It’s that moment in the interview when the employer flips the script - and suddenly the interviewee is the interviewer. This is a moment that leaves many tongue tied, unsure of what to ask, and convinced that all of their questions have already been answered. Wrong! There are numerous questions you can ask at this point in the interview, and below, we tackle six of our favorites.
Q: “What do you feel are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?” — or — “What characteristics in a teacher best represent your school values?”
Why: Both of these questions let the interviewer know that you are interested in developing the skills most important to the role. The latter also shows that you did a little digging into the school values. It tells them it’s not only important to you that you shine on the job, but that you also want to embody the school’s values and model that embodiment for others. Perhaps best of all, it will give you insight into what it takes to thrive at the school — and whether or not you’ll be successful.
Q: “What is the culture of the school — and do you see a difference in the staff culture and student culture?”
Why: Asking this question will give you a better understanding of what it’s actually like to work on campus. And the day-to-day is usually what determines your happiness on the job. Pay close attention to how the interviewer answers each part, and depending on what you’re looking for in your next role, it’s always great to have a follow-up question ready. Our go to? “What are some of the ways you are planning to strengthen the school/staff/student culture - and how can I help?”
Q: “What are the biggest opportunities within the grade level/department right now?”
Why: This question immediately tells interviewers that you are assets based because you specifically asked about opportunities. It also lets them know that you are a listener and a problem-solver. You want to know what can make things better, but you trust that the team has already pin-pointed their challenges and areas for growth. You’re not coming in to “fix a problem” but you definitely want to be an active member in the growth of the team. Now, as you listen to their response, take note of the areas you know you can help strengthen. This is another opportunity in disguise to highlight the skills you would bring to the team. Want to kick it up another notch? Listen for the strengths of the team that might help you grow and develop. Then, show your excitement in being a part of a team that can help you reach new professional levels, too.
Q: “What formal and informal ways do you measure the success of your teachers?”
Why: A question like this will help you gauge your fit with the school. Before asking, make sure you know how you determine your own success, and how prior places of employment met or fell short of those expectations. You may get asked! As the interviewer answers, take note of what sits well for you. Ultimately, you’re looking to find out if you’ll feel success and support in this role.
Q: “Which staff members will I be working most closely with and what does collaboration usually look like?”
Why: This question shows your interest in getting to know your teammates and your openness to working with them more closely. For you, it’s also important to know what the expectations are for team and school-wide collaborations. Like the others, this question will further determine your sense of fit with the school. For many, they are looking for a school with an established sense of team - others want a strong sense of autonomy and feel more hindered than empowered by collaborations - and others still, hope to help schools establish this culture and community. Consider which fits you best, and how you might share your preference or dig in for more information.
Q: “Are there opportunities for professional development and what does it usually include?”
Why: When you ask about opportunities for further development, you’re letting your interviewers know that continuous learning is important to your identity as an educator. You want to get better, and you know that no matter how many years of experience you bring with you, there are always areas for growth. Schools want this. They want to know that you are coach-able and open to new ideas. And you want to ask this question - because it’s going to help you understand the level of support the school is ready to provide.
Next time you’re faced with asking questions of your interviewer, remember that this is often the chance to show your interest and curiosity in joining the team. People want to work with others who push the thinking of the collective — those who ask thoughtful questions often move themselves to the top of that list.
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