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Interview Types and Settings

One of the major goals of this book is to provide you with 149 questions you can expect in a teacher interview and responses that will get you hired. But, beyond those questions and answers, it is also important that you are aware of the various formats in which those questions will be asked. Yes, the questions are critically important, but the situation(s) in which they are asked is equally important.

If you were a member of an athletic team in college or high school, you know the significance of "home field advantage." The games or contests you played on your home turf had definite advantages—you knew the playing field because you practiced on it, the home crowd was always on your side, and you were in a "friendly territory." However, whenever you had an "away" game, you found yourself in a foreign place—the playing surface may have been different than what you had at your site, the crowd was definitely different, and the atmosphere may have been negative. Each "away" game or contest was different; each had its own peculiarities, conditions, and atmosphere. Rarely were any two alike.

So it is with teacher interviews. While the questions are the same, the conditions under which they may be asked can differ from school to school or district to district. Each interview is like an "away" game—different territory, different individuals, different conditions.

Basically, there are three types of interviews you will encounter as a teacher candidate. These include screening interviews, performance interviews, and hiring interviews. These interview types and their formats are outlined in the chart below:

Types of Teacher Interviews


1. Screening

• Telephone

• Face-to-face

• Electronic

• Group

2. Performance

• Teaching a lesson

• Role playing/situational

• Evaluation

3. Hiring

• One-on-one

• Sequential or serial

• Panel

• Group

Screening Interviews

It is not unusual for schools to be overwhelmed with a large number of applicants whenever a teaching position is advertised. Recently, one elementary school in my local area posted a notice for two elementary classroom teachers. Within the first 48 hours they had nearly 200 applications. After two weeks, there were more than 400. After administrators eliminated the applications from unqualified candidates, they had a "pool" of 30—40 candidates—all of whom (on paper, at least) appeared to be qualified for the positions. They decided to hold a series of screening interviews to pare down the list.

A screening interview is often referred to as a "meet and greet" interview. It is not as structured as a regular interview; instead, it is designed to determine the personality and commitment of selected individuals. These interviews are designed to help principals or other hiring officials make initial decisions on whether they want to further interview a candidate. The main purpose is to narrow the field of applicants to a more manageable number for conducting performance and/or hiring interviews.

Typically, these interviews, due to their intent, are considerably shorter and more general than hiring interviews. They may last 15—20 minutes each, and the questions asked may be more general than specific. That doesn't mean that you should plan any less if invited to a screening interview; your performance in this type of interview will determine whether or not you get invited back for a more formal interview. Do well here, and you'll move forward. Do poorly (or, worse, fail to take this interview opportunity seriously), and you'll be back home sending out another batch of applications.

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