We all know that at the end of the teaching interview the interviewer will ask, “So, do you have any questions for us?”
This is a great moment to find out more about a potential new employee, your role and what the future may hold – but don’t forget that the panel will be assessing you on the questions you ask, too.
As such, you should spend time before the interview carefully considering what questions you will ask and write them down, as you are in a high-stakes situation in an interview and may forget.
During the course of the interview, discussions can take place and your questions might have been addressed and answered. You could ask them to elaborate and extend or you could quite simply say that your questions have been answered, thank you.
Teacher job interviews: Questions to ask
Below are some useful questions to ask at the end of your interview.
1. What is the best thing about working at your school?
This is a lovely question to ask and often a lovely question to answer.
The responses can be very insightful, too. If the answers include the students, staff, professional development or support, then all of those factors create a strong sense of the school culture.
If someone answers that the best thing is free car parking on site, then that is very telling, too!
2. How will you support my professional development?
This is a very important question. This information might be available in the job advertisement and you might want to find out more. However, if there is no reference to professional learning then you should definitely ask about this.
This shows that you have an interest and desire to develop but the support of a school is essential to do so. What do all great teachers have in common? They never stop learning. What do all great schools have in common? They never stop improving.
A great teacher will flourish at a school that wants to improve. A school can only improve with teachers who want to learn and develop. They really do go hand in hand. As such, the answer to this question should tell you a lot.
3. Ask for information you couldn’t find during your research
An error that too many candidates make is asking questions for which they could have found out the information themselves.
Don’t ask about a policy unless you have checked if it is available online or contacted the school in advance and asked to view it.
Then, if you haven’t had the chance to view the school behaviour policy – for example, because it is not available to the public – then asking about it at an interview is perfect timing.
4. Ask about school/departmental areas of development and priorities
It is very likely, when being interviewed, that candidates will be asked to talk about their areas for development, in addition to talking about their strengths.
A reflective teacher will be aware of their areas of strength and areas of development.
This is something that a school should be aware of in terms of whole-school improvement. This information could be public and then it is worth exploring in slightly more depth at interview.
During the recruitment process, schools naturally want to create a positive impression to attract strong candidates, so they may tend to focus on strengths rather than areas of development, but this is important to know.
5. How do you support teacher wellbeing at your school?
Wellbeing is becoming more widely discussed in schools, and rightly so.
Many teachers are afraid to ask about mental health and wellbeing at interview in case they give the impression that they are weak and need support and this might put off potential employers.
The reality is we all need support at some points in our lives, either professionally or personally.
You may not be struggling now but anything can happen in the future. It will be reassuring to know how a school would support you.
Kate Jones is head of history at The British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi, and author of Love To Teach, Retrieval Practice and Retrieval Practice 2. She tweets @KateJones_teach