The interview process to land a teaching position can be daunting and stressful for both new and seasoned educators. As a new teacher, it might be discouraging at times if you've interviewed for multiple positions and they go to someone with more experience. It can be helpful to remember that every teacher was a first-year teacher at some point, and even seasoned teachers may not land a position because of grade level or subject experience.
During the interview process, you have an opportunity to conduct your own interview too. Just as the school principal or interview team is finding out if you might be the right fit for the position, you also have a chance to gain some helpful insight into the school culture to see if it would be the right place to land.
At the end of the interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions. If this isn't brought up, take a moment to share that you have a couple of questions for the team. This is a great time to find out more about the school environment, support, and overall atmosphere of the school.
Here are few questions to consider asking. You don't need to ask all of these questions at the end of the interview. Just know that you might learn a little more about the school as the interview progresses, so choose a couple of questions to have ready.
1. What kind of support does the school provide new teachers? Is there a mentorship program?
Feeling isolated and alone is the last thing you want to experience as a new teacher. And being able to openly ask questions and have ongoing support can make a big difference. Find out if there is a mentorship program, if you will have collaboration time, and what kind of support you will have during the year from the principal and staff.
2. If you had to describe working at this school in just three words, what would they be?
This question can be very telling about the school climate and culture. If there is more than one person on the interview team, it might be helpful to hear from several staff members. This can give a pretty good picture of the school and help you determine if it will be a good fit.
3. During the pandemic, what was the transition like to distance learning, and how has the school adapted?
It's 2021 as I write this blog post, and we just finished a heck of a school year. Asking this question can give you a clue into how the school navigated the transition from in-person to online. Listen to see how the school supported students and families. Does the school have some good systems in place now? What did they learn or what would they do differently? This will give you some insight into the school's priorities.
4. How have teachers in your school been supported during the pandemic (2020-2021 school year)?
I have worked with some amazing supportive principals who took time to listen and recognized that we are not just teachers, but are human beings. We have families, we have a life outside of school, and our health and safety matter. In asking how teachers have been supported, it will give you some insight into the schools' values. Do these align with your values?
5. What is your favorite part of working here and what has kept you in this school district?
This might give you some insight into the retention rate of the school. Do teachers stay a long time? If the retention rate is high, you can follow up by asking what they feel might be the contributing factors. You could also ask what a teacher should do if they want to be successful in the district and plan to stay for a long time.
6. How do you define the success of a teacher?
Asking this question will give you some insight into the school's values. Is success defined by test scores or is it more well-rounded with relationship building, community, and student growth beyond the test score?
7. What do you love about your school?
This is a great way to let the interview team brag about their school for a moment and leaves the interview on an upbeat.
Looking for more new teacher tips? You might be interested in these blog posts.