What motivates you to work as an elementary teacher?
You can speak about your desire to teach, about your teaching mission, a calling you feel inside. You can say that you want to be a good role model for the children in school, because you understand the importance of such role models in 21st century.
Alternatively you can say that you feel like a fish in the water while wandering in the school corridors, that you enjoy being around young people, and want to have a job that allows you this luxury though you aren’t in your teens anymore.
You can even say that you had a great elementary teacher when you were young, someone who influenced you and helped you to become who you are today, and that the experience with them motivated you to pursue teaching career.
What characterize a great elementary teacher in your view?
First of all they should love their job. They should be ready to deal with all kinds of challenges that teaching presents, facing them with enthusiasm and courage.
They should have good knowledge of teaching methods, and a good level of understanding for the children, and for their emotional world.
And they should also understand the philosophy of the school, and try their best to help the educational institution to reach the goals the school leaders set each year. Show the hiring committee that you know what makes a good teacher, and want to become one.
What teaching methods do you prefer and why?
You should list at least two or three methods, for the hiring committee members to see that you can apply a variety of techniques in a classroom.
Then you can elaborate on your answer, pointing out one or two methods that work great at elementary level, at least according to your experience. You can even say that you plan to decide on the fly, and according to the situation in the classroom, and the discipline of the students, choosing always the most appropriate teaching method for the given lesson.
Do you think we should treat all students equally, in terms of grading?
A good answer depends on your philosophy of teaching. If you prefer to motivate the weak students with good grades, you can say that. But you should not forget to explain why you prefer to follow this philosophy.
Oppositely, if you prefer an egalitarian approach, because the grades should reflect the differences of the students, go for this answer. Alternatively you can say that you will follow the guidance of the school administrators, doing what the other teachers are doing. Showing some flexibility and willingness to co-operate with the administrators is always a good idea in a job interview…
Special Tip: Do you like my advice, but struggle to think about some great answers that will impress the hiring committee on a big day, and help you get the job?
You can find multiple excellent answers to 25 most common elementary teacher interview questions in an eBook I wrote for you, the Elementary Teacher Interview Guide. Check the book page to see whether it could help you succeed. Thank you!
What is your opinion about information technology at elementary school?
You should do some research to find the right answer to this question.
Do they have computers in each classroom? Do the children use the computers? If you can not figure it out, you can say that you support IT in the classes, but only when the school has clear rules in place, and use computers to the benefit of the children, instead of their distraction.
Alternatively you can turn things upside down, speaking about how you can use the technology, saying how interactive presentations and other tools help you to explain the lesson in a more entertaining and engaging way for the students.
Special Tip no. 2: Download a full list of questions in a one page long .PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How would you handle a conflict between two students?
Conflicts belong to every classroom, and you should show your readiness to deal with them. A good answer is to say that you would approach each conflict individually. Listening to both conflict parties, and questioning witnesses, you will try to gather enough information and always decide according to your best consciousness.
You can also elaborate on your answer, saying that you would try to lead the children to respect each other, and to have a healthy level of self-confidence, as a prevention of conflicts. the most important thing is to show the hiring committee that you aren’t afraid of dealing with conflict situations, and will try to lead your pupils in the right direction.
Other personal and behavioral questions for elementary teacher interviews
- What would you do to improve the study environment in a typical classroom?
- Imagine that a father of a students complained about something which was untrue. How would you react? (What would you do? Have you experienced the situation before?)
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job? (Is there anything you hate about teaching?)
- Tell us something about your hobbies. (What do you like to do in your free time?)
- Talk about games you’d play with your students, and why you’d choose these games, and not other games.
- What are your salary expectations?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other job applicants?
A job, or a mission?
Elementary teacher–a job, a mission, sometimes an immense pleasure, and on bad days a heavy cross you have to carry on your shoulders. What does this job mean to you? What attitude do you have to children, teaching, and to different tricky situations that can happen in a classroom?
They will test exactly these things in an interview. Your attitude, as well as your personality, and your way of thinking. Try to convince them that teaching is your personal mission, that you are in the school for the children, and not the other way around. That’s the way to win your interviewers over.
Conclusion, answers to the questions
Elementary teacher interview does not belong to the most difficult interviews, especially because you won’t compete with many other applicants for the job. There are many schools, and plenty of vacancies. There is a room for each great teacher.
Having said that, you should not take success for granted. You will still have to convince the hiring committee of your readiness for the job, and the right attitude to your teaching mission. This depends mostly on your interview answers.
If you struggle with the answers, or feel anxious before the start of your interview, have a look at the Elementary Teacher Interview Guide. Multiple brilliant answers to all questions (including the dreaded scenario-based questions) will help you make a great impression, and say exactly what the principal (or the hiring committee) wants to hear from you. Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you best of luck in your interview!
Glen Hughins, InterviewPenguin.com Expert
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- How to overcome interview nerves? – Feeling anxious? Learn how to get rid of your interview stress.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to negotiate the best salary and benefits in your elementary teacher interview.