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Get a Teaching Job: Common Interview Mistakes

Janelle Cox

Teaching interviews are a time to shine and showcase your talents and knowledge in the field of education. However, it may be hard to show your love for the profession if you are making common interview mistakes. The trick to having a successful teaching interview and how to get a teaching job isn’t just to say and do everything right, it’s to avoid these common mistakes.

An interview is your chance to show the potential employer a glimpse into your life: How you think and socialize, what you like to do in your spare time, how you articulate yourself, and what kind of teacher you are, or are going to be. While you may think you are saying and doing all of the right things, unfortunately, it’s easy to make a few mistakes without even realizing it. Here are a few common interview mistakes teachers make, many of them are more common than you may think.

Get a Teaching Job: Don’t Dress Inappropriately

When you are interviewing to get a teaching job, it’s imperative to dress professionally and look polished. Keep the motto “dress for success” in the back of your mind. Make sure that you choose an appropriate outfit that isn’t ill fitting, and that is ironed. For example, women should wear a pantsuit or a pressed blouse and knee-length skirt. Your hair should be styled nicely, and makeup and perfume should be at a minimum, as well as your nails manicured. While this may seem obvious to some, many job candidates forget the little things like loading on perfume, which can make a world of difference in an interview.

Excessive Talking

You have studied interview questions for weeks and you know exactly what you want to say. However, there comes a time when your answers can just drag on. Do not be that candidate that talks to long and never gets to the point. Think about what you want to say in the fewest amount of words as possible. The last thing that you want to do in a job interview is have the panel cut you off before you get your point across.

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You listen to the question the interviewer is asking, and before they even finish the question you interrupt them because you already know the answer and you don’t want to forget what you want to say. Do not do this, even if you know the answer, and are afraid you may forget it, let them finish talking before you answer them. Interrupting is extremely rude, and many interviewers won’t hire teachers because they are so offended by this action.

Not Being Able to Articulate Your Words

Please think about what you want to say in your head before you open your mouth to say it. Employers want to know that you are knowledgeable enough to articulate your words.   They don’t want to see you looking around the room, tapping your fingers nervously, or saying “Ummmm … ” after every other word. Make sure that you keep eye contact, your hands are folded together if you find yourself nervously tapping, and gather your words in your head before you speak them aloud. It’s very easy for an interviewer to read your body language as is it for them to hear what you have to say.

Being Arrogant

There’s a difference between being confident in yourself and being arrogant. Show the panel that you are confident enough in yourself and your abilities to make mistakes. Do not be arrogant and tell them that you have never made a mistake. Interviewers want to know that you are humble, human, and are confident enough to acknowledge that you still have a lot to learn.

Use Words You Think They Want to Hear

One of the biggest mistakes prospective teachers make in a teaching interview is using words that they think the potential employer wants to hear. Often times, teaching candidates have a picture in their head of what they think the interview panel wants to hear. Don’t try to impress the panel with big educational buzzwords which you don’t know the meaning of. However, you can choose to research a few words and slip them into your answers.

Neglecting to Ask Questions

At the end of every teaching interview the panel asks “Do you have any questions?” The biggest mistake perspective teachers make is answering them with a “No.” Now, many individuals do this because they want the interviewer to think that they are knowledgeable enough that they don’t have any questions. This is a huge mistake! The panel wants to see that you have done your research, are invested in this job opportunity, and are excited about the potential of being a teacher in their school district. Think of two to three questions that show that you have an avid interest in the position, and that you are enthusiastic to be part of their team.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In order to land that teaching job of your dreams make sure that you dress to impress, arrive early and shake hands with each person on the interview panel, utilize your teaching portfolio when answering questions, be confident, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have done your homework and you know that you are qualified for the job, now all you have to do is make sure that you avoid these common interview mistakes, and you will ace that interview. You’ve got this!

What do you think are some common interview mistakes that teachers make? Do you agree with the ones that are listed above? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your opinion.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators

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