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Basic Interview Questions (and 123 Fantastic Responses)
The 123 questions that follow are those most frequently asked at any teacher interview. By reading over these questions—several times—you will be well- prepared to respond when they are asked at your own interview. By practicing the answers to these questions—again, several times—you will be equally well-prepared to impress a principal or administrator posing the questions. Feel comfortable with these questions and answers, and you will not only stand out from the rest of the crowd, you will provide the interviewer with valuable information necessary to securing the position.
Of course, you won't hear every question in this section of the book (simply because most interviews last between 30 and 45 minutes—or from 10 to 20 questions). Quite possibly, you may hear different variations of these questions. The key is to become so familiar with these queries that you will be able to successfully respond to all of them no matter which ones are asked, how they are asked, or how they may be modified.
Don't memorize the responses as they are written in this book. Make these answers your own. Infuse them with your own unique personality and your own unique experiences as a teacher candidate. In other words, let "you" shine through.
Remember, the interviewer is not interested in stock answers to these questions; instead, he or she wants the opportunity to experience the individual behind the resume, the GPA, and the application for employment. He or she wants to hire a person, not someone who memorized all the answers in Ace Your Teacher Interview.
If you took a writing course in college, you may recall the maxim "Show, don't tell!" In other words, if you are writing a fictional story about Mrs. Foster, a frustrated housewife, don't tell your reader that Mrs. Foster is angry (for example); show how she is angry because she throws dinner plates around the kitchen, screams at the cat, kicks over the trashcan, and tosses a bowl of spaghetti at her husband. The same advice holds true for an interview. That is, don't tell an interviewer, "I like working with children." Instead, show the interviewer how you like children: "During my student teaching experience, I worked with my cooperating teacher to set up an after-school soccer program for the kids in the public housing project on the south side of town." Don't just tell the interviewer about yourself; show the interviewer what you have done and what you can do.
It's also a good idea to practice filling your responses with facts ("During my tenure as vice-president of the Student Education Association, we were able to increase attendance by 64 percent in one year.") rather than with generalities ("I'm a people person."). It's equally important that you share information that sets you apart from the competition and allows the interviewer to know who you are as an individual. "I like to teach science" is a general response almost anyone can say. However, "I was able to get my students involved in a four-week Butterfly Discovery Project at the City Center Museum, and it really changed their attitudes about science" provides specific information about you—and nobody else!
I invite you to read through the sample questions and responses in this section. Read this part of the book several times and become comfortable with all the typical teacher interview questions—many of which you will be asked. After several readings, I would invite you to begin crafting your own unique responses using the suggestions and ideas shared with each of these queries. You may wish to make an audio recording of the questions and practice (in front of a mirror, for example) your individual response to each one. You will discover that the more you practice, the more comfortable you will be. Your comfort in answering these questions will go a long way in helping you secure the teaching position you want.
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