When it comes to securing any job the interview stage is a crucial element and here at Astute Education we are here to help you succeed in starting a teaching career abroad including facing the all-important interview. These helpful tips are centred around interviews for teaching jobs in general, but they are sure to be helpful whether you are applying for a higher education job abroad or a primary school teacher in the UK.
We have selected 3 of the most common interview questions which interviewees are faced with when they are applying for a teaching role and have broken down how to compose a great answer which is sure to impress.
How Have You Used, Or How Will You Use, Technology in The Classroom?
In an ever-evolving technological world this question is becoming increasingly common in interviews for teaching jobs. Whether you are looking to be an ESL teacher abroad or applying for a position at your local primary school, employers are keen to know how you will use technology to help educate your class.
Firstly, if you have previous teaching experience think back to any time you may have used technology as part of a lesson. This can include, but is not limited to, talking about hardware such as tablets and computers, software such as apps, and online educational sites. If you have used these in the past then simply talk about this, making sure to refer to any particularly successful examples and discussing how this school (or at least your class) could also use them.
If you do not have experience incorporating technology into classes, you should start reading up on the following areas;
Look at what hardware is available to you from I-Pads to desktop computers and think not only about how you can use them but why you would want to. A notable example of why you might want to incorporate technology into the classroom is for the many benefits and versatile functions they offer for the hard of hearing, poor sighted, and dyslexic children among others who may find working tech free more challenging than some of their peers.
Software and Online Educational Platforms
There are a multitude of apps and educational platforms which you can use in the classroom to help with everything from maths to ESL lessons. As well as this, teaching aids and online reward systems for pupils can prove to not only make your job easier and more efficient but going into an interview with forward thinking and knowledge of such apps and platforms will set you in good stead to answer this question perfectly.
Ultimately your answer should sound something like one of the following;
If you have previous experience:
“In my previous job / role we used [hardware] in classes which the students found helpful because [reason]. One of the apps/platforms we used was called [name]. It is a(n) app/platform for [purpose/subject] and using it really helped the children and I think it could benefit this school’s pupils too.”
If you don’t have experience:
“I would love the opportunity to introduce [hardware] into my lessons. I feel it will help my pupils with [subject etc.] and particularly help children who find [spelling, writing, reading etc.] difficult. One app/piece of software I think could be useful is [name of app or software] which is a(n) app/platform for [purpose/subject] and I think it could particularly help children to improve [subject/skill].”
With just a little bit of research you will be able to fill out the blanks and amend accordingly, creating a comprehensive answer which will win over your interviewer.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Even more common than the first question, the question “why did you decide to become a teacher?”, “why do you want to teach?” or some other variations of the same question is almost certain to come up. The answer to this question will require less research or experience than the first question as it is almost entirely based upon you – either consciously or subconsciously you have an answer lurking around inside your head, you just need to find a way to articulate it.
As already mentioned, this question arises in almost every interview for a teaching role, so you don’t need to stress about coming up with an entirely unique answer. If you feel your answer is common that is okay, forcing a unique answer will create an unauthentic reply and the interviewer will almost certainly realise that your answer is, at least in part, exaggerated or altogether fabricated.
Another thing to avoid is trying to give the answer you think the interviewer wants to hear. Trying to do this will come across as ingenuine and will definitely not separate you from the crowd. Be honest and feel free to tell stories. Don’t feel that because it is a professional environment everything you say has to be based on logic rather than emotion. If you had a special teacher at school who impacted you profoundly and you want to have the same impact as them on other children, tell that story. If you have witnessed the consequences of poor education and want to help children avoid the path you saw other people take then also be sure to talk about this.
Alternatively, your main reason for teaching may not come from wanting to teach at all but from a passion for your specialty subject. If you are a maths teacher who believes maths is an essential life skill which you love and believe children should love too then answer the question accordingly. If you are teaching abroad then maybe you are looking to teach as part of a new lifestyle in a foreign country. It is okay to admit that this is the reason and if you believe that teaching is going help make you a happier more fulfilled person you are simply showing the interviewer that you are passionate. Furthermore, if you frame your answer using statements such as “I believe the children have as much to offer me as I do them” or “teaching makes me feel fulfilled and I wish to reciprocate that by making my students as happy as they make me feel.”
Ultimately though, this question comes down to you and so long as you are sincere about why you want to teach the interviewer will likely resonate with your response.
Do you have any questions for me?
This question is almost certain and whilst it may be tempting to simply say, “no” try to ask a question in response. It not only demonstrates that you have a greater interest in the job than candidates who don’t have questions, but the right question can often be a clear indicator to whether or not you are a good fit for the school, college or university etc.
You should start by making a list of questions ahead of time. Make sure to avoid obvious questions or specifics about the institution which you could have simply searched online – this is a clear sign that you haven’t done your due diligence and can set off warning signs with the interviewer. To create the opposite effect a good question may start with, “On your website you say…” and finish with asking for more clarity on the point. Not only does it show you have done your research but it demonstrates an interest in the school’s principles or what they offer and a wish to better understand them, so that you can integrate into the school seamlessly.
Also, if the interviewer does not ask you the first question in this post then you could reframe it and pose the question to them, “what is the schools approach to using technology during lessons?”, giving yourself a chance to put your experience and research to use with a question which other candidates are unlikely to have even talked about.
Another point to bear in mind is to make sure you split your questions across different areas. Posing three questions on one particular thing will make it appear as though that area is of concern to you and could portray an image of a lack of confidence with that particular matter. For example, three questions regarding the school’s disciplinary procedure may suggest that you are uncomfortable with disciplining students.
Finally, your questions should not put you first. The last thing you want to do is to appear as if you only care what the job can do for you and not what you can do for the role, school and its pupils. Asking about your salary, benefits and time off at this point is a bad idea. You do not want to leave their last impression of you being of someone who is only in it for themselves. If you have not covered these questions in the interview already it is ok, these questions can be answered if you are offered the job.
These are three of many common questions which you may face in an interview for a teaching role, but they are very likely to show up and answering just one of them using the help above could be the difference between making the shortlist and receiving a job offer. No matter whether you are applying to teach ESL in the UAE or music at your local secondary school, implement the tips in this guide to create an amazing, stand-out impression in your job interview.