Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interview Questions

I recently interviewed for a Long Term Occasional position in Ottawa but did not get the job. After the interview, I was debriefed by the principal and she instructed me on how I could have better answered the questions. It was a very useful conversation as I have had very little experience interviewing for teaching positions and have come to recognize the very unique skillset required to be successful at it. Now all I need is practice. A few days after my interview, I met with some fellow teachers, people I graduated the Education program with, who are also working on securing permanency at a school. We met to discuss interview techniques and strategies, share some resources, and brainstorm on possible answers to the questions we had been posed in interviews. It was extremely helpful and I would encourage anyone who is applying for temporary or contract work to do the same. Or, share your thoughts and reactions to this post.

What follows are the five questions I was posed in my interview, some notes about my answers, and the suggestions from the principal. Following that are five more questions that my colleague received and some notes on our discussion of possible answers. (in teaching interviews in Ontario you are given five questions and fifteen minutes to prepare your answers. Then, you enter the interview room, the principal reads each question back to you, and you recite your answer based on your notes)

Interview for 100% English LTO position

1. Describe your teaching experiences and why you are a good candidate for this position.
- two parts to the question, be sure to address both: teaching experience, why you are a good candidate
- briefly outline teaching experiences and main skills/philosophies you developed during
- include experiences outside of teaching that contribute to good teaching skills
- good candidate because: enthusiastic, professional, team worker
- mention personal interests and hobbies and how you can contribute to extra-curricular happenings
- if younger, plug age as an ability to relate to youth. conversely, plug age as life experience and wisdom

2. Explain a time when you collaborated with a colleague to improve student learning.
- an ongoing process
- use a couple of specific examples, or specific instances when you plan to work with others and for what
- collaborating and communicating with colleagues on students' progress and work in every class
- developing lesson plans with others results in thorough and dynamic lessons

3. Share the ways in which you plan assessment and evaluation to accommdate for student learning and success.
- backward design concept, plan for evaluation
- multiple intelligences, recognizing diversity of learning styles, languages, culture, etc.
- differentiation: know what students are to achieve by end and offer choices to achieve those end.
- use of technology in classroom
- formative assessment
- communicating with other staff on student assessment

4. Explain how you communicate effectively with parents/guardians to keep them informed of student progress and achievement.
- start at beginning of course, open lines of communication: phone call, letter, email
- communicating when student is succeeding/exceeding expectations
- invite parents to be part of the learning process

5. What are some ways in which you have shown leadership in a school community?
- specific examples of how you make the school and your classroom a welcoming environment
- school teacher not a classroom teacher: recognize that job does not stop after leaving the class
- mention outside community participation, volunteer work: recognize the importance of "community"

Interview for Social Studies EOT position

1. Explain your philosophy of assessment and evaluation.
- assessment is FOR learning, always trying to improve how students succeed
- backward design, working towards an end
- recognize diversity in students AND between classes
- student centered
- culminating tasks: problem based learning
- evaluating most recent and consistent performance

2. How would you plan for teaching _______________? (in this case the blank was filled with "social studies", but this question could use any course title)
- informing yourself of curriculum expectations
- backward design, create culminating task first
- talking to other teachers, collaborating
- differentiation: providing choice, opportunity to exercise skills
- recognize classroom consciousness and have plans for altering material/lessons
- technology in class, field trips, guest speakers, specific materials

3. What is your classroom management plan?
- create boundaries and rules with students
- have clear expectations at beginning
- spend time establishing routines
- teaching importance of learning communities: mutual respect, building relationships
- creating a learning environment
- engaging lessons that address student interests and culture
- importance of body language and eye contact
- always be a role model for good behaviour and composure

4. What would you do if a student was not meeting the expectations?
- review expectations together, one on one
- talk to other teachers, communicate recognition of problem
- offer opportunities to make up work at alternate time (after school, lunch, etc.)
- offer incentives for performance
- communicate with parents: not putting child down, looking to work together
- be a reflecting practicioner: show how you assess your own learning as an educator

5. How can you enhance the school community?
- outside experience, volunteer work in communities
- other work experience and professions, the skills you learned and how they can help the school community
- working with other teachers, recognizing importance of socializing in building a friendly atmosphere
- personal hobbies and interests and how they can help the students/staff


  1. I think an important thing to add would be that principals (or at least everyone I've spoken with) are looking for specific example s of when you did something.  Like the classroom management question, say "My class would start off with the date and the daily agenda on the board, the students would sit in an assigned seating plan..." blah blah blah blah.  Instead of saying i would have lots of rules and guidelines...they wanna know what those rules and guidelines are...but obviously dont ramble on.  They wanna know what YOU would do or have done.  Reg Lavergne at Hillcrest told me that anyone can spew out the words from teachers college, but try to make it more personal, about how you would or do act in a classroom.  

    On top of that, he told me that because I'm such a young teacher, he understands that I might not have a lot of experience and that if I haven't done or tried something in a classroom, I should be honest and tell the principal that I don't have a lot of exerience, but tell him what I think I would do.

  2. Nice website! Just stumbled upon it! I have taught permanently for 12 years but unfortunately have just moved to a new city for my husbands job and am going for an interview on Monday (just for OT) so I`m brushing up on how to interview effectively. Everything on here is great, thank you very much. One thing I would definitely add for number 4 is `establishing an IEP` When a child is not meeting expectations than a teacher must look at accommodating and modifying curriculum and establishing an IEP to reflect just that.

    thanks for the ideas!!! Good luck to everyone

  3. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

    Best rgs