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Interview Questions - Part III, Professional Educator

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This concludes a 3-part blog series outlining typical interview questions and tips to consider when preparing a response. 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.

List three adjectives that best describe you professionally.
• The interviewer will be trying to gain insight about what makes you unique.
• Use adjectives that focus on professional priorities, relationships and your personality.
• Consider how colleagues, supervisors, students and parents would describe you. From there, choose the three most comprehensive adjectives.

How would your colleagues describe you professionally?
• The interviewer is looking to see if you can objectively evaluate your own performance and reflect on how others may see you.
• Demonstrate that you are self-aware and reflective in your answer.
• Reflect on your own strengths and the positive things you have contributed to your current school and teaching department.

Identify three significant challenges that educators face today.
• The interviewer wants to know that you are insightful and are aware of current events and challenges.
• Be constructive and not negative.
• Identify the challenges and explain that you are have the capacity to overcome them.
• Describe what you are already doing to overcome these challenges.

Identify the people that have most influenced your professional life.
• The interviewer wants to know that you learn from others and seek out mentors.
• The interviewer will also want to gain insight as to what is important to you.
• Think about people in both your personal and professional life that have influenced you professionally.
• Discuss what traits made them so influential and how you've implemented what you've learned from them.

Tell me about the last time you laughed at school.
• The interviewer wants to know that you don't take yourself too seriously and that you smile at work and you enjoy what you do.
• The interviewer also wants to know that you will contribute positively to school morale.
• Try to connect with your interviewer with a story that makes him/her smile.

If you had been in charge of your last work place, what changes would you have made and why?
• Demonstrate a positive attitude.
• Illuminate your leadership skills and innovative problem-solving skills.
• Reflect on student outcomes and student achievement as a possible place to begin "changes."
• Provide an example of an already good idea in place that you could improve. This will prevent your answer from sounding negative.

Name three tangible and significant contributions you made to your former work place.
• The interviewer wants to know that you are innovative and you can make positive contributions to your workplace.
• Describe examples that either directly or indirectly improved student outcomes.
• Choose examples that are relevant for your new workplace.
• Give details explaining how you implemented the changes and what made them successful.

Describe the characteristics of students you like to teach.
• The interviewer wants to know that you don't have a narrow vision of what types of students you like to teach.
• The interviewer wants to know that you embrace all students equally.
• Use this as an opportunity to explain your philosophy on motivating reluctant learners, engaging students, etc.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.
• Describe your strengths first and do so confidently. Do not be shy! This is your chance to brag about yourself.
• Include at least three strengths.
• Focus on strengths that complement the position and the school in which you are applying.
• The interviewer wants an honest, reflective answer identifying your weaknesses, but they do not want to hear a laundry list of barriers that will prevent them from hiring you. Reframe this part of the question as a "priority for personal development" or an "area of improvement."
• Focus on just one "area of improvement" and describe what steps you have already taken to grow and advance in this area.

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

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