One can easily get an impression that Math is a subject of the past. People use calculators and computers for everything nowadays. To see a man doing their calculations with a pen of paper is slowly becoming a rarity and a domain of old-school fellows… Nevertheless, some basic Math, together with Reading and Writing, is something every child should learn, regardless of the technological advancement we observe, and have to live with. At least in my opinion… But what will happen in an interview for this interesting job? What questions will they ask you? And how you should answer them? We will try to find it out it out on the following lines.
Before I proceed to the questions, I want to give you a few pointers. First of all, try to show some enthusiasm for the subject of Math, for teaching, and for your professional career. They shouldn’t get an impression that you want to be a Math Teacher only because you studied the field. Secondly, avoid excessively short or excessively long answers. When something may not be clear or they may misunderstand you, elaborate on your statements. But try to avoid lengthy answers that will only bore the hiring committee, and they will quickly forget them anyway. Let’s proceed to the questions.
Why do you want to be a Math Teacher?
Try to give them at least a couple of reasons. First one, the most obvious one–because you enjoy Math and you are good at it. It is important to teach subjects we enjoy teaching, because the children can feel the difference.
Then you can refer to the importance of Math, how it forms the basis for so many other sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, etc), and that you see a meaningful purpose in teaching Math to children on the given grade level. You can point out something else as well, just make sure that it sounds realistic, and they do not get an impression that you are making things up.
What strengths can you bring to the classroom as a Math Teacher?
The right answer here depends on your strengths and weaknesses, and on the way you try to present yourself in this interview. You can talk about communication skills, ability to explain complex issues in a simple way (especially if you apply for a Math teacher job at high school or university level), passion for your field of teaching, some innovative teaching methods, and so on.
In any case, you should show confidence in your ability to teach Math. Sure enough, not everyone will get it and some children will end up with bad grades, but that’s always the case, and something you cannot really impact from your position. But you believe to be able to help maximize the potential of each child, with your quality and engaging Math teaching. And that’s the most important thing for the principal and other interviewers.
You are teaching a Math lesson and many children seem not to be getting it. What will you do?
The most important thing is to show your flexibility. Of course, what exactly you will do depends on many variables. Size of the classroom, whether you have any teaching assistants or aides, the exact lesson you are teaching, and so on, and so forth. But you should say that you will always try to do something, because you are in the classroom for the children (and not the other way around, children in the classroom for you), and want to make sure that at least the majority of them will get the lesson.
You can suggest changing the teaching method, simplifying the lesson, giving them more examples, splitting your lesson to smaller parts and trying to identify what exactly they aren’t getting (and then explaining it in more detail), etc. The key is to show right attitude to this situation: if children are not getting it, you will do something, because you do not come to the classroom just to lecture, not looking left or right, not caring how the students are doing…
Math isn’t a particularly popular subject, and some students may struggle with discipline. What will you do to in such a case?
The very best teachers do not point out the finger at the students. If students are disruptive, they point out the finger at themselves, asking what they could do better, to make the lesson more engaging, and in that way ensure higher level of discipline in the classroom. You can suggest this course of action.
Another idea is saying that you want to clearly define the rules with your students, in the very first lesson, making sure that they understand eventual disciplinary measures, and how they should behave. Then if they don’t you have many options, and sending them to the principal’s office should be the last resort really (but still an option you may use if anything else doesn’t work with some student).
What do you expect from the administrators, head of the department, fellow teachers and other colleagues?
You can say that you expect them to give you a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate your teaching skills, and to become a member of their collective. Pointing out an open communication, and cooperation in certain cases (such as when you need a help of a counselor with one of the students) is also a good idea. Most schools look for teachers who love teamwork. Make sure to present yourself in such a way in this interview.
Another alternative is saying that you prefer having minimal expectations on others, and focus rather on your own role in teaching, and in relationship building. You want to be attentive to the needs and feelings of your colleagues, talk with them often, and anytime they need a helping hand, and you have time, you are ready to offer your help.
Can you tell us more about your Math teaching experience?
This one is easy–either you have experience or you don’t. If you have, explain briefly where you taught and what subjects, and point out any good results you achieved with your students. Doing so you give the hiring committee members a clear indication that you do not go to the classes merely to teach. You want to progress with the students, and perhaps even succeed in some competitions with the most talented ones. I also suggest you to avoid any negative remarks on the address of your former colleagues, even if you left your last job because you had bad relationship with them.
When you lack experience, you should simply show your confidence in your ability to teach Math. At the end of the day every teacher–even the best one–has to have their first teaching job one day. Now it is your turn, but you sincerely believe that with your Math skills, and with your attitude to teaching, you will do well.
Why do you want to teach Math here, and not at some other school?
You have many options here. First one is praising their place for something. Perhaps the school has an excellent reputation, modern equipment in the classes, or a renowned leadership. Or you really like the campus, the location, their mission statement. Simply point out anything that caught your eye and made you decide for their place instead of some other.
Another option is referring to the particular grade level, or the job of a Math teacher. Maybe you did not find any other vacancies for Math teachers (at elementary, secondary, high school level), and so you decided to apply with them. At the end of the day, each place of work has some pluses and minuses, and for you the name of the school or reputation isn’t the most important thing. You wanted to teach Math, they were looking for a new Math Teacher, and so you submitted your application.
Other questions you may face in your Math Teacher job interview
- What made you chose Math over other subjects?
- Where do you see yourself as a teacher in five years from now?
- How do you motivate your students?
- What do you do to keep your knowledge of Math up to date?
- How do you use technology in the classroom?
- In your opinion, what are the latest trends in teaching Math?
- Do you consider yourself a leader?
- What do you consider your major strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
- After everything we discussed here, do you want to add something or do you have any questions?
Interview for a job of a Math Teacher belongs to easier teaching interviews. They won’t give you some Math riddles to solve, or anything similar in the interviews. And you typically won’t compete with many other applicants for the job, because Math isn’t really one of the popular subjects among teachers.
As long as you show right attitude to your teaching mission, some passion for teaching Math, and do not remain silent when facing their questions, they should hire you. I wish you good luck!
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