Successful Interviews Tips
You’re invited to an interview. First you must get the basics right and abide by the 8
golden rules. They may seem obvious but applicants continually ignore them. They are:
• Research the organisation. Read any information they send you. Investigate their web
• Prepare to substantiate everything you said in your application
• Arrive early and in the right state of mind to be interviewed
• Dress to fit in. Make it easy for them to imagine you working in their organisation.
• Treat everything – from entering their premises to leaving – as part of the selection
• When you first meet, look your host in the eye, shake hands and smile
• Sit up straight in your chair with open body language – no crossed arms, fiddling with
your face or gripping. Use your hands to emphasise what you say.
• Never introduce a negative unless it is absolutely necessary. Always look for positive
reasons for what you have done and why you have applied for this particular job.
Obey these rules and you stand a chance.
Next consider how to answer the different types of question.
1 The ‘Why’ questions
Be ready to explain positively why you did what it says you did on your CV or
application form. Go further and prepare to say why this particular career is attractive,
why you want this job and why you are keen to work for this organisation. Look for
things you have in common – interests, expertise, location, etc. Don’t simply tell them
what they already know.
2 The ‘Experience’ questions
Think hard about your experience and how it can add value to your prospective
employer. Consider which areas of your previous work relate most strongly to the job
you have applied for and be ready to supply the evidence that this is the case.
3 The ‘Competency’ questions
Often, when you apply for a job, you will receive a job description and person
specification. The latter will outline the skills you need to be successful in this role and
lay down competencies that are essential. Teamwork, communication and initiative are
often part of what recruiters call ‘generic skills’, essential in many jobs. Be prepared to
relate how you have exhibited these skills and use STAR- situation, task, action, and
results to provide a full answer.
4 ‘Scenario’ questions
“What would you do if…?” Naturally these scenario questions are different for each type
of job and relate to real situations you would face. Think about what you will encounter
in the job you’re being interviewed for and be ready to answer them.
5 Bolts from the blue
Especially in customer/client facing roles, it is essential that you are not phased by what
seem to be ridiculous questions. Some interviewers ask these to see your reaction. For
example, you might be asked, ‘If you were a car what make would you be?’ Slow down.
Think. Then try to find a logical answer.
6 Who else have you applied to?
Employers want to know that you have a sensible job seeking strategy. Not a haphazard
one. It should demonstrate a motivation to adapt to their type of organisation.
7 Where do you see your career going from here?
Be ambitious but emphasise what you would contribute and how you can progress.
8 What skills do you need in this job?
Where is the evidence that you have them? Often these can be discovered if they show
you a job description. If not think hard before you attend the interview and write down
the evidence that you have these skills so that it easily comes to mind.
9 What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Think of your weaknesses as areas for development. Don’t say that you are a
perfectionist – it’s something of a cliche.
10 Why should we recruit you?
Show how you could add value to the organisation if appointed.
11 Have you any questions to ask us?
Use this to express a real interest in what they do, not to find out about the perks of the
Many employers now use other techniques in addition to interviews to help them select
the best candidates. These include:
Giving a presentation/lecture
These are often used for academic jobs. Think about pitching it right for your audience.
Never go over time. Use bullet points for notes and maintain eye contact with your
For verbal, numerical and diagrammatic reasoning or logical thinking.Practise these.
Facilitate the group. Participate. Contribute ideas. Build on the ideas of others. Don’t shut
people out, interrupt, talk over, dismiss the ideas of others out of hand or take the
discussion off topic.
Enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of the event, no matter how crazy you think it is.
Apply the same for discussion groups.
Read the case study and underline the important factors. Write these on some paper to get
them firmly into your brain. Then re arrange them into pros and cons, a logical sequence
or timeline. Then write your report. Consider whether a bullet point executive summary
is better than lengthy prose.
This is all about taking decisions and prioritising. Faced with several courses of action
you have to decide which are most important.
If asked to complete a personality questionnaire, just be yourself. Attempts to swing the
result in favour of what the recruiter may want are likely to be unsuccessful
Ten questions to consider
when you are offered an interview
Interviews: Ten questions to consider
when you are offered an interview
1. What does the department specialise in?
Make sure that you know in advance which areas the department needs to improve on.
You should also be aware of the major issues and challenges they are facing. Getting
inside knowledge is best. This is why academic networking is so important; you never
know when that connection will be useful!
2. What is the role?
It might be an obvious question, but what is the job you are being interviewed for?! You
have probably applied for tens of jobs while you have been job hunting. It is important,
then, to re-read the job specification so that you know what the successful candidate will
be asked to do. This will also help you to identify your unique selling point as a
3. What format will the interview take?
You will need to know what you will be required to do on the day. You should be told
this when you are invited to interview. Are you going to do a presentation? Will there be
formal or informal lunch arrangements? How long will it last?
4. Why do I want this job?
This is crucial. It is a question you will be asked during the interview and you must
answer it by describing what you can contribute and how it fits into your career plans. Do
not say that you want the job because you are desperate for work, even jokingly.
5. What can I offer that is unique?
Match your own qualifications, skills and experience to the person specification in the job
advertisement. You need to make yourself stand out from the other interviewees too.
What do you do in terms of teaching and research that is different to others (i.e. elearning
6. What questions can I ask them?
At the end of an interview you will have the chance to ask the interviewers any questions
you may have. It is important not to look blank at this point! Prepare a question about the
department as a whole or the job role; don’t ask about salary. Good questions include
‘what is the department’s plan for the long term future?’ Or, ‘how does this role contribute
to your broader vision?’
7. How will I get there?
Don’t forget to carefully plan your transport arrangements. The last thing you want to do
is arrive late, which will make you flustered. If the interviewers notice that you are late,
you will be discounted there and then.
8. What should I do the night before?
Relax! Make sure all your paperwork and clothes are ready and then focus on something
else. Try not to over-prepare by tinkering with your presentation at the last minute; your
time will be better spent just quietly preparing for the interview on the next day.
9. What should I wear?
Even if you are used to wearing informal clothes in the classroom, do not consider doing
this in an interview situation. Clothes should be formal and fairly conservative. Do not
think about using clothing to express your quirky personality – this is fine for careers such
as graphic design but not academia.
10. How can I keep calm?
Try doing some deep breathing exercises if you feel really flustered. Good preparation
should also give you some reassurance. No one enjoys interviews but if you follow these
tips you will have a good chance of success.
88 Important Interview Questions For Teaching Job Interview Preparation
88 Important Interview Questions for Teaching Job Interview Preparation
88 Teacher Interview Questions
Below are some sample teacher interview questions. These questions are quite common for high school, middle school, and elementary teacher interviews. The difficulty level of these questions vary from easy to more difficult, but all of which are typical of a standard interview. When given an interview as a teacher, it is important to realize that you can prepare for it just as you would for an important test.
The Introduction Questions
- Why are you a good fit for this job and our school district?
- What makes you qualified for this teaching position?
- Tell us a little about your professional experiences.
- Do you have a professional portfolio you would like to share with us?
- Why did you become a teacher?
- Name three words that describe you.
- What is your philosophy on teaching?
- What separates you from other teaching candidates?
Questions About College and Student Teaching
- How well has your university prepared you for teaching?
- What was the most useful college course you have taken?
- What is the most important thing you learned from your cooperating teacher?
- What was the most important thing you learned from your overall student teaching experience?
- Describe your student teaching experience.
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
- What are your three greatest strengths?
- Name three of your weaknesses.
- What is the most satisfying thing about teaching?
- What is the biggest challenge in teaching?
- What is the scariest thing about teaching?
- What part of teaching do you look the most forward to?
- What is the last book you read? When did you read it? Tell us about it.
- Are you interested in extracurricular involvement at our school?
- What are the important aspects of a good principal?
- What is your least favorite subject, and age group, to teach?
- Have you ever been a substitute teacher? Describe that experience.
- What type of in-service topics would you be most interested in?
- Do you belong to any professional teaching organizations?
- What is the difference between a good teacher and an outstanding teacher?
- Have you ever received an award?
- What type of student were you in high school?
- What are your interests outside of teaching?
- Do you belong to any social networking websites (Facebook, etc.)? Do you mind logging in and showing us your profile right now?
- What do you feel is wrong with public education?
- Are you a flexible person?
- Why do you want to teach in this district?
- Tell us about your references and what they would say about you if they were here with us today.
- What would your last boss say about you?
- How would one of your students describe you?
- Are you actively involved in any type of community service?
- Imagine you are at your retirement party at the end of your career. How would people describe you as a teacher?
- Do you want students to like you? Why or why not?
- Who do you look up to and want to emulate?
Interview Questions About Teaching Style
- Would you say that you are a tough teacher?
- Describe an example of when you used positive reinforcement.
- How do you integrate technology into your lessons?
- Are you a team player? Give us an example.
- How do you allow students to express their creativity in your classroom?
- Do you have students use higher order thinking in your class? Give an example.
- How do you develop self-esteem within students?
- How do you prepare students for standardized testing?
- How do you make learning fun?
- Describe a typical lesson.
- What are techniques you use to teach besides direct instruction?
- What do you do if the whole class is “not getting it”?
- How closely do you follow your lesson plan?
- What do you put in your learning objectives of your lesson plan?
- How do you incorporate writing into your lessons?
- Describe the most effective teaching techniques.
- How do you connect your lessons to the “real world”?
- Is it ok for a classroom to be noisy?
- How much homework do you assign and how often do you assign it? How do you know this is a good amount?
- How do you stay current in your field?
Interview Questions About Teacher Communication
- Give us examples of how you communicated with other teachers in your department?
- Give us an example of effective communication with an administrator.
- Have you ever utilized a class newsletter? What did you include in the letter?
- How would you deal with an angry parent if they called you?
- How do you communicate with parents on a regular basis?
- How do you keep parents aware of their son’s or daughter’s grades?
- How would you react if a parent complained about your class?
- What would you tell a parent if he or she was concerned about their kid’s grades?
- What would you do if you received a note from a parent asking for their son to be excused from last night’s homework because the student was too busy with another activity?
- What course of action would you take if a student says he or she is being abused at home?
Teacher Interview Questions About Differentiating Instruction
- Give an example of how you differentiated instruction in a lesson.
- How do you accommodate for a gifted student in your class?
- How do you manage students with different reading abilities?
- Explain how you meet IEP needs.
- How do you feel about inclusive classrooms?
- What is your experience co-teaching with an inclusion specialist?
- How do you accommodate for non-English speakers?
Questions About Classroom Management
- What is your classroom management plan and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
- What does a model classroom look like to you?
- How do you avoid misbehavior altogether?
- What was the most difficult child you have ever dealt with?
- Would you create a behavior modification plan for ongoing misbehavior?
- What is the most challenging behavioral situation you have ever dealt with? How did you react?
- What are your classroom rules?
The Closing Interview Questions
- Is there anything we have not talked about that you would like to share with us?
- Do you have any questions for us?
88 Important Interview Questions For Teaching Job Interview Preparation