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Interviewing for K-12 Teachers: How It Differs Grade to Grade

Interviewing for K-12 Teachers: How It Differs Grade to Grade

Interviewing teachers for different grade levels can be challenging when taking into consideration the varying needs of students as they progress through school.

While Teach Hub mentions some valuable questioning techniques, these techniques are more generalized and able to be used across all grade levels.  As a leader in education, it is important for you to understand the differences between grade levels and what makes a teacher the right fit for a certain grade. 

Elementary School

Having good elementary school teachers is the foundation of any child’s learning experience.  Not only do elementary teachers need to know and understand the basics when it comes to teaching, but their teaching knowledge and expertise must cover a large area of subjects.

While it’s important to interview these teachers on their knowledge of state education requirements, you must also interview towards their teaching philosophy and beliefs when it comes to teaching math, science, reading, writing, etc.

A kindergarten teacher will have a different method and approach to teaching reading and writing versus a fourth grade teacher.  For example, a kindergarten teacher will teach students the fundamentals – letter recognition, sounds, pronunciation, etc.  This can require much more patience and understanding of the fact that many students entering into kindergarten may have limited or no knowledge of the alphabet or numbers.  Even the simple things are key with kindergarten teachers such as teaching students to wait their turn when providing answers or interacting with other students.

On the other hand, a fourth grade teacher will have students who have already learned the initial foundations of writing and reading, etc.  The fourth grade teacher will simply build upon that knowledge by adding additional knowledge to the student’s already developed vocabulary and understanding of subjects.

When interviewing elementary teachers, focus on the basics, but then turn to questions regarding their experience helping children who are challenged in certain subject areas.  Be specific and ask questions on how the teacher goes about teaching a certain subject, while keeping in mind the differences in student needs among each grade level.

Middle School

Middle school learning can be very similar to upper elementary school learning.  One of the key differences that middle school teachers are faced with is the changes we see in students at this age.

Of course, you will still want to interview these teachers on subject matter, state education requirements, and overall teaching philosophy.  However, one of the challenges these teachers will face is that middle school aged students are learning their own voice and opinions.  This is the age where they are more likely to speak out on their beliefs and interact with each other differently.

When interviewing these teachers, focus on how they handle disruptive students or students who seem unwilling to learn.  Ask the teacher how they plan to keep the class engaged and what they see as the primary challenges with these grades.

High School

Interviewing high school teachers can be similar to interviewing middle school teachers in that they need to not only understand subject knowledge and state education requirements, but also have the knowledge and experience to handle difficult situations with students.

When interviewing high school teachers, ask questions on their ability to connect with students and make certain topics interesting to them.  How will they utilize current events and trends in order to teach their subject area and make it applicable to their students?

Being able to capture the interest and attention of high school students can be a challenge and a teacher who is unable to do this will fail.

What do you look for when interviewing for different grades in your school?  Please share your tips in the comments below.

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Julia Weeks

Julia is a skilled Recruiter with over 8 years of experience in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring within many industries globally. She works closely with hiring managers and job seekers to understand needs and desires, while offering guidance and ensuring the right fit. When not recruiting or writing, Julia enjoys spending time outside cycling, taking her dog for walks, or honing her sailing skills.