As a secondary school teacher, you will deal with students aged 11-19, preparing them for higher education. Your main job, therefore, will be teaching them given subjects based on nationally approved curriculums.
Apart from the defined age group, you will operate as a regular teacher- preparing lesson plans and using both interactive and creative means to teach your students and prepare them for admissions tests and college exams.
This article will look at a few questions that you should expect in a secondary school teacher interview. We want to give you an upper hand when appearing before the panel by anticipating possible interview questions.
However, also make sure that you work on your presentation and interview skills to increase your chances of landing the job. Let us take a look at the following:
1. Why Are You Interested In This Job?
By now, you should know that this is a standard question in job interviews. Mostly an interviewer will use your answer to determine whether you are fit for the job or as a foundation for other questions. Therefore, sell yourself and mention some of the things that you will contribute.
I am passionate about teaching high school students. I am highly experienced and therefore believe that I have all it takes to succeed in this job. I also understand what students from humble backgrounds go through, given that I came from a low-income family. I, therefore, believe that I will inspire the students here to make good use of their lives if given a chance.
2. What Are The Roles of a Secondary School Teacher?
Do you know some of your mandates as a secondary school teacher? This is a common question asked in interviews to determine if you understand what is expected from you. You can either use the provided job description or mention some of your former roles in this profession.
A secondary school teacher’s life revolves around high school students. They plan and prepare for lessons, interact with students, checks and assesses work, attends staff meeting and liaises with parents. They also monitor other out-of-class activities and oversee ongoing professional development. Other roles include instilling discipline and preparing the students for their next phase of life.
3. What Are The Qualities That a Secondary School Teacher Needs To Be Effective?
Do you know what it takes to be an excellent secondary school teacher? While answering this question, try to think about some of the traits and attributes that have made you successful in your career. Ensure that you can relate these to the job.
A secondary school teacher should have excellent people skills to build trust or bond with the students. They must also have a good sense of humour given the age group they are dealing with and strong leadership skills to impart good behaviour. Other qualities include excellent teaching knowledge, patience, flexibility, excellent communication skills, knowledge of Math, and the ability to create conducive learning conditions for students.
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4. Mention a Challenge That You Faced During Your Last Role. How Did You Manage It?
Dealing with secondary school children can be pretty hectic. Secondary school teachers may therefore experience several challenges in their role. However, the interviewer expects you to be a problem solver who will look for solutions before whining. Ensure that they are convinced.
My last job was in a low-income school in a crime-infested neighbourhood. Even though most of the students were disciplined, we had a few violent ones who threatened other students and would come to school with knives and other small combat weapons. Given that I did not want to predispose other children to danger, I would pair the former with the school counsellor to help them. However, those with weapons I reported them to the school administration, who dealt with them accordingly.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine?
What do you do daily in your job as a secondary school teacher? This is a common interview question that may be asked to either determine if you understand what your job entails or reveal some of the activities you did in your former workplace.
I arrive at school early and sign at the front office before heading to the classroom to prepare for the day’s activities. I then head to the staffroom to check my mails, catch up with my colleagues for a few minutes before going to the library for any books or teaching materials that I may need. I then attend a staff meeting before heading to the classroom. I spend the rest of the day teaching the students as we go through work given the previous day, tackle new concepts, mark, and grade their work.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
This question seeks to determine some of the places you have worked in, the positions you have had, and the unique roles you were mandated with. However, make sure that you are brief and to the point.
This is my tenth year as a secondary school teacher. I first taught at Murray Secondary School as a junior teacher before moving to Beckley High School, where I headed the history department. I was transferred to Brighton Group of Schools as the senior teacher, which I held until recently.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required For This Role
This is an important question, especially in a teaching role. It would be best if you had the right strategy and mindset when dealing with students. Mention any that has worked for you. However, make sure that you can relate them to the role.
The best strategy that any secondary school teacher can have is to be approachable but strict at the same time. You will build trust and get along well with students if they can approach you with their problems. However, they should know of certain boundaries that they should never cross. As for the right mindset, one needs to have an open mind to deal with students well without prejudice.
8. Mention a Challenge That You Foresee In This Role?
Every job has its challenges. You should always take time to go through the company’s policies and job descriptions to identify a few areas that may be stressful to manage. Make sure that you are honest when tackling this question.
Having been in this profession for quite some time, I have an in-depth understanding of how things work. Therefore, I know how to deal with several challenges that may come up in the course of duty. However, I believe that we can always handle any particular problem that I face along the way.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In This Role?
Being a high school teacher presents its fair share of challenges. You will most probably deal with rowdy students and have lots of marking and grading to do. The interviewer must therefore know what keeps you on your toes. Do not mention any material benefits when tackling this question.
I love seeing and helping my students transition into adulthood. Knowing that I imparted them with the right life skills during such a period is highly fulfilling. I, therefore, draw my motivation from seeing my students become better at school and in life as adults.
10. Mention a Time That You Failed In This Role and The Lesson You Learnt
The interviewer wants to know if you are accountable. Admitting failure and learning from them is a good way of doing that. However, do not throw yourself under the bus.
When I started teaching, I mainly evaluated students based on their performance in class and tests. Looking back, I feel that I did fail at my job. I have since incorporated other subjective evaluation means, such as their class participation and how they relate.
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11. What Is Your Teaching Philosophy?
The interviewer may ask you such a question to either get you talking or unravel a few things about your teaching background. Your answer can also be used as a guide for questions to follow. Your teaching philosophy should be student-centred.
My teaching philosophy is mainly centred on my students. I identify their passion and model my teaching around them. Even though this can be pretty unachievable owing to the difference in passion among students, I always try to find common ground that guides my teaching. At times I also get one of the students interested in the topic, which then influences others.
12. How Do You Evaluate Your Students?
This is an operational question that seeks to reveal how you go about your job. From time immemorial, teachers have relied on grades to evaluate students, given the objectiveness and straightforwardness. However, times are changing, and people are moving to subjective methods. Ensure, therefore, that you offer several subjective evaluation methods that will appeal to the interviewers.
I use an array of means to evaluate my students other than grades. I look at their level of classroom participation, how they interact with their peers and how well they can complete assignments on time by following the provided instructions.
13. How Do You Deal With Demanding Parents?
Part of your job will be dealing with parents who can be very demanding, especially where their children are involved. Therefore, you need to convince the interviewer that you can work well with parents; some of the most prominent stakeholders. Be brief and concise.
A significant part of my job involves dealing with parents, who can be pretty demanding. Being a parent, I understand their plight. I always engage them at the proper level while being empathetic to their concerns and demands. I also listen to and work with them to come up with solutions for their children’s education. I have realized that students perform better when their parents are involved.
14. Kindly Explain How You Manage The Classroom?
The interviewer wants to know about your approach to classroom management. As a teacher, you have to maintain the classroom structure, ensure that the learning environment is conducive and safe. Ensure that your approach does not go against the accepted standards, policies, or procedures.
I spend a significant percentage of my time managing the classroom and ensuring that both parties have a conducive learning environment. I have a special meeting with students at the beginning of each semester, where I establish strict ground rules to be adhered to as time goes by. I do not tolerate any disruptive behaviour from the students or one that may predispose them to risk.
15. How Do You Work With Students Having Identified and Unidentified Disabilities?
As a secondary school teacher, you should know how to work with students having disabilities. Make sure that you offer a good strategy and answer the question efficiently. The interviewer may also ask you a follow-up question based on your answer.
For identified learning disabilities, I have found out that spending additional time with the students, reducing their classroom requirements, and using other resources works the magic. For unidentified learning disabilities, I always ensure that I am aware of them and try looking for signs of struggling students. Once I have identified this, I will spend a good amount of my time with the student for confirmation and work out how it can be addressed. Once I know what I am dealing with, I will use the same strategy with identified learning disabilities.
16. Do You Teach Life Skills To Your Students?
The interviewer wants to know whether your main focus is on education or you can also broaden your lessons to accommodate life skills. As a secondary school teacher, you need to show that you are willing to prepare the students for their adult life. Tell the interviewer the importance of these skills and how you incorporate them in your lessons.
I usually incorporate life skills in my lessons because it is crucial to prepare students to operate independently once they graduate. I, therefore, strive to help them relate to the outside life by telling them some of the things they are likely to face and how they can manage them. I have received lots of positive feedback from students, thanking me for these lessons.
17. Kindly Tell Us One of The Most Frustrating Things About This Job?
Every job has its frustrating moments, and therefore, do not treat this questions as a trap. It is usual for high school students to be disruptive and, at times, cooperating, which may make your job difficult. However, while answering this question, try as much as possible not to be negative. Mention an issue that you successfully dealt with/ deals with.
One of the most frustrating things about this job is seeing a capable or bright student lose focus and get unbothered about their results. Most students in this category fail to exert themselves and therefore underachieve. In such instances, I usually work with them closely and offer additional help to help them appreciate their potential. I may also involve parents when necessary.
18. We Have Seen That You Have a Great Deal of Experience. What Contribution Can You Bring To Our School?
This is an operational question that seeks to determine how you can use your expertise, talents, and experiences to impact the institution positively. This is where you are expected to sell yourself. Show the interviewer that you can positively impact the school culture.
I can use my talents, skills, and expertise to impact both your school performance and culture positively. I have interacted with people from different cultures and therefore understand how to blend in and improve my surroundings. I can incorporate all the things I have learned and witnessed in my lessons and ways of operation to better the school.
19. Do You Always Take Time To Know Your Students?
This is another operational question that seeks to discover how you go about your job or operation. The best approach to such is to be straight to the point. However, also convince the interviewer that you have time for your students.
I usually ensure that I have a better understanding of my students. This allows me to help them achieve their educational objectives and in giving them instructions. Understanding my students’ life experiences and perspectives helps me tailor my teaching to benefit them.
20. What Is Differentiation and Universal Design? How Are These Applied In Your Line of Work?
This is a technical question that seeks to unravel whether you understand given concepts in your line of work. The best way of dealing with these is to be as brief and concise as possible. Also, be ready for a follow-up question.
Universal design is a technique that uses a proactive approach to design learning activities, making sure they are accessible to every student. Differentiation customizes the learning experience for every student. In my line of work, I use these two. I always design lesson plans accessible to the class while recognizing the need for adjustments for each student for better access to information.
This article summarizes some of the most asked questions in secondary school teacher interviews. Make sure that you go through them carefully to have an idea of what lies ahead. Also, work on your interview skills to convince the interviewer that you are an all-rounded professional.