What to Expect in an Elementary Teacher Job Interview

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Miss teaching nice studentsWhat questions will they ask? How to make a good impression on the interviewers? What decides the winner at the end of the session?

Simply, how to prepare for this challenging experience and walk away with a coveted job contract? We will try to answer this question on our website that specializes only in elementary teacher interviews. Written by former assistant principal and successful interview coach Glen Hughins. Welcome!

Questions you should expect

Note: Click on a question will direct you to a separate page, where we analyze the particular question, and offer some good answers.

However, I suggest you to firstly read this page to the end, and just then start clicking one question after another. Before you start to prepare for particular questions, you should understand all nuances of this interview, and what the recruiters expect from you. It would be useless to practice interview answers without having this knowledge. After all, success or failure in an interview depends on many factors, not only on your answers to their questions.  

  • Why do you want to become an elementary teacher? (Why did you choose this career? Why did you decide to study teaching?)
  • What do you want to accomplish on this position? (What will make you satisfied with your work?)
  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now? (How long do you want to work here? What are your career plans?)
  • What characterize a good teacher from your point of view?
  • Can you name the main problems teachers face nowadays? (How would you solve these problems?)
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (What makes you a good teacher?)
  • Young teacher at school drawingHow would you approach the students of the first class, on their first day at school? (What would you say? How would you prepare?)
  • What teaching methods do you prefer and why? (Your best and worst experience with preferred teaching methods?)
  • Do you think that we should treat all students equally, or should we approach every student individually, taking into account their individual abilities and background?
  • How would you improve the study environment in your class?
  • Imagine that a father of one of your students complained about something which was untrue. How would you react? (What would you do? Did it happen to you before?)
  • What is your opinion on information technology at elementary school? (Should students use computers? Should teachers use computers?)
  • What is your opinion about foreign language subjects at the elementary?
  • How would you handle the conflicts between students? (Have you ever solved a conflict? Have you ever had a conflict with your students?)
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job? (Is there anything you hate about teaching?)
  • What are your hobbies? (What do you like to do in your free time?)
  • What games would you play with your students and why would you choose these games and not other one?
  • How would you win the hearts of your students?
  • When can you start working here?
  • Do you have any questions?


Build relationships with the interviewers

A teacher with a young studentYou can expect a healthy mix of personal, situational and technical questions. On the other hand, recruiters at schools do not excel in HR. Principals (or vice principals) are smart and educated professionals, but HR isn’t their field of expertise…. Therefore you should understand that personal preferences play a role on their decision making. Said in other words, if they like you as a person, and if you fulfill the basic criteria, they may hire you from the poll of equally skilled candidates.

How to make them to like you?

You should spend some time browsing the website of the school, reading about their goals, visions, and achievements. Try to identify something positive, something you can compliment them for. You will use this information to show recognition and respect to the people sitting in the interviewing committee, and you’ll build yourself a good starting position for the rest of the interview.

Be ready to demonstrate your skills in a mocked lesson

Mock lessons are becoming a common practice in the interviews at elementary schools. Recruiters will give you a simple subject to teach–such as basic mathematics, or even just writing letters. They will observe the way you explain things and approach the students (interview panel members often play the students in the exercise). The first thing you need to do is accepting the task. If you refuse (due to lack of preparation or other excuse), they won’t hire you.

Secondly, remember who your students are, and prepare a couple of bullet points on the piece of paper, as a concept of the lesson. Than just be yourself, show positive attitude, and teach as you would normally teach in a classroom. The key is to show that you can work systematically, prepare for the lessons, and take the mock lesson seriously….

What to say at the end?

Success or failure in this interview depends on many factors. Personal preferences of the interviewers, your ability to sell your skills, your answers to their questions, overall impression you make on the hiring committee, the quality of mock lessons you manage to deliver,  how well do the other job seekers fare, etc.

Logically, as with every other task of life that requires complex preparation, the people who really devoted long hours to prepare for their interview are typically the successful one at the end. Will it be you?

Elementary Teacher Interview Guide, a specialized eBook I wrote for job seekers, will show you how to prepare for all the challenges, and succeed.

Best Regards

Glen Hughins

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