What we think about ourselves is often very different from what others think of us. At the end of the day, each of us sees the world with a unique pair of eyes. A thing or a person one likes, or even admires, another one despises or hates. Everything is a question of perspective. For this reason, in my opinion it doesn’t make much sense asking people in job interviews, or in school admission interviews, how would their parents, best friends, or teachers describe them. It makes no sense simply because you cannot really know. You can have an idea, but you cannot really know. So why do they use this question, and what you should actually tell them?

In some cases, calling your class teacher forms a part of a selection process. In such a case, more than anything else the question is a test of your trustworthiness, honesty, and your ability to admit your weaknesses, because that’s what they will ask your class teacher about. Do your and their words correspond? Or do each of you tell them something completely different? If calling your former teacher isn’t on their plans, they may ask this one simply to hear more about yourself as a student, because that’s likely what your teacher would focus on while describing you.

Of course, we should not forget that people in school admission committees are not professional interviewers. They may as well do not really know why they use this or that question. They simply found it on a list on common interview questions for college program applicants, or their predecessors have used the question for the past decade, and hence they use it as well… Without prolonging this introduction any longer, let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. I hope at least one of them will resonate with the message you try to convey in the interviews. Below the answers you will find more hints and ideas. Read them to make sure you will say the right thing on the big day. Enjoy!


7 sample answers to “How would your teachers describe you?” interview question

  1. I think they would describe me as a student who always tried their best, in every lesson. Definitely not the most gifted one in the class, not the most creative either. But someone who prepared as well as they could, paid attention to their every word, and tried to participate whenever possible. They would probably also mention an occasional low day–after all each of us experiences it once in a while, when it was hard to get me talk. To sum it up, I believe I had a good connection with the teachers, and I definitely respected them. And I hope they see it in the same way.
  2. To be honest, I think it depends on the teacher you would ask. I have always loved foreign languages. In my French and Spanish lessons, I was the one who went above and beyond, studied more than expected, enjoyed every exercise, tried to excel. Teachers from my language lessons would definitely describe me as a great student, someone they enjoyed teaching, and perhaps, if you allow me to fancy a bit, also as someone they learned something from. But if you ask my Math or Physics teacher, you’d probably get a very different answers. I never quite liked these subjects, and didn’t try my best, because I knew I did not want to have anything with them in my future studies or professional career. Just did enough to pass the exams. Hence my Math teacher would probably say I was a lazy student. But that isn’t true, I just focused on different subjects…
  3. It’s been a long while since I left school. And I am not sure they would even remember me. You know, I have always been introverted. Have never tried to stand out in a classroom, either in good or bad way. Took care of my homework, prepared for the lessons, when asked to do something I did it. But I didn’t belong to those students who compete for the attention of the teacher, or who try to beat the other with their results. For this reason, I honestly do not think my former teachers would have anything special to say about me, especially after all those years.
  4. My teachers would probably describe me as a creative soul. Someone who did not dare to question the status quo, someone who had his own ideas, and someone who enjoyed especially the creative exercises in the classes. They would also say I was quite popular among my classmates, a team player. And maybe they wold remember me for my height. After all with 6 foot 4 I was always standing above the rest of the class. Having said that, I prefer if they remember me for my deeds and personality, and not for my height, but at the end of the day an average teacher meet more than 100 different students in their classes every week, and it is just logical that they aren’t able to give an accurate description of every single one.
  5. I do not want to sound philosophical, but I believe I cannot tell. Nobody can. Because we always perceive ourselves better than we really are, and at the same time, we do not see into the head of any other person. What I try to say here is that I could tell you what I hoped my teachers thought of me, or what I wished they thought. But to know what they really think you have to ask them, not me. If you want, I can list my teachers, and you can pick anyone and call to the school and ask about their opinion on me… because that’s really the only way to know.
  6. Well, this may surprise you, but they would probably describe me as a problematic student. I want to be honest with you. Had my crisis of adolescence, hanged around with wrong guys, didn’t pay too much attention to my studies. Looking back, I know it was a mistake. I am over this crisis right now, know what I want to do with my career, and have motivation to study hard. If I didn’t have it, I would not apply for a study program here. But I am sure my former teachers would not give a great feedback if you asked them about me. That’s how it is, and I accept it. I am ready to prove their words wrong while studying at the university.
  7. I think they would describe me as extremely ambitious. Not sure if it is good or bad, and whether it is 100% accurate. But it is true I have always aimed for excellence, and wanted to be the best in the class. And that’s because I always dreamed of studying at one of the Ivy League universities, and knew that a second place would not do. Now, I try to see things in their complexity. Was I the most popular student in the class? Certainly not. Did I have many friends? Not really. Would I do things differently if I could turn back the clock? I am not sure… But anyway, it is how it is, my efforts allowed me to get to this interview, and I definitely do not regret having little social life outside of school, since I was studying all the time…


Honesty is a highly sought after quality in the interviews

They won’t screen you out just because you say you weren’t the best student, or teachers did not like you. At the end of the day, teenage years are extremely hard, and people do change. Maybe you aren’t proud of certain things you did at school, or of your attitude towards your studies. And your former teachers would find it hard to say something good about you. Yet it is how it is, you learned your lesson, and you can openly admit your mistakes in this interview. This matters more than anything else for the interviewers.

You can always say that you do not know, since it shows your humility

If you aren’t sure what to say, you can always say that you do not know what your teachers think about you. At the end of the day, this isn’t an interview for a job of a psychologist, or a family advocate… You do not need to be a people expert here. It is fine saying that you do not see into the head of your former teachers, and cannot really say how they perceive you, as a student or as a human being. You can say that you tried your best, paid attention, and tried to create a good connection with your teachers. But whether they perceived it in the same way you simply cannot tell. Because just as they do not see in your head, you do not see in theirs…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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