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5 Key Interview Questions Every Substitute Teacher Should Be Able to Answer

Substitute teacher interview questions | School Professionals | Teacher with hands raised in air

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Preparing for substitute teacher interview questions can often feel like more work than it needs to be. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the process. Substitute teaching is essential to children’s learning, so to help make the interview process less daunting, we have created some tips to ensure your success. Here are 5 key substitute teacher interview questions that every substitute teacher should be prepared to answer before entering their interview.

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

This is a popular interview question, as the interviewer can get an idea of your feelings about this career. It’s beneficial to give them a unique answer, ideally one that includes a personal anecdote. For example: describe your favorite teacher growing up and how that impacted your career journey. Instead of giving them an overused answer of “Because I do well with children,” consider something such as: “Because I want to help shape the next generation, and I know that I can do this by….” This is a chance to highlight your passion for teaching and love for working in the classroom. 

2. Can you tell us about your teaching experience?

It can be easy to unintentionally list information straight from your resume that the interviewer already knows. Instead of just focusing on tasks and curriculum that you taught, discussing your growth in the position is important here as well. Take time to reflect on what you achieved with your past students and share how that transformed your teaching experience.

If this is your first role in education and you don’t have an educational degree, don’t be alarmed. Use this as an opportunity to share how you were inspired to begin a path in education. If you don’t have experience in a conventional classroom setting, give an example of similar experience such as being a camp counselor.

It is important to have an elevator pitch prepared as to why you want to transition into education. It’s ideal to explain how you will make a unique impact teaching and why you are interested in becoming a substitute teacher. 

3. Can you give us an example to better understand your teaching/classroom management style?

This is a great opportunity to showcase your teaching skills and give the interviewer an idea of how you have been successful in the classroom. Paint a picture of yourself for the interviewer by providing past examples of lesson plans, successful classroom projects, and different experiences that brought you to this teaching style. Explain how you found this teaching style and how your success with it has motivated you.

4. Are you comfortable following preset lesson plans and/or creating your own?

It is important to be as detailed as possible when answering this question. The interviewer wants to know that you are organized and capable of following and/or creating a lesson plan if needed. You can take this opportunity to run the interviewer through the steps you take to prepare before entering the classroom each day, such as reading over the lesson plan multiple times, taking notes, and ensuring you have all the materials you need. You can also showcase past lesson plans you have created and how you found them to be successful. 

5. How do you handle disruptions in your classroom?

The best way to answer this question is to explain the necessary steps that you would take to handle the situation. Describe how you would tailor your method differently based on grade-level. For example, if you are planning to teach K-12, reference that you may have slight differences depending on age, then briefly explain those differences. In any circumstance, describe how you would calm the situation and have a one-on-one conversation with the student to let them have a moment. 

Other key points to keep in mind for your substitute teacher interview

1. Dress professionally

2. Arrive on-time, or ideally a few minutes before your scheduled interview start.

3. Bring an extra copy of your resume with you to the interview, just in case the interviewer asks for this, or you want to reference it while speaking about your experience.

4. Be genuine and honest in all answers

5. Highlight your qualifications and experiences

6. Ask follow-up questions such as: “What is the most important quality you are looking for in the person who fills this role?”

7. Finish the interview by asking whether they have any questions or concerns about what you discussed today. Listen carefully here and try to answer in a way to put to rest any concerns.

8. End by thanking them for their time and reinforcing your interest in the school and the position.

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