International teaching interviews can be intimidating. For some educators interviews provide an opportunity to shine, while it can instill a feeling of dread in others. Our team of international advisers interview every new candidate who joins Teacher Horizons; they can offer suggestions to take your interview game to the next level. Here are some of their thoughts on simple ways to make yourself stand out in your next teaching interview.

Research the school you are interviewing with and tailor your answers accordingly!

International Adviser Maggie Johnstone

Schools are impressed when it is clear that a candidate has done extensive research on the school and its leaders and they can talk about these things in detail, linking it with their own experiences, skills and philosophy.

International Adviser Joanna de Beer

Don’t tell [the interviewer] what you think they want to hear and be yourself. Overly rehearsed answers are easily spotted!

International Adviser Laura Rigney

Read more of our virtual interview tips here.

General interview questions

Interviewers want to get a sense of who you are as a teacher and how you will fit into their school community. Because you also want to find suitable school, answer these questions honestly and based on your experience as an educator. Our advisers and school leaders appreciate honesty and an understanding of one’s limitations. 

Woman with computer
Be sure to make a list of your strengths as an educator that you want to touch on during your interview.

Below is a selection of questions that you might encounter in the initial interview with a school. Practice a selection of these to get you in the ‘interview mindset’ and jot down notes on points you want to hit during your conversation. 

  • Why did you apply for this particular role?
  • What do you know about the school? Why do you want to work here?
  • What are your main strengths/key achievements as a teacher?
  • How do you use data to inform your planning?
  • What does high-quality teaching and learning look like?
  • Describe your teaching style in 3 words.
  • What would you do if a child told you he/she was scared of going home?
  • How would you deal with bullying in your classroom?
  • How will you ensure you meet the school’s ethos in your lessons?
  • What classroom management strategies do you use?

Some of these questions touch on safeguarding, which should be something every teacher (new and veteran) should have up to date knowledge of the best practices. Schools will usually post a safeguarding policy on their website which you can access prior to your interview. In a similar vein, reviewing the school’s website to familiarise yourself with programmes and activities offered is a good way to demonstrate your eagerness to join their community. 

For more ideas, read our top tips for selling your teaching experience at interview.

Interview questions for teaching in international schools

Working in an international school is different from government and public schools in your home country in that teachers usually have more responsibilities. Therefore, schools expect new educators to get involved in more than just teaching their classes. Highlight your excellent candidacy by sharing your other talents and interests. 

  • Do you have experience of working or living overseas?
  • What extracurricular activities would you get involved with?
  • What sports or physical activities are you interested in coaching?
  • It can be challenging learning a new curriculum, being in a new country etc. How will you manage the workload?
  • How do you think you will fit in with the local culture in the city you are moving to?

If you’re applying to teach in schools overseas, then you have some interest in adventure and new experiences. You can use this as a major selling point to demonstrate your enthusiasm for exploring a new place, or simply express a passion for learning a new language and culture.

Smiling teacher conducting interview
Come to the interview prepared with notes and questions for the school.

IB specific interview questions

If you have not taught the IB curriculum before, check out our article on how to get IB experience. With a bit of research and preparation you can begin your career as an IB educator with an accredited school.

  • How do you use the IB style of teaching at the moment?
  • How do you make cross-curricular links in your lessons?
  • Why is CAS an important component of the Diploma Programme?
  • How will you support learners who are struggling to meet the demands of the IB?
  • How do you incorporate international-mindedness into your lessons?

You can further strengthen your candidacy by adding videos of yourself teaching and IB-specific resources you created to your Teacher Profile Page to showcase your best work as an internationally-minded educator. 

Subject-specific or grade level-specific questions 

You will participate in more than one interview with a school. Usually an initial interview with the head of department or deputy head and then a follow up with the director or head of campus. Throughout the process, you will speak with an educator in your department who will assess your subject-specific or grade level-specific capabilities. 

  • How do you differentiate in your lessons?
  • What provisions do you make for students with additional learning needs in your classroom?
  • Why are you passionate about your subject/grade level?
  • Describe a good lesson that you have done recently. What did you do successfully?
  • Describe a lesson that did not go well. What did you learn from this?
  • What can you bring to the role that other candidates may not bring?
  • How do you deal with disengaged learners in your classroom?
  • If I came into your classroom, what would I see?
  • How do you make your students independent learners?

If you don’t consider yourself a strong interviewer, then this is the place to let yourself get carried away by your passion for your area of expertise. Did you start a garden with your primary students? Or maybe you orchestrated a successful project for you literature students to analyse different mediums of text. These stories of personal success are what schools want to hear about and will help you stand out from the crowd.

Questions you should ask the school in your interview

While you want to make the best impression possible, it’s important to remember that this interview is a two-way street. You want to ensure this role interests you if offered the position. This is particularly important when moving to a new country and if you’re offered the job you can ask to speak with a current teacher to inquire further about the school community.

The community FAQs on our School Profile Pages will give you a better picture before your interview. Be sure to do some research so you can ask more poignant questions. 

What’s the work-life balance like?

Excellent. This is one of the reasons I left the U.K. My social life has improved immensely over the last year. I now have time to do things during the week. This can range from playing pool, quizzing or going out for a meal.

Andrew Davison, Head of Department at Excelsior Academy

Here are some suggested topics to discuss with the school:

  • What safety measures does your school have in place to protect staff and students?
  • Does the school provide accommodations and can I get a glimpse of what they look like?
  • What do teachers do in their free time? 
  • Will I have additional responsibilities outside of teaching (ie. residential duties) and how often are teachers expected to fulfill these?
  • What qualities help make someone successful in this role?
  • What are the biggest challenges new teachers face at your school?

Do you have any questions on how to shine in your next interview? Send them to us via editor@teacherhorizons.com.

Or you can join Teacher Horizons to connect with your international adviser and ask them directly. 

Written by William Melhado
Explore. Connect. Share.
We're the world's leading community of international teachers. More than just a job search, Teacher Horizons is your online home, wherever your journey takes you.