Surviving Interview Questions

By Wafa Hozien, Ph.D.


The school has called you back and wants to speak with you for an interview. There are a lot of things racing in your head and that you need to do if you are to be prepared for the interview. What suit to wear and how to do get there? Okay, that is on everyone’s mind.

Often people forget to prepare for the most important part in the interview, that is, the questions. The most essential part of a candidate’s preparation for an interview is getting ready to answer and to raise questions at an interview.

Prepare for the Interview Questions

It is critical that a candidate for a teaching position is able to answer every question that is raised at the interview. The important thing to remember about interview questions is that they want to hear your opinion and get to know you.

Always give a truthful answer to the questions that are raised! For example, if they ask about a gap in your resume, be honest. “The reason there are two years in which I did not work is because I took time off to have a family. I have the support in place now so I can go back to work.”

The best way to prepare for an interview is to reflect on the questions that are likely to be raised. It is good to reflect on the following issues as they could come up. These include questions about your philosophy of teaching, what could you do for the school and what is your biggest strength and what is your biggest weakness.

The best way to prepare is to reflect on these questions.  If these questions are asked, you’ll be able to answer them in an impressive way.  Practice the answers. Repeat your answers in front of the mirror so that way you can see what you look like to others. You want to be professional and your facial expressions to be that way, too. Rehearsing shows preparedness. At the interview, you will sound convincing and make a great impression. It is important that you are not spontaneous. If you rehearse and understand your answers it will impress the interviewer as having been prepared.

Questions and Answers

You will probably be asked to say something about yourself, so be ready to say something about yourself, your background and your hopes.

Tell me about yourself.

You can say something like: “I have always wanted to be a teacher to make a difference in children’s lives. I have been a summer camp counselor for two years and now that I have graduated with my bachelors degree I feel prepared to be in the classroom.”

Why do you want to work in our school?

Do some research here. So that way you can be specific in your response.

“I want to work at your school because student enrollment is 250 students and it is a small school. I believe that I will get a lot of support in this environment from the other teaches in the building and the school administration.”


“I want to work in your school because it is in a big city and I grew up attending city schools. This is my way of giving back to my community.”

School Scenarios

Some questions may ask you what would you do in certain scenarios. Such as:

  • What would you do if a parent wants to have a meeting with you about their child?
  • What would you do if a child misbehaved in your classroom?
  • What would you do if a student refused to follow your directions?
  • This is to test your ability to deal with real-life situations.

The best answers to a question are always to the point. It is important that you give the interviewer or interviewers the right amount of information. Make sure that you do not talk for too long and you must never answer with a simple yes or no.

Questions for You to Ask

An interview is mostly about you providing answers, but you will be expected to question the interviewer. This is important if you are to appear interested in the school and if you are a person who is committed to teaching.

This is where you need to research the school and then identify anything that you want to know and is a concern. Do not be afraid to raise tough questions, but do not be rude. Always be polite.

It is perfectly permissible to ask questions on resources, dress code, and discipline in the school. For example, do you provide teacher professional development for new teachers? Does your school provide new teachers with a mentor?

Take a deep breath, you got this.