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5 Questions a Teaching Candidate Can Ask

There is potentially always a lot of movement and restructuring of staff in schools, meaning that being placed as a teacher in one school can no longer be viewed as a long-term job. Ambitions to climb the career ladder, or simply moving to change a different challenge can be a couple of reasons. This may mean having to go through the application and interview process. One of the dreaded moments of the interview can fall at the end when you are asked if you have any questions you would like to ask!

Argh! What do you say?

Great teaching candidates ask questions they actually want answered because they’re actively evaluating the school and the leadership… they’re deciding whether they really want to work for you.

Here are five questions great teaching candidates ask:


  • “What would you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?”

Great teachers need to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the school.” They want to make a difference right away.

Plus they want to know how they’ll be evaluated – so they definitely want to understand objectives and expectations.

  • “What are the common attributes of your top teachers?”

Great candidates also want to be great long-term teachers. Every school is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those schools.

Maybe your top teacher work longer hours. Or maybe flexibility and creativity is more important than following rigid processes. Or maybe landing top grades is more important than anything else. Or maybe spending the same amount of time educating a low ability child is as important as helping a gifted and talented pupil who wants to be stretched even more!

Whatever the answer may be, great candidates want to know because 1) they want to know if they fit, and 2) if they do, they definitely want to be a top teacher.

  • “What are the one or two things that really drive the school?”

Employees are investments, and every teacher should generate a positive return on her or his salary. (Otherwise why are they there at all?)

In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others.

Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference for your school… because they know helping the pupils succeed means they will also succeed, on multiple levels.

  • “What do other teachers do in their spare time?”

Happy teachers 1) love the work they do, and 2) genuinely like the staff and pupils they work with. This is a great questions to ensure that the leadership really value the well-being of their staff, and how well they really know the people who work in the school. Don’t be fobbed off with what the leaders do in their spare time, try to establish what other staff (your potential colleagues) do, and whether the leadership value this.

Granted this is a tough question to answer. Unless the school is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities.

Even so, great candidates want to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in with the school culture — because great job candidates almost always have options.

  • “How do you plan to deal with…?”

Every school faces a major challenge: technological changes, the number of challenging pupils, improving on the last inspection, improving on the results from last year, and so on!

While a candidate may see your school as a stepping-stone, they should still hope for growth and advancement… and if they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because you were unable to deal with the challenges effectively.

A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what you think; they want to know what you plan to do — and how they will fit into those plans.


This article was adapted for the teaching profession from the original post which appeared on inc.com.

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