Most Common Question Asked in Teacher Interviews

Here’s a question via Twitter from our EDU Edge friend Jenna Meloni @JennaJenna1014, an aspiring Elementary Education teacher: “What is the number 1 question asked during teaching interviews?”

Jenna – Our EDU Edge consortium of administrators across the country have done literally thousands and thousands of teacher interviews.  Additionally, while doing research for our book, The Insider’s Guide to the Teacher interview’ © 2012, we collected hundreds and hundreds of questions that administrators reported asking in interviews around the country and all of them (well over 300 questions) are included in our book.  After all this, there is only one common question to all these interviews and that is usually the first one of the interview (the ice breaker): “Tell us a little bit about yourself.”  

The icebreaker may come in different variations and flavors, for example, “Welcome … Begin by telling us a little about yourself, your experience and background.” OR “Let’s start by asking you to describe yourself and your teaching experiences.” OR “Tell us about yourself and your experiences working with students at this age level.”

But, the point is that in every interview, the interview team needs to get to know you, break the ice, and begin the interview in some way.  The vast majority of the time principals and interview teams do this by asking this question.  Sorry Jenna, but after this first question, it’s rolling the dice! No one can predict the answers YOU will encounter in YOUR specific interview, for YOUR specific job, in YOUR specific school. 

But, here’s the GOOD NEWS for you and everyone following the EDU Edge, after studying literally thousands of questions, we have been able to identify commonalities and patterns that have allowed us to divide over 300 questions into twelve domains. Each of these domains is addressed by what we have called an “Umbrella Question.”  From our experience coaching aspiring teachers, we know that if you write out, prepare, and practice for these 12 Umbrella Questions, you will be able to use them as a springboard for other answers to similar questions in the domain. We feel very confident that by mastering responses to these twelve umbrella questions, you will have responses ready for any question an interview committee might throw at you.

Please understand, our “Umbrella Questions” are not the “Top Twelve” questions that are asked during teaching interviews. They are the twelve questions that, when practiced, will best prepare you for any question that may be thrown at you during the interview.  Practicing and preparing for these twelve questions will give you the edge in any teacher interview (see Chapter 8 – Interview Questions: The EDU Edge ‘Umbrella Approach’).   

Let’s take a closer look at how this works. Domain Six is, ‘Beliefs on Assessment.’ Jenna, assume you have followed our recommendation to write out a thoughtful and researched response to the umbrella question for this domain. You have also rehearsed the response for this Umbrella Question, which is, “Define the term assessment and tell us what strategies are most effective for assessing student progress?”

You are now in the interview and you are asked one of these questions that fall within the same domain. Your practiced response is easily adaptable or used to answer all of these questions:

  • What evaluation techniques do you use?
  • Describe your grading policy and philosophy.
  • How do you measure student performance in your classroom?
  • Describe the types of quizzes, tests, projects that you give.
  • How should a student’s educational achievement and progress be measured?
  • How do you know whether your curriculum is appropriately matched to your students’ needs?

Preparing and practicing The EDU Edge’s Twelve Umbrella Questions will make you more confident and help you answer any question thrown at you.  Jenna and everyone reading this … jobs in education are hard to come by these days.  If you are lucky enough to get an interview, DO NOT BE FOOLISH and go in unprepared.  Have confident, concise, and professional responses. Our ‘Umbrella Approach’ will help you to do this. 

Good luck to you Jenna!  Good luck to all of you following The EDU Edge.  Please come back and let us know how you make out so we can all learn together. 

Yours in a Partnership in Learning,

The EDU Edge

(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at  Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome.  We’ll do our best to respond and try our best to help you.)

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