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Interviewing for a Teaching Position

Author(s): Tracy Volz, PhD

Know Yourself

Before you interview, develop a concise, informative description of your background, teaching-related interests, and reasons for wanting to teach. These central issues are certain to be part of your interview, and it will be important to have solid responses immediately at hand when needed.

Also, reflect on your personal strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the job. It is important to be honest with yourself and with your interviewer(s), and to demonstrate realistic awareness of both your strong points and areas in which you need to improve. For example, you may have considerable knowledge of biology based on your undergraduate education and experience as a laboratory technician, but you may not have much teaching experience. You may have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but those strengths may get taxed to the limit because you have a hard time saying “no” when someone asks you to do something. You may communicate well in small groups and in one-on-one situations, but struggle to present material in front of larger groups.

Think of specific, concrete examples of how your strengths have enabled you to accomplish your goals in the past, and how you are addressing/will address any perceived weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss these issues. Let’s say you’re excited about teaching but don’t have much experience. You might acknowledge that you do not have first-hand experience managing a classroom, but you have interacted with children, and you have realistic expectations of what it will be like when you are given the opportunity to teach. Then you need to provide as much evidence as possible to support your claim.

Think carefully about how to make the most of whatever teaching-related experiences you have had. Be prepared to discuss any past experiences, especially those that involved children(e.g., private tutoring, coaching, leading a troop of Boy/Girl Scouts, Sunday school, training new employees in your department, etc.). In addition, describe any classroom observations that you completed as part of your teacher training and how those have shaped your own teaching philosophy and classroom management style. Be sure to explain how your educational background has prepared you for the classroom. You may even want to mention influential teachers who have shaped your vision of yourself as an educator.