Toughest interview question and most common interview question?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by NewSoCalTeacher2017, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Mar 29, 2018

    Hi Everyone,

    I had a preliminary interview today and I'm not exactly sure how it went other than I know it could have gone better. I have another interview coming up for a district that I would love to work for and I want to be as prepared as possible. So I'm curious to know what interview question was your most difficult to answer or threw you for a loop as well as the most common question you got during your interviews. Also, if you have the time, what advice do you have for answering those questions?

    Thank you!!
     
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  3. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I've always hated the "what is your greatest weakness" question (and I understand this popular interview question is criticized quite a lot). It's hard for me to make myself look unnecessarily bad but also not... lie
     
  4. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  5. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    I don't necessarily struggle to answer questions, my biggest problem is that I'm a talker with A LOT of thoughts about teaching so my issue is that I never keep it concise and go on and on... At this point I have 80 graduate credits in education and I talk like it in interviews.
    They all just look at me like
    o_O
    I bring my portfolio (which I sometimes don't even open... errr...) but I will start so that I can anchor my responses to artifacts in my portfolio. I think it would help.
    Just Google "Most cliched teacher interview questions'' and be ready to answer all of them. And if you don't know just say "I don't know'' and tell them how you'll learn more. Also, stress your flexibility in terms of classroom management or instruction "Well this is how I would do it, but would be willing to change based on my students or your suggestions.'' Always provide an example based on your experience(s) to help really paint the picture for them.
    I keep saying, if you interview in a shortage / high needs field, you'll get a job anyway so even if you blow the interview, they still need you. I don't even stress some of the interviews I've been on (like the ESL teaching position) because I know they'll hire me in the end . I could sense their desperation.:rofl:
     
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  6. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Before I respond to your inquiry about tough questions, there are several other critical areas that should be addressed first. My suggestions to you are based on my having been offered the positions I interviewed for on five separate occasions. In each of my interviews, I made it a point to establish a comfortable atmosphere in the room by: sharing some interesting aspects of my personal background (strong assets for the job in question); sharing some in-depth information that I learned about the district and/or school; or by sharing my impression of the school as evidenced by specific indicators. My opening remarks (and others yet to come) right out of the gate showed that I was a strong contender with knowledge about the school's academic record and outstanding issues - they were also meant to set me apart from the competition.

    I also found it helpful to ask a preliminary question related to the amount of time allocated for the interview and the number of questions involved. This enabled me to pace myself and to hopefully avoid running out of time, thereby losing valuable points. If there were to be twelve questions, I would quickly write the numerals 1-12 and cross them out as they were answered. I like to think that this had the additional benefit of showing the panel that I was on "top of my game"!

    Now for your question about questions. For the most part, interview panels seem to ask the same questions which you can find everywhere. Whatever you say, keep your responses as brief as possible - quality not quantity. The trick is to learn to tailor your responses so that they always put you in a positive light - the more experience you have the easier this will be. List as many terrible situations as you can recall that resulted in a positive outcome - involving co-workers, your supervisor, students, parents. Whenever you're asked, What's the worst . . . ? just refer to your list and grab the most relevant response. If necessary, keep this list in front of you to help you remember to insert a brief successful anecdote whenever it's appropriate.

    Finally, if you're asked to describe your proudest accomplishment, refrain from giving a response that puts the spotlight on you. Instead, surprise them by describing a situation in which there were multiple winners - it's called being humble and is something that the panel may be looking for. Hopefully, what worked for me will work for you too!
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  7. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Mar 29, 2018

    I would love to hear your input.. Can you respond to my post in the sped forum? Thanks
     
  8. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    STAR questions...

    Situation - Five 2nd gr. students scheduled for retention.

    Task - How would you deal with this?

    Action - I worked exclusively with curriculum materials for under achieving students. Colloborated with 1st gr. lead teacher for tutoring and textbooks. Met with parents & students and explained my goals & expectations. Got students & parents on board with real threat of retention.

    Result - Three students brought up math & reading scores to passing level. One did not improve enough for promotion. One was already 9 yrs old., and failed twice. Can’t retain more than 2 times and 2 yrs past age.

    That was a positive, result-based question/answer exchange.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  9. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Be ready for panel interviews. Common in Head Start/Pre-K. Certain districts do this as well. Sometimes they include parent board member, a current teacher, dept. chair, social worker. Bring several resumes, and be ready to leave copies.

    Pan the room for something that you can connect with. (Break the ice and be brave: (“I see you’re a Bears fan! Think that last draft pick was a good move?) Points!!! Take water but no thanks to food. (Don’t want to choke on a donut or have food stuck in your teeth). Besides, while he’s getting water you can scan the room, get comfy.

    If you really don’t understand the question, ask them to repeat it. Think about it, and be ready with a good response. If they ask, Are you familiar with Saxon Math? Be honest. “No, but I’ve used Harcourt Brace, and I’m willing to learn any program.”

    Most importantly, clear your schedule. Nothing more obvious than you sweating, trying to rush outta there because—oh no, you scheduled two interviews today! Big mistake. o_O Plan on staying later..It’s wonderful when they say, “Can you stick around a bit longer?? I want you to meet so-n-so”. Yes, yes you can!
     
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  10. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Mar 29, 2018

    Toughest interview question:
    "So...why do you want to teach ED?"
    My answer: "Good question!" Which made the good Doctor laugh, and then I followed up by explaining I liked working with challenging children, and how it kept me on my toes. Got the job pretty much on the spot.

    Oh, and that awful "What is your greatest weakness" question. Yikes. Hate that one.
     
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  11. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Three afterthoughts:
    1. I think it's important to "read" the interview panel. If you notice that they all mark their scores at the same time within a minute of your response, you have more than likely hit the mark and can finish up your answer.
    2. IMO, it's more powerful to use "I believe" in place of "I think" in your responses.
    3. As you watch the clock and monitor the length of your responses, there's good reason to avoid being overly verbose. Oftentimes, if there's time left over, you'll be asked if there's anything else that you may want to tell the panel about yourself - or they might simply ask, "Tell us why we should hire you." Make good use of this opportunity to leave them with a favorable lasting impression. For example, my ace in the hole (not bragging, just sharing!) was my forte which was devising innovative teaching methods to reach the most challenging students - the engaging group conversation that ensued lasted about five minutes and ended only when I realized that I probably shouldn't wear out the welcome mat!
     
  12. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Save that Ace card for 2nd interview. If (no- when) they call you back )you want to save your best story to close the deal. You don’t want to be stuttering or repeating same answers verbatim. Don’t want to sound rehearsed. Knock them out with a jazzier response than the first time. Be confident, not arrogant.
     
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  13. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    They may exist, but I never had the pleasure of going to a 2nd interview for either teaching or administrative positions. They were all one-shot deals.
     
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  14. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I have maybe been to two intereviews that were two-shots. The rest were truly one-and-done.
     
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  15. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Maybe it's not really a hard question, but an annoying one, in that "why do you want to work here?" BECAUSE I WANT A STINKIN JOB, WHAT DO YOU THINK????
     
  16. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    When I interviewed at Mcdonalds and they asked me that question, I was like "seriously?''
    o_O:rofl:

    I can see if you have some personal connection or reason for wanting to work in a specific location, but yeah, most people are applying because they need a job. I remember when I drove over 2 hours away to interview with a school that I had never heard of for a third grade position they asked me that question and I was straight up honest. I said, "Well I have never heard of this district before, but I like the area (the Fingerlakes region) and I really enjoy third grade.'' I had taken a quick walking tour of the school before my interview so I was able to gush about that too. But yeah... money!
     
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  17. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    After going on my first dozen interviews out of college I decided to google "most common teacher interview questions" then typed out my response to each one and rehearsed them. Most importantly, I included a successful personal experience I had handling the question being asked to show I had experience and I wasn't speaking in hypothetical. It helped me to make sure I was bringing up different experiences for each question rather than getting my mind stuck on the same student for every question since it's hard to look back clearly when you're nervous and six people are all watching you. After I did this I finally started getting call backs and I felt so much more comfortable and confident sitting in that chair.

    In regards to the 2nd interview, I've found all the schools I've interviewed with ask for a 2nd interview or demo lesson if there is plenty of time to fill the position. The position I have now was for a Sept start, but I interviewed in June so there was a 2nd interview. When the school is much more pressed for time it was a one-shot deal (interviews at the end of August).

    Make sure you have at least two questions for them at the end of the interview too to show them that you are interested in working there, but they're also competing for you against other schools. At the very least it makes you look diligent to be thinking about different aspects of the job. Some of my go-to's were "Are parents welcome to participate in the classroom and how involved would you say parents are in the school?" and "How would you describe the relationships between staff members?" FYI, this was for K-2 positions. Whatever question I was asking I would choose a a panel member to direct it towards instead of keeping all my focus on the principal. And make sure you listen to them when they are introducing themselves so you can easily reference their names in the interview or follow-up email.

    Most importantly, ask yourself if this is a place you want to work and trust that intuition!
     
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  18. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Boy, I had a few of those myself!! I really think those are questions to see if they can tick you off!

    “What can I do for you?” (After a two hour wait in the hall without a/c.)

    “Do you have any experience working with children?”

    “Why did you leave your last job?

    “How do you deal with difficult co-workers?”

    “What were some of the things you didn’t like about your last school/supervisor?”

    “The weather is so nice in ____. Why did you leave?”

    “Can you fill out this application?? (Uh, I did it online already!! Isn’t that how you got my name and number?!)

    And more...
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I would think the hardest questions can be "why do you want to work at this school? or "why do you want to work for this district", but only if you have applied to a dozen schools, all that were hiring, and now you're sitting at this interview where the school is exactly like other middle / elementary / high schools, similar struggles, achievements, mission statements and nothing stands out. I would really struggle with a good answer.

    When I was applying for jobs I was very specific. I want to teach alternative ed, because I wanted to teach at-risk youth, so this would be throw - away kids, expelled, in trouble with the law, etc. high struggles, big challenges, but also big rewards. And that's all I applied for (which was 4 schools in the entire state of California) So when they asked me this question, it wasn't tough at all, I really wanted to work with these kids and was willing to move anywhere, willing to leave San Diego for the Central Valley (!!!) which was a big deal and I did just that.

    So to answer this tough question well, you really have to want to teach at that school because there is something specific going on there, and you must find it. Otherwise it will sound like you just need the job (that is really the case most of the time) but there will be other applicants who will say something clever, and they will probably be more memorable. So research the school. It could be their technology focus, or art, or music, or the student population, they might be piloting new program, etc.
     
  20. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    Thank you so much!!
     
  21. NewSoCalTeacher2017

    NewSoCalTeacher2017 Rookie

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    GREAT advice. Thank you so much for your time!!!!
     

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