did you find as your strengths?
  • Did you have an opportunity to work with any other content area teachers during your student teaching? Tell us about these opportunities?
  • Can you give me some examples of a variety of assessments you might use in a math 8 classroom?

All Grade Levels

  • What methods will you use to evaluate your students? How will you evaluate yourself?
  • What do you see as being the important elements of an effective lesson?
  • Describe your experience with the 6+1 Traits of Writing and with guided reading.
    • Take me through an ELA lesson. What would it look like?
    • What would guided reading look like in your classroom? How would you place students in groups?
    • If I were to invite you to do a read along with a first grade class, what book would you bring with you?
  • How do you develop objectives for your lessons?
  • What strategies would you use to ensure that all students meet learning objectives while being appropriately challenged?
  • What do you know about differentiation?
  • Take me through an average day of math and tell me what programs you would use. How do you develop a math lesson? What materials would you hope to have on a daily basis for your math lessons?
  • Could you reflect on your student teaching/field experience placements and how you used technology there? How would you incorporate technology in your lessons?
  • Share with us an experience you've had in teaching where you had to act on the spot and your training had not prepared you for the situation.
  • We recently surveyed parents and teachers regarding homework. What do you see as the role of math homework?
  • Language arts question: How will you prepare your students to write a story using all the essential elements of the writing process?
  • Talk about yourself as a teacher; strengths and weaknesses.
  • Tell us how the NYS learning standards have impacted your instruction (lesson planning, instruction & assessment).
  • Give an example of how you use the key elements of instruction in your lesson plans.
  • What kinds of assessments did you use - what did you include in your lessons?
  • Define the word "assessment" and describe how you assess students in a classroom.
  • What factors do you believe impact student achievement?
  • You will usually find heterogeneous groups - how would you go about differentiating instruction that would speak to the differences and learning styles? Follow-up: As you were trying those things in the classroom, what was the most challenging part?
  • How do you provide closure to your lessons? Please give an example.
  • When do you as an educator make the decision that a child doesn't belong in your classroom?
  • Including students in the least restrictive environment is a state mandate, how will you provide this for those students in your class who are functioning below grade level as well as those who are gifted?
  • What will you do to insure that all your students will meet not only state but district learning standards?
  • Can you tell us how you will plan your lessons?
  • Describe for us the various roles of a special education teacher in the school? What is the role of support professionals (OT, speech, paraprofessionals)?
  • How would you determine that children had learned what you taught? You can use an example from your student teaching. Is there anything you could do immediately to assess student learning or during the course of the lesson?
  • Most students are linguistic/verbal learners. If you are teaching a lesson and conclude that most of the students do not understand the material, which channel do you go to next?
  • Describe an inquiry-based instructional environment. What advantages does it provide that a traditional environment does not?
  • What is your philosophy of inclusion?
  • Have you ever been involved in an inclusive setting, and if so, what was your experience?
  • Social/emotional development is critical. How would you foster it in a classroom setting?
  • Topic integration. Students learn best when content is connected. Can you think of ways that you can integrate with other content areas? What about music and art?
  • What is your policy on homework? How would you communicate that to parents?
  • What are your perceptions of teaching in a Charter School?
  • How do you develop critical thinking skills?

Hypothetical Questions

  • Moving from elementary to middle school can be a major transition for students. How will you be able to facilitate the transition at this level? How do you help them transition when they have so many developmental issues?
  • If I had your plan book in front of me, what would it look like? If I had a formal lesson plan in front of me, what would in include?
  • Students are transitioning back to your classroom after lunch; a student reveals that one of their buddies has said things that indicate he or she might hurt him/herself. What would you do?
  • Your class of 25 could have 4-5 students with IEP's. You have in your class students coming from three different elementary schools. In the first few days of the school year, how would you assess your students?
  • On your class roster you find listed a young man with visible handicaps that are fairly significant. How would you react to that child's presence; what would your reaction be?
  • What sort of classroom atmosphere would you establish and how would you do it?
  • Describe for us the ideal classroom learning environment.
  • If I were to walk into your classroom, what would I find going on in your classroom during a typical period?
  • You are working on a committee with other faculty members charged with planning new curriculum. Another member of the team begins saying things that you find to be antithetical to your beliefs as an educator. How would you deal with this situation?
  • Suppose that we are building new classrooms and you have the opportunity to design yours from the ground up. How will you do it? Explain the reasoning for your choices.
  • Suppose a student in your class never turns in homework assignments but still aces all of your tests. This student is in danger of failing your class. How will you respond?
  • Can you describe what your classroom will look like and what we might feel when we enter it?
  • You have a class that includes students with a wide range of ability levels (average students, gifted students, and those with learning disabilities). How would you develop a math lesson to meet the different needs of your students?
  • A student consistently comes late to school - what actions do you take? What do you do if in conversations with the parent or primary caregiver you are told that there is nothing they can do about it, and you just have to deal with it?
  • You have several students who are above grade level in reading/language arts. What would you do for them other than giving them more work? As they complete their assigned work, what related projects would you have them work on?
  • You overhear a conversation - teachers are talking about the principal's discipline patterns. They stop you and ask for your opinion. What do you say?
  • What do you see as the greatest challenge of public education? What can we do as educators to overcome it?

Behavior Management Questions

  • How was behavior managed in your student teaching placement? Is that something you would do at our school?
  • If a student is being disrespectful, how will you respond?
  • Describe your most successful classroom management technique. What steps do you take when a child doesn't respond to those techniques.
  • A child is inattentive in class and is distracting others, how will you redirect?
  • Johnny is in your class. He is inattentive and seems to argue with everyone around him. Walk us through what you would do.
  • Thomas has a history of hitting, pushing and kicking. Verbal reminders have not worked, and you need to make a phone call home. How would you approach it?
  • You are working with a student who has poor attention and can not focus. What strategies would you use to help him refocus?
  • If you have a child who talks out of turn all the time; what steps would you take to resolve the problem?
  • Tell us about your discipline plan and procedures you would have in place and at what point you would involve parents. Follow-up: Tell me a step-by-step process you would use with a new class.
  • Here are three different scenarios - please choose one and tell me how you would respond.
    • It is the 3rd day in a row that an 8th grade girl comes into your classroom late and chewing gum. You have asked her not to do that, but she continues the behavior.
    • Four girls decide to sit on the floor in class, and say no when you ask them to take their seat.
    • You intercept a filthy note that implies something terrible about someone else's character.
  • What behavior offends you the most?

Student Teaching

  • Can you identify a specific math lesson that was successful, and explain why it was successful? Then tell us about a math lesson you taught that was not successful, and explain why you thought that it wasn't.
  • In terms of student teaching, what did you do? Who was your cooperating teacher?
  • Tell us what your mentor teacher did that made your transition to student teaching smooth?
  • Talk about materials you used for language arts at both of your student teaching placements.
  • In your most recent teaching assignment, tell us about a lesson that went very well and why.
  • Talk about a lesson that you felt did not measure up to your expectations, why it didn't work, and what you would do differently next time.

Unique Tasks/Assignments Included With Interviews

  • The candidate is given 10 minutes (the committee leaves the room) to create a graphic organizer that will help their students. Then the candidate is asked to present his results to the committee.
  • The candidate is given 10 minutes to plan a lesson or series of lessons according to stated benchmarks and present the results to the group.
  • The district requires that candidates teach a demonstration lesson to a classroom of students at the grade level of the available position.

Interactions With Parents

  • You are getting ready to meet with parents for the first time. How are you going to prepare?
  • Share with us an experience you've had in dealing with parents where you had to act on the spot and your training had not prepared you for the situation.
  • How do you get parents and members of community involved in the classroom and students' educational process?
    • Do parents have a role in the classroom? If a parent is eager to help in the classroom, what you should do? How can they help?
    • If parents are reluctant to be involved, what steps would you take to get them more involved?
  • How do you address with parents a student who is struggling with organizational issues?
  • If you are hired as a 6th grade teacher, how would you communicate with the parents?
  • How do you facilitate communication with home and parents? Do you use phone calls, notes home, meetings?
  • How would parents (and students) describe you as a teacher? How would you communicate with parents throughout the year?
  • What would you do to promote positive interaction with parents?
  • What suggestions would you have for parents to foster social/emotional development at home?

Interactions With Other Teachers/Administrators

  • There are sometimes situations over which you have no control, for example, when you collaborate with a special education teacher. How will you ensure that those collaborations are successful?
  • We have three grade level teams in our school; how would you utilize the other members of our teaching teams to benefit students?
  • How do you think a special area teacher can help you in your work with students?
  • We work as a team in our school. What can you offer as a team member?
  • How do you envision the Principal and Assistant Principal supporting you?
  • Our teachers work very closely in teams. What strengths will you bring to your team?

Extracurricular Involvements

  • How would you plan on becoming a part of the community of our school?
  • How would you impact the environment of the greater school community?

Experiences Outside of Teaching

  • What was your role in your position at __ (names former employer)?
  • Tell us about your other experiences that might qualify you for this position in our school.

Portfolio Related Questions

  • Recruiter comment: Candidates need to be able to demonstrate the instructional elements of the content presented.
  • What was the objective of the lesson that is occurring in this photo?
  • How did student's know they were successful during this pictured activity?
  • What was being assessed in this piece?

Opportunity to Ask Questions

  • All districts left time at the end of the interview for questions by the candidate. Not much time was left for this however and the kinds of questions that candidates ask were being evaluated as well. It was advised that students avoid asking salary and benefits questions at this juncture.

Comments from Interviewers

  • I need to hear the phrase "I love kids!"
  • Looking for an energy level and willingness to work with others.
  • Evidence of professional collaboration is huge! This is a community.
  • Interview teams are looking for evidence that the candidate can work with EVERYONE on the team, with the desire to make this the best it can possibly be.
  • Seeking someone who looks for many different ways to connect with students and team members.
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