Has a job interview ever felt like a Food Network contest, where candidates and potential employers are trying to guess the mystery ingredient or who will be chopped next? It can feel that way on both sides of the interview without a deliberate strategy behind the questions. Once your hiring process is clear on the types of interviews to use at each stage with candidates, do the questions match the purpose of that stage? We all feel pressure to move fast and not lose a good candidate. By asking the right questions, you can move quickly with the right people and avoid the cost of a bad hire.

Whether you recruited a prospect or they applied to a posting, we break down the most popular teacher interview questions to highlight what you are really asking. At every stage of the hiring process, remember to follow HR 101 rules regarding what you can and can’t ask in an interview. Our goal is to reduce the guesswork and increase the clarity of your next interview. For comparison, each type of question is grouped by major stages in the interview process.

Questions to Ask When  Screening Applications

“How closely does your resume match our job description?”

Before you even schedule a screening interview, it’s important to define specific Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities that will quickly highlight viable applicants. These are usually confirmed when reviewing applications and resumes using a KSA form. Does the applicant have the required education, skills training, certifications, and experience necessary to be effective in this position?

Many employers also include an online talent screening as part of the application process. These broader online questions are really asking, “Do you recognize how our best employees think and act?” Since the application and resume focus on knowledge and experience, these questions tend to focus on personal and professional qualities present in successful team members.

Teacher Interview Questions to Get Acquainted  

“How much experience do you have with this type of work?”

Just because the resume, application, and talent screener fit your requirements doesn’t mean they belong in the candidate pool. Questions at this stage have a friendly yet practical focus by asking, “Are you qualified for this job?” Although experience is only one component to consider, it helps separate positions open to grooming future talent from those requiring immediate results. Specific questions also confirm the candidate’s understanding of the position, expectations, and what led them to apply.

Because time is valuable, you are really asking, “Should we invest time in you as a candidate?” As your first personal touch, use it to build rapport with each person while keeping it brief and flowing smoothly into the next stage for those who qualify. Although you may enjoy talking with the person, save the deeper questions for later in the process.

Depending on the position, the initial phone screen may include specific job skill questions or be scheduled separately. These questions tend to ask, “What do you know and at what level?” This is the time to find out if this person can to work independently, lead others, or be coached to bring out their potential. Essentially you are asking, “Are you adding knowledge and skills to the team?”

While you continue to build rapport and trust with the candidate, remember that candidates are observing you as well to evaluate your professionalism and personal touch.


Going Deeper with More Personal Interview Questions

“Tell us about yourself – what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Once you are confident a candidate has the right knowledge and experience for the job, it’s time to ask, “Who are you as an employee?” Too often questions like “Tell about yourself…” are very broad and open to interpretation by the interviewer. Done correctly, these type of questions explore in detail how well they contribute personally or as part of a team. Do they follow authority or know when to take the lead as appropriate? From a supervisor’s perspective, the questions should also ask, “Can I mentor you to become exceptional in your role?” and “Will you make our team and organization better?”

Savvy hiring managers will go beyond the supervisor’s perspective and also ask, “Who are you as a co-worker?” Sometimes potential team members are involved at this stage and will ask their own questions. Team members want to know, “Will you pull your own weight?” and “will you also help others when they have a need?” The goal is to gain an understanding of how the person will add value to the team, while helping them grow where they have clear gaps. It’s equally important to seek a good fit for the candidate before they make a life changing decision to join your team.

When candidates will potentially work with customers, clients, or students, the question becomes, “How will you interact with those we serve?” Each school district, business, and non-profit will have a unique way to discover if candidates know how to make your mission come to life for your main audience.

For many professional positions, you will confirm your best candidates by asking them to describe an example of a major achievement from start to finish. This will provide evidence the candidate can perform a specific area of skill to your expectations. When the example is not as strong due to inexperience, remember to balance your decision with the candidate’s overall talent and potential for growth.

Even with a strong performer however, you must still be clear about asking, “Ultimately, who are you here to serve?” Ideally you will hear top candidates define their core purpose as serving others in specific ways related to their role. A service mindset combined with a strong skillset is a gift that will keep on giving. However, if their core purpose is vague or self-serving, the benefit to your team and organization will be short lived.


Wrapping up the Interview

“Do you have any questions for us?”

A great way to show respect to the candidate is to give them the last word and ask, “Is there anything else you’d like to share with me that I haven’t asked you?” Responses will vary, yet hiring managers are often looking for evidence of curiosity and that the candidate did their research on the organization or position. For the top person fortunate to receive your job offer, pending reference and background checks, the last questions seek to confirm, “Does the experience of others confirm what we have learned about this person?”

When all the dots line up, the picture should look like one of your current stars. You now have good reason to celebrate! But the joy of a great hire is just the beginning. The next question is, “How can we use what we just learned and take this person to new heights?” Now the real work begins.