Experience. Everybody needs to get it somewhere, in a teaching job. Yet in almost every interview in education, they will ask you about your experience in the field. As if you were born with ten years of teaching experience already, or perhaps worked as a teacher in one of your past lives (should you believe in reincarnation). Regardless of whether this question makes sense or not (and in many cases it does not make sense), you will have to deal with it in your interview. So, what does the school principal, or whoever leads the interview with you want to hear from you?
First of all, that you have some experience. Perhaps you taught as a part of your college studies. Or you gave private classes to younger students, in your favorite subject, a subject you excel in. What I try to convey here is that you do not have to work as a teacher to gain teaching experience. In a true sense of a word, we are all teachers. Thinking about raising children for example. No doubt you try to teach them how to behave, how to act towards the others, how to be happy in life, and many other things (such as how to go the toilet, eat food on their own, etc). Do not hesitate to mention such teaching experience should you miss any other…
And secondly, they want to hear enthusiasm in your voice, feel your love for teaching. No doubt teaching isn’t an easy profession, especially nowadays. And no doubt you had your share of problems, challenges you faced with your students. Nevertheless, the positives outweigh the negatives, and you see a meaningful purpose in your teaching role. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting question.
7 sample answers to “Tell me more about your teaching experience” interview question
- I’ve been teaching for seven years. Four years at elementary school, and three years at secondary school. Learned a lot along the way, especially what teaching methods work best with various classes and subjects, but also how to deal with problems with discipline, something every teacher faces in this district. I will be honest with you–it wasn’t always an easy ride, and I experienced a few really bad days, days when I considered quitting teaching. But luckily I’ve never done that, because when I look at the bigger picture, and all the good things that happened with the students, I still see teaching as my mission, and as a dream job to have.
- I’ve worked as a Montessori teacher for a year. It was a great experience, and allowed me to experiment with unorthodox teaching methods, something I’d love to apply also in mainstream education–at least to some extent. Teaching by playing, putting emphasis on communication and creativity, I really feel it is the best we can do for the children, to help them develop their full potential. It is the only experience I have so far, but at the same time I believe my education, and all the courses I went to, prepared me for the role of a teacher at an elementary school.
- This is my first job application, but it doesn’t mean I have no experience with teaching. Since I have always excelled in Math–something many people struggle with, I was earning some extra cash giving private lessons to my classmates at the college. The most important thing I learned during this teaching experience is that individual approach is the key. And I’d love to benefit from this in my first real teaching job, ideally with your school. I cannot wait to get to know the students, and try to help them reach their full potential, and also to enjoy their time at school!
- It may look like I worked only in retail for the past 12 years, but I want to ensure you that as a mother of three, I have had my share of teaching experience. You love your children, but you also want them to become good citizens, and also to teach them many skills so they can do activities without you. And now I do not talk only about bathroom duties. It is also about preparing basic meals, learning to ride a bicycle, taking care of a dog, and other things. I taught my children all these skills and believe I did a good job as their “teacher”. Now, when I feel I am too old to work in sales, I’d like to finally benefit from my French skills, and become a French teacher. And while I never taught anyone French language before, I had great teachers myself, and can benefit from everything I learned from them, from our lessons.
- My teaching experience is mostly from the corporate sphere. Working as a training specialist, I helped new hires learn how to work with the information system we used in the company, and also to ease into their new role. Over the years I worked with all kinds of personalities, and believe to know how to work with adults, how to teach them, which is one of the main reasons why I apply for this job with you. If I should characterize my teaching experience in three words only, I’d call it extensive and eye-opening.
- The only experience I have comes from the obligatory 180 hours we had to teach in the last year at the University. I was assisting teachers in different classes, mostly in History and Geography. And I learned a few important things during this experience. First of all, that we should not idealize our job. Regardless of how hard we try, some students won’t pay attention, and some students will fail to pass the exams. It is how it is, and we have to focus on effort, instead of on results we achieve with the students. Secondly, that I really love this job, and want to teach for years on end, ideally at a high school level. And last but not least, that students have higher expectations nowadays, and unless we want to face problems with attention and discipline, we have to mix it up with innovative teaching methods, and cannot rely on lecturing only.
- I’ve never taught anywhere, but I’ve studied at so many schools and language institutes, and had so many different teachers in life…. And since I am a great observer, I believe I learned how to teach effectively from a position of a student. I saw what worked, and what didn’t in the classes. How the student reacted, including me, when we learned the most, and when we didn’t learn anything. I know it is a bit unorthodox preparation for the role of a teacher. At the same time though, I am ready to prove my words in the job, and I am sure neither you nor the students will be disappointed with me as a teacher…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky questions you may face in your teaching interview:
- Tell me about yourself – teacher interview.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
- Teacher interview – Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
- Why do you want to be a teacher?