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Interview Portfolio for SPED

1. Special kids lose their motivation and attention easily. How would you motivate them in class
day by day?
Introducing fun activities, with sensory stimulation like play and music
therapy, use of rewards, use positive reinforcement, allowing them to
choose their own activities.
2. What will you do if a student keep complaining about an assignment you have given?
Complains of students can be a source clue to an underlying problem of
possible disabilities. Hence, there is a need to document it and refer it to
specialist if needed.
3. If a parent complain, how will you react?
Complains from parents serve as a feedback mechanism in order to improve
and correct whatever issues and problems.
4. If there is a conflict between two student, how would you react?
Resolving conflicts requires detailed behavior analysis, a concrete discipline
plan and character traits such as tenacity, even-temperance, and decisive
decision making
5. How do you teach and encourage socially acceptable behaviors in class?
Teaching character and socially acceptable behaviors in class needs
modelling and simulation using videos and stories and actively teaching,
reinforcing and making follow-through as well as consistency of
enforcement makes the behavior become more permanent.
6. If you see a student with special needs which is not diagnosed yet, what would you do?
Recommend the child for evaluation.
7. What teaching methods do you prefer for SPED students and why?
Differentiated instruction, or better still, one-on-one instruction would be the
most appropriate in order to meet the specific need and learning style of each
8. What kind of student disability you’d find difficult to work with?
For me the biggest challenges comes from hearing, visual and multiple
9. Why should we hire you?
I have the combination of experience, skills and characteristics that this job

10. What motivates you?

I love interacting with the school personnel and students, creating memories
with everyone, collaborating and supporting each other and talking about the
joys and challenges from the job.
11. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Ability to explain complex in simple way, communication and social skills,
flexibility and adaptability, ability to resolve conflicts
12. What trait should be possessed by sped teacher that is set for this job?
Being creative in lesson delivery and assessment, planning all the details,
and possessing such traits as even-temperance, organization, flexibility and
13. Why do you want to teach special students?
For me teaching special needs kids is a great opportunity to create awareness
among peers and at the same time help kids who lack social skills and
opportunities due to their disabilities.
14. What is your philosophy about inclusion, integration and segregation?
For me, inclusive classroom should have enough collaboration between
SPED and Gen Ed teachers in order to effectively address the needs of
SPED students. Segregation should be the last resort in cases where the
safety is an issue but with enough training, the goals is still towards
integration and inclusion.
15. What support do you expect from administrators and other staff ?
The help are in the form of development of benchmarks, testing, compliance
of goals and issues.
16. What do you consider as the most difficult aspect of a SPED teacher?
I have seen a lot of preparation and planning in order to fulfill all the
requirements in the IEP as well as the paper works that goes with it.
17. Why do you feel that IEP meetings with the parents are very critical?
This meeting is critical because it keep parents inform of whatever progress
and challenges the special kid has. It gives parents the chance to be a part of
the planning, goal setting and follow-through needed in order for the kid the
18. Why do you think that smaller class give students a better chance of achieving their academic
Smaller class size enable the teacher to give more one-on-one services as
specified in their IEP. It enabled the teacher to address the individual
requirements to help them achieve their goals easily.
19. What conditions or disabilities did you handle in your classes?
I’ve work with various grade levels with mainly on learning difficulty and
20. How did you manage special education services for students who are part of inclusive classroom?
The main functions I see for a SPED teacher in an inclusive class are: 1)
assist with testing, 2) assist with complex assignments, 3) assist students
who are facing challenges due to their condition.

So, what are adaptive skills? These ten skill areas include:

1. Self-Care – bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding one’s self.

2. Communication Skills – understanding and using verbal and
nonverbal language.
3. Self-Direction – problem solving, exercising choice, initiating and
planning activities.
4. Social Skills – maintaining interpersonal relationships,
understanding emotions and social cues, understanding fairness and
honesty, obeying rules and laws.
5. Leisure Skills – taking responsibility for one’s own activities,
having the ability to participate in the community.
6. Home or School Living – housekeeping, cooking, doing laundry,
maintaining living space.
7. Functional Academics – using reading, writing, and math skills in
everyday life.
8. Community Use – shopping, using public transportation, using
community services.
9. Work – ability to maintain part-time or full-time employment,
either competitive or sheltered, ability to work under supervision,
cooperate with coworkers, be reliable and punctual, and meet work
10. Health and Safety – ability to protect one’s self, responding to
health problems.
These children have special needs are are quite capable of learning, just
at a slower pace. A child with this type of disability should be
encouraged to be independent with help from parents in dressing,
grooming, and feeding him or herself. Assign chores with the child’s age
and abilities in mind. Demonstrate how to do a task and break it down
into smaller steps. Give instructions on at a time and help when
assistance is needed. Frequent feedback and praise for a task well done
will build a child’s abilities and confidence.

Parents and teachers can work together to increase adaptive skills by

sharing information about what a child is learning. If a student
is learning about money at school, parents should enrich that learning at
home by taking the child shopping with them. Talk about the cost of
items, help the child count the money to pay, and then assist in counting
the change.
Teachers should also learn as much as possible about intellectual
disability. If a teacher is not on the student’s Individualized Education
Program (IEP) team, he should obtain a copy of the IEP. Individualized
educational goals, as well as services and accommodations the student
should receive, will be listed. Teachers should consult the school’s
inclusion specialist to learn how to address the student’s IEP goals in
their classrooms, provide modifications and accommodations, and
identify teaching effective methods.
With concrete instruction and guided practice in adaptive skills, children
with an intellectual disability can learn to take care of themselves. These
skills, along with the proper support, will allow them to lead
independent, fulfilling lives.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay


 Center for Parent Information Resources – Intellectual Disability

 Baroff, G.S. & Olley, L.G. (1999). Mental retardation: nature, cause, and management. Retrieved June 3,
2010, from books.google.com/books

Functional Skills: Skills to Help Special Education Students Gain

Functional skills are those skills a student needs to live independently. An important goal
of special education is for our students to gain as much independence and autonomy as
possible, whether their disability is emotional, intellectual, physical, or a combination of
two or more (multiple) disabilities. Skills are defined as functional as long as the outcome
supports the student's independence. For some students, those skills may be learning to
feed themselves. For other students, it may be learning to use a bus and read a bus
schedule. We can separate the functional skills as:

 Life Skills
 Functional Academic Skills
 Community-Based Learning Skills
 Social Skills

Life Skills
The most basic of functional skills are those skills that we usually acquire in the first few
years of life: walking, self-feeding, self-toileting, and making simple requests. Students
with developmental disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, and significant
cognitive or multiple disabilities often need to have these skills taught through modeling,
breaking them down, and the use of Applied Behavior Analysis. The teaching of life
skills also requires that the teacher/practitioner complete appropriate task analyses in
order to teach the specific skills.
Functional Academic Skills
Living independently requires some skills which are considered academic, even if they
do not lead to higher education or the completion of a diploma. Those skills include:

 Math Skills - The functional math skills include telling time, counting and using
money, balancing a checkbook, measurement, and understanding volume. For
higher functioning students, math skills will expand to include vocationally
oriented skills, such as making change or following a schedule.
 Language Arts - Reading begins as recognizing symbols, progressing to reading
signs (stop, push), and moves on to reading directions. For many students with
disabilities, they may need to have reading texts supported with audio recordings
or adults reading. By learning to read a bus schedule, a sign in a bathroom, or
directions, a student with disabilities gains independence.

Community-Based Learning Skills

The skills a student needs to succeed independently in the community often have to be
taught in the community. These skills include using public transportation, shopping,
making choices in restaurants, and crossing streets at crosswalks. Too often parents, with
the desire to protect their disabled children, over-function for their children and
unknowingly stand in the way of allowing their children to acquire the skills they need.

Social Skills
Social skills are usually modeled, but for many students with disabilities, they need to be
carefully and consistently taught. In order to function in the community, students need to
understand how to interact appropriately with different members of the community, not
only family, peers, and teachers.

Webster, Jerry. "Functional Skills: Skills to Help Special Education Students Gain
Independence." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/functional-skills-for-students-
Tell me Something about yourself?
I am an experienced Math/Physics teachers with an MA in Education who
taught in various age group and in various curricula like the Montessori, the
IB world school, the US curriculum in the Carolinas and in Kansas.
I spent the last few months completing the academic requirements for me
to get certified as a Special Education Teacher and Lo I discovered a
wealth of teaching techniques and strategies as well as behavior and
classroom management strategies that I can use in teaching kids in
general education and those with special needs.

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I love studying and learning myself and so I learn to appreciate a few

teachers who taught and inspired me to learn physics and math in my
senior year in high school. It’s the only career I ever considered, because I
truly want to follow their example and, now in my turn, instill a joy of
learning with my own students. 
2. What type of classroom management structure would you implement if
you were hired?

 Using Proactive approach to classroom management using the best

practices, modeling positive behaviors for my students and
encouraging supportive peer-to-peer communications. I also identify
what triggers stress in individual students, and am prepared to
support them when challenges arise.

 Using evidence-based positive behavior strategies: 

 Using nonverbal signals to foster communication while

limiting interruptions during instruction
 Creating when-then sentences with students to clearly
explain what you expect—and the positive outcome that will
 Describing what’s expected of students in a way that is
obvious and easily understood by using pre-correcting and
 Getting students’ attention through respectful redirection—
without making a big deal about it—by using a calm tone,
neutral body language, and clear, concise wording

3. How have you used, or how will you use, technology in the classroom? 

In my last classroom, the students used laptops to create and manage their
own e-portfolio, which proved to be a great tool for communicating with
parents and allowing them to see the daily activities their kids participated

 4. What approach or strategy do you use to learn new information?

I find that I learn new material best by writing down notes as I read or as I
am listening to someone giving a lecture. The process of writing down the
important details works in two ways: first, it helps me absorb and think
carefully about the new information and second, my notes serve as a study
guide that I can reference going forward.  

5. What continuing education classes, workshops, training, etc. have you


The district where I worked previously offered continuing education

opportunities in the evenings throughout the year. I attended these
sessions regularly. I especially enjoyed the literacy training sessions that
focused on early childhood literature and teaching strategies. I have also
been lucky enough to attend the yearly Autism Awareness conference held
in New York City for the last two years. I try to take advantage of any
continuing education opportunities offered to me.
6. What interests you about our district?

I can feel that culture of the school district works hard to foster and
maintain is something I have never experienced in any of the schools I
attended or taught in. Everyone knows my daughter’s name, my name, and
you can tell that everyone in the school is genuinely happy to be there
working with the students and their families.

7. Would you be interested in leading any after-school activities?

During the summer, I am the director of a theater camp offered by the art
center in town. I would love to take part in any drama clubs or
performances the children participate in throughout the year. Or, if there
isn’t a drama club, I’d certainly love to start one, if that’s something that the
school would be interested in. While theater happens to be my personal
passion, if there are any other activities that are especially in need of
support and that I might be a good fit for, I’d be willing to help out however I

8. How would you deal with a student who is habitually late?

If a child is coming into school late on a regular basis, I would first talk with
the child to see if there is anything going on in school or at home that is
causing him or her to be late. After talking with the child, and depending on
what they share, I would discuss with my supervisor the best possible
approach to talk to the family about the repeated tardiness.
9. How would you engage a reluctant student?

If a student seems reluctant to participate during a specific subject, I would

use my experience working with different types of learners and adjust my
teaching strategies to engage the student in a way that they would feel
more comfortable to participate. This may be by having the student(s) work
with a partner, or creating my lessons around a topic that the student may
be more likely to be interested in.

10. What would you say to an angry parent about their child’s grade?

If I have a parent who is upset about a grade their child received, I would
offer to meet with the parent and provide supporting evidence of the
lessons the child received in preparation for the assessment. I would then
ask the parent(s) to help me brainstorm ways that their child might prepare
for and perform better on assessments. For example, I once had a child
who consistently struggled with his weekly spelling work.

Before his parents contacted me, I reached out to them after he handed in
his second weekly test incomplete. I asked the parent if we could think of
some strategies the child could use both in the classroom and at home to
improve the student’s spelling skills. Every situation is different, of course,
but if I am able to offer a retake of the assessment, I would be more than
happy to do so.

11. What would you do if you suspected neglect or abuse in the home of one
of your students?

I take my position as a mandated reporter very seriously. I am aware of the

district’s daily health check system that early childhood teachers are
required to implement daily. In my previous position, we also did daily
checks when the children would arrive each morning. There was one child
in my previous classroom who had odd bruising on both arms and I was not
sure if the bruises were from rough play with siblings or friends, or from an
adult being physically abusive.

Before I said anything to anyone, I reported what I saw to the principal who
guided me through the process to determine the cause of the bruising.
Ultimately it was discovered that the bruises were from the child’s older
sibling. The way my school handled the situation enabled us to ensure the
child was in a safe situation without falsely accusing or upsetting the

12. If you noticed a child being bullied in your class, how would you deal
with the situation? 

One of the most important large group activities I do with my class at the
beginning of the year is writing our class rules together. I make it a big deal;
together we come up with and agree to the rules, and we all sign the poster
in a commitment to do our best to follow the rules while also helping others
to follow the rules throughout the day. One of the most important rules on
our poster is to not bully other children.

I use this group activity as an opportunity to talk about what it means to

bully, and what to do if a student is bullied or they see someone being
bullied. Part of the lesson is making anti-bullying posters that we hang in
our classroom and in the halls. If I witnessed bullying, I would talk to all the
children involved separately, and I would also revisit our anti-bullying
lesson and posters with the whole class.

Tips to Answer Teacher Interview Questions

During your teaching interview, you'll need to do more than just give generic responses
to the questions you're asked. The best candidate will be able to explain how they are
qualified for the job and why they would be a good fit for the school.

It makes it much easier for a hiring manager to make a decision when the applicant
spells out why they would be a great hire.

Make It Personal: Take the time to personalize your responses to interview questions.

Include highlights from your background, skills, and professional experience that are
relevant to the job that you’re applying for. Focus on skills most relevant to the field.
Here is a list of the teaching skills interviewers are most interested in. Of
course, communication, organization, and critical thinking are high on the list of desired
qualities. If you're returning to the classroom after a career break, be prepared to
address the gap in your experience.

Provide Examples: The interviewer will likely ask you behavioral interview questions,

which require you to provide an example of how you did something. For instance, an
interviewer might say, “Tell me about a time you handled a behavioral issue with a
student.” These kinds of questions require you to think of examples from past teaching
experiences. To answer these questions, explain the situation and what you did to
either solve a problem or achieve success.

Then, describe the result.

Even if the question is not a behavioral interview question, it is often helpful to provide a
specific example. For instance, situational interview questions ask you to consider a
possible future situation at work. An interviewer might ask, “How would you handle a
parent who thinks you graded his child unfairly?” Although these are about future
situations, you can still answer with an example from a past experience. It helps to
create a list of anecdotes you can draw on, focusing on situations where your action
had a clear, positive outcome.

Research the School: Research the school district and the school where you will be
working if you get hired. You’ll be able to find plenty of this information on the school
district’s website. Also, if you have a connection to any teachers who work in the school,
the district, or any parents whose children attend the school, ask them for their insight
into the job. The more familiar you are with the academics, extra-curricular activities,
sports, student profiles, and the curriculum, the better equipped you’ll be to ask
meaningful questions and provide nuanced answers to interview questions.

Be Prepared for a Panel Interview: When you interview for a teaching job, you may be
expected to interview with a variety of different constituents.
You may be required to interview with a panel, which could include the school principal,
administrative staff, other teachers, and parents. In some cases, you may need to an
interview with a search committee that is charged with screening applicants before
moving on to a formal interview for the job.

Prepare to Teach a Mini-Lesson: Before or after the interview you might also be

asked to teach a mini-lesson to a group of students, or teachers pretending to be
students, during your interview.

Be sure that you know exactly what you need to prepare for each interview, which
should be clearly stated in an email or over the phone, most likely when you are
arranging your interview date and time.

How to Make the Best Impression

Often at the end of an interview, you will be asked if you have any questions for the
interviewer. This is when you become the interviewer and have the chance to ask some
well-thought-out questions.

Review the list of good questions to ask during an interview for teaching jobs. It is
important that you come prepared with questions in order to demonstrate your
enthusiasm for the position and your interest in learning more about the role, the school
or the district.

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

When I was in third grade I struggled a lot with reading. I could never keep up
with lessons and I was always terrified of being called on to practice my reading
out loud. I started to doubt my own intelligence and was convinced that the bottom
line was I was stupid. It ended up affecting my grades and I started to fall behind.
Rather than give up on me, my teacher Miss Emily sat me down one day at lunch
and really talked to me about what was going on. I told her how hard it was for me
to read and we discovered together that I wasn’t stupid, but was having vision
problems. She moved me to a desk that was closer to the front, made sure I was
able to see, and met with my parents to discuss options. Because of her my parents
took me to a doctor and my astigmatism was diagnosed. Because of Miss Emily I
began to love learning again. I want to be that teacher…the one who takes the time
to really discover why students are struggling and give another little girl like me an
opportunity to learn to love learning again.
2. Why do you want to teach at this school?
I’ve spent a lot of time researching schools within this district and I’m very impressed with what you
offer here. Between an award winning teaching staff and a district that is very involved, your school has a
teacher-to-student ratio that I think really allows for personalized education. Smaller classroom sizes, like
the ones you maintain here, make it possible for me to give each child the one-on-one attention they
deserve. On top of that, your after-school science program is exciting to me and I would hope, should I
get hired here, that I might be able to become involved in that as well.
3. What can you bring to our school that makes you unique?
I love science and exploring the natural world beyond the borders of the classroom. For that reason, I
started an after-school explorer’s club at my last school. We would go on nature hikes, visit museums and
invite local scientists and biologists to come speak to us about what they’re working on and their
research. The response was overwhelming and I have students who still come up to me years later and tell
me how much they loved our club and how it helped inspire them to pursue careers in the sciences. I
would be very interested in continuing the legacy of the explorer’s club here.

4. What frustrates you the most in a classroom?

Example Answer: I have to admit, I get frustrated by the kids who think they’re too cool for school and
who float through their day doing as little as possible and the teachers who play into that attitude. Rather
than turn that frustration into anger or simply ignore them and wait for a slacker to drift through a year in
my class, I turn that frustration into a challenge for both the student and myself. Most of the time those
kids are too cool because of challenges they’re facing outside of school and their attitude is a way for
them to protect themselves. Sometimes all they need is to know someone else believes in them. By giving
them a little extra attention and encouragement, I’ve seen some of the ‘coolest kids’ turn into students
who are focused, driven and ready to turn themselves around.

5. What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that the best learning opportunities are the ones that the students come up with themselves. For
that reason I spend every lunch hour on the playground with my students and make myself available for
them to ask me “playground-pop-quiz” questions. These questions have ranged from everything from
how is the ice cream we had at lunch made to exploring the lifecycle of the mosquitos we found in a piece
of playground equipment. I love challenging the students to try to stump me and as a result, they go out of
their way to explore the environment around them, making learning fun and exciting.
6. How would you prepare your classroom if it was the first day of school?
7. How do you evaluate students?
8. Why do we teach “X” in school?
9. How do you communicate with parents?
10. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
If you’ve ever been to a job interview, you know that at the end of the questioning period you will usually
be asked if you have any questions of your own.

This is the gold mine question and one that serves two distinct purposes. It gives you an opportunity to
get information you might not have been able to gather during your research period while also allowing
you one more chance to demonstrate you are the perfect candidate by having a pre-prepared list of
questions you’d like answered.

While a list of questions might seem odd, it shows an interviewer that you’re so interested in the position
that you’ve take the time to really think about working there and want more information.

Good questions to ask include:

Can you tell me a little about the culture here at the school?
What is a typical day like?
Are there any qualities you’re looking for in a teacher that were not listed in the job description?
Is there a teacher mentoring program here?
Are there opportunities for furthering my education available here?
What is the average classroom size?
How are the classrooms equipped? Is this a wired school?
What goals and expectations do you have for your teachers?
Are there any challenges the school/district is facing that I should be aware of?
Is there an active PTA here?
How is the relationship between the parents and the school?
Is the school a part of the community?
How does this school handle student discipline?
How does it handle bullying?
Putting It All Together
So there you have it, tips, tricks and a study guide stuffed full of questions and answers for you to go over
and use for practice as you get ready for your own teacher interview questions. Check out or share with
friends our other “job-specific” interview question article: Top 15 Nursing Interview Questions!

And as always…good luck!

Question 1 - How do you view team-teaching? Do you find it

beneficial? Please explain.
Answer - Most teachers have experienced a team-teaching environment at some point
in their careers. Even student teaching can be seen as a team teaching experience as
you are teaching with your master teacher. If you’ve experienced team teaching, then
you definitely have an opinion about it. You will understand the benefits of it, as well as
maybe have some reservations, as it depends on the individuals that make up the
teaching team that will determine how effective it can be.

“Team teaching is an effective strategy for teaching students in large groups. It

encourages teachers to collaborate with one another and to brainstorm new teaching
methods and ideas. It is always better to have more than one point of view and multiple
people contributing to the success of students.”

Question 2 - What are your greatest strengths?

Answer - This question will probably be asked. Now, if you researched the
district/school and found out what they are looking for in a candidate, you will be able to
focus your response on that information, keeping in mind it is important to tell the truth.
With every response you must show your VALUE to the district. This will also give them
an idea on how you view your talents and skills as a teacher. Perception is critical... you
must be able to confidently discuss your skills using a convincing approach.

It is important the answer shows your hard/tangible skills. For example, classroom
management, curriculum development, or technology integration. These skills will show
the interviewer(s) what you can do on the job. Don't stop there, you will set yourself
apart from the pack if you can back up your claims with actual stories. This will build
credibility... it shows you really are good at what you are claiming. Tell them about what
you have done to incorporate technology into the classroom and what was the result.
The result part of the story sells value... and that produces job offers.

Question 3 - What is your biggest weakness?

Answer - Your response could include something that may have been a challenge in
the past, which you have taken steps to rectify. It is important to be truthful, they will be
testing your honesty. In addition, they will be checking to see if you provide a weakness
that is critical to success in the position. For example, the interview will likely end quickly
if you answer you have a difficult time management the classroom. The key to
answering the question is to turn a negative into a positive.

I don't suggest using that the traditional statement, "I'm a perfectionist", it is often
overused, and will tend to sound phony. It is important you don't get defensive and try to
justify why you are weak in a particular subject area, such as social studies. This would
make a bad impression, because it may be relevant to the position that you are seeking.
Whatever you decide to use, ensure it is not one of the key skills of the position you are
seeking. In other words, don't pinpoint classroom discipline and/management or subject
area if you are seeking a teaching position.

Think of this question as an opportunity to sell yourself. Here is an example: You

wouldn't say, "I have a difficult time organizing my day." Instead, rephrase the answer
by saying. "There are so many creative activities I plan for my students and class time is
limited. It is difficult to incorporate all of the activities that I would like my students to
learn from. Over time, I have realized to prioritize what lesson plans are the most
important to enhance my student learning. I now realize that I can't do everything I
would like to."

The above example shows you are excited about designing new and creative lessons
for your students. In their mind, this will not be a negative. It will position you that much
closer to getting a job offer.

Question 4 - Let's imagine a teacher interview question for a grade

one teaching position where the interviewer asks: "Describe your
classroom's physical appearance." Having prepared ahead of time,
you understand the interviewer[s] attempt to determine:
 Your teaching style,
 Your ability to effectively manage the class,
 The level and quality of student interaction,
 Your teaching philosophy,

"Upon entering my classroom you will find a lively and colorful room completely
centered upon children and active learning. Sight words, the alphabet, numbers, and
inspirational quotes cover the walls while large bulletin boards proudly display students'
work. A large area contains a carpeted reading or group corner specifically for
storytelling, show-and-tell, weather discussions and calendar and day-of-the-week
conversations. This classroom includes an abundance of age appropriate reading
materials and student mailboxes where children place personal journals, home reading
books and workbooks in the morning and then collect newsletters or other parent
communication at the end of the day."

Question 5 - What makes you want to work for the school district?
Answer - Your preparation and research is imperative to successfully answer this
question. Provide a few reasons why you're interested in the school or district, and what
about the school community sparked your interest in the position. What is your personal
experience with the school or district? What do you know about its’ student body, faculty
members, industry reputation, community involvement, educational goals and
objectives, upcoming initiatives, demographics, or extracurricular activities? This
information will help you to accurately respond to the above question.

Question 6 - How do you handle classroom discipline?

Answer - This answer is a very personal one. Everyone will have a different answer
because it depends on your teaching style, the grade for which you are interviewing,
and your past teaching experiences. The interviewer will be looking to see if you have a
discipline plan, if you know how to implement it, and if you think that discipline is an
important part of teaching. What I have found from coaching clients is they fail to
provide a clear action plan that can be backed up with classroom management
examples. It is also important to find out what the school or district’s philosophy
concerning discipline is, as this will give you some additional background information
from which you can formulate your answer. A few things to bring up when answering
this question include:

 The importance of developing ground rules the first week of class. This allows the
students to understand what is and isn't acceptable behavior.
 The rules should be discussed and agreed upon by the whole class. This makes the
students accountable and responsible.
 You may want to touch on your philosophy of classroom discipline. This of course will
depend on your teaching style. However, if you can show that you reduce negative
behaviors by offering the students an intellectually stimulating, organized, and respectful
environment then this is what you should say.
 Give an example of your plan; use a real situation to show your expertise in this very
important area. Whether you use the red light/green light method, time-outs, or you
remove the student from the classroom, it is important that you can back up why your
method is effective by providing examples.
 It is also important to indicate that there are always two sides to every story. So, if the
action involves the discipline of two students, you must listen to both sides. Indicate that
you try to get the students to resolve their own disagreements, which may involve
compromise. And that you end the discussion with the students by asking them, "How
will you handle the situation next time?"

Question 7 - How would you describe a successful principal?

Answer - By asking this question, the hiring committee is attempting to assess the

 Do you understand what traits contribute to the success of a principal. As a teacher,

what traits do you value most.
 Your response may indicate or suggest possible conflicts with the current principal.

Responses to this question may include:

It is important that a successful principal...

 has a vision and a plan to reach that vision...combined with the ability to bring faculty
members together to form a cooperative team and motivate them to reach district goals
and objectives.
 be visible... the principal's presence should be evident on a continual basis. He or she
must be easily accessible to both students and teachers.
 has a great sense of humor, and can communicate effectively with a diverse group of
 genuinely cares about the students, teachers, parents, and the district.

Question 8 - Can we answer any questions?

Answer - Your interview experience may not be completely one sided. In addition to
answering the interviewer's questions, you should also have an opportunity to ask the
interviewer some questions. This is your chance to once again impress your
interviewers by asking important, insightful questions about the position and the school.
If you ask the right questions at your teaching interview, the answers will also help you
to determine if the position and school is a good fit. Plus, it shows the interviewers that
you are genuinely interested in the position. If you’ve developed a rapport with your
interviewer and therefore feel comfortable, you may be able to ask questions throughout
the interview. If you don't get a chance to ask any questions during the interview, you
will be given an opportunity to ask some near the end of your meeting. Whether you are
a new teacher or an experienced teacher, make sure you take advantage of this
amazing chance to show you have researched the school district.

So, what kinds of questions should you ask at the end of the interview?

First, you should try to ask only those questions that you can’t find the answers to on
their website or some other easily accessible resource. For instance, asking how many
staff members are there or what is the student population is something that can be
easily found on any school website.

You should also think about what questions you’d like to ask before the interview even
begins. This way you won’t be stuck trying to come up with a good ones at the last
minute. These should be genuine questions that you truly would like to know the answer
to. Remember, this is really your only chance to determine whether this position is a
good fit for you. You want to make sure that you will be happy in this position.

If you can come armed with two or three really good questions to ask, you are in a great
spot. You can even practice asking the questions you came up with ahead of time so
that you are confident when it comes time to ask them. I’d also recommend writing them
down on paper so you can refer to them during the interview. And don’t be afraid to take
notes when you get an answer to your question. If it is important, you’ll want to
remember the answer!

Here are a few examples of appropriate questions you could ask your interviewer.
Remember, only ask them if they are not addressed during the interview. You don’t
want to ask a question that was already covered earlier in the interview! You will look
like you were not paying attention.

Additionally, some questions you can ask can serve to further sell yourself and your
skills to the school community. For instance:

“I have a background in coaching team sports, what types of extracurriculars are

available for me to participate in?”

This shows the interviewer that you are not only willing to volunteer your time outside of
the classroom, but also that you are a true team player.

Potential questions to ask your interviewers include:

 In past positions, I have always strived to have parents participate in the classroom
community, are the parents at your school active within the community? What types of
activities or ways do parents participate in school life?
 I am passionate about incorporating educational technology into learning, what types of
technology do you use at the school?
 Are there opportunities for teachers to collaborate in teams? What types of teamwork
are available?
 I enjoy continuing to learn, what kinds of professional learning opportunities are there for
 I enjoy taking part in, and helping to develop, new educational programs and projects. Is
the school involved in introducing any new programs or initiatives in the next school
year? Will there be an opportunity to help out or participate in any new developments?
 What are the major issues or goals that your school is working on? What are your
current focuses?
 If you are a new teacher or beginning teacher, you may want to ask: "Does your school
have a mentor teacher program?"
 Will there be a second round of interviews? When do you expect a decision to be made?
Will you contact every candidate regardless of whether they landed the job or not?

These are just a few of the many different types of questions you can ask your
interviewers. You want to make sure you ask at least one question, but also try to limit
your questions to three or four.

Back to top

Did you learn anything from reading these 8 common teacher interview questions and
answers? I hope you did and are now more prepared to showcase the value you can
offer a school/district.

Do you feel prepared for your next teacher interview? Preparation is the key to
confidence and practicing your answers to a variety of teacher interview questions will
help you immensely. If you’d like to gain some confidence in this area, we can help! We
have two interview preparation eBooks, A+ Teachers' Interview Edge and A+
Principals' Interview Edge, that will help you prepare for your next education interview
so you can land your dream job.

Have questions, please connect by sending an email to Candace or call toll-free at 1

877 738-8052. I would enjoy chatting with you.

1. Why Do You Want to Be a Teacher/Work With

“You have to know who you are as an individual and as an educator, and you have
to know what you can bring to the school,” says Brown. This question gets to the
heart of that self-awareness and passion. The interviewer wants to know: What
drew you to this field, specifically?

How to Answer It

It’s obvious of course, but you don’t want to say, “Summer vacations!” This
should be easy to answer simply because there’s probably something you can
think of that made you want to get into education. Maybe you love teaching your
friends new things, or are a facts wizard bursting with knowledge, or love
connecting with children. Focus not just on what you like about teaching but also
on what you can, as Brown suggests, bring to the table.

For example, you might say: “I really admired my third grade teacher, Mrs.
Kim, when I was younger, and even after I left her class I still felt myself drawn
to her for advice and guidance over the years. It’s that sense of warmth and
acceptance she provided me that inspired me to become a teacher. I want to be
that person others can lean on as they navigate the oftentimes tough waters of
growing up.”

2. What’s Your Teaching Style or Philosophy?/What

Adjectives Would You Use to Describe Your Presence
in the Classroom?
An interviewer wants to see that you’re not just trying to push students toward
some goal or academic result, but really want to help them develop inside and
outside school. Basically, you care about people and their success, not just your
own professional achievements.
How to Answer It

“A good answer would be a community approach. So knowing that you’re one

piece of this person’s journey,” says Mary Findley, Senior Teacher Success
Manager at Skillshare and a former Teach for America Core Member and
elementary school teacher. In other words, you see teaching as more than just
standing in front of a whiteboard barking orders.

You’ll want to be honest about your specific style. But also consider what this
school’s philosophy is like, and try tailoring your response to encompass those
same values (so long as you’re being truthful).

You could answer with: “I would say I’m strict but fair when it comes to
teaching. I believe when students are challenged with realistic goals and given
the support they need not to just get the answers right but to be able to use those
learnings to solve future problems on their own, everyone comes out on top. I
also think that as a teacher, it’s my job to support my students through the
lessons I give, but also through the various challenges they may face at school,
and to partner with them as well as other support systems to help them feel
motivated, comfortable, and happy in the classroom.”

3. How Would You Handle a Difficult Student?

Difficult students, naturally, exist in every classroom. And difficult can look like
so many different things. So interviewers want to know that you either have in
the past handled a difficult student or can handle them appropriately should you
need to.
How to Answer It

“When students are disengaged, it’s either because the content’s too challenging,
it’s too easy, or there could be some outside-of-school factors,” explains Findley.
A good answer delves into figuring out the cause, as that’s often the most
important step.

Then, your response should show that “you’re meeting the student where they’re
at and building on their strengths,” she says. It should also emphasize that you’re
“collaboratively discussing” solutions with the student rather than ordering them
around. If you have an example story to tell, that’s a great way to state your case.

You could say: “For me, the first step would be to pull them aside and address
the issue privately. My biggest questions would be about deciphering what
might be the root cause of this student’s bad behavior. Once I know what may
be contributing to their difficulty, I really try to work with them to come up
with a solution. I used this strategy in my last classroom, where I had a student
who couldn’t seem to stay in his seat during lessons. We talked about how his
behavior affected the rest of the class and why he kept moving around, and we
agreed that when he was feeling really anxious he could raise his hand and I’d
let him take a lap around the classroom, but only when it was appropriate. I
also decided to make some of my lessons more active and hands-on so that
other students could benefit from getting out of their seats every once in a

4. How Do You Motivate Students?

Similar to the question above, interviewers want to see how you influence
students to do what you need them to do. Findley adds that this is an especially
important thing to vet for when hiring virtual teachers, because motivating others
over video requires a lot more creativity than when you’re teaching in person.
How to Answer It

As Brown points out, “In order to get them to the next level...you have to know
your students, you have to know their strong points [and] their weak points.”

So it’s really about having a personalized approach, says Findley. You’ll want to
show that you can engage a classroom, as well as take into consideration various
students’ needs and drivers.

Take this sample answer: “Positive reinforcement is super important to keep a

student motivated, so one thing I like to do is throw out rewards or bonuses
when they perform especially well. This could be candy, or a star, or a sticker,
or even just a compliment—whatever I can tell students enjoy receiving, and it’s
different for everyone. I never want students to feel left out or overindulged, so I
always try to be fair and consistent with everyone. But it’s those little moments
of recognition I think that keep them happy and excited to learn.”

5. How Do You Like to Communicate/Build

Relationships With Parents?
Part of being a teacher is relating to students. But often the other half is about
working with parents and guardians—people who influence how your students
learn and behave in the classroom just as much as (if not more) than you do. Your
job will require you to work with those adults to ensure your students meet

“We know that the children that we staff need consistency at all times,” says
Brown. “So doing it at school and doing it at home are going to be two things that
have to go together.” Building trust with the adults in your students’ lives can
often help you build stronger relationships with the students themselves.
How to Answer It

“I’m looking to see that a candidate will take every opportunity to interact with
parents in person,” says Brown. “Ultimately, I’m looking for candidates that
believe parent collaboration is key to a student’s success, and they will take the
time to maintain an ongoing, open conversation,” he adds.

To show you take building relationships with family members seriously, you
could say: “I think it’s really important to get to know the important family
members in each student’s life. Which is why at the beginning of the school year
I like to invite parents to my classroom and have individual meetings with the
families. I’ll also send out a survey to get a better understanding of the student’s
home life, needs, and family dynamics. Then, throughout the year, I always try
to touch base with families to share positive updates and small wins about the
student in addition to discussing any challenges the student might be facing
academically or behaviorally.”

6. What Are You Learning Right Now?

This question is about showing that you’re curious and believe in continuous
learning—qualities that are important in a teacher as well as for a teacher to pass
on to students.

In other words, Findley says, the interviewer’s asking: “What are some personal
interests? How are you developing yourself both within your professional career
[and] personal development as well?”

How to Answer It

Hopefully, you’re doing something to help yourself grow—it doesn’t have to be

career-related! Maybe you’re reading a series of books about a particular topic, or
attending a class, or making yourself practice a new skill. It doesn’t matter how
extensive your learning is. You just want to express a growth mindset and an
appreciation for continuing to get better at something.

Here’s what that sounds like: “I used to speak Italian in college, so I’ve recently
picked up Duolingo to try to reteach myself some of the basics. I’d love to
continue to become more fluent so I can travel to Italy and talk with locals!”

7. Tell Me About a Time When You Worked With a

Team to Solve a Problem.
Parents and students aren’t the only people you’ll be interacting with. You’ll
frequently need to partner with aides, staff, and other teachers to help students
succeed. Thus, an interviewer wants to know that you can get along with just
about anyone.

How to Answer It

“Don’t be afraid to lean into the conflict that you had in the team effort, but don’t
emphasize the conflict—emphasize how you got through the conflict to have
something that was effective,” says Swartz. A team situation where things didn’t
go perfectly is a great way to show you can communicate and collaborate with
others even when times are tough. Again, this doesn’t have to be an example that
happened in the classroom.

You could reply: “In my last role as a project coordinator, I had to partner with
our account managers to meet a really tight deadline set by a client. We were
all a little frazzled because the project required a lot of revisions, but we put our
heads together and divided the work, even staying late a couple days to make
sure we finished on time. I definitely don’t think we could have accomplished it
without working together, and I believe the same is true as a teacher working
with other staff—you can’t go it alone if you’re going to successfully improve
upon a student’s behavior.”

Read More: The STAR Method: The Secret to Acing Your Next Job Interview

8. Tell Me About a Time When You Helped Someone

Become More Successful.
Swartz puts it plainly: If there’s one thing that can’t be taught, it’s care for
students. “The rest of the stuff educators can teach. They can teach you content,
they can teach you how to be a more effective teacher delivering your lessons, but
they can’t teach the belief in students...as a candidate articulating that through an
example that you have really sets you apart from other candidates,” he says.

How to Answer It

Swartz gives an example answer from a social worker he once interviewed for a
teaching position. “She did everything for the [child],” he explains. “If she needed
to do a house visit and spend hours there on a Saturday, she would do [it]. And so
the whatever-it-took mentality and the investment in, ‘I’m going to make sure
that you succeed despite all the barriers’ was impressive.”

9. Tell Me About a Time When You Accomplished

Something Satisfying/Overcame a Difficult Challenge.
Brown says that with either of these questions, the interviewer wants to hear:
“When you come across things that are obstacles, how do you overcome them?”
He also emphasizes that accomplishments and challenges often come hand in
hand. So answering this question shows “that drive for achievement” that
interviewers want to see in teachers.

How to Answer It

Pick something that required you to stretch yourself a bit, but ultimately led to a
successful outcome.

Maybe you could say: “When I was in sales, I dealt with one particularly difficult
customer who wasn’t satisfied with their purchase. Most of my team was
struggling to connect with them, but I was determined to set things right. I was
patient and listened to their complaints, and we worked together to come up
with a solution that seemed like a good compromise for the customer. They left
the store in a lot better of a mood than when they entered, and that feeling of
turning someone’s day around felt truly great.”

10. Tell Me About a Time When You Influenced

Another Person to Your Satisfaction.
Interviewers don’t want to just hear that you can influence students, but how you
plan to do it.

Swartz says that you need to communicate that you understand the person you’re
influencing and are tailoring your message accordingly.

How to Answer It

Swartz says that one particular story that stood out to him over the years is the
experience of a teacher who convinced his entire school to adopt a technique to
help teachers connect with their students. After discovering that this new
teaching method really seemed to work, they decided to get it implemented
across the school.

“So they talked with the assistant principal and they got the assistant principal on
board and they had the assistant principal talk to the principal to consider some
of the changes,” he recalls. By partnering with various staff and respectfully
sharing their ideas, the teacher eventually got the approval to make the change

“In a team environment where you may need to influence people and you need to
have good team relations, they were very careful and thoughtful about how to
bring this up so that it was received well,” he adds.

11. Tell Me About a Time When a Situation Changed at

Work and How You Dealt With It.
“Teachers create lesson plans...but then something will happen and it throws off
your whole lesson plan, like a student gets sick or somebody else comes in and
pulls the student for something,” says Swartz. So interviewers want to see that
you can think on your feet and handle a conflict when it arises.

How to Answer It

Make it clear you can stay calm, cool, and collected when a situation changes.

You could give the example: “When I was a camp counselor, I often had to keep
campers entertained through rainy weather or a blip in the camp schedule. The
first time it happened we didn’t really know how to handle the group, so I
decided to put together a one-sheeter of activities and games we could use
should we need to go off course in the future. I can confidently say no camper
was disappointed with the change of schedule—they loved all the games, and
our staff was relieved how smoothly things went after that first time.”

12. Tell Me About a Time When Someone Gave You

Feedback and How You Handled That.
You know that thing about teachers needing to have a growth mindset? Well,
receiving and implementing feedback well is important to showcase that.

“This is actually most critical for veteran teachers [to show] because veteran
teachers would be the ones who in most cases communicate a level of, ‘I’ve
already gotten this, I’ve already arrived, I don’t need any extra feedback,’” says

How to Answer It

Consider a time when you got feedback that was tough to take but ultimately
made you better at your job. Talk through how you received it (hopefully with an
open mind!) as well as how you made the change.

For example: “My last boss pulled me aside once to give me some advice on how
I could better lead meetings. It was certainly tough to hear that I wasn’t
connecting with my colleagues as best I could, but I knew that improving would
benefit not just me but our whole team dynamic. I decided to sign up for
Toastmasters for some public speaking tips (my boss was kind enough to cover
the cost of it), and run my presentations by my manager before doing them. I
now feel like I’m doing a much better job at running meetings and definitely
saw improvements as to how I worked with others on my team.”
13. How Would You Handle [Specific Subject
Depending on the subject matter and classroom you’re signing up for, this
question can really vary in how it’s delivered. The interviewer may ask how you’d
handle students incorrectly understanding a topic or performing poorly on state

“Sometimes I’ll present one of our objectives for a semester or for a course that
they might be teaching,” explains Sheppard. “And I’ll ask, ‘How would you assess
this, or what would you consider evidence of learning for this particular
outcome?’” (Hint: This is where proving you can handle data might come in.)

“Being able to correctly show a mastery of the content versus just the knowledge
of the content” is key, adds Swartz.

How to Answer It

You need to show you can “reverse engineer” the problem, Swartz explains.
There’s no exact right answer to these kinds of questions. Rather, you’ll want to
explain your process for deciphering the subject matter or issue and then your
approach for resolving the conflict.

Take this example question he gives:

“What are some of the common misconceptions students might have when
solving the problem 31.8 + 0.45? How would you address these?”

A good response might say: “One problem that could occur is that students won’t
line everything up by the place value or decimal. They may line the five up right
below the eight and therefore get the wrong answer. I would teach them to line
the decimals up and then put zeros as place holders so they don’t get confused. I
would also encourage them to draw a line from each addend all the way down
to their sum to make sure all the decimals are in line. I always remind students
to read carefully and double check their work to avoid common mistakes like

14. Walk Me Through a Typical Lesson.

The interviewer isn’t just looking for a quality lesson that’s accurate and
engaging. They also want to know how you think about planning lessons. “A lot of
it’s going to be about debriefing your process, like what went well...and then what
are things that you can work on,” says Findley.

How to Answer It

This question requires a bit more preparing on your part than a typical interview
question. If you have an example lesson from a previous role (whether you were a
teacher or taught something to someone at work), that’s great. If not, consider
whipping up a quick lesson plan you might like to give. Talk through what it’ll
look like from start to finish, why exactly you decided to take that approach, and
allow the interviewer to ask questions about your process.

If you’re leaning on a past experience, also highlight the parts of the lesson you
would change based on how it went. It’s better to use an example that could use a
bit of tweaking rather than one that went swimmingly—this shows that growth
mindset interviewers will be on the lookout for.

Read More: 5 Steps to Acing Your Interview Presentation

15. What Questions Do You Have for Me?

While this is probably the easiest interview question in the book, it’s also one you
should actively prepare for with thoughtful questions targeted at the specific
interviewer and role.

“Ask some serious questions about that school. That’s your opportunity to
interview them as much as they’re interviewing you, and they are going to respect
that,” Swartz says. “Any question that they ask where I can see that they’ve done
their research about the position is a great question to me.”

How to Answer It

“Don’t just ask, when can I expect to hear something?” says Swartz. If you do
have a question about next steps, make it your final ask after you’ve posed others.

Try one of the following to get the ball rolling:

 What do you wish you knew about [role]/[company or school] when you
first started?

 What qualities make someone successful here?

 What are you most excited to work on/accomplish at [company or school]

right now?

 What drew you to [company or school]?

Read More: 51 Great Questions to Ask in an Interview

Some Extra Tips for Nailing Your Teaching Interview

Findley advises that you really gather an understanding as to what the school
cares about before going into your interview so you can show how you would
bring that same passion. “A lot of schools now in particular have a really specific
focus. I used to work at a school that was really focused on character goals,” she

Swartz adds that all the other basic rules of interviewing apply here: Show up on
time, prepare, and dress professionally. While “you need to dress to a level that
communicates that you are serious and interested about this job,” he notes, you
should also remember that interviewers want to see that you know what it means
to work with students.

“If you show up in a three-piece suit at a school building they’re [going to be] like,
‘Do you know where you’re going to teach?’ You’re going to be bending over knees
on the ground with the kids. So over-dressing would be a negative,” he explains.
(Hint: Try going business casual when in doubt.)

Most importantly, says Brown, “Be confident in what you already know and your
experiences prior.” Preparing for any interview is mandatory, but don’t try to
over-rehearse your answers. Be yourself—or rather your best professional self—
and you’re sure to land the right teaching job for you.

Teacher Interview Questions and Answers

1. How have you handled a situation where a student is
consistently late to your class?
This teacher interview question is designed to see how you handle a problem in
your classroom. Your answer should highlight your ability to deal immediately
with a potential issue in a calm and controlled manner.

Include details about:

 questioning the student to find out the underlying cause of the problem
 explaining the negative impact of his/her behavior to the student
 coming to an agreed commitment to appropriate behavior in the future
2. How do you handle discipline problems in the
classroom? Give me an example.
Teachers regularly experience various types of disruptive student behavior, from
the frustrating but relatively minor problem of talking during class, to more
challenging problems, like students confronting the authority of the teacher.

Provide a specific example and in your answer show your ability to have planned
ahead for such instances by having measures in place and a clear action plan to
deal with serious discipline problems.

Support any disciplinary action you took with reasons as to why it was effective
and why you used it. The interviewers are looking for an effective classroom
behavior management plan.

3. Describe your discipline philosophy.

"The purpose of discipline is to facilitate learning and foster better
relationships and respect between the students. It is also intended to
help students become more self-directed, self-disciplined and
accountable for their behavior.
I have found that students respond poorly to forceful discipline but
well to discipline that is helpful. My philosophy is to provide clear limits
and rules that are communicated to the students so that they have a
clear understanding of what is expected of them. The rules are
discussed and agreed upon to encourage accountability from the

4. Tell me about your classroom management style.

Your answer should demonstrate how you achieve effective student
management and control. Include aspects such as:

 monitoring
 modeling
 environmental control
 reinforcement
Explain how you are able to adapt your style according to the situation. Provide
examples. How to answer Describe your teaching style

5. Tell me about a student who was not progressing

satisfactorily in your class, what steps did you take?
This question explores your ability to foster motivation in students. Provide a
specific example and demonstrate why it worked for this particular student

Support your answer by describing other instances where you managed to

motivate and encourage students using different methods.

Focus on:

 analyzing each situation and developing an understanding of the student's

 using the most appropriate method and resources to deal with the situation
 the outcome of your action
6. How do you build rapport with your class?
Teacher interview questions and answers about establishing rapport should
include an understanding of the role of rapport in contributing to effective

Demonstrate what behaviors you use to develop rapport such as:

 a sense of humor
 showing interest in the students
 availability
 encouragement
 relating lessons in everyday terms
 using examples that are relevant to the students
Give examples of how you have demonstrated these behaviors in the classroom
such as finding out something about your students' interests, hobbies, and

7. How do you give your students recognition and positive

Focus on developing self-worth by providing honest and effective encouragement
and valuation.

Include aspects such as:

 acknowledging the student's efforts as well as accomplishments
 the words and language you use
 awareness of your body language
 adapting the reinforcement to meet the particular needs of the
Provide specific examples to support your answer.

8. How do you communicate with a parent about a

student's performance?
 to work together with parents to help and assist students
 to encourage parents to provide the right support and environment for
optimal learning
 to remain non-defensive and positive