How To Answer Hard Teacher Interview Questions (Examples)

Updated 5 August 2023

When searching for a teaching position, you may encounter some challenging questions during the interview process. These questions can help the hiring manager learn more about your experience, teaching philosophy and ability to handle challenges in the classroom. Learning how to answer these questions can help you feel more prepared and confident before your next interview. In this article, we provide steps for how to answer hard teacher interview questions and give five sample questions with explanations and answers for how to answer each.

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How To Answer Hard Teacher Interview Questions?

Use these steps to learn how to answer hard teacher interview questions:

1. Review the job listing

Read the job listing again before your interview. The job listing can help you learn about the core skills, credentials and qualities the interviewer prefers in their ideal candidate. By reminding yourself of what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, you can use your interview responses to show you have the right skills and experience level for the position. Additionally, the job listing can help you anticipate what questions the interviewer may ask. The interviewer is likely to ask questions that help them gain insight into your skills and abilities as they relate to the job listing.

Related: 10 Simple And Practical Tips For Acing A Teacher Interview

2. Research the school before the interview

Learning more about the values and mission of the school before the interview can also help you prepare. When you understand the philosophy of the school, you can express how your own values make you a good fit. Not only is it important to show you have the right skills and qualities for the position, but it is also important to show that you are a good cultural fit. This means sharing a perspective or approach to teaching that matches the school's mission.

Related: 24 Teacher Interview Question Scenarios With Sample Answers

3. Learn some common teacher interview questions

When preparing for your interview, research some challenging teacher interview questions. Learning about some common questions that interviewers ask can help you prepare your responses before the meeting. Feeling prepared can help you be more confident during the interview. Additionally, knowing what the interviewer might ask allows you to figure out what you want to say and practice. For example, the interviewer may ask about your teaching philosophy, experience with behaviour management and perspective on current issues in the education field.

Related: 10 Common Teacher Interview Questions And Answers

4. Share relevant stories and examples

During the interview, support your answers with specific examples or relevant stories. Brainstorming stories from your previous teaching positions before the interview can help you think of them during the meeting. For example, take time to brainstorm meaningful stories from your teaching experience or from your teacher training. Identify examples of times when you successfully used your skills to achieve something important in the classroom. You can also think of times when you felt challenged or made a mistake that helped you grow.

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique

5. Practice your answers

Practice before the interview. You can either rehearse your answers by yourself or with a trusted individual. If you practice with another person, ask for their feedback on what you did well and what you can improve. Getting positive feedback and support while taking time to rehearse can help you feel more confident and prepared.

Related: How To Write A High School Teacher Resume (With Example)

5 Hard Teacher Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Here are five challenging teacher interview questions with sample answers:

1. Tell us about a lesson that did not go the way you expected

The hiring manager may ask this question to gain insight into how you handle mistakes in your work. This question helps them learn about your ability to be flexible in the classroom. It can also help you show your ability to reflect on your work and make changes to your teaching approach. When answering this question, think of a specific example of a lesson you gave. Tell the interviewer about the lesson's intent, what went wrong and how you handled the situation. Use your answer to show your ability to adapt to classroom challenges.

Example: During my first year of teaching, I prepared a game-based lesson. I was excited to share it with my students because I knew it would be a fun way to engage them. Despite my planning, it quickly got out of control. The students became very excited, and I had to stop the lesson early to regain control of the room. Reflecting on the experience, I realised the problem was not the lesson or the students, but the fact that I did not establish boundaries and rules before starting the game. Now, I always set firm rules before fun activities.

Related: How To Answer The Question 'Why Do You Want To Teach?'

2. In your opinion, what is the most important current issue in education?

Interviewers may ask this question to learn about your opinions on important concerns in the education field. Your answer to this question can show your perspective while also allowing you to demonstrate your interests and priorities as a teacher. When you answer this question, name a specific issue in the field of education that you care about. Explain why you feel the issue is important and how it affects your work in the classroom.

Example: To me, the most important current issue in education is meeting school standards while also providing the individual support students need so they can excel. All students have unique learning needs, and not all are well-suited for a traditional classroom setting. As a teacher, I try to create lessons that appeal to all of my students so they can learn the needed material to meet the school standards. It is sometimes difficult to achieve that balance. I make it a priority to get to know all of my students as individuals early in the school term.

3. What is your teaching philosophy?

The hiring manager may ask about your teaching philosophy to learn about your values and mission as a teacher. Talking about your teaching philosophy allows you to show your approach to teaching and explain your perspective as an educator. To answer this question, state your core values in the classroom. If possible, align your philosophy with the mission of the school. This shows that your perspective, goals and teaching approach are a good fit for the institution.

Example: It is my teaching philosophy that all students have the ability to excel in school and it is the duty of the teacher to create structures that work for their students. I have over five years of experience working as a teacher and my experience has taught me that every class has unique needs. It is my job to be flexible and understanding so I can prepare effective lessons for all my students.

Related: How To Answer, 'What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?'

4. Describe your approach to behaviour management in the classroom

Knowing how to manage a classroom is an important skill for teachers. Interviewers may ask about your approach to classroom management to learn about your skills in this area. They may also ask to learn about your ability to handle student behaviours and how your management style aligns with the school's values. To answer this question, describe what techniques you use to manage student behaviours in your classroom. Consider sharing a relevant story about a time when you successfully implemented a classroom management strategy.

Example: Behaviour management begins with setting firm boundaries from the first day of class. Having well-defined classroom rules and expectations helps ensure all students know my expectations. When students have trouble following these rules, I allow them to take a short break from the classroom to calm themselves before returning.

Related: Classroom Management Interview Questions (Tips And Examples)

5. Tell us about a time when you worked with a challenging student

There may be times in your teaching career when you manage a challenging student. Interviewers may ask about your approach or ability to work with students who have academic or behavioural difficulties. When answering this question, show your ability to be patient and empathetic towards students. Talk about your problem-solving abilities when working with students who have classroom challenges. Give a specific example of a time when you worked with a student and describe what strategies you used to connect with them and improve their classroom experience.

Example: During my first year of teaching, I worked with a very shy student. She had trouble participating in the classroom and making friends with her peers. I often worked with her one-on-one, where she proved to be very bright and engaged. During those sessions, I gave her a lot of positive feedback to build her confidence. I believe my patience and willingness to understand this student helped her overcome her shyness by the end of the term.

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