Unveiling the hidden gems: The best non-traditional interview questions for teacher interviews

Interviews | Recruitment - 05 Jul 2023

Teacher interviews are known for their predictable questions about teaching philosophies, classroom management techniques, and experience with lesson planning. While these questions provide valuable insights into a candidate’s qualifications, they often fail to reveal the true potential and creativity of an aspiring teacher. That’s where non-traditional interview questions come into play. We will dive into the world of non-traditional interview questions and explore how they can help unearth the hidden gems among teacher candidates.


  • If you were an animal, which one would you be and why? Yes, you read that right! Starting an interview with an offbeat question like this can break the ice and provide a glimpse into a candidate’s personality. By asking them to compare themselves to an animal, you encourage them to reflect on their characteristics and draw connections to their teaching style. Perhaps they see themselves as an eagle, soaring high and offering a broad perspective to their students. Or maybe they relate to a playful dolphin, fostering a positive and interactive learning environment. The possibilities are endless, and the answer can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s self-awareness and teaching approach.

  • Describe a lesson you taught that went completely off-script. How did you handle it? Teaching is a dynamic profession, and no matter how well we plan, unexpected situations can arise. This question delves into a candidate’s ability to think on their feet and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. It’s not about the failure itself, but rather their response to it. Did they panic or embrace the opportunity to think creatively? How did they engage students and turn the situation into a valuable learning experience? By exploring these aspects, you gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s resilience, problem-solving skills, and ability to connect with students in challenging situations. 
  • If you could redesign the education system, what would be your top three priorities? This question provides a platform for candidates to share their vision for education and their understanding of its challenges and opportunities. It reveals their ability to think critically and offers insights into their long-term goals as educators. Do they prioritise student well-being, individualised learning, or fostering critical thinking skills? Their response can shed light on their passion for teaching and their willingness to challenge the status quo. 
  • Share an example of a time when you collaborated with colleagues from different disciplines. How did it enhance the learning experience? Teaching is a collaborative effort, and the ability to work effectively with colleagues from various disciplines can greatly enrich the educational experience. By asking this question, you gauge a candidate’s teamwork skills, adaptability, and interdisciplinary thinking. It demonstrates their potential to create interdisciplinary projects, promote cross-curricular connections, and foster a holistic learning environment for their students. 
  • What’s the most innovative teaching strategy or tool you’ve recently discovered, and how would you use it in your classroom? Innovation is key to keeping education relevant and engaging. By inquiring about the latest teaching strategies or tools a candidate has come across, you open the door to exciting discussions about educational technology, project-based learning, gamification, or other emerging trends. Their response can demonstrate their willingness to embrace change, stay updated with current educational advancements, and integrate innovative approaches into their teaching practice.

Traditional interview questions have their merits, but non-traditional questions offer a refreshing twist that can help uncover the true potential of teacher candidates. By exploring their creativity, adaptability, collaboration skills, and vision for education, non-traditional questions provide a well-rounded view of candidates’ abilities and aspirations. So, whether you’re conducting interviews or preparing for one, don’t shy away from these unconventional queries. They might just lead you to the hidden gems waiting to light up classrooms with their passion and innovation.

For assistance with preparation for interviews, consider booking a coaching session with our award-winning teacher coach:

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