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Interview Questions - Part II, Professional Educator

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Last week, I outlined interview questions and tips related to instruction. This week, we'll look at interview questions related to being an effective professional educator.
Remember: While I've listed suggestions for how to formulate your response, ultimately the answer will be uniquely yours. Stay focused, positive, and honest. Try to avoid vague or ambiguous responses. Ideally, you should substantiate your answer with solid examples whenever possible.

What would your current supervisor say about you?
• Be aware! The interviewer may choose to call your current (or past) supervisor and ask them this same question.
• Be honest but only focus on the positive comments that your current supervisor would share.
• Discuss not only positive attributes that your current supervisor may share, but also discuss positive ways you have contributed to the school and its educational programs.

Describe the qualities of a highly-effective teacher.
• Share qualities that are broad in range, i.e., depth of knowledge of content area, knowledge of how to teach to a variety of learning styles, ability to deliver engaging lessons, ability to organize subject matter in an accessible manner, ability to motivate students, strong and effective communication skills, highly effective student management, etc.
• Connect these qualities to your own attributes and discuss how they make you a highly-effective teacher.

What is the best decision you have ever made?
• The interviewer is looking to see where your values and judgment lie.
• Choose a positive career decision or a life decision that brought new opportunities to you.
• Discuss how you went about making the decision and what specifically qualified it as the "best decision."

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
• Be honest and reflective in your answer.
• Demonstrate focus on students, learning, achievement and goals of education.
• Consider your strengths and skills that match the profile of a high-quality educator.

Why are you the most qualified applicant for this position?
• Connect your strengths with the school's needs, focus and vision.
• Highlight your accomplishments and what your programs and ideas can bring to the school.
• Show how you can increase student achievement and levels of student engagement.
• Discuss innovative and creative ideas you have implemented in the past.

Have you ever been fired or asked to leave a position?
• Be honest. This is something the interviewer can easily find out for him/herself.
• Focus on what you learned from the situation and how you moved forward.
• Don't use the word "fired" in your explanation. Use a word like "dismissed" that has a less negative connotation.
• Don't assign blame and don't go into a lot of detail.
• Focus on positive lessons and opportunities that were in relation to the dismissal.

Success in school is proven to be influenced by a child's physical, social and educational environment. How do these possible contributors influence your classroom?
• Demonstrate an understanding of both positive and negative influences that students face.
• Discuss how you assess students' individual backgrounds.
• Demonstrate how you turn these challenges into opportunities.
• Cite specific examples that illustrate how you have overcome these challenges.
• Demonstrate your understanding of how students learn and excel.

Describe the key characteristics of what you consider to be an ideal school.
• The interviewer is identifying what things are important to you and if you are a good "fit" for the new school.
• The interviewer is also identifying what you will contribute to the whole-school vision based on the characteristics that are important to you.
• Share a broad range of characteristics, i.e., morale, student involvement, school climate and culture, leadership style, curriculum model, collaboration, focus on achievement, etc.
• Connect your own characteristics with that of your ideal school and identify how you contribute to the overall school environment.

What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
• Be thoughtful and honest in your answer.
• Reflect on your past teaching experiences and the things that excite you.
• Focus should be on students, learning outcomes, achievement and subject matter.

Shanna Mack
Co-Founder and Director
Global Services in Education, Ltd.

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