Most people do not realize the importance of the role of an elementary teacher. Do YOU realize it? Teachers are second role models for children, just after parents. They can lead the young generation to right values and healthy attitudes towards their own life, as well as the life of the others. But bad teachers can easily lead them astray too… Needless to say, hiring right candidates for elementary teacher jobs is crucial for the modern society.
People sitting in hiring committee know it very well and therefore your job interview will be difficult and sophisticated. You will need to deal with specific, technical job related questions, as well as inquiries about your motivation and career choice. But before we analyze each question, we will have a look at the main principle of success in this interview. It would be impossible to get the job of a teacher without understanding it…
Teacher – a job, or a mission?
An excellent teacher should take his role as a personal mission. Good teachers never go to their job every morning just to do what is expected of them and get a paycheck at the end of the month… They see the meaningful purpose of their occupation and that motivates them to wake up every morning, get to work, and do their job as well as possible. Recruiters seek this attitude in the applicants and screen out the rest.
As a matter of fact, the competition for elementary teacher jobs is not as high as for some other positions, such as manager, customer assistant or sales representative. However, survey conducted in the US showed that in average six people are interviewed for every single elementary teacher job opening. Can you be the one of six who gets the job? In order to make it happen, you will need to present yourself as someone who understands the importance of the position. Your answers to the questions of the interviewing panel should reflect it.
Questions they typically use in an interview
- Why do you want to become an elementary teacher? (Why did you choose this career, why did you decide to study teaching, etc.)
- What do you want to accomplish on this position? (What will make you satisfied with your work as a teacher, etc.)
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now? (How long do you wont to work here, what are your career plans, etc.)
- What do you think are the key characteristics of a good teacher?
- Can you name the main problems teachers face nowadays? (How would you solve these problems? Have you encountered it in your practice?, etc.)
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? (What makes you a good teacher?)
- How would you approach the students of the first class, on the first day at school? (What would you say? How would you prepare?)
- What teaching methods do you prefer and why? (With what methods do you have the best and the worst experience?)
- Do you think that all the students should be treated equally, or there should be an individual approach to every student, in accordance to his abilities and background?
- How would you improve the overall study environment in your class?
- Imagine that father of one of your students complained about something which is untrue. How would you react? (What would you do? Did it happen to you before?)
- What is your opinion about information technology at elementary school? (Should students use computers? Should teachers utilize the technology? What about filtering?)
- What is your opinion about foreign language education at elementary school?
- How would you handle the conflicts between students? (Have you ever solved such a conflict? Have you ever had a conflict with one of 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? Can you connect it with teaching?)
- What games would you play with your students and why would you choose these games and not other one?
- How would you win a heart of your students?
- When are you able to start?
- Do you have any questions?
Build relationship with the interviewers
As you can see, you can expect a healthy mix of personal, situational and technical interview questions. On the other hand, recruiters at schools are typically not real HR professionals. Principals (or vice principals) are smart and educated professionals, but HR isn’t their primary expertise… That means that personal preferences can play an important role in this interview too. Said in other words, if they like you as a person, you chances to succeed will be better.
Therefor you should research about the school, especially about their goals, visions and achievements. Try to identify something positive, something you can compliment. You can use this information to show some recognition and respect to the people sitting in the interviewing panel. It will help you to create the right atmosphere in the room…
What to say at the end?
Success or failure in an interview depends on many factors. Personal preferences of the interviewers, ability to sell your skills in the interview, right answers to the interview questions, overall impression you make, readiness of the other job seekers… Surely, it is not easy for a fresh graduate to succeed… But after all, the one who devotes the most time to his preparation typically succeeds.
If you find the puzzle too complicated, have a look at our Elementary Teacher Interview Guide. The e-book will guide you safely through the difficult interview process, towards a coveted Elementary Teacher job contract. Thank you!