How To Ace a Teaching Interview

So you decided you want to be a teacher. What’s not to like? Hanging out with kids, playing with them, school holidays, free lunches… the list is endless.

What to do next? Get hired. Personally speaking, I went to the first International School in the nearest vicinity of my uncle’s house in Subic Bay when I was visiting them. Out of boredom – and the lure of the grandeur of working in a top tier international school – I decided to make a resume and went to the HR Department personally to submit my credentials. Lo and behold the principal interviewed me immediately and got called back after three days to start as a substitute teacher.

I’m not an expert in teaching interviews but I think I’ve done a lot of it these past years and I wanna share the things that worked well for me, and these are the things I did.

1. Look the part. When I get an email that reads “I am interested to hold an interview with you…” I immediately think, Oh what am I supposed to wear? It’s not that I am vacuous or I use it as an excuse to shop. I know that I am qualified for the job because they have read my resume and they are just looking for the people who “fits” right with their organization.

You need to fit in. People are visual creatures. Clothes reflect your personality, how you know your industry, sophistication, etc. Know your field. It would be quite awkward to go to a kindergarten position with 4-inch heels. Instead, go for a low-key, smart and neat look – preferably with neutrals. Do not go blingy, and never wear jeans. Wear closed-toed shoes, or peep-toes. Check your makeup, practice the no-makeup makeup look and you’ll be fine. Because you will…

2.  Be confident. So you look the part now. Well done. You are comfortable in your own skin, you feel beautiful and empowered and ready to take on the world. That’s not enough. You need to study. Research about the job description, job profile, expectations, the school, the company you’re interviewing with. What the problems are in classrooms and how you will solve it, or at least manage it. How do you keep children engaged? These will serve as your talking points to keep the conversation going. Think of it as a conversation and enjoy it. When you enjoy something, that’s it. Done deal.

3. Be early. Fifteen minutes lead time is good. You don’t want to be there too early as you’ll stress yourself by waiting and worrying, but you don’t want to be there three minutes before the interview time panting and sweating. Oh and bring music to pump you up.

4. Turn your phone to silent mode. Nuff said.

5. Be Yourself. Walk into the room, smile, look everyone in the eye and do the usual “good morning” greetings. It’s okay to be feeling anxious because that’s normal. It’s okay to be thirsty too – I never turn down a cup of coffee or a glass of water being offered to me – and I think that says a lot about you. Plus it will be more relaxed and natural that way. Remember what your teacher said? Honesty is the best policy.

6. Answer Questions Well. Again, be honest. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know – BUT – you always want to learn more. You need to want to learn more if you want to succeed in this profession anyway. Plus, who wants to work with you if you’re a know-it-all? People want to be with curious, pro-active and enthusiastic people and that’s what you are. Don’t give cliche answers like “I have a passion for teaching” if asked to tell about yourself. Trust me, these teachers interviewing you have BS detectors. Also, eliminate the “uhs”, “ums” and “ahhhhs”. Be clear and succinct.

7. Ask Good Questions. Ask a question or two at the end of the interview. Remember you are trying to make a good impression here. Asking a question means that you are interested and you have studied the school and you want to be there. Ask something that you are curious about, like how much time do I need to prepare for a class? Or if the lunch menu offers a vegetarian option?

8. Thank Everyone. Okay interview’s done. Wear the same smile that you wore when you arrived and be genuinely grateful for the opportunity and the time these people have given you. Head home and write an email to your interviewers stating how much you enjoyed it and how you are looking forward to their email and that you have enjoyed the conversation. Tell them that they can contact you at anytime. Send it immediately.

More than anything, congratulate yourself for scoring an interview. If you don’t get the job, remember that it’s not a personal reflection of you as a person or a professional. Remember that. It’s the “fit”. Learn as much as you can from the experience though, and know that you can ace it.

Best of luck!



Useful links:

10 Tips to Help You Ace Your Teaching Job Interview

How to Ace an Interview