I've read your application and resume, but what are the most important things I should know about you, your life, your experiences? Who is the real [insert applicant's name]?
"What I'm looking for when I ask that question is whatever the person really wants to share with me. I'm looking for candidates to get away from 'canned' responses. I'm interested in hearing what the candidates feel is most important. I'm looking to learn how they see themselves and what they value about themselves." (Tim Messick)
Who has most influenced you to become an educator, and how did they influence you?
"I believe that personal life experiences in education relate directly to the type of teacher someone will be. The candidate's response to that question should come from the heart, and it will give me insight into the 'heart' the candidate will draw on as he or she relates to students." (Ellin S. Lotspeich)
What would your previous employer or college advisor say were your greatest strengths for teaching, and what areas would they suggest were areas that need growth? And do you agree with those assessments?
"That question helps me gauge the applicant's understanding of where they are in the developmental process to becoming a great teacher. Then I always ask what plan the applicant has to grow in those areas. I want to see if they plan to do some reading, attend workshops, observe a specific teacher who has fine-tuned those needed skills" (Teri Stokes)
What have you read lately that led you to change the way you teach?
"That question helps me set a tone. I expect my teachers to be lifelong learners, and to want to take some responsibility for their own professional development." (Deborah Harbin)
Why should I hire you over all the other applicants who have the same educational background, attitude, and experience?
Asking applicants that question helps principal Teri Stokes get a sense for how they feel about themselves and their abilities and strengths, and how eager they are to become a great teacher. "One of the key points I always like to hear is something about tenacity, or a stick-to-it-despite-difficulty attitude."
Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"The Interview: Principals Share 30 Favorite Questions for Future Teachers"
(Education World -- April 13, 2004)