10 Substitute Teacher Interview Questions To Ask Every Candidate

Caroline Chessia | April 21, 2023

To find enough substitute teachers to cover absences in your school, you need substitute teacher candidates. And candidates for substitute teachers are growing scarcer by the day. Make the most of the substitute teacher candidates you have by asking them the right questions in their screening interview.

The screening interview is the best opportunity to get to know your candidates – whether you screen with on demand video interviews, on phone, or in person. Their answers to these questions mark the difference between a great candidate that could go on to be a great teacher – or the substitute you call to help you run a field trip. 

Ask these interview questions for substitute teachers to find the difference.

The Best Substitute Teacher Interview Questions for Screening Interviews

Why do you want to work as a substitute teacher?

You should look for substitute teacher candidates who genuinely enjoy working with kids and teaching.  The best candidates will be enthusiastic about the chance to support students’ learning and development. If they are looking to become a substitute on their way to earning their teacher’s certification, it will show in their response.

Can you describe your previous experience working with children or in an educational setting?

This recruiting interview question enables you to evaluate the candidate’s capabilities and classroom expertise. Look for subs who have experience working with kids in the same age range as the students at the school and who have expertise in classroom management strategies. If they have no experience – ask them why they are considering being a sub.

How would you handle a disruptive student in the classroom?

This substitute teacher interview question helps you assess the candidate’s ability to manage behavior and challenges while in the classroom. You should seek candidates who have a firm but fair approach to discipline and who are able to de-escalate disruptive situations without resorting to punitive measures. 

What would you do if you needed to cover a subject area you were not familiar with?

This question helps you assess the candidate’s adaptability and willingness to learn – key soft skills for any hire you’re considering for an open role. Look for candidates who are willing to do research and ask for help to ensure that they are able to provide accurate and effective instruction to students. Teachers will always leave a lesson plan, but a great substitute will supplement the lesson with their own knowledge and enthusiasm, and if they aren’t familiar with the subject area, find ways to research quickly in order to teach the class.

How would you ensure the safety and well-being of students under your supervision?

Asking this question helps you assess the candidate’s ability to prioritize student safety and well-being. You want to look for candidates who have a strong sense of responsibility and who are able to recognize and respond to potential safety hazards. As a follow-up, you can ask how the candidate would react to a student being bullied in their classroom.

Can you describe your classroom management style and how you would adapt it to different grade levels?

Look for candidates who are flexible in their teaching style. Substitute teachers often have to manage 5 – 7 different classrooms on the same day and need to know how to adapt to each group of students. 

How do you communicate with students, teachers, and parents?

Your ideal candidates are those who are able to communicate effectively and professionally with students, other educators, and parents. Communication skills are part of what it takes to be an ideal team player, especially with your student’s parents. Teaching is communicating – so ask them about a time they had success communicating with a student (or coworker, if they have no teaching experience), and a time they had difficulty.

Have you ever had to handle an emergency situation in a classroom? How did you handle it?

Your ideal candidate is a sub who is able to remain calm and composed in an emergency. If your substitute teacher candidate doesn’t have experience in the classroom, ask how they handled a stressful situation in their last position. 

How comfortable are you using technology in the classroom, such as Smartboards or online learning platforms?

Technology is a part of our classrooms so you need a substitute teacher that isn’t afraid of using a Smartboard or laptop in class. Everyone has technology mix-ups, but if your candidate can’t handle a smartphone and the entire school uses technology to teach, they might not be the candidate for you. 

As a substitute, how do you keep students engaged?

The best substitutes know how to engage a classroom and make a lesson entertaining. Look for substitutes that can think up games to play with students at the end of a lesson or create a discussion around a topic the students are learning.

Identifying The Best Substitute Teachers With Hiring Technology

Whether you conduct in-person or use a video interviewing platform, these substitute teacher interview questions will help you evaluate candidates’ qualifications, experience, and ability to handle different situations in a classroom setting.

Screening substitute teacher candidates with video interviews can help you get a better understanding of how they will fit in at your school. Video screening interviews give you a better understanding of candidates’ personalities, which helps you choose the candidate that will best integrate into your school culture.

Fill out this form to start screening your substitute teachers with video interviews.

About The Author

Caroline Chessia is the Marketing Operations Specialist at interviewstream. She loves color-coordinated graphs, hiking in the mountains, and every dog she meets—especially the Golden Retrievers.


interviewstream is dedicated to the success of more than 900 clients from K-12 school districts, emerging businesses, midsize companies, large enterprises, colleges, and universities.

SOC TYPE 2 Cetification Badge


877-773-3164 (USA Only)


© 2024 interviewstream | all rights reserved XML Sitemap