When interviewing for roles in education, it’s important to recognize the diversity of positions available within the field. Education is not limited to classroom teaching alone; it encompasses roles such as curriculum developers, educational consultants, school counselors, administrators, and instructional designers.
Each role has its unique set of requirements and expectations. Education is an ever-evolving field, and the needs of learners change over time. Demonstrating your flexibility, awareness, and genuine commitment to the success of every learner will paint you as a valuable asset to any institution.
Interview questions by category
We have categorized the interview questions into three sections. Feel free to read straight through or jump to the sections that interest you most.
Tell me about yourself.
Give a snapshot of your work history. Think about your:
Past — Previous experience and education
Present — Your current job and how it’s preparing you for this role
Future — Why you want the job you’re interviewing for
Your snapshot should show the interviewer how your experiences equip you with the skills to succeed at their company and why you are interested in the specific role.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as an educator?
Consider the job description and the required skills in the posting, and align your answer with skills you are proud of. Discuss your areas of expertise and how they will benefit this educational setting. For weaknesses, discuss areas for improvement and what you’re actively doing to improve those skills. Do not cite necessary skills for this position as weaknesses.
Strengths could include adaptability to diverse learning needs or fostering collaborative environments. A weakness could be being overly self-critical, but explain how that has driven your continuous pursuit of professional growth and development.
Why do you want this job?
Demonstrate that you’ve researched the organization, and express what you like about it and why your skills would be a good fit for the job. What about the organization’s mission, values, and population do you identify with? Explain how the role will contribute to your career progression and what you can contribute. You may have a personal connection with the learning material, learner population, or even the specific technologies you’ll be using.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question is designed to probe your career goals and vision. First, tell your interviewer about your career aspirations and ambitions. Then, express your desire to succeed and explain how this job will contribute to your progress. Use this question to show that you are goal-oriented and have a plan to achieve your goals.
What are your salary expectations?
Prepare thoroughly for this question and start by reviewing the Salary negotiation guide. Research salary ranges for this particular job, this industry, and your geographic area using websites like Payscale.com or Salary.com. The interviewer wants to know how you value yourself. To avoid leaving money on the table, ask how the interviewer values the role before stating your expectations. Aim high but within the range you’ve researched, and be prepared to provide examples of why you’re worth the salary you cite.
“Politicians use talking points all the time to handle extemporaneous, on-the-spot questions that can throw them. You can too! Consider your top five key attributes and then come up with two great examples that showcase these skills. When you’re asked a behavioral based question use one of those stories to answer the question.”
– Heather Hans, career expert at edX
Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?
This is your opportunity to share your passion for education. Share influential teachers in your life, memorable courses you took, or subjects that you feel strongly about.
How do you handle classroom management and discipline?
Depending on the setting, this question may not be asked. However, if you are interviewing for a K–12 role, be prepared to share how you keep learners focused and motivated with your management. Discussing discipline can be nuanced, so take the time to consider the specific situation you are interviewing for and the philosophies of the institution.
How do you accommodate different learning styles in your classroom?
If you have practical experience working with different learning styles you can share your success stories. If not, refer to student teaching, internships, volunteering, or any situation where you were working with a diverse group. You can also discuss accommodations you’ve observed in your own academic career and how you could incorporate them into future settings.
Describe a challenging situation you’ve faced in the classroom and how you handled it.
If you have classroom experience, share a short anecdote with a successful outcome. If you are new to education, you can share an experience from your previous professional career, student teaching, or any challenging group dynamic you’ve experienced. Draw parallels to show how this would help you in a future educational setting. Try to present the issue succinctly, and focus on the positive steps and outcomes you achieved.
How do you incorporate technology into your teaching?
If you can, find out what types of technology the organization is currently using and share your experience with those or similar types. You can always share the tech you’ve used in school or your personal life and identify the similarities with educational technology. Be sure to keep up with new technologies in the field by following professional organizations on social media, reading blogs and articles, or listening to podcasts.
Always share your past experiences in the educational field when answering the questions below. If you don’t have leadership experience yet, we’ve provided some tips on how you can answer the questions thoughtfully.
What would your current supervisor or team say about you?
Be honest and highlight positive interactions that highlight your strengths; try to align your responses with the qualities listed in the job posting. Provide enough detail so the interviewer knows the context and gets a sense of what it is like to work with you, and how you interact with teammates.
How do you motivate and support a diverse team, especially during challenging times?
Begin by recognizing that a diverse team brings a range of perspectives, experiences, and strengths, which can be a source of innovation and resilience. Also, stress the importance of understanding the individual needs and aspirations of team members. Finally, discuss how you would ensure everyone feels included and valued.
Describe a situation where you had to make tough budgetary decisions. How did you prioritize and ensure the best outcomes for students?
Try to find parallels between past professional roles where you’ve been involved in budgetary discussions. If you have no experience, be honest! Talk about what criteria you would use to prioritize decisions in the future and where you would go to find the necessary information to make informed decisions.
How do you promote an inclusive environment for both students and staff?
Keeping open lines of communication is a great starting point for a discussion on inclusivity. Fostering a team culture where diversity is celebrated, which could include peer support systems or cultural awareness training. Again, emphasize the benefits that a diverse team brings to an organization and its internal culture.
How do you assess the professional development needs of your staff?
In educational leadership, assessing the professional needs of staff is paramount. Initiating regular one-on-one check-ins to understand individual aspirations and challenges is a good starting point. Additionally, using anonymous surveys to gather holistic feedback and analyzing performance data can also provide insights into areas needing support.