The interview is about to end, and you are feeling pretty good about how it has been going. You finally begin to relax, but then you hear the question that inevitably comes at the end of every interview: ‘So, do you have any questions for me?’ Many candidates make the mistake of declining to take advantage of this opportunity, incorrectly thinking that their questions won’t have an impact on their success in the interview. However, asking relevant questions can be crucial in distinguishing yourself from other applicants.
Your ability to answer questions “correctly” is not the only factor that determines your strength as a candidate. Hiring managers also look for enthusiasm in prospective employees. Asking the interviewer relevant questions is one way to demonstrate your interest in that particular school. This final stage of the interview is also a chance for you to prompt the interviewer to share his or her knowledge about the position and school district. Most importantly, this opportunity will help you assess whether or not the position is right for you.
What your questions communicate to your interviewer:
Your questions can be on multiple topics varying from the school culture, available classroom resources, employee support, or even the broader community. You may ask questions during the interview, or when given a chance at the end of the interview. Be sure to ask questions that are genuine and that add value to the interview.
If you are not sure about what questions to ask during an interview, refer to the list below to help you think about some potential topics.
1. Ask about the school culture
To make sure that you and the school are a good match, ask about the school culture. You may ask how the faculty interacts with each other and with the students. Ask about the goals of the school and the challenges it faces. You may also prompt the interviewer to describe a typical day in the school or some special events that are held throughout the year.
2. Ask about the desired qualities
Consider asking what qualities are expected from potential candidates for the position. This will give you a clearer sense for how the school views that particular role. Also ask about some of the typical duties that might not be listed in the job description. The interviewer’s response to these types of questions will also give you the opportunity to reinforce how you possess all the qualities that the position demands.
3. Ask about the students, the classrooms, and the school’s teaching philosophy
Inquiring about the students, classroom environments, and teaching philosophy will give you a sense of the school’s culture. Consider asking the interviewer to describe the student population or to discuss the student-to-teacher ratio. You might also ask what the school thinks should be prioritized in the curriculum in order to meet the needs of its specific student population.
4. Ask about parent involvement
Parents are always involved with the school to a certain extent and account for a big part of the school’s culture. Ask how parents participate in the school community and how the school engages them. Is there an active PTA group in the school? What is the process for addressing parental concerns should they arise?
5. Ask about professional development opportunities
One way to demonstrate your willingness to learn new skills is to ask if there are mentoring programs for new employees. What kind of training/education opportunities are available for the faculty? What opportunities are there for engaging with the broader education community? Does the school provide faculty and staff with opportunities to attend professional conferences?
Questions to avoid
As important as it is to ask good questions, asking the wrong questions can expose or imply inefficiencies in your knowledge or skills. Do not ask questions to which a qualified candidate would already know the answer. In other words, do not pretend to have a question if you already know the answer, as it can make you appear inexperienced or ill-informed. Also avoid questions that suggest you have no prior knowledge of the school itself, as it will likely not be taken well by the interviewers. To be safe, adhere to the following principles:
To conclude, when you are asked whether or not you have any questions, instead of being caught off guard, be prepared beforehand by referencing the potential question topics above. Feel free to modify the topics above to suit your specific needs as you prepare for your next interview.
Be sure to also take into account any new information that you may receive during the interview and change your questions accordingly. Remember that you also need not bombard your interviewer with questions. One or two good questions will suffice!
For more information on how to prepare for an interview and other career advice, go to https://olasjobs.org/resources/. Register with OLAS today to find the education job that’s right for you. Learn more about OLAS here: https://olasjobs.org/ourstory