Congratulations: you’re interviewing. You’ve done your research. You know the school’s mission statement, curriculum, and extra-curricular activities. You’ve spent the past half hour or so detailing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses, discussing your passion for 21st century education, blended learning, and STEM curricula, and describing the ins and outs of your classroom. And, if you do say so yourself, you’re dressed perfectly.
It’s the last five minutes of the interview, and you’ve nailed it. And then the interviewer asks you: “Do you have any questions for me?”
Oh dear. If you’ve had that panicked feeling before—where your mind goes blank when you’re asked if you have any questions—you’re not alone. When you’re juggling the salient points from on and off your resume amid questions and discussion points during an interview, remembering what questions to ask can fall to the wayside. But asking good questions is essential for a good interview: in so doing, you’ll show that you’re thoughtful and that you’re discerning—you are, after all, looking to find the right fit as much as the school is.
Stumped about what to ask? We’ve got you covered.
1. Do you like working here?
The school at which you’re interviewing could be amazing. It could have a gorgeous campus, state-of-the art equipment, and all the cutting-edge 21st-century curriculum topics a teacher could ask for. But if the staff doesn’t enjoy working at the school, you won’t want to stay.
When you work at an independent school, you’re more than a teacher or administrator: you’re part of a community. Asking the interviewer if s/he likes working at the school indicates that you’re not looking to get in, teach, and get out; rather, you’re passionate about teaching and you want to enjoy being in the place that allows you to pursue that passion.
2. What changes are on the horizon for your school?
After a careful review of a school’s website, you can be pretty up-to-date about what’s happened there. You can know the mission statement, school history, lesson plans, and even football scores. What you might not know, though, is what the school is planning for its future.
Asking what changes are on the horizon will help you understand if the school will continue to be an exciting place for you to work and grow as an educator. If you see what the school values in its plans for change, you can decide if those values align with your own.
3. What motivates your students?
The values a school promotes necessarily influence how students derive motivation in their studies. By asking this question, you’ll convey two things to your interviewer: first, that you’re able to make the connection between the school’s mission and its impact on students, and second, that the students—the lifeblood of the school—are front and center in your mind. You’ll also gain an understanding of the school culture as students see it (perhaps environmental sustainability motivates them, or the school’s honor code), and you’ll see how connected your interviewer is to the student body.
4. What kinds of teachers do well here?
This is an important question for you to know—the answer can indicate much about the school’s culture. If the answer is “teachers with advanced degrees and rigid lesson plans,” the school probably focuses its attention most heavily on academics. If the answer is “teachers who engage well with students and who are flexible,” the culture is probably a bit more creative. Identify what’s important to you, and use this question as a tool to help you discover if the school is a good match.
5. How do teachers/administrators work together?
Remember: your interviewer is viewing you as a potential educator, yes, but s/he is also viewing you as a prospective colleague. If you come across as collaborative, open, and supportive, you’ll become a much more appealing candidate. Any educator understands the value of teamwork: show your interviewer that it’s important to you, and that you’re a team player, too.
Ever asked a killer question during an interview? Let us know what it was!