Interview Questions to Help You Hire Teachers That Make a Difference

Drew Whitehurst | May 4, 2021

The most important factor in the quality of a child’s education is the quality of their teacher.

The most important factor in the quality of a child’s education is the quality of their teachers. After all, they are molding our future generations. Teachers have a profound impact on the lives of their students, an impact that often outlasts their students’ time in school. Which is why it is so important to ask the right teacher interview questions and find and hire the best teachers.

So how can you make sure the teachers you put in your classrooms are the best for your students? Let’s first discuss the skills that a teacher needs to succeed today and in the future as more school districts transition from remote or hybrid learning back to in-person classrooms.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

As school districts navigate hiring, they need to focus on finding teacher candidates that hold the traits that are most valuable today and make certain teachers stand out above the rest. To help you out, we put together a list of skills below that your K12 school district recruiters, superintendents, and principals should be looking for if they want to put the best teachers in their classrooms:

  • Growth mindset: this mindset has always been an important component of teaching, but this past year has proven just how vital it is to teacher success. With the shift to virtual and remote learning, teachers find themselves having to adapt and learn. The best teachers are willing to meet the challenges and better themselves.
  • Comfort with technology: we are living in a world of virtual everything. Prior to the pandemic, technology was an added bonus to more effective teaching. But oh how times have changed – now, a teacher’s willingness and ability to use technology in students’ everyday learning is a must-have.
  • Adaptability: would any teacher have ever thought, “I may never meet my students in person?” Well, this is now a valid thought. Teacher candidates now have to be comfortable living in the unknown from day-to-day and making whatever is thrown at them, work, for their students.
  • Student-centeredness: great teachers focus on “how students learn” rather than “how they teach.” And the past year of virtual learning, hybrid learning and switching back and forth between the two, has proven the immense importance of having teachers focused on student-centeredness.
  • Empathy: teacher candidates now have to deal with new challenges faced by their students – they don’t have access to technology, the meals they relied on from school are not provided anymore, parents losing jobs, the social/emotional effects of the pandemic, and so on. Empathy has always been a top trait in the best teachers, and is needed, now, more than ever.
The 3 characteristics your teacher interview questions should focus on.

How Do I Find the Best Teachers?

By asking your teacher candidates the right interview questions. As recruiting and hiring for K12 school districts moves forward with a mix of virtual and in-person interviews, we put together a list of interview questions for teachers that you should ask if you want to identify the candidates who possess the skills listed above.

Growth Mindset:

  1. What are your goals and what are your strategies to achieve them?
  2. What has been one of the biggest obstacles you have had to overcome to reach your objectives as a teacher?
  3. Give an example of feedback you have received and how you applied that feedback to improve?
  4. Tell me about a situation when you had to persuade a student, colleague, or parent.

Comfort with Technology:

  1. How do you engage a disengaged student?
  2. How have you incorporated technology into your lessons?
  3. What are your favorite and least favorite technology products and why?
  4. Share an example of a time when you had to implement a new tool you had no prior experience with. What was the outcome?

Adaptability:

  1. How have you designed and planned instruction for teaching face-to-face, remote and hybrid?
  2. If you taught a combination, what were your greatest challenges? How did you overcome them?
  3. How have you met the needs of students with both low and high abilities in a particular subject?
  4. In what ways do you encourage students to be accepting of one another?

Student-centeredness:

  1. How do you build relationships with students when teaching virtually?
  2. How do you ensure students are engaged and understanding materials?
  3. How do you encourage students to use their initiative in your classroom?
  4. What extracurricular activities have you helped with?

Empathy:

  1. What have you done to support a student who does not have access to the technology needed?
  2. What have you done to support students who have faced new challenges in the past year?
  3. Tell me about a time you had to make a tough decision about a student.
  4. How have you reacted when students have broken the rules in your class?

These competency-based interview questions for teachers will help you find the strongest teacher candidates among your talent pipeline. And if your school district is continuing to use video interviewing for recruitment, don’t forget to add them to your list of preselected one-way video interview questions to keep your interview process consistent across candidates.

Find the best teachers for your district with interviewstream

As the world faces rapid change, teachers and school districts have to adapt quickly. In turn, teachers have had to acquire new skills on their own. So, as teacher hiring moves forward, it is important to include effective interview questions for teachers, questions that are focused on the skills and traits candidates need to have today. Things may look a bit different than they did a little over a year ago, but the need for great teachers, the teachers that will change lives, remains.

Finding great teachers starts with your recruiting and hiring process. Learn how more than 150 school districts in the U.S. and Canada are leveraging interviewstream’s video interviewing platform by talking to an expert today.

Our definition of what a teacher is here at interviewstream may be slightly different – (1) One who inspires, enlightens and motivates. (2) One who touches lives forever. (3) The profession that creates all other professions. But then again, maybe it’s exactly the same as yours.

We like to think all of us are lucky enough to experience a teacher like this in our lives.

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Content & Implementation Specialist at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.

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