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: If I hired you today, what would you do first?

A: First I would obtain the entire fourth-grade curriculum and all the associated textbooks. I would try to learn as much about the program as I possibly could. Next, I would want to interview several of the other fourth-grade teachers and see what challenges they have faced over the past year and how they have addressed some of those concerns. Third, I would pull out some of my college textbooks, or perhaps talk with one or two of my former professors, to review important information on classroom management and discipline. Above all, I would do my homework and make sure I was ready to "hit the ground running" on the first day of classes in August.

This is a good question that shows how well-prepared you are and whether you have thought sufficiently about the future. You can really solidify your standing with the interviewer by responding with a very concrete and well-planned response. Identify two or three specific points and why you consider them important. Show that you have thought about this question well in advance of the interview by being succinct, direct, and focused. The ability to plan ahead is a key factor in any teacher's success; show that you are one who can.

: What is your philosophy of education?

A: Lao-Tse once described an effective leader as one who imparts to his charges the feeling "We did it ourselves!" So it is in the realm of teaching and learning. I believe an effective educator does not simply disseminate facts and figures, but acts as a catalyst, teaching (by example) a love for learning. Via provocative questions rather than patent answers, children are led to discover knowledge; thus, they become active participants in the learning process rather than passive receptors. To be a successful "catalyst" requires a great deal. As a doctor selects the appropriate tool to execute a surgical procedure or an artist the correct brush to express a desired gesture, a teacher must have the knowledge and creativity to utilize a plethora of tools.

You will be asked this question—if not in the interview, then definitely as part of an application for the school or district. Don't prepare your response the day before the interview—prepare it now! Make it powerful, make it personal, and make it uniquely yours.

: Why should we hire you?

A: I assume you are looking for a teacher with a solid commitment to the field, one with an ability and a desire to work with students of all abilities and skills who can grow and develop over the years. I will bring to this position an incredibly successful student teaching experience, the desire and commitment of a well-rounded educator, and the desire to continue my learning well past my baccalaureate degree. My grades, recommendations, experiences, and goals underscore my passion for this profession and my desire to make a positive and long-lasting impact on the lives of my students.

You might think that this is the most stressful question you could be asked. Rather, you should expect that this is a question that will always be asked in one form or another. Make sure you are honest, specific, and sincere. Don't go on and on—show in four or five detail-rich sentences how you are the ideal match for the position. It is always appropriate to address one of the school's or district's concerns or issues in your response.

EXTRA CREDIT

The 1 Most Important Tip: Assess your strengths, and relate them directly to the needs of the school.

: What type of person would you hire for this position?

A: I would hire someone who had a broad range of experiences in working with young people, a commitment to further his or her education through readings, conferences, and graduate studies, and an awareness of the strategies, standards, and protocols essential to the teaching of American history. I believe I have those job requirements.

Don't be shy; at the same time, don't ramble. Provide two or three very specific philosophical points to the interviewer, and let him or her know that you are the one candidate who has those two or three qualities.

 
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