Top 20 Substitute Teacher Interview Questions and Answers 2023

A substitute steps in for teachers that are absent for a day or a given duration. Here are 20 frequent interview questions in case you are eyeing such a role. 

1.    Why Are You Interested In This Role? 

Why do you want to become a substitute teacher in the given institution? Interviewers always want to know employee motives. 

Tip #1: Ensure that your motives are pure and not cash-related. 

Tip #2: Your motives should benefit the institution. 

Sample Answer

I am a passionate educator who loves to see students at their best. I fit the job description and believe that your company will offer me an opportunity to help students and achieve personal gratification. 

2.    What Are The Roles Of A Substitute Teacher? 

The interviewer wants to know whether you understand what is expected of you in the workplace. 

Tip #1: Mention the primary roles of a substitute teacher. 

Tip #2: Ensure that you capture relevant things. 

Sample Answer 

A substitute teacher steps in for teachers who are absent for a day or longer periods. He/ she takes attendance, explain homework, and ensure that the classroom is clean and in order. 

3.    What Are The Qualities That A Substitute Teacher Needs To Be Effective? 

Certain qualities are unique to given jobs. The interviewer wants you to mention some of the qualities that you feel a substitute teacher should have.

Tip #1: The qualities need to be helpful to the job. 

Tip #2: You don’t have to mention lots of qualities. 

Sample Answer 

A substitute teacher should be passionate about working with students. He/ she should be organized and have a genuine care for students. He/ she should also be an effective classroom manager.  

4.      What Significant Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Handle It?

The question seeks to establish whether you are a problem-solver or not. There are specific challenges that are inherent in the positions we occupy. How we manage them is what sets us for success. 

Tip #1: You can talk about a particular experience but do not paint yourself negatively. 

Tip #2: Do not come off as a liar

Sample Answer 

While at Higgins School, I used to step in for a teacher who had a disruptive class. Even after warning and talking to them, they could not cooperate. I had to liaise with the school principal to restore order. 

5.    Describe Your Daily Routine As A Substitute Teacher? 

What do you normally do anytime you are called upon as a substitute teacher? 

This is a pretty straightforward question. 

Tip #1: Only limit yourself to job-specific activities. 

Tip #2: Be professional 

Sample Answer 

Whenever I am called to step in for an absent teacher, I report and first go through the lesson plan that the main teacher has left behind and confirm with the curriculum to see where the students are. I then report to class and cover where the teacher left. My stay in school will depend on the number and duration of lessons. 

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6.    Describe Briefly About Your Experience 

The interviewer would like to know what you have gained from the field and some of the places you have served. 

Tip #1: Mention experiences that have shaped your career. 

Tip #2: Do not narrate your entire life. 

Sample Answer 

After years of training as a teacher, I joined Presby School as a teacher and taught for five years. I managed to ascend in ranks and became part of the administration. I then left formal employment to pursue other dreams, and upon returning, I was posted at Hughes school, where I have been in the last five years. 

7.    What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role? 

It is usually challenging to achieve results without the right mindset. The interviewer must, therefore, ascertain that you have the right mental push for the job. 

Tip #1: Mention a strategy that has worked for you. 

Tip #2: Mention a mindset that all substitute teachers need to have. 

Sample Answer 

This area requires a teacher to maximize on interactive learning. Participation helps students become more engaged now that they will not be seeing their regular teacher. One needs a focused and goal-setting mindset to succeed. 

8.    What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job? 

You must have done your research and established some of the areas that may deem challenging in the long run. However, be very careful when answering this question. 

Tip #1: Do not limit yourself

Tip #2: Offer some of the possible solutions, if any

Sample Answer 

First, I’d like to mention that I love overcoming challenges. They give me the adrenaline and push to continue going. I have not seen any particular challenge, but I believe that I can overcome some that may come along the way. 

9.    How Do You Stay Motivated At Work? 

This question is as simple as what keeps you going. The interviewer wants to know what drives you. 

Tip #1: Do not focus on the material benefits of the job. 

Tip #2: You can sell yourself in your answer

Sample Answer 

I am passionate about success. I always ensure that I meet or beat all my deadlines and stay ahead of the game. Seeing students pass gives me immense joy, which explains why I am always motivated. 

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10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson That You Learned

Do you learn from your mistakes? Have the lessons made you better? 

Tip #1: Own up. This is not a trap. Your accountability is at test. 

Tip #2: Do not ruin your chances of landing the job. 

Sample Answer 

I once landed a role a few weeks to exams. I took up from where the teacher left and only noticed that some of the students had problems with reading some letters when the exams were around the corner. I tried helping them as much as possible, but only a few had an easy time during the exams. I learned to always assess the students first before taking up from where another teacher left. 

11. What Is Your Work Schedule? 

This question has several motives. However, most employers main aim is to deduce whether you are flexible and available for the tasks that may come along the way.

Tip #1: Show the employer that you are flexible. 

Tip #2: Being a substitute teacher, the employer wants to know the periods that you are available. 

Sample Answer 

I am mostly done with my work by midday. Most of the time, I remain in the office to read and catch up with other staff members. Therefore, I am available during the afternoon and the evening after leaving my workplace. 

12. How Would You Approach An Emotional Student? 

Your interpersonal skills are being tested. There are certain distinct qualities that every teacher should have. Being a substitute teacher, you are also required to have them. 

Tip #1: Show that you can get along well with students. 

Tip 2: Your answer should be convincing

Sample Answer 

I will give him/ her time and then approach once he/ she has calmed down. I will then try to find out what upset him/ her. Also, I will be gentle with all the kids so that the emotional ones are not triggered. 

13. You Understand That Students Have Diverse Learning Needs. Tell Me One Strategy That You Will Use To Counter This

There are several ways that students can learn regardless of school. The interviewer wants to know either you are conversant with some of the ways students learn and how best to cater to them. 

Tip #1: Your answer should capture learning styles. 

Tip #2: You can mention how to implement different teaching methods. 

Sample Answer 

Students mainly learn through visual, kinesthetic, and auditory means. I can gauge these methods by asking a few questions and determining the easier instructions for them. Once I have known what each student finds best, I will emphasize more on it when teaching. 

14. What Are Some Of The Methods That You Use To Communicate Effectively? 

Effective communication is a crucial foundation for substitute teacher delivery. They have to keep in touch with the primary teachers, parents, and authority. 

Tip #1: Tell the interviewer that you can communicate effectively

Tip #2: how that you can adapt when necessary and review older material

Sample Answer 

I first memorize the main teacher’s contacts so that it is easier to reach him/her. I will also clarify everything in the lesson plan with students and administrators, ask questions to test the students learning, and review lessons. 

15. Can You Analyse The Lesson Plans From The Primary Teacher On Short Notice? 

Can you meet deadlines or blend in on short notice? As a substitute teacher, you should always be ready for same-day notifications. The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills. 

Tip #1: Show that you can adapt to solutions quickly. 

Tip #2: Show that you understand the student’s current knowledge base

Sample Answer

I usually pick up the lesson plans that the teacher has left behind, go through them, and figure out the curriculum and where the students are in terms of learning. I can also read a variety of subjects, and therefore, this can never be a problem. 

16. What’s Your Experience With Developed Individual Education Plans? 

Individual Education plans are often put in place for individual students to enhance learning. Every employer wants an employee who can read and implement such programs. 

Tip #1: Show that you understand these plans. 

Tip #2: Show that you can read and implement these plans. 

Sample Answer 

Individual education plans are put in place for learners who have special needs or absorb materials differently. This is my third year working with these plans, and I have managed to recognize the disabilities of a variety of students and come up with special teaching programs for them. 

17. What Do You Think About The Balanced Literacy Approach And Its Effectiveness? 

As a substitute teacher, you should always expect to adopt a Balanced Literacy approach in your work. You should have a basic understanding of the method and convince the interviewer that you can deliver. 

Tip #1: Explain this approach. 

Tip #2: You can explain how it can be incorporated into classes

Sample Answer 

This method teaches both phonics and the whole language. It is an effective method that serves both auditory learners and visual or tactile students. 

18. What Teaching Method Do You Prefer And Why? 

Substitute teachers are always heavily affected by classroom discipline. Students always tend to misbehave when the main teacher is not around. 

Tip #1: Your method should capture their attention and keep them engaged. 

Tip #2: Choose an interactive method of learning

Sample Answer 

I mostly employ interactive methods of teaching to engage the students. I believe that teacher-centred ways may not be sufficient for a substitute teacher. At times I also utilize the individual teaching approach where I walk in, talk to the students, and set up the right mood. 

19. How Will You Deal With Disruptive Students? 

As a substitute teacher, you are at crossroads because you do not know about most of the students’ backgrounds and reasons for their behaviors. Your answer is, therefore, crucial to the interviewer. 

Tip #1: Do not shy from taking disciplinary action.

Tip #2: Do not be too hard on the student

Sample Answer 

I will warn the disruptive students from spoiling the morale of the class. If they do not cooperate, I will report them to the Principal. 

20. How Do You Plan To Handle The Pressure Of Working As A Substitute Teacher? 

Being a substitute teacher is not an average job. It requires mental and physical input, which may leave you drained. Therefore, think through this question. 

Tip #1: The interviewer expects that you understand all the challenges that come with the job. 

Tip #2: your answer should be convincing and not vague

Sample Answer 

Being a substitute teacher is indeed tiring. However, I will always ensure that I follow my teaching mission. I understand the role that substitutes teachers play, and I am sure that my inner motivation will drive me. 


A substitute teacher interview can be quite challenging. Therefore, you have to ensure that you are at par with some of the questions that may be asked. I hope that these twenty questions will lay for you a foundation.