Interviews and assessment centres

Typical teaching interview questions

20 Sept 2023, 14:58

Take a look at the questions that are likely to come up during your teaching interview and read our advice on how to handle them.

Questions asked at a teaching interview

Supported by:

The National Tutoring Programme

General examples | Introductory questions | Questions about you | Choice of school | Professionalism | Behaviour management | Primary school interviews | Pastoral care | Safeguarding | Working with parents | Career development | Interview tips

When you are interviewed for a teaching job, you will usually be asked questions on specific topics around: teaching your subject or age range, current issues in education, and your approaches to tasks (such as behaviour management), assessment and overcoming challenges.

Interviewers are keen to know how well you could work with other teachers and how you will relate to parents. Supporting your answers with examples will strengthen their impact.

Example interview questions and answers

If we visited your classroom in October, what could we expect to see?

You would see a warm and welcoming Year Two classroom centred on the children’s learning. The learning objective would be written on the board and all the pupils will be on task at their group tables, working at an appropriate noise level. I would be encouraging pupils to engage with the task by asking clarifying questions, modelling the activity, or praising supportive peer working. The class will be well organised and tidy, with separate areas for whole class learning on the carpet in front of the whiteboard, group learning at tables and quiet reflection time in the reading nook. There will be colourful interactive displays hanging on the walls, showcasing the children’s creativity and learning goals they have met.

How would you deal with a hostile or aggressive parent?

First, I would remain calm, remembering to maintain neutral body language. It’s important to be polite and professional, so I would let the parent explain why they are upset, actively listening to their complaint, apologising if necessary. Once I had obtained as much information as possible through asking open questions, I would try to provide an immediate solution to their problem if possible. If this wasn’t achievable and the aggression escalated, I would inform a member of the senior leadership team at the school.

What personal interests do you have that could be of value to the school?

I have an interest in art and design and I would be keen to use this hobby in school both in my class lessons and, if possible, in a weekly craft club. I also have a passion for music and have achieved grade 8 on the piano. At my previous school, I supported the Head of Drama with the rehearsals for the school production of Hairspray. I have experience of performing in a variety of musical productions at my local theatre, so I would relish the opportunity to put my passion for music to use and support the school.

Introductory questions at teaching interviews

If you are asked questions about why you have chosen a particular school, use examples of what you found appealing or exciting about the school, from your research. This could be that you share their values, ethos, aims or vision - give specific examples of these and what they mean to you. You might also be attracted by the school’s performance, approach to pastoral support, specialisms or facilities. It is also a good idea to visit the school before applying - as it shows that you are interested in their school specifically. Mention the things you saw on your visit that you found particularly interesting or inspiring.

Example introductory questions

  • Have you enjoyed your visit to the school?
  • Why have you applied for this post?

Questions about you

Remember that interviewers are looking to see if you will be a good teacher, so make sure that you link what you say about yourself to what you can bring to the job and to the school. If you are asked about why you want to be a teacher, avoid clichés and generalisations and instead provide examples from your teaching experience that you find exciting, inspiring and motivating. Also mention any interesting points about yourself that are education related, for example if you are in a sports team, play a musical instrument, interested in gardening or are a scout or guide leader.

Example questions about you

  • Tell us a bit about yourself, your career to date and your school placements.
  • What personal interests do you have that could be of value to the school?
  • What unique qualities can you bring to the school?
  • How do you know when you have had a good day?
  • How do you handle stress?

Explain your choice of school or local authority

Interviewers want to make sure that you will be a good fit for the school. Show that you have done your research into the school by mentioning, for example, their values and ethos. You can do this by providing examples of your own experiences that could help improve the school or complement their educational aims and objectives.

Example questions about choice

  • What makes a school successful?
  • How would you support the ethos of this school?
  • How could you integrate the community into your teaching?

For additional information on what to expect in your teacher training interview, see what to expect from the teacher training interview and selection day .

Handling professional issues in the classroom

You need to be specific when answering this type of question. It is much better to talk about your actual experiences, rather than professional issues in general terms. For example, discuss your weaknesses or critiquing lessons you have delivered - interviewers want to see that you are reflective and can learn from your experiences. When providing a specific example from your previous experience, talk about what happened, what you learned and what you would do differently in the future.

Consider how you have brought subjects to life during your teaching practice and how you have inspired pupils who were not engaging in learning. For instance, draw on your experiences of targeted help, group projects, mentoring or field trips when discussing specific strategies and practical approaches you could use to boost motivation.

As well as understanding the principles of equality and diversity, you also need to show how you have applied them to all students during your teaching placements. You could discuss how you removed a potential barrier to learning or adapted your approach to meet a pupil’s individual needs; enabling them to succeed.

Example questions about professionalism

  • What are your particular strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • Describe the worst or best lesson you have given. What would you do differently? Explain why it was successful or unsuccessful.
  • How do you judge the achievement of pupils?
  • If we visited your classroom in October, what could we expect to see?
  • What is the purpose of target setting?
  • How would you ensure that you respond effectively to the different needs and abilities of pupils?
  • How would you foster equal opportunities in the classroom/school?
  • How would you accommodate children who have English as an additional language?
  • How would you raise a child's self-esteem and aspirations?
  • How far do children in your classroom direct their own learning?
  • What are your views on the value of homework?
  • Which is more important, teaching or learning? Explain why.
  • How have you used data (for example, on student progress) to inform planning and why is it important?

Behaviour management

Specific examples from your own experience work best for questions about behaviour management; such as how you have dealt effectively with a disruptive pupil and what strategy you used. Research the school’s behaviour management policy so that you can talk about their strategy and match your examples to their approach. You could also mention other effective strategies that could be used.

Also think about times when your usual approach hasn’t worked and you have had to adapt your strategy to meet a pupil’s individual needs. This shows that you are a reflective practitioner and can learn from your experiences, which is an important quality for a teacher to have.

Example questions about behaviour management

  • What are your views on discipline?
  • How much noise in the classroom would you permit?
  • How would you cope with a child constantly interrupting the lesson?
  • How would you deal with bullying?
  • What would you do if your strategies for behaviour management were not working?

Primary school interviews

Use examples from your placements when answering this type of question - to show that you understand the teaching methods and approaches that relate specifically to teaching in primary education. Make sure you are up to date with current policies, teaching strategies and resources, and talk about how these are delivered in your placement school(s). Speak to teachers during your placements and/or with academic lecturers if you are in university-based teacher training. This will give you a better understanding of the issues related specifically to primary school teaching.

Read the education news regularly to help you get ideas on the latest innovations in teaching and keep up to date with any potential changes to the primary curriculum and assessment tools.

Example primary school interview questions

  • How would you evaluate the effectiveness of the literacy strategy?
  • What is the value of topic work in school and what is your experience of it?
  • Which reading/mathematics schemes have you used?
  • What are your views on the balance between creativity and basic skills?
  • How might you use ICT in your teaching?
  • How would you ensure the continued improvement of numeracy standards in your class?
  • How would you structure literacy lessons to ensure equal access for all pupils?
  • How will you ensure that you develop a good relationship with your TA?

Secondary school interviews

Use examples from your placements when answering this type of question to show that you understand the teaching methods and approaches that relate to teaching in secondary education and your subject. Make sure you find out before the interview whether the school or department has a particular approach they prefer (such as collaborative learning or teaching for mastery) and be ready to talk about your experiences and how they relate to the school’s approach.

Make sure you are well informed about current teaching policies, strategies and resources (both generally and in your subject area) and talk about how these are delivered in your placement school(s). Speak to teachers during your placements, and/or with academic lecturers if you are in university-based teacher training; to get a better understanding of the key issues related specifically to secondary school teaching and your subject.

Expect questions related to your knowledge of the curriculum and your motivation for teaching your subject. Read the education news regularly to help you get ideas on the latest innovations in teaching and the latest developments in your subject area. This will allow you to show your knowledge of the curriculum and talk about what excites you.

Example secondary school interview questions

  • Why do we teach (your subject) in schools?
  • How would you motivate year 9 pupils who have lost interest in the subject?
  • What would you say to a student considering taking your subject at A level?
  • What are your views on cross-curricular teaching?
  • What are your views on streaming/sets/mixed-ability teaching?
  • How would you address the underachievement of pupils in your subject area?
  • Have you had any experience of vocational education?
  • What bearing do you think future developments (in your subject) will have on your teaching?
  • How would you teach (an area relevant to your subject) to a year 8 mixed-ability group?

For more interview questions to look out for, see our article interview questions for teacher training

Pastoral care

Consider the ethos and values of the school and think about specific examples of when you have cared for a child/children in a pastoral role. This could be dealing with a safeguarding concern, talking to a child about friendship issues or helping to boost the confidence of a student. Draw on this experience to discuss how you would handle issues around pastoral care and how you could contribute to the school’s provision.

Example pastoral care questions

  • What is the role of a form tutor and what relevant experience have you had?
  • How would you seek to promote the moral, social and cultural development of the pupils?
  • To which aspects of personal and social education could you make a contribution?
  • How would you get to know your tutor group/class?

Safeguarding and child protection

The current guidelines for school's state that they should always ask a question about safeguarding in teaching interviews. Make sure you have read and understood the school’s safeguarding policy before the interview and are familiar with current safeguarding and child protection requirements in schools. It is also useful to read the government’s statutory guidance on safeguarding children in schools and colleges – Keeping children safe in education . Make sure you deal with the practicalities of any scenario the interviewers give you. They want to ensure that you understand the reality of how safeguarding works in an everyday context.

If you have not had any experience of dealing with a safeguarding issue yourself, you can still talk about what you would do if one arose. Before the interview, think of some possible scenarios a teacher might encounter and work out practical solutions.

Example safeguarding interview questions

  • You are in the middle of a lesson and a child makes a safeguarding disclosure to you. What do you do next?
  • What steps would you take if a child made a disclosure to you?
  • What is your understanding of safeguarding and the teacher’s role in this?
  • What does confidentiality mean to you in an education setting?

Your approach to working with parents and other adults

Think of a specific example from your own experience to demonstrate to the interviewers that you have the attributes necessary to be an effective communicator. These include being a good listener, understanding the perspective of others and communicating clearly and professionally in easy-to-understand language. You might not have had experience on your teaching placement of dealing with parents, but you can use an example from another setting and explain how you would apply this to teaching.

Example questions

  • What is your experience with parents in school? How could this be developed?
  • How would you deal with a hostile or aggressive parent?
  • How would you seek to work cooperatively with your colleagues?
  • What support would you expect from staff as an early career teacher (ECT)?
  • How would you seek to work with adults other than teachers in your classroom?
  • Give an example of when you have worked effectively within a team?

Your career development

Interviewers are looking for reflective practitioners, who are able to reflect on their current skills and have ideas on which areas they want to develop over the next few years. You are not expected to have a fully formed career plan for the next five years. However, interviewers will expect to see that you have some career aspirations and are motivated to improve as a professional.

Example career development questions

  • How will you develop yourself as a professional teacher?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Interview performance tips

  • Answers should be sufficiently detailed to show how you stand out from other applicants and should include examples wherever possible.
  • Taking time to think before giving a well-constructed answer is fine.
  • Remember to ask for clarification if the question is unclear.
  • When you are offered a job, most schools will expect a prompt response. Some may even ask at the interview if you will accept the post if it is offered.

Need more useful tips on how to succeed in your interview? Take a look at our Perform your best in your teaching interview article.

Written by Imogen Hobson, University of Lincoln, July 2023


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Occasionally targetjobs will work with another organisation to provide impartial careers content. This is to provide you with the most relevant information to make the best decisions about your future. As such, ‘in partnership’ content has been written or sourced by the partner organisation and edited by targetjobs as part of a content partnership.

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