Here I though I’d share some of the questions I was asked during my eight 45min interviews on iday.
To be honest, I never really prepare for interviews, so my answers for these were completely on the fly (just the way I do things, I feel like it gives a more true version of myself if I don’t have set pre-prepared answers to common interview questions).
They are listed here in no particular order, just as I remember them.
What are three words that you would use to describe yourself as a teacher?
This one had me stumped – I’d never encountered a question like this before. To be honest I can’t even remember what I answered with. I think it was Organised, Fun and Respectful. In the 30 seconds I spent staring into space coming up with an answer, I really questioned my entire practice. I like this question a lot, as I left the interview still thinking about it and who I am as a teacher. It also made me compare who I think I am with how my students and colleagues think I am, and how I want to be.
What is the best lesson you’ve ever taught or seen?
I answered this one with a lesson I’d taught the week prior to the interviews. It doesn’t sound like a spectacular lesson, and I was well aware of that, but it was one of the happiest lessons I’ve ever taught. My year 11 biology class were learning about biotic and abiotic factors for ecology, and they were just not in to the lesson I’d planned (powerpoint with some text book work, on the last lesson of the day). As soon as I realised how disengaged they were, I told them to grab their book and a pen and follow me outside. They were very confused at first, but followed along willingly. Once outside and in a garden-y area, I told them to pick an ecosystem and write the biotic and abiotic factors for it. I gave them their space and let them wander a bit (within eyesight) and choose their own natural groups to work in. I let them sit for a good 20 minutes, to write and discuss as they wished. I then called them together under a shady tree and we discussed our responses – this conversation took many turns, including a big talk about pollution in the environment (bottle caps count as abiotic right miss?). It was such a good lesson because they were so engaged and absolutely loved being outside. I told this story with lots of enthusiasm, and received positive responses from the two different schools who asked me.
What’s the worst lesson you’ve ever taught or seen?
After the above question, this one came as no surprise. I answered completely honestly by describing a lesson with a year 8 class, where some boys decided it would be fun to throw pieces of paper through a bunsen burner. I talked about how I dealt with these students (calling down the deputy and head of department to impose the seriousness of their actions etc), and I also talked about how it made me realise how truly vigilant I need to be in the lab. I turned my answer into how the lesson was really a lesson for me, and how that’s something I’m actively working on. My answer overall went down really well. I feel like they appreciated my complete honesty and vulnerability, and that I realise I’m definitely not a perfect teacher who never has any issues.
What is your behaviour management strategy?
I answered this one quickly by describing my current school’s behaviour management policy, and how I follow that. I also added in some of my own things, like natural consequences (late to class = staying back, etc) and my policy of ‘one person speaks at a time’. One of the schools asked me what I would do if that behaviour policy wasn’t in place, and I responded by explaining how I would still follow similar processes as I have seen first-hand how effective they can be.
What can you bring to our school?
My immediate answer to this was ‘international experience’. I figured they wouldn’t attend an interview day that included over 40 internationally-trained teachers if that wasn’t a high factor on their list. I also said my year-and-a-half teaching experience, as I knew that most of the other candidates were graduates or had not quite graduated yet. This response was met with nods of approval.
I’m going to leave it here for now, as this is already quite a long post. If you’d like to know more of the questions I was asked, please contact me!
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About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.