Landing the Job: 6 Tips & 40 Questions to Help You Land a Teaching Job

It's July and you know what that means! It's interview season for any teacher who is searching for a job. Whether you just graduated from college or you've been substituting for years, everyone gets nervous about interviewing. 

I am by no means an interview expert or a career counselor, but I do have a lot of experience in teaching interviews. When I graduated from college it was nearly impossible to get a permanent teaching job in New York State. I went on dozens (yes, dozens) of interviews for many years until I finally got my dream job. I was a long-term substitute for 3 years and a teaching assistant for 1 year before I was hired. 

It can be extremely frustrating to find a job and it can be heartbreaking to be told "We are going to go with someone with a little more experience." I remember thinking, "How am I ever going to be the person who has 'a little more experience' if you won't give me a chance to get experience!" But somehow it all works out. 

I've put together a list of tips and questions to help you feel confident and prepared for any interview that may come your way this summer. Good luck!

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at how many candidates wear dress pants and a dress top to an interview. An interview is not the time to play down your professional appearance. Err on the side of caution and wear a suit for every interview. I wore a suit even when I was interviewing in the schools that I had been subbing in for years. Avoid jewelry, heavy makeup, perfume, open toe shoes and revealing clothes. Be as conservative and professional as possible. Oscar Wilde said it best, "You can never be overdressed or overeducated." 

I can't tell you how many interviews I went on and never opened my portfolio! I spent weeks creating it and then never used it. As technology changes, teaching portfolios aren't necessarily in a leather binder anymore. I always brought my iPad with screenshots of my blog or other activities that I had done on the internet. An iPad is a great way to display photos of things you've done or demonstrate how you use technology. My advice for remembering to use your portfolio is open it as soon as you sit down in the interview. Once you start answering questions you will get too nervous and forget!

This is SO important. Good manners go a long way and a thank you note is absolutely necessary after an interview. 

If you interview with a group of people, send a thank you note to every single person. If you can't remember who was on the interview committee, call the main office and ask the secretary to tell you or stop on your way out and ask. Your thank you note should help them to remember you, so if there is anything personal that you can add, go for it. A thank you note should be handwritten and mailed using the good old-fashioned USPS. Skip the emails and Facebook messages here. 

Here is an example:

Writing a thank you note should be the first thing you do when you get home from an interview. Get it in the mail THAT DAY. Even if they make a decision that day and they don't hire you, still send the thank you note because you know what will happen next time they are hiring? They will remember that you were the candidate with good manners.

There's nothing worse than jumping into an answer before you have even digested the question. It is OKAY to ask the person interviewing you to repeat the question or to simply say, "Let me think about that for a moment." You aren't shouldn't be able to answer every question thoroughly as soon as it is asked. The interviewer will respect your choice to answer sincerely and you will have a better response if you take your time.

Every school is different. You might have seven years of experience but have no experience with Reading Workshop. If you are asked a question that you simply can't answer, BE HONEST. You can say, "Although I don't have experience with that particular program, I do have a lot of experience teaching reading to small groups." You can also ask them to tell you more about the particular program. "I'm not familiar with The Daily Five. Can you tell me more about it?" After you hear a little more about it, you can probably find something in your experience that makes you a good candidate to learn said program.

I always made folders for interview committees and left them there. Inside the folder I had a copy of my resume, a sample lesson plan and a bookmark with my picture and my philosophy of teaching on it. Once I started this blog, I also had a note that invited them to visit my teaching blog. Don't feel like putting together folders? Simply bringing a copy of your most up-to-date resume and philosophy of teaching shows that you are prepared, even if they never read it.  

1. Tell us about yourself.
2. What can you tell us about your background to bring your resume to life?
3. Why teach?
4. If I walked into your classroom, what would I see?
5. What would your literacy block look like?
6. Tell us about The Common Core.
7. How do you teach reading?
8. How do you teach writing?
9. How do you deal with difficult parents? Tell us about a specific scenario when you dealt with a difficult parent.
10. What is your classroom management style/plan?
11. How do you motivate a reluctant learner? Give us an example of a time you made a breakthrough with a reluctant learner.
12. How do you engage a child?
13. How would you handle a parent that challenged your teaching?
14. Why should we hire you?
15. What type of professional development do you partake in?
16. How do you incorporate technology in the classroom?
17. How do you incorporate technology in your own professional development?
18. Tell us about an experience in which you worked with an aide in your classroom?
19. What does co-teaching mean to you?
20. What experience do you have with diversity?
21. What experience do you have with Students with Disabilities?
22. How have you modified instruction to meet the needs of students?
23. How have you challenged students and raised the rigor in your teaching?
24. How would your coworkers describe you?
25. What part of this job would be a challenge for you?
26. Tell us about a time you had a conflict with a colleague and how you resolved it.
27. How do you work with others in a team setting?
28. How would you describe yourself?
29. What types of formal and informal assessment do you use?
30. What is your experience with data in teaching?
31. What are the most important elements of a lesson?
32. Why do you want to work in our school? 
33. What can you bring to our district that nobody else can offer?
34. Describe how you handle a child having an outburst or meltdown?
35. Tell us about your literacy approach.
36. How do you use assessments?
37. Describe how you handle a child who refuses to work?
38. This position involves paraprofessionals/aides. How would you manage adults in your classroom?
39. What experience do you have with [specific programs/assessments]?
40. Do you have any questions?


  1. I am in the interview process right now! I definitely never thought to send a thank you note... thanks for the tip!

    Years That Ask Questions