Career Advice Opinion

Are you ready for behaviorial interviews?

By AAEE — July 08, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Tell me about yourself. These were very common questions in an interview, but times are changing, and so are interviews. You need to be ready for behavioral interview questions. In a behavioral interview you will have to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, collectively known as competencies, by giving specific examples from your past experiences. The principal or human resources recruiter wants to know, not that you can do something, but that you have done it. He or she, prior to the interview, determines what competencies are required for the position. Then the interviewer develops a series of questions that will allow him or her to find out if you, the teacher candidate, possess the necessary competencies to perform the job and are a good fit for that particular school. The basic premise of the behavioral interview is that past performance is a good predictor of future performance.

While many teacher candidates are intimidated by this method, a behavioral interview gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to a prospective principal why you are well suited for the job and that school. Rather then merely telling the interviewer what you would do in a situation, as in a regular interview, in a behavioral interview you must describe, in detail, how you handled a situation in the past. What better way to “strut your stuff?”

This is an acronym to use to help you with behavioral interview questions. Think of answering the questions like a short story. ST = situation or task; A = action you took; R = result of that action. If you are just graduating from college, think about situations from your student teaching experience, field experiences, and class work. If you get asked a behavioral question and you have never had an experience to fit that question, do NOT answer what you think you would do in that situation, because you truly don’t know. If you cannot answer the behavioral question, then let the principal or HR recruiter know that you have never experienced what they are looking for but you believe it would take skills in _______. Never make up a story.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions:
Tell me about a time when a lesson plan didn’t go well and how you handled the situation.
Describe a conflict you had with a student/parent and how you handled the situation.
Tell me about a typical homework assignment in your class.
Describe an experience where you identified a student’s special needs and modified the lesson.
Share an example of communication with a parent that helped you better understand a student in your classroom.
Tell me about a specific instance when you collaborated with other colleagues and tell me the result of that collaboration.
Describe a lesson plan that went very well and why you think it worked.
Give an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision and the result that decision.

As with any interview, you need to prepare before the interview. Assess yourself - know your skills, style, and what you have to offer the employer. Do your research - know about the school and school system and know what they are looking for in a teacher candidate. Also, prepare questions to ask the principal - always have a list of questions to pull out at the end of the interview.

Behavioral interviews are used to select the best candidate. You should put much thought into the future of behavioral interviews...when you do something at work, or in school, that will demonstrate a competency to a prospective employer, that’s the time to write it down. Time has a funny way of clouding our memories. If you write down the details of an event right after it happens you’ll be able to be more specific. You might even consider keeping a journal.

Diane Sledden Reed
Assistant Director, Career Center
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Career Advice Thinking of Becoming an Administrator? First, Consider These 4 Things
Teachers who stayed in the classroom and those who left share their perspectives on making the leap from teaching to administration.
5 min read
A woman thinks about a choice between 2 options.
Denis Novikov/iStock
Career Advice 5 Essential Questions Teachers Should Ask During Job Interviews
When being interviewed for a teaching job, it's as important to ask questions as to answer them. Here are 5 key questions to start you off.
5 min read
Woman being interviewed remotely.
Career Advice Want to Be a Principal? How to Prove You're Right for the Job
What it takes to attract the attention of K-12 recruiters looking for their schools' next principals.
5 min read
illustration of hiring.
Nadia Bormotova/iStock/Getty
Career Advice Opinion The Three Question Interview
Most interviews begin with a time-wasting question such as: "Tell us something about yourself." Why? As the interviewer, you have the candidate's resume, cover letter, and some other documents like a portfolio, reference letters or surveys, transcripts, and test scores. What more do you need to know about a 22-year-old interviewing for their first teaching position?
4 min read