Gone are times when Physical Education was the favorite subject for most elementary and secondary school students. Movement, the most natural activity for our kind, and for all other living creatures, has suddenly become difficult for the children. And once they get older, things only get worse…
Struggling with obesity and with other diseases of civilization, many children find it hard to run, jump, play a game–unless they do it on their smartphones. Some schools have ditched PE altogether. Their reasoning is highly questionable. Surely, many children do not enjoy PE classes, they have experience with bullying, and some are so scared of PE that they will skip the entire day in school, just to avoid one lesson of physical education. So strong are the negative associations they have with PE.
These are serious problems. However, I still believe that Physical Education makes sense, just like any other activity that induces children to move. Schools should rather reform the way in which PE classes are led than ditching the subject altogether. Moving is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. And children should move a lot, unless they want to be sick their entire adult life.
Let’s continue fighting the good fight for PE at schools. I am grateful that you chose this particular career, and now I will show you how to answer some questions you may face in your PE Teacher job interview.
Can you please tell us something about yourself, your background?
Typically the first question, and often also the most important one. If you manage to make a good impression, and explain your journey that took you from love for sports to studying education and finally to this teaching interview, you will be just a few steps away from a new job contract.
Try to talk about relevant things, which is mostly your education, career in sports, any teaching, training, or tutoring jobs you had in the past. You should also explain at which point of your professional career you find yourself right now, and how this particular job application makes sense for your present, and for your future.
Remember that people who lead your interview are not professional recruiters. They are school administrators, teachers, counselors. Basically people who are looking for a new colleague. For this reason you can also share some details from your personal life. Whether you have kids, what your hobbies are (also outside of sports), etc.
Well, to start with, I always loved to move. Playing soccer and baseball from young age, and when not on the pitch I was running around or swimming in the sea. I have kept this passion over the years, and when I realized that I have a talent to teach, and to lead others, I decided to pursue the career of a PE Teacher. Whole studying I actually led a local baseball team and also gave private swimming classes to a few people. I cannot say how much I enjoyed the actual process. It has just strengthened my desire to study the field and to eventually teach Physical Education. That’s basically my story, and I hope the next step is the job at your school. Please tell me if you’d like me to elaborate on one of my previous roles, or on anything else.
Why do you want to work here, and not at some other school?
You should do your research prior to the interview, especially about the PE at their school. Try to find out what concepts they promote, which playgrounds they have for the children in the school area. If they are very pro-PE, you can praise their attitude and say that such a working environment will give you better options to meet the goals of your teaching.
You can also praise them for other things, such as a great reputation, modern equipment, excellent results of their students in sports competitions, and so on. One way or another, they should get an impression that you didn’t choose them only because the school is nearby your apartment. You like the way they go about stuff, and they are your first choice for employment.
I like the playground here, the running track, and also the condition of the gym. Everything is new and modern, and it must be a pleasure to teach in such an environment, having all facilities at your disposal. What’s more, I live in this area, and children of many of my friends visit this school. I must say that you have a great reputation when it comes to the quality of teaching, and it would be an honor to join your team, and perhaps also contribute to the quality education the children get here.
What challenges do Physical Education teachers face right now? How do you plan to address these challenges?
You shouldn’t wear pink glasses when interviewing for this job. Be realistic. You can even go as far as saying that the majority of kids dislike physical education, which makes your job ten times harder.
However, the most important thing is HOW you talk about these challenges. They exist, you are aware of them, but do you try to do something to address them as a teacher? That’s what interests the interviewers. You can even outline some concepts of PE classes that should be more enjoyable for children, and lead to less stress on their side.
Emphasizing individual approach to each student (taking into account their physical predispositions and limitations) as your way of improving reputation and impact of PE is another good idea. One way or another, they should get the impression that you have not given up, and will bring some interesting ideas onboard.
The biggest challenge is definitely the fact that majority of children don’t move, that they didn’t build such habits in their families. Many children are obese, and dislike PE, or any kind of movement in general, which makes our job even harder. Having said that, I believe that a change is possible, that the battle isn’t lost yet. The key is individual approach to every student, considering their physical predispositions and also actual condition, and making sure that the activity we assign them to do they can enjoy, at least to some extent. I honestly believe that the days when all students in the class did the same exercises during the PE lesson are gone. Now we have to approach their education differently, if we want to have any success. And that’s exactly what I hope to do as a teacher here.
What would you do if you saw that a group of children was bullying one of their classmates during your lesson?
Say that you would intervene immediately, and follow with a disciplinary action against the students, following the rules and regulations they have in place at their school. Zero tolerance to bullying is a philosophy of the majority of modern schools, and it is the right approach.
You can also add that you are aware of common bullying in PE classes, and plan to keep your eyes open to spot any inappropriate behavior immediately. Bullying will always exist at schools, but you as a teacher will try your best to suppress it. You will also try to help better the relationships between the students, trying to involve them in group activities and games that are designed to strengthen team spirit. That’s your way of indirectly fighting against bullying in the classes.
First of all, I want to ensure you that I can spot bullying quickly, that I will keep my eyes open, and that I won’t tolerate it in my lessons. As soon as I spot any such behavior I will intervene, stop it, and take a disciplinary action against the offender(s), following the regulations you have in place here. Anyway, I realize that bullying happens in PE classes more often than it does in other class, and I you can be sure I will try my best to make sure it does not happen in my classes…
Imagine that a parent complains about something that happened in one of your lesson. How will you react?
Ensure the hiring committee that you want to take each feedback seriously–be it from a student, parent, or from a fellow staff member. You can make a mistake–just like everyone else. And you can misunderstand the reaction of a student, just like any other teacher can. Hence you will carefully listen to their complaint, and try to address the situation.
Of course you will share your point of view, because it can differ strongly from the perspective of the student. But first and foremost you will try to understand their point of view, and learn from the situation, to do things better next time. If it goes about a more serious complaint or problem, you may involve counselor or even one of the administrators in the case. You are a team player and do not hesitate to ask your colleagues for help…
I will definitely hear them out, because I know that regardless of how hard I try, I will make some mistakes. That’s why I want to be receptive to any feedback I get as a PE teacher, be it from students, their parents, or even from my colleagues, fellow teachers. I will try to understand their point of view, and share mine with them. Eventually I will try to learn from the situation, making sure I do not make the same mistake again, or at least explain things better to the children to avoid some misunderstandings. To sum it up, I will definitely hear them out, and then take the most appropriate action. And if I am not sure what to do, I will ask my superior or one of the counselors for help…
Some other questions you may face in your Physical Education Teacher job interview
- What would you do if a student refused to do a certain exercise in your lesson?
- Tell us about your most favorite teaching methods. Why do you prefer them to other methods?
- What games or sports do you consider the most appropriate for elementary school students?
- Describe a great PE teacher with three words.
- What are your expectations on fellow teachers and administrators of the school?
- What are your salary expectations?
- After everything that we discussed here, do you want to add something or do you have any questions?
* You can download all questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a PE teacher belongs to easier job interviews. You typically won’t compete with many other applicants, and the questions are rather predictable.
Do a good research about their school, prepare for the questions, and try to show some enthusiasm for your teaching mission. It should be enough to succeed in this interview…
May also help you:
- Elementary Teacher interview questions – Six common interview questions and a guide on how to present yourself as a good candidate for this job.
- Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – Do not let the anxiety to kill your chances in the interview.