‘Why Do You Want to Be a Teacher?’ How to Answer This VERY Common Interview Question

Whether you are looking for your first teaching position or who have been a teacher for a while, you will need to go through the interview process. Of course, you want to perform well and nail the interview, and this is what this article is all about.

The interview process is usually a nerve-wracking experience even for seasoned veterans. However, there are certain things you can do to prepare yourself and reduce the anxiety of this often sweaty palms experience.

For a start, you can prepare yourself by anticipating questions, considering thoughtful responses, and practising delivering compelling replies with a friend.

Remember, the interviewers are looking for indicators of your personality, decision-making skills, interests in teaching and competence.

You will show many of these qualities when you answer their questions. How you answer the questions will largely determine whether you will be invited back for another interview, and ultimately offered the position.

Related: 9 Interview Tips To Nail Your Teaching Interview With Confidence.

The interview process is a vital step in being awarded your dream job, so you need to make a good impression on the hiring team.

Yes, there is a strong chance you will be interviewing with a team, rather than one person, so prepare for both circumstances.

You could be asked a variety of questions in your interview, but one popular one that always seems to come up is “Why do you want to be a teacher?” And this is the question this article will focus on.

At first, you might think this is an easy question to answer. However, you could easily trip yourself up if you haven’t prepared yourself.

This is a popular question because the interview team need to discover a few important traits about you before giving you the position.

For example, they will want to work out whether you have what it takes to become a great teacher.

The best teachers can have a huge impact on the education of their students. But sadly, some graduates just don’t have the drive and commitment to really succeed in education.

Another reason for this question is the interview team would like to know how strong your communication skills are.

Communicating effectively with your students is a crucial part of being a teacher. And this question is great for assessing your skills in this area.

Your interviewers will also need to know if your values match those of the school you are applying to.

Every school is slightly different, and there is a high chance you’ll be applying to a school in a very different area to the one you grew up in.

Therefore, this question can help the team understand if your values match theirs.

How should you answer this very common interview question?

Here are some tips on how to answer the popular question, “Why do you want to be a teacher?”

1. What impact are you aiming to have on your students?

There are a wide variety of reasons for wanting to become a teacher, but one of the most powerful reasons must be related to the students.

After all, they are the centre of everything we do in the classroom and why we turn up each and every day.

Therefore, answering this question relating to the impact you wish to have on your students will resonate strongly with your interviewers. 

A word of advice though. Go deeper than the common, "I want to become a teacher so that I can make a real difference in my students’ lives”. 

And the way you can do that is by backing up your opening statement with strong reasons why.

For example, you could explain how a teacher had a tremendous impact on your life, and how your goal as a teacher is to try your best to have the same impact with as many students as you can.

Also, add in some details of how that would feel knowing you made a difference. 

You might not realise it at the time of teaching certain students. It could be five or ten years later when you bump into a particular student in the street, and they express their gratitude to you for how you were the extra special teacher in their life.

Those kinds of experiences are golden and why a lot of us really do become teachers.

2. Who was your favourite teacher and why?

Talking about a favourite teacher is a popular way to answer this question because it is often the real reason people want to become teachers.

If this is true for you, think about why this teacher inspired you so much. 

Was it their compassion for students? 

Was it the way they approached difficult subject matter?

Or perhaps it was how they helped you with a specific problem. 

It is best to keep your answer positive because otherwise, some interviewers might feel it reflects badly on your own personality. 

3. Do you have a story you can use to explain your positive experiences as a student?

Stories have been used for thousands of years to inspire generations. A powerful story will engage your interviewers on an emotional level, and help them to empathize and understand your qualities as a teacher on a deeper level.

You might like to share a story related to no.2 above - your favourite teacher.

Or you could share a story about a positive experience you had when you felt you made a difference in the life of one of your students.

Additionally, you could use a story about a really tough lesson you once gave and what you learned from the experience. 

Related: Why Become A Teacher? 25 Compelling Reasons 

4. Make sure everything you say is true

An important point to make is you must be honest with your answer. Don’t try to wow your interviewers with an elaborate story if it’s not true.

The best candidates answer this question with responses that are positive, and show a strong passion for helping their students and a love of teaching.

While a fake experience could make for an interesting story, it could trip you up in the future should your interviewer become your boss and they find out you were not telling the truth.

5. Be clear and specific with your reasons for becoming a teacher

It will help if you write a list of as many reasons as possible why you want to become a teacher. Have a real brain dump and try and think of as many reasons as possible.

Don’t worry how bizarre they might be, write them down.  Then try and elaborate on all the reasons you gave.

This is when you can clearly see the non-starters, which you can discard. Then you can work on the reasons you have left and then try to pick your best five reasons.

Set them aside for a day or two, and then come back and see if you can expand on these reasons.

Eventually, it will become very clear the top three reasons why you truly wish to become a teacher.

6. Show some enthusiasm in your response

Before your interview think deeply about a specific career path you would like to follow. It might be hard for you to think 20 years ahead right now.

However, being able to discuss a ‘possible path’ you might like to have in teaching shows a strong passion for the teaching profession and will also demonstrate your devotion to the classroom. 

Also, make sure that your voice projects enthusiasm. This might be something you have to work on, especially if you are a little introverted.

But it will be worth the practice if you can deliver all your responses to the interviewers’ questions with energy and emotion. 

7. Research what the school expects from their teachers

As mentioned in point number 4, make sure everything you say is true. However, you should also try to be a little strategic in your approach to your interview preparation.

You need to do some research on the school you are applying to so that you make sure your reasons for being a teacher and teaching at their school match with the school’s values.

To do this you can, comb through the job description for possible pointers, but also scan the internet to find press releases from the school or perhaps blog posts or articles about the school, such as previous events in the community they took part in.

Final thoughts on answering the question, “Why do you want to be a teacher?”

The basis for a successful interview is preparation. Even though you can never predict the exact questions the interviewers will use, in most cases you can predict the majority of questions you will be likely asked.

Of course, there is a very high chance you’ll be asked “Why do you want to be a teacher?” With proper preparation, and using the points you’ve read in this article you stand a strong chance of being able to give an answer that will satisfy your interview team.

A word of caution though. Remember, in your preparation for the interview you are formulating a strategy for your responses.

You are not trying to create exact responses and then memorize them. Therefore, consider your preparation for your interview in terms of what you hope to convey in each response and don’t attempt to commit any responses to memory.

All the regular interview strategies apply, and if you’d like a refresher then please check out this article, 9 Interview Tips To Nail Your Teaching Interview With Confidence.

With the proper preparation for your interview, there is a very high chance you’ll be successful.

Good luck.

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