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November 7, 2018

Teaching & Education

5 things schools look for when hiring teachers.

Each spring, as students face state assessments, school administrators draw their attention to the most important decisions they have: who will teach the students next year. After careful analysis of openings, they focus on the most important attributes of the teachers they desire.

Unlike most other jobs, teaching jobs definitely have a “hiring season,” and that season is now. As a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, I have interviewed many teaching candidates.  Here are five things that school administrators are looking for:


Sincere interest in student success.

It isn’t enough to say things like, “I love kids.” Instead, a successful candidate will demonstrate that he or she is clearly concerned about the whole student, with comments that demonstrate the student is always at the center of decision-making. This includes the whole class of students as well as each individual within the class. This trait is especially important for secondary-school teachers, who can help create relationships that are known to boost graduation rates.

A strong grasp of different instructional strategies and content knowledge, to make learning engaging for all students.

I’ve interviewed potential teachers who used all the buzzwords for instructional strategies, and some who didn’t know the names of any. It is important for candidates to have depth in a variety of instructional strategies, so they have several tools in their toolkit. Discuss the decision-making involved when choosing different strategies, and be prepared to describe what the students would do, not just what the teacher does. WGU Missouri’s teacher licensure programs provide a good grounding in these techniques.

Effective collaboration with peers.

While teaching may seem like an act between one adult and a group of students, it actually involves participation in a school-wide team aimed at the success of all students. Teaching has become more and more collaborative and requires all educators in a school to work together. Teacher candidates should describe how they have worked with others before. Don’t just say, “I like to work in teams”; talk about the process and the role you prefer to play in team work.

A genuine people person.

Teachers are in the people business. During your interview, show your personality—smile and relate to the people interviewing you. Show you care about people in general. You want your future employer and team members to select YOU, not someone you are pretending to be. For you to be happy in your new position, you’ll have to have a good employer-employee match. Being yourself (as much as possible in an interview situation) ensures that they feel comfortable with the true you. 

Demonstrate you are a lifelong learner.

As a teacher, it is your role to be the lead learner. Change is a constant in this world, and when hiring a teacher, administrators are hoping to create a long-term relationship with someone who will develop over time. Be prepared to talk about how you’ll work toward intellectual and professional growth. It may be attractive to pursue a master’s degree in teaching at an institution with flexible options for working adults. WGU Missouri’s competency-based model will even leverage your previous knowledge and experience.

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