Job search is a game of numbers. In this case, the numbers play in your favor: Typically, only a few people will apply for every preschool teacher job opening, and sometimes you may actually be the only job candidate. That means that you do not need to be better than the others. You just need to convince the interviewers that you are good enough for the job.
They will typically use several personal questions (asking about your motivation, goals, experience, and strengths), and a few behavioral questions (asking how you approached certain situations in the past, or how you’d approach them in your teaching job). This is enough for the interviewers to get a good grasp of your personality, motivation, and attitude, and to decide whether you deserve a chance as a preschool teacher. Let’s have a look at the questions!
Why do you apply for a preschool teacher job?
Try to avoid referring to the past, saying that you apply because you’ve graduated from the field. Focus rather on the future, on the things you want to achieve as a preschool teacher, and of course on your love to children.
Say them that you enjoy being around children, that you see a meaningful purpose in this job (in no other time of life can we form children as much as we can during their preschool years), and that you feel ready and qualified to do the job well, from day one.
Speak with enthusiasm. The interviewers should really believe that you want the job, and did not apply just because you graduated from the field, or because you need any kind of job to earn money.
Describe how you imagine a typical day in work.
Now you should show them that you know what is expected from you, and that you do not wear pink glasses when it comes to teaching. There will be problems, there will be challenges. But it is your attitude to problems that matter for the interviewers. Describe games you’d play with children, and skills and abilities you plan to continuously develop with the activities of your choice.
You can talk about taking the children out, to the nature (if it is possible in your location), helping them to build a healthy relationship to the nature, and to their environment. At the end of the day you can simply say that you want to fill their day with meaningful activities, and plan to be busy from morning to afternoon, doing the activities with them, and solving problems that may occur in your class.
Special Tip: Download a complete list of questions in a one page long PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
What are the most common challenges preschool teachers face?
The right answer to this question varies from country to country, but one thing is common for each pre-primary school: problems with discipline. Obviously we can not control what the parents do, how they bring their children up. In each and every preschool class, we will find some children that struggle with discipline, and sometimes even children that may be ugly to their schoolmates, and do not obey the rules at all.
Problems with discipline represent probably the greatest challenge, but you can mention also other things, such as: cleaning, changing diapers, crying children, paperwork, etc. Do not forget to check: How to overcome interview nerves – get rid of stress and deliver your best in an interview.
Why do you want to work here, and not in another kindergarten?
This is your chance to praise the school for something they do well. Perhaps they have an amazing playground for children, or a great and peaceful location? Perhaps their teachers have an excellent reputation, and you have heard just good things about them?
If you can identify anything that makes them stand out in your eyes, refer to it in your answer. And if you do not see anything special about the particular school, you can simply say that it is the nearest nursery school–so it will be convenient for you to work for them, and not somewhere else where you will have to drive to work.
Imagine that one of the children refuses to obey your orders, on a continual basis. What would you do?
Having such a child in your class is difficult, and it creates problems for everyone. When you need to pay special attention to one of the children, you can’t really pay enough attention to the rest of the class. Therefore you should tell the interviewers that you will do your best to address this problem. And how can you address it?
Consulting the parents, working with a school psychologist (if they are employed at the educational facility), trying your best to gain both respect and trust of the child is a way to go. You can even say that in a worst case possible, you will suggest to dismiss a child.
May also interest you: Elementary teacher interview questions & answers – some questions overlap with the questions for preschool, and you should get ready for them.
How would you encourage the children to work together, and to socialize?
Most children will socialize naturally, and we do not have to do anything special to make it happen. Just give them a free hand, and show some love…
Nevertheless, you can suggest doing activities that naturally encourage them to cooperate together, and to talk to one another. Sports, games that have no winners and losers, and activities such as a common drawing, or a common dance are a great choice of an activity. Feel free to come up with your own ideas!
Other questions you may get in your preschool teacher interview
- Why this level of education? Why not primary or secondary school?
- Tell us about the games you plan to play with your students, and why you prefer these games to other games.
- What would your former colleagues (classmates) say about you?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- What are your expectations on a school principal, and other administrators?
- Do you consider yourself a team player?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Your greatest weakness as a teacher?
- Why should we hire you, and not the other person who tries to get this job?
Conclusion and next steps, more in-depth preparation
You won’t compete with many job applicants in this interview, but you will still have to demonstrate your motivation, right attitude to work, and readiness for the job.
In this case, your non-verbal communication is extremely important. The interviewers must feel that you really want the job, that you will enjoy working with children.
If you experience anxiety, however, or simply want to spend more time preparing for your interview (and for all questions you may possible get), have a look at my eBook, the Teacher Interview Guide. Brilliant answers to all difficult questions and winning interview strategies for teachers will make a big difference for you on your big day. Thank you for checking it out, and see you in the interviews!
Alternatively you may continue your interview preparation with one of the following articles:
- Teaching and education interviews – From teacher assistant to school principal, we hope to help you ace your job interview in education.
- How to ace an interview – 10 rules to remember if you want to walk away with a new job contract.
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?