Top 5 Tips to Ace the In-Person Teacher Interview

Top tips to succeed on a school's in-person teacher interview — what to expect, how to prepare, and proceed to getting a teaching job offer.

Top 5 Tips to Ace the In-Person Teacher Interview

Congrats! You’ve passed the resume screen, the phone interview, and the teacher demo lesson. Now it’s time for the in-person interview. Getting questioned by multiple people may seem daunting but will be more manageable with the right preparation. Selected is here to help. Follow the tips below and check out the full-version video if you want more info.

1. Plan ahead

Once your interview has been scheduled, carefully plan that day. Map directions to figure out how long it will take you to get to the school. It’s a good idea to double your anticipated travel time to account for any unforeseen delays, such as traffic or other transportation issues. Try to arrive 10-15 minutes before your meeting. Being even a minute late may be seen as unprofessional and starts your interview on a bad note. But don’t arrive too early — that creates awkwardness and may make you appear too eager. If you arrive early, talk a walk and check out the area.

The night before the interview, get your resume and outfit ready so you’ll have less to worry about in the morning. If you aren’t sure of the dress code, ask the recruiter in advance or be safe and dress a bit more formal than too casual.

2. Research the school

This is the step that can help you out-compete the other candidates trying to get the open position. Do your homework — be prepared to thoughtfully articulate why you’re a great fit with the interviewing school. Visit the school’s website and review what’s posted, such as mission, pedagogy, cultural values, and recent news, and note how you align. Script and rehearse a few key points to common question (or variations) on why you want to join the school. Being able to cite specifics shows the interviewer that you’ve done your research and that you actually want to work there.

You should also prepare several, say at least 5, questions to ask your interviewers. The more questions you have, the better. Good questions are thoughtful and focus on important matters. They are not close-ended, yes-no questions or something basic you can look up. Good questions drive to what’s most important in an organization — it’s people, culture, leadership, vision, goals, performance, morale, churn, values, pedagogy, personal perspectives, and things that need to be improved. Interviewers learn tremendously from the questions you ask. What would you think about someone whose first question was about compensation, required extracurriculars, or what time people arrive and leave? What you ask is one of the most telling signals about what you want, and ultimately your character and organizational fit — do not underestimate the importance.

3. Reflect

Top-tier candidates will be prepared to nail basic questions. You should have anticipated and prepared tight, compelling answers to common questions, such as:

  • Why do you love teaching? Why did you decide to become a teacher?
  • Why do you want to join our school?
  • What makes you a good teacher? Unique teacher?
  • What is your biggest weakness or development area? What have you done about it?
  • What are your teaching philosophies? What practices work for you? What doesn’t work?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Where do you see yourself in one, two, five, ten years?
  • How do you evaluate and track your student progress — both qualitatively and quantitatively?
  • What is your approach to classroom management?
  • How do you incorporate technology into your lessons?
  • What is an example of how you created engagement from uninterested students?
  • What extracurriculars are you passionate about?
  • What is an example of when you went the extra mile?

See more commonly asked interview questions here.


4. Practice

Once you craft a narrative or a specific, scripted response to anticipated questions — practice communicating them! Practice with others (e.g., a friend, family member, or mentor) and ask for feedback. If not, practice in front of a mirror and time yourself. Keep your responses succinct and impactful. If you are speaking for more than a minute or two for simple questions, you may be rambling. Allow an interview to dig deeper when they want more information. You can also record yourself with a phone and listen to how you sound. Are you clear and direct? Do you say “um” or “like” too often? Practicing out loud helps with your nerves, and it allows you to deliver the answer more naturally when you are speaking with an interviewer. We can’t emphasize strongly enough — do not ramble! Look to have a conversation, which is two-way communication. Common mistakes by nervous candidates are to try to fill silence with chatter and to sound more convincing with more words.

5. Be professional

Find a good balance between being friendly and not too familiar. Have a good anecdote lined up that shows your personality without reflecting poorly on you (e.g., something interesting you did last weekend, such as visiting a new museum or something you recently learned about classroom management).

When speaking of previous schools — avoid speaking negatively. Be candid but reframe issues positively as lessons learned. Describe past issues as reasons why you believe this school is a better fit.

After the in-person interview

Once you’ve left the building, take some time to reflect on the process. What do you think went well? What did not go so well, and how will you improve next time? Even if an interview does not go well, remember that it’s still an incredible learning experience. The practice will only make you better for your next interview. If you advance in the process, the typical next step is for the school to check your references. Either way, it might be a nice touch to send a quick, thoughtful “thank you” email to each interviewer or your primary contact.

About Selected

Selected helps teachers find jobs at schools they love. We offer a free school matching and career support platform for teachers that connects them with 1,200+ PK-12 public and independent schools in urban metro areas in the Northeast and West Coast, including New York City, NJ, CT, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, and Los Angeles. Create a FREE profile and start speaking with hiring schools immediately!