Interview Questions for Prospective Elementary Teachers


By Leah Davies, M.Ed.

The following are questions or requests that may be asked during an interview for an elementary teaching position. (Also see “Interview TIPS for Prospective Elementary Teachers”). Since an interview rarely lasts more than thirty minutes and may be shorter, responses need to be concise and specific. Be positive as you honestly and enthusiastically share your background, experience, and knowledge.

GENERAL
What is your philosophy of education?
Why are you interested in working in this school (district)?
What do you know about our school, students, and/or community?
What do you understand this school's mission statement to mean? How does your teaching philosophy fit with that mission?
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing teachers today?
Define professionalism and what it means to you.
What do you look for in an administrator?
What questions do you have for us?

PERSONAL
When did you decide to become a teacher and why?
Tell us about yourself, your background, and your experience working with children.
Describe yourself using five adjectives.
Describe how your academic training and work related experiences qualify you for this position.
What do you think sets you apart from other applicants?
What strengths do you have that would assist you in being a successful teacher?
Name two areas of weakness that you are working to improve.
What special skills, talents, or knowledge will you bring to our school?
What concerns do you have about your student teaching experience or your last teaching position?
In what ways did a professor or supervising teacher influence your teaching?
How do you handle stress? (See “Coping With Stress - Tips for Educators.")
What have you learned about yourself in the past few months?
If you had not chosen teaching as a career, what career would you have chosen?
What do you think your students would say about you?
Discuss your favorite book or author.
What have you read that contributes to your teaching success?
Describe a hobby or interest.
On what teams and/or in what clubs have you participated?
How do you see yourself involved in community and/or in school activities?
Describe your fluency in a language other than English.
Relate a situation when you used “people skills.”
What professional conferences have you attended?
How does this position fit with your career goals?
What other credentials are you interested in pursuing?
Is there anything else that you want us to know about you?

TEACHING
What qualities do you feel are most important for a teacher to have? (See “Successful Teachers.”)
What role do state and national standards play in your classroom teaching?
What grade do you enjoy teaching the most?
What are the state standards for the grade you hope to teach and how will you incorporate them into your teaching?
What are the developmental needs and characteristics of children in this grade?
What subject are you passionate about and how will you share your enthusiasm with your students?
What would we see if we walked into your classroom?
Describe your style of teaching and give examples.
What are your expectations for your students?
What current reading and math instructional practices are you comfortable using?
How often will your students be actively involved in cooperative learning?
Describe your use of auditory, visual, and hands-on teaching techniques.
What do you consider your greatest teaching accomplishment?
Share an example of a successful lesson or learning activity that you created and used.
Discuss a classroom situation or lesson that did not go as well as you would have liked, and what you did about it.
How do you gain and maintain student attention? (See “25 Ways to Obtain Children’s Attention in a School Setting.”)
What kind of relationship do you want to foster with your students?
What do you do to motivate a student who is failing, just getting by, or who is below grade level? (See “Motivating Children.”)
How do you differentiate instruction?
How do you improve student reading comprehension and test scores?
What are some challenges that you think you would face?
Describe your ability to use technology and how you would integrate it into your teaching.
How do you address the various learning styles of your students?
How do you go about teaching something that is not your strength?
What are your thoughts about team teaching?
What resources in the community have you used or do you plan to use in your teaching?
In what ways do you personally evaluate your teaching?
What are some educational issues or trends that relate to elementary teaching?
What experience have you had working with at-risk and/or low income students?
If an aide was provided, how would you utilize him/her?

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT & DISCIPLINE
How do you minimize conflict in your classroom?
What are your classroom rules and how are they established? (See “Elementary Classrooms Rules and Management.”)
What routines or procedures would you use and how would you introduce them to your students?
How do you acknowledge students who are following the rules?
How do you help students develop problem solving skills?
What approach to classroom management has worked for you?
What would you do if your management plan did not work?
Explain how your past experiences will help you manage classroom behavior.
Do you use tangible rewards? (See “Rewards in the Classroom”)
What is your approach to discipline and how do you maintain it?
Give an example of how you would handle a peer conflict.
What do you see as the greatest problem you may have regarding classroom discipline?
What role should the principal play in classroom discipline?
What role should parents play in classroom discipline?
Describe the toughest discipline situation that you have encountered and how you handled it.
What steps would you take if a student continually disrupted your class?
What would you do if the student exhibited serious misbehavior such as throwing things or threatening to hurt a child or you?

ASSESSMENT
How do you determine each individual child's potential?
How do you measure a child’s educational achievement in ways other than by testing?
What kinds of assessment tools have you used?
Describe the kinds of tests you give to measure student mastery.
How do you prepare children to take standardized tests?

PARENTS
What kind of relationship do you want to foster with the parents of your students?
How do you enhance communication with parents?
Why are parent conferences important?
How do you use parent volunteers?
How do you plan to include parents in their child’s classroom? (See “Increasing Parent Involvement in School.”)
Under what circumstances will you contact a parent?
Describe a time when you dealt with an angry parent.
How would you assist an overly involved parent in becoming less involved?
How will you involve a parent of a child who is consistently angry and rebellious? (See “Guidelines for Educator-Parent Conferences Concerning Angry Children.”)

SPECIAL NEEDS
How do you feel about having children with special needs in your classroom?
What would you do before recommending a child for special services?
How do you assist 501 students and special services students?
How do you teach a student with an Individualized Education Plan?
What kinds of adaptations have you used? Were they successful? Why or why not?
What materials have you found most effective when teaching special needs students?
What do you do to support and challenge students with exceptional abilities?
Describe your experience collaborating with special education teachers.

SITUATIONS
What would you do if:
  • One of your students is homeless? (See “Educating Homeless Children.”)
  • One of your students does not turn in any homework?
  • One of your students refused to do any classroom assignments?
  • One of your students is absent more than he/she attends school?
  • One of your students confides that he/she is being molested? (See “Helping the Sexually Abused Child.”)
  • One of your parents is telling lies to other parents concerning your teaching?

Also see “Portfolio Ideas for Prospective Elementary Teachers.”


Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [www.kellybear.com], 12/07.

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