Interview Questions 2011

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by puff5655, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

    Feb 22, 2006
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    Please please please can we start a new one? (Or am I the only person preparing for an interview this early in the year?)

    Here are some of the most common and difficult to answer questions that I've been mulling over, plus my answers. If you have others, or critiques, please add!!

    Tell me about yourself.

    I moved to AK because....
    At my first teaching job in Koyuk, I learned a lot... but decided to leave because...
    I ended up in Akiachak after that, and loved that region.... but decided to move on because...
    I am now teaching in Nuiqsut, and my job is great here, but before the plane even landed I knew I missed the Delta region (where Akiachak is and the district I'm applying for is) because...
    Everything I've heard about your district is positive....
    I think I would be a good fit.

    What are your 3 biggest strengths? (or) Why do you think you would be a good fit at our school?

    1. Flexibility and adaptability
    2. Experience teaching in rural AK- you can be sure you won't get someone who will step off the plane, take a look around, and get back on (yes this actually happens sometimes)
    3. Love of teaching

    What are your 3 biggest weaknesses?

    1. I'm not Yup'ik (this would be sort of a joke.. the kids are Yup'ik, and obviously it would be great if all their teachers were too, but there ain't nothing I can do about that!)
    2. I hate confrontations- I'll turn this into a positive by saying because of this I make sure to establish good rel'ships with parents
    3. I won't take on too many added duties if they might interfere with my main responsibility as a teacher.

    Take me through a typical lesson.

    Assess prior to teaching- and make sure they know the vocab I'll be using before I teach a concept (ELLs)
    Today I taught rhyming- used the gradual release model
    First explained what and why- it will help you learn to read
    I do: modeled rhyming matching game
    We do: play together
    You do: pair kids who can rhyme with kids who can't yet- peer tutoring, to play on their own.
    Reassess informally. Later work in small groups with those who aren't getting it.

    How do you plan a unit?

    Right now doing a storytelling unit.
    First, looked at state standards
    Then, came up with goals- linked to standards
    Next, looked at prof. literature, worked with colleagues to come up with ideas for lessons
    Planned activities and assessments, making sure to include mult. intelligences and making it cult. relevant.
    Then, while implementing, adapted as needed.

    How do you integrate curriculum?

    University's ECE program really stressed inquiry approach and integration of subject matter- making it meaningful to kids.
    Science/SS don't need to be done separately- in a theme based curriculum, the themes are science or ss themes that are used to teach literacy and math skills.
    In today's lesson, we read "The 10 legged bear." The kids listened to the story without pictures (comprehension), sequenced the story, drew and labeled the parts of the story (writing), made sure they had 10 legs on the bear (math), and discussed new hunting vocabulary (science and SS).

    What would your math program look like?

    I use the gradual release model in math as well.
    I assess what they know, including vocab
    Then I explain the what and why, and directly teach the concept, giving examples.
    Then, individual white boards and we work together
    After that, we do workshop- work on new and review concepts with games. Use peer tutoring and small group or 1:1 for struggling students.

    Tell me about your reading program.

    I think it's especially imporant for ELL's to have a balanced lit. program where they have a lot of time to have conversations and discussions and develop their oral langauge. So I keep lecture to a minimum.

    I use both theme based curr. and direct instruction of concepts
    In K, schedule would start with a morning message- shared and interactive rdg and wrtg,
    Then reading workshop (daily 5) while I do guided reading groups
    Next, project work- promoting higher-level thinking
    This includes a read-aloud or choral read, discussion, research, followed by a writer's workshop, which is linked to the topic we're studying.
    Also make time for open-ended play, where I pull my RTI Tier 3 (or is it 1?) kids for their extra small group support. During this time kids are participating in all sorts of literacy activities of their choosing.

    If I walked into your room, what would I see?
    Kids independently following routines, having conversations, helping each other. You would feel a real sense of community in the room and a sense of joy in learning- the kids would be highly engaged, and could always tell you what they are learning and why. You would see kids working entirely independently while I worked with small groups, and very little behavior issues.

    Describe your philosophy of teaching.
    Believe in inquiry approach- child-centered learning
    All kids can learn
    DAP/Multiple intelligences
    Assessment/intentionality in teaching
    Importance of collaboration with colleagues and parents
    Cultural appropriateness

    Describe a lesson that went badly.

    Beginning of last year, taught a lesson on patterns.
    Was doing color patterns, they weren't getting it.
    Found out they didn't know color names.
    Had to stop and immediately adjust lesson.
    Did shapes instead, they picked it up much faster.
    Worked on color names the next few days.

    How would you adjust your teaching for ELL students?

    (All kids are ELL in this school)
    -Use a lot of visuals, constantly be reading their faces and responses for understanding. Go back and rephrase sentences.
    -Longer wait times to allow time for processing language
    -Gradual release model
    -Stay away from lecture, encourage kid's talking, build vocabulary
    -Lots of hands-on experience

    Do you enjoy collaborating with colleagues?
    -Important to have a lot of vertical dialogue in a small school
    -Last year, did reading buddies with 3rd grade
    -Have weekly collaborative meetings with elementary, brainstorm ideas for lessons with coworkers.

    What is your behavior management plan?
    -If kids are engaged, you have a good relationship with them, and they know what is expected of them, for the most part behavior problems are eliminated.
    -First day of school, we make up rules and model how to follow rules and routines. We practice them over and over.
    -After first few weeks, rarely any problems.
    -Ongoing problems need further assistance and planning. (I would give example)

    How do you involved parents?
    -I send home weekly newsletters, parents tell me they enjoy them
    -Something important, I call
    -Get involved in community events, talk to parents "on their turf."
    -Make sure they know they can come in anytime

    How do you differentiate instruction?
    -throughout day,
    -peer tutoring
    -small groups and 1:1
    -Right now I'm doing this.....

    Most satisfying teaching moment?
    -When kids first learn how to read and are so proud.
    -One child last year was struggling all year, and the first time he could read a whole predecodable, he was so happy and I told him, "Wow, (name), you are SO smart!" The next day, he was reading again and I commented. He said, "Yep, cause I'm so smart." It wasn't even a question, he was sure of it!

    Tell us about your most challenging student.

    I had a 1st grader reading at a 3rd grade level last year. He was bored to death when we did phonics lessons.
    -Worked with coworkers and parents, decided to send him to 2nd grade for reading time. Worked out.
    -During workshop, he read a chapter book and wrote reviews at the end of them.

    What teaching methods do you use?
    -very little lecture
    -class discussion
    -peer tutoring
    -white boards

    How do you use assessment?
    -before teaching, check background knowledge
    -Here, I use aimsweb, curr. assessments, my own checklists based on the standards, Individual learning plans, notes, portfolios

    Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    -hopefully in your district
    -still in the classroom- no plans to move to administration
    -with my master's degree- i start working on it this fall part-time.
    -with more knowledge about the culture and teaching

    Why do you want to teach here?

    I've been looking for a combination of a good job and an area I enjoy living to make my home. I haven't found that yet, but I already know I love the area where your district is, and I've heard nothing but good about your school- that the teachers are happy, turnover is low, there is flexibility with the curriculum, and it seems like the district really cares about what the kids need and about keeping their culture intact.

    What would your writing program look like?
    -journal as part of the daily 5 (work on writing)
    -writing workshop integrated with current project- mini-lesson starts it out, focusing on the 6 traits and the standards

    What questions do you have for us?
    -What would my class size be?
    -What curriculums are available to help with planning?
    -What added duty activities or sports might be available that I could help with?
    -How far is teacher housing from the school?
    -The school's report card from last year looks really impressive. Is it accurate? And what do you believe makes your district unique from other villages that it is performing so well?
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Apr 12, 2006
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    HOpe that helps.
  4. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

    Feb 22, 2011
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    I'm preparing for interviews as well. I know that I have one scheduled and will be asked 25 questions between 3 teachers and the principal.

    I'm interviewing for jobs 4th-5th grade and middle school math and science.

    What are other common questions asked during interviews?
  5. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

    Feb 22, 2006
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    Tough ones!

    Thanks Alice!

    LUC, look at the Interview Questions 2009 sticky at the top of the page for more questions..

    Here's are some I'm having a difficult time answering:

    What are your areas of strength in the curriculum?

    What is your biggest failure?

    What innovative idea have you introduced at your school?

    How practical are you?

    How have you handled criticism of your teaching?
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Apr 12, 2006
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    How's that?
  7. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

    Feb 22, 2006
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    In thinking about these more..

    Strengths in the curriculum- running a reading workshop that is differentiated, where kids are able to work independently at their level while I work with guided reading groups... and then talking about the daily 5- would that be a good answer? I guess I'm not sure exactly what this is asking.

    Innovative idea- How about how as the yearbook coordinator, I introduced using a photobook program as opposed to a traditional yearbook publisher to cut costs while maintaining quality. It also offers the benefit of being able to make small orders at a time- ordering more if we run out. We still have over 50 copies leftover from last year (at $30/each!). Would that answer be ok?

    I like the other answers you gave- thanks!
  8. newbieteacher

    newbieteacher New Member

    Aug 22, 2009
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    You are new to NYC Public School 123 and are one of three teachers in your subject and grade level. It is the first month of the school year and your principal asks you to identify one end of year academic goal that would apply to all your students. Your principal wants you to use student data to help determine your goal.

    Last year's assessment results indicate the following about your students:

    20% above grade level
    50% on grade level
    30% below grade level
    33% of your classroom is comprised of students with special needs whose assessment results range across all three levels
    Identify the most important end of year academic goal for your students.
    (Be sure to assume a specific subject area and grade level; if you have multiple certifications or teach multiple subjects, select one.) Please write a plan that addresses your principal's directives in essay format.

    I was asked this questioned and was stumped how to answer. I remember my reply was based on the schools' curriculum map and the goals stated there...I did not get the job. If an end of year goal for students question comes up again on an interview, how can I answer this?
  9. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

    Feb 22, 2006
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    WOW, that is a wordy question! I think I would first ask, what form of assessment does the school use to measure reading levels? (or try to find out before the interview)

    Here, we use the AimsWeb R-CBM. So if that's what they used, I would say that I would use the aggregate norm chart provided by AimsWeb to determine ambitious but realistic goals for the students.

    For the above grade level children, I would use the 100th percentile for Spring of that year, or higher if they have already met that.

    For on grade level, I would use the 75th percentile goal.

    For the kids just below grade level, I would use the 50th, and those far below, the 25th.

    If children met those goals during the year, I would adjust them.

    I would work with the special education teacher to determine appropriate goals for the sped students.

    This may sound like gibberish if you aren't familiar with AimsWeb, but you probably get the idea. Use whatever you actually use in setting goals.
  10. alifoo

    alifoo Rookie

    Mar 12, 2011
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    I had one last week and some different ones they asked me were:

    1. How much do you think you need to know about your students?
    2. When did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
    3. What are the two teaching strategies that you feel are most important to your teaching?
  11. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

    Aug 12, 2004
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    I had an interview last spring that I landed the job. They asked me questions like this:

    What is your dream class like?
    What is your biggest weakness? strength?
    A student throws a paper airplane during literacy while you are working with a small group. What do you do?
    Why did you leave your last school?
    Why did you apply here?
    Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    Why did you become a teacher?
  12. jjs

    jjs Rookie

    Oct 27, 2008
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    Thank you so much for starting this post. I have read through the 2009 post, but it is so long. I have an interview in about 2 weeks. The principal that called said the inteview would be with a panel of 11! Its a 30 minute interview due to the fact that they are interviewing so many people. They have a lot of positions open. I have taken the 2009 post and put most of the questions in a word document to try to prepare myself. I am just really nervous and hope it all goes well.

    Good luck on your interivew!!
  13. math1abee

    math1abee Companion

    Feb 3, 2011
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    Some questions I had at my interview:

    Do you know what an IEP is?
    How would you teach inclusion students?
    How would you contribute and work with other faculty to improve the school?
  14. youmanj

    youmanj Rookie

    Jul 2, 2010
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    what state are you interviewing in?
  15. jjs

    jjs Rookie

    Oct 27, 2008
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  16. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

    Feb 22, 2011
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    I had an interview this afternoon. It was 45 minutes, 30 situational questions. Actually, it was only situational questions- they didn't ask a single question about myself or my experiences- and I was graded on a rubric.

    Some of the questions asked-
    --A student in your class tells you that their pet died that morning- what do you say/do?
    --A student tells you during the first week of school that they do not like you and want to switch to another teacher- how do you respond?
    --A student tells you that they do not like memorizing facts and repeating it on a test- how do you respond?
    --You notice that a lot of tenured teachers spend a lot of time talking to the principal- what is your thought on this?
    --You're having difficult managing a certain child in your class and you schedule a conference with their parent. When meeting this parent tells you that they believe you are part- if not all- of the problem- how do you respond?
    --Do you think students should be involved in creating learning activities?
  17. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

    Feb 22, 2006
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    Glad it helps.

    All of the questions I got asked at my interview last week were pretty standard- all in the first list I have on this thread. I answered with the answers I put down here- and got offered the job!

    It went smoothly, but at the end I had trouble with a few..

    They had already asked about my behavior management plan. As a follow up question, a board member then asked, "I have young kids and I know they can get pretty mischievous. How do you deal with that?" I explained my plan again, and then the super followed up with, "What if they just don't listen to you no matter what?"

    That was kind of tough, being forced to get more and more specific with my plan!

    Then last, they asked, "We have a whole stack of applicants right here. Why do you think we should hire you and throw the rest of these in the trash right now?" THAT was a little intimidating!! I kept my answer pretty short, but obviously it was the right answer!
  18. AFine

    AFine Rookie

    Dec 14, 2010
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    What I remember from my interview

    Here is what I remember from the interview I had this week for a middle school position.

    Tell me about your educational experience.

    What is your experience with working on teams? What is your role on a team?

    What would you do with a student who was defiant or apathetic?

    What do you belief is an appropriate policy for students who turn in assignments late? (They were looking for you to say that there should be some sort of consequence but that it is most important for students to get the assignment completed. They do not want students grade to suffer for being late at this level. They make them have detention or after-school "ZAP" time (Zeroes Are Prohibited).

    How do you know students are learning?

    Those are the only ones I can remember right now!

    They really liked what I had to say so I will try to tell you more about what I said later. I didn't have any of the ones that trip people up like "What are your weaknesses?" or "Why should we hire you?"
  19. txteach2b

    txteach2b Comrade

    Jul 2, 2006
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    I just wanted to remind everyone, new and old, that I still have most of the interview questions from 2009 (I think that's the year I did) on notecards. If you want them, I have them saved in Word format...PM me your email, and I will get them out to you!
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  20. Stephanie Nelso

    Stephanie Nelso New Member

    Apr 19, 2011
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    Additional Interview Questions & Job Opportunities

    I work at Uncommon Schools, a charter school management organization that runs schools in Boston, Brooklyn, Troy, Rochester, and Newark. When we are looking for teachers, we look for people who:

    1. Will be a mission fit with our schools
    2. Will align with our instructional philosophy
    3. Are open to feedback
    4. Take responsibility for their classroom
    5. Are collaborative

    To that end, we ask a mix of questions, some of which are listed below:
    * Why are you interested in teaching in an urban environment? How have you demonstrated this interest in the past?
    * Please describe your most challenging experience, either academic or professional, and your response to that experience.
    * Think of a time when you received critical feedback. Describe the feedback that you received and how this changed your behavior, actions, etc.
    * What is the single greatest factor to a student’s academic success? Why?
    * How do you know that a student has mastered the material you taught them? Explain the steps you would take if a student was struggling with a concept in your class.

    If you are interested in learning more about opportunities at Uncommon Schools please go online to our website or reply to this post.

    We are actively hiring for the school year 2011-2012 and have over 150 more teaching spots open across all of our networks!
  21. tua19885

    tua19885 Rookie

    Apr 20, 2011
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    I am a first year teacher at a public school in an urban setting. My first year has been exceptionally challenging due to the fact that I have received very little support from the administration. I am currently completing an online application for an urban charter school and one of the questions asks "Describe a time when you faced a critical challenge in the work environment? What steps did you take to overcome the challenge? What was the outcome?." I would like to use my lack of support from the admin. as my challenge. However, how do I word it so that I am not bashing my school. Any ideas or advice??

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