Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Teaching is more than a job. It is a calling, a mission. It is a profession that can give your everyday life a meaningful purpose, regardless of how well (or badly) you fare in your personal life. But why did you originally decide to pursue this career path? You can be sure that in almost every single teaching interview, you will face this question, or one of its more popular alternatives.

Before looking at the answers, you should realize that while “Why do you want to be a teacher”, “Why teaching?”, and the question I analyze right now may seem like identical questions, they are not identical. In fact each one of them refers to a different moment in time. “Why did you decide…” refers to the past, to the moment when you made a decision, and decided to go after a career in teaching.

Now, at the moment of interviewing for the job, you may even regret the decision. The fact that you decided to become a teacher one day in the past does not imply that you wouldn’t turn back the clock and make another decision–if that was possible. And that’s actually one of the things the principal and other interviewers try to find out when listening to your answer–whether the fire still burns within you, whether you stand behind your decision to make teaching your living, and more than that.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. Do not forget to check also my notes below the answers, for additional explanations and hints.


7 sample answers to “Why did you decide to become a teacher?” interview question

  1. The decision came when I was 19 years old, finishing high school. I realized that I excel in Math and Physics, and the same time enjoy tremendously showing my classmates how to solve the riddles, and helping them to pass the exams. Thinking about my future, I came to a conclusion that it would be nice to do such things for a living one day. And here I am, five years down the road, applying for a job of a Math Teacher with you.
  2. I decided to become a teacher because I was deeply inspired by two teachers at my elementary and secondary school. Coming from a broken family and difficult background, I was always looking for positive role models. I eventually found them in my teachers. They helped me to regain self-confidence, to feel worthy of achieving things, and they were always there for me, when I needed it the most. They played a tremendous role in my upbringing, and I decided that I would like to play such a role in the lives of some children as well. That was my primary driving force, and I can assure you that nothing has changed ever since. I still want to teach.
  3. Speaking honestly, I wasn’t particularly sure what I should do with my life when I was 18 years old. Back then I decided for teaching simply because my parents and teachers recommended me that career path, considering my grades and abilities. But, looking back today, after having taught for more than 15 years, I must say that it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I enjoy my job tremendously, feel that I still have a lot to offer to both the students and my employer, and hope to teach for a few more decades…
  4. I’ve always loved being around children, and young people in general. When you teach, in a way remain forever young, being always surrounded by kids and adolescents, with all their hopes, dreams, and illusions. I knew that I would thrive in such an environment, and would enjoy working in it tremendously. Of course, after my first year in the job, I understood that teaching isn’t always a bed of roses, and there are days when I wish I opted for a different career path. But positivity and good things do prevail so far, and I am glad that I decided for teaching six years ago.
  5. I just followed my inner voice. As simple as that. We all try to find our calling in life, something we will enjoy doing, something that will give us purpose, and, of course, also provide resources for our daily life. When I meditated over this subject as a teenager, and later as a young adult, the answer that came back to me was always the same one–you should teach. And so I followed the calling, and here I am, interviewing for my first real teaching job with you.
  6. My path wasn’t a typical one. As you can see on my resume, I’ve worked in IT for eight years, before deciding to change my career. IT can give you a lot, and I certainly had the skills and work ethics to make it big in the field. But you also spend all of your days in front of a computer screen, and working 70+ hours per week is not an unusual practice in the field. I am a woman, and hope to become a mother one day. I just realized that considering all my dreams and plans, IT isn’t the field for me, and I should change my career. Considering what I already knew, and that I could actually become an IT teacher, I decided for this career path. And I do not regret my decision.
  7. I just felt that the job is the best match for my skills and my personal preferences. I’ve always excelled in explaining things to others. My friends say that I am a great listener. And I really enjoy spending time with young people. Of course, job of a teacher isn’t the only fitting job for someone with my skill set. But weighting both pros and cons and comparing it to other professions, I made my call. I definitely do not regret it so far.


Ensure them that you haven’t changed your mind over the years

People change, so do their priorities, and the way they look at the decisions of their past. We regret many things we have done in life. But this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to your decision to become a teacher. Hiring committee members should still hear some enthusiasm in your voice.

Maybe you’ve been teaching for twenty years, and maybe you are just applying for your first teaching job. In any case, the fire still burns within you, you are optimistic about your teaching mission and what you can achieve in your job, and do not sit in this interview just because you cannot imagine getting any other, well-paid job. Looking back, you still consider it a good decision.

Honesty is always a good strategy

At the end of the day, every job seeker tries to impress the interviewers. We play our roles, sometimes saying not what we really think, but what we believe the person sitting opposite to us wants to hear in an interview.

This is fine as long as you are sure about your strategy. But if are not sure about it, or when you face questions about your past, just like this one, saying the true can often be your safest bet. Let me explain.

Maybe you just followed the dreams of your parents when opting for teaching. Or you weren’t accepted to other colleges/study programs, and teaching remained your only choice. And all of it is fine, because we deal here with your past.

You may not even know why exactly you pursued this education and how you managed to graduate, but one thing is crystal clear to you: the present. You are happy to teach, you enjoy it, and you are glad that what happened, happened, and now you have the opportunity to apply for a job with their amazing school…

Ready to answer this one? Great! Check also 7 sample answers to other interview questions for teachers:

Matthew Chulaw
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