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

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During a job interview, you may receive a question about your motivations for beginning a job as a teacher. An interviewer may ask this to see if you are passionate and motivated to make an impact within a new position. Learning more about an interview question that assesses your desire to teach can help you prepare for a successful interview that showcases your skills and personality. In this article, we describe the interview question 'Why do you want to teach?' offer some reasons a hiring manager may ask it and offer some steps and sample answers to help you respond.

Why Employers Ask 'Why Do You Want To Teach?'

Here are some of the reasons that a hiring manager may ask you 'Why do you want to teach?':

Gauge your passion for your work

When an interviewer asks you why you want to hold a role as a teacher, they may want to see if you are genuinely passionate about your role. This can showcase your dedication to the position and passion for improving your skills and performance. As you answer, reflect honestly on the aspects of your role that you most enjoy. If you are beginning a teaching position for the first time, you can determine what motivated you to begin a new opportunity.

Understand your experience

Your answer to this question can also showcase your experience to an interviewer. If you have held a previous position as a teacher, you can let your work influence your answer by including specific details about aspects of the field that you enjoy. If you are less experienced in the field, you can describe which non-work experiences led you to teach. For example, you may have experience working with children or attending multiple educational institutions.

Related: 12 Essential Teaching Skills And Ways To Improve Them

Determine if you are a good fit for a new role

The way that you answer this question can tell a hiring manager if you are a good fit for a position within a new organisation. If the aspects that you most enjoy about teaching are reflected in the policies or culture of your desired institution, you may enjoy your work and provide more effective performance. For example, if you want to teach because you enjoy working with older students, you may thrive in a high school teaching role.

Related: How To Prepare For A Job Interview

Note your desired impacts

As you answer this question, an interviewer can see if you have thought about the impacts you may be able to make within a teaching role. This can demonstrate if you are motivated to begin a rewarding new position. To focus on this aspect, you can reflect honestly on the aspects of teaching that you find most impactful and connect them to your desire to begin a role. For example, you may want to teach so that you can inspire students and help them improve their educational skills.

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

How To Answer 'Why So You Want To Teach?'

These four steps can help you answer this question successfully:

1. Be honest

A genuine and thoughtful response to this question reveals your dedication and motivations. Though you should refrain from mentioning the perks as a driving factor, such as having summers off, it is important that your answer is completely transparent. Everyone's career path is different, so your response should be unique to you and your experiences. This allows interviewers to gain a better understanding of your personality and professionalism. One way to showcase the genuineness of your answer is to include specific personal experiences and reflections that showcase how much you have considered the question.

Related: 10 Common Teacher Interview Questions And Answers

2. Provide an anecdote

Use examples, stories and memories to explain your answer and provide context. Additionally, including a personal anecdote can make your answer more memorable and, therefore, effective. You can either draw from impactful moments in your teaching career or a time when you taught someone something before you had decided to become a teacher. For example, you can describe any volunteer positions or situations in which you demonstrated a skill or procedure within a club, event or activity setting.

3. Detail your reasons for becoming a teacher

A teacher can take on many roles in the lives of their students, such as a surrogate parental figure, a mentor, a leader or a motivator. Mention the kind of impact you are hoping to have on your students' lives. As you do this, you can discuss any issues or challenges you notice within the educational system and describe how you might approach solving them. For example, you may discuss how you may like to inspire students from all backgrounds to complete their best work.

4. Talk about your favourite teacher

This interview question can naturally lead to another common question about your favourite teacher in school. Begin this conversation by talking about the best teacher you ever had, how they inspired you or changed your life and why their impact was so meaningful to you. Aside from providing insight into your career goals, the characteristics of your favourite teacher that you mention can give employers a good idea of the type of teacher that you are and aspire to be. It can also show that you realise how impactful and memorable teaching can be.

Example answers

These example answers can help you prepare your own thoughtful response:

Example 1: Inspiring teacher

"My high school math teacher, Ms. Patel, inspired me to begin my career in teaching. Throughout my entire educational path, I disliked math, but Ms. Patel was the first person to make it enjoyable. She created fun games and activities so that learning complicated subjects seemed entertaining rather than frustrating. From the moment I begin that class, I knew that I wanted to help students find their love for learning, as Ms. Patel did for me. I even went into math teaching to help students learn a subject where I once struggled."

Example 2: Teaching philosophy

"I struggled in elementary school to learn how to read, and I remember feeling so lost and confused because I just did not understand why I was not getting it. My teacher began tutoring me after school, spending her own free time helping me overcome my challenges. I have always been so grateful for her commitment to meet me where I was, which is a value I strive to use in my own teaching. I believe that all students have the potential to do great things, and sometimes all it takes to help them is a little individualized attention and dedication."

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

Example 3: Memorable teaching moment

"During my first year of teaching, I was tasked with a student that seemed uninterested and aloof. I continued to give him individual attention and try out new tactics to try and get him involved. Eventually, after much trial and error, I decided to create a sort of game show for the kids about the lesson, and the entire classroom loved it. When it was his turn, he answered a question about biomes correctly, and the joy I felt reassured me that I had chosen the right career."

Example 4: Impact on the educational system

"I want to become a teacher so that I can make a real difference in children's lives. I take the task of developing young people into kind, thoughtful and contributing adults very seriously. I have always been so grateful to my teachers and the educational system for making me the person that I am today. I only hope that I can make that same kind of positive impact on the minds and hearts of my students."

Example 5: Empowering students

"So many children need love, reassurance and attention, and I strive to be that person that builds them up when no one else ever has. I want to not only tell, but show my students that with commitment and hard work, they are capable of anything and can be anything that they want to be. I hope to create a safe place for the children in my classroom, where teamwork and empathy are rewarded just as enthusiastically as a good test score. Through love and understanding, I believe that I can help students achieve their highest potential."

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