What inspired you to become a teacher? Interview questions answered

Making important decisions in life, we are almost always inspired by someone or something, though we may not always realize it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, or an event in our life. We can find inspiration in a powerful vision, something we hope to do with our life, for ourselves, our family, country, for the world. But why do the hiring managers inquire about this in an interview?

First of all, they wonder about your inspiration because they know the job of a teacher in challenging. And the same is true about college, if you happen to face this question in a school admission interview… You’ll face many obstacles on your way and it is ten times easier to continue trying your best when you have some driving force inside, some inspiration, or someone you look up to. If you are in only for money, or because you parents wanted you to teach, you will quit, sooner or later.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this intriguing question. I tried to come up with some variety on my list, because we can be inspired by all sorts of things. Some answers are rather unconventional, but in certain cases such answers can be your best bet. In any case, I hope at least one of the answers will resonate with you, and help you to come up with the goods in your upcoming interview.

7 sample answers to “What inspired you to become a teacher?”

  1. If I should pick one thing only, I’d go with my own studies. I wasn’t the best student when I started at the elementary. Had some issues, we didn’t have it easy back home either. But I met excellent teachers who did not give up on me, who helped me to see my potential and develop it further. Without exaggerating, these two teachers were perhaps the most important people in my life, besides my parents of course. The experience with them inspired me to pursue career in teaching, and I hope to play a similar role in the lives of my students.
  2. I was inspired by my early successes when tutoring my classmates. I’ve always excelled in Math, Physics, and Chemistry, subject many students struggle with. My classmates also struggled to pass the exams, and so I was giving them some extra classes in the afternoon. And I was surprised by two things: first one, how much I enjoyed teaching others. And the second one–it actually worked. They improved their grades, passed the exams. I quickly realized that I had natural talent for teaching, and it inspired me to pursue the career in the field.
  3. I have a vision that inspires me. Playing an important role in life of my students, being not only their teacher, but also their role model, at least when it comes to values and attitude to life. Let’s face the reality–the world we live in isn’t a simple place. We face many problems in society, and the future does not look bright. In my opinion, good teachers and role models are as needed as ever, at least if we want to hope for better tomorrows. My vision of becoming such a teacher, and in this way contributing to a better future for all, inspired me to enroll in this study program.
  4. Honestly, speaking, I struggle to define it. I know that I want to teach. It just feels natural to me to pursue this career, instead of some other. And I also believe I have good predispositions for becoming a great teacher. But I cannot point out one thing that inspired me in particular. Maybe you can say that my entire life inspired me. All I’ve been through, all people I’ve met, experiences I’ve accumulated over the years. As a result I feel a desire to become a teacher, and I hope to get a chance to prove that my desire is honest, and not superficial.
  5. There was an event in my life, something I will never forget. I was down and out. Struggling at school, having issues in my personal life, and also experiencing some health problems. I felt completely lonely in the world, as if I was living in the middle of the desert. It was very hard to talk to me, and everyone gave up on me, except of our class teacher. One day when everyone left she asked me to stay. She talked to me for about 20 minutes. But it weren’t just some empty phrases. She shared with me her own story–the struggles she faced when she was at my age. And she also told me it makes sense to fight, because life is a sine wave, and when one is down things can only get better from there… Last but not least, she gave me her personal number and said I could call her at anytime. Maybe it was just a gesture, but it meant everything for me back then. Years later, when I was deciding about my future career, this event played the prime. My class teacher and the talk we had on that rainy afternoon inspired me to also teach.
  6. My desire to spend as much time with young people as possible. Because I really feel great in this environment, I thrive in it, and I believe that students can feel it, and that they can spot the difference in the classroom. Of course, one is super idealistic about students, maybe even forgetting experiences from their youth. I know that some people won’t like me, some may even betray my trust, and with some students I actually won’t enjoy working. But I also see this as a part of the process, and it definitely doesn’t discourage me from teaching.
  7. It may sound strange, but my trip to Latin America inspired me. Let me explain. I visited many poor places, including some slums in Brazil and Argentina. Seeing all these children without education, and realizing the impact it will have on their future, or to say it more precisely, realizing that they have no future, inspired me to pursue career in education. Because I really believe each child deserves a chance to study, at least at the elementary school. One day, if things go well, I will be teaching these poor children in South America. That would be a dream come true.


Do not forget on enthusiasm in your voice

People in the hiring committee do not focus only on your words. They notice so much more! Your body language, your tone of voice, whether you really mean what you are saying, or say something just because you know it is a good answer to their question.

Keep this on your mind. If something inspires you, speak about it with some energy, some enthusiasm in your voice. They should get an impression that your inspiration is really important to you, and it is one of the pillars you can cling to in difficult times, for example when you struggle with some students, or suddenly do not enjoy your teaching anymore…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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