Teaching jobs can be surprisingly difficult to get, especially if you're trying to get one teaching anything other than math, science or special education. Besides choosing the right suit and completing your teaching portfolio, you'll want to practice your answers to common questions that arise during teaching interviews. Questions often have to do with the 4 Ps -- personality, preparedness, problem-solving and philosophy.
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At the beginning of a teaching interview, the interviewer -- usually the principal -- will often ask a question that tells her something about your personality. "What is the last book you read?" -- a question provided by the Career Services office at Virginia Tech University is one example.
If you get asked this question, tell the interviewer about a book you have recently read that relates to education, because this demonstrates that you are interested in keeping current in your field. Let the interviewer know what stood out about the book. You can also mention other books that you have read, as long as they do not deal with controversial subject matter and you can give an intelligent critique in a few words.
Even though you have a degree and a teaching certificate, you might not be prepared for classroom teaching. It is the interviewer's job to determine who will be able to implement the curriculum in a well-disciplined classroom. A typical question is "How will you handle disciplinary issues when they arise?"
Give an answer that indicates that you will act, rather than react. Students often try to evoke emotional reactions from teachers, and you must resist giving into an impulse to react in this manner to student misbehavior. Tell the interviewer that you prevent discipline issues from arising in the first place by having a clear set of expectations for the students that you have posted in the classroom. Then explain to the interviewer that for minor, first-time infractions, you give the student nonverbal cues that he should change his behaviour or you talk to the student privately. Explain that you would give progressively more severe consequences per the school's handbook if the behaviour were to continue. Stress that you use positive reinforcement to encourage positive rather than negative behaviours.
One of the most common interview questions is "What would you say if you had to contact a parent about a student's disruptive behaviour in class?" The reason this is a commonly asked question is that school administrators dislike dealing with angry parents. They want to know if you can prevent such problems from occurring.
Tell the interviewer that, first of all, it would not be the first time you had contacted the parents because you would have already established a positive working relationship with them by making positive phone calls home. Then state that you would call the parents and let them know that you continue to be pleased with specific positive or prosocial behaviours in your classroom. Tell them you would then proceed to outline the problem and ask for the parents' input and support. Note that you document phone calls to parents.
Interviews want to find out if you'll be a good fit for their campus. Finding out your educational philosophy helps them to determine if your view of education jibes with the district's. One question they frequently ask is "Why did you choose to be a teacher?"
Never give answers such as "the summer break" or "the benefits package." Also avoid pat answers such as "I love kids." Tell the interviewer that you went into teaching because you mentored learning disabled children and realised that you could help them meet their potential. Of course, your answer will need to fit your own individual circumstances.
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