The Three P’s of Interviewing

Joanne Myers

These are challenging and competitive times for teachers who are trying to get onto an occasional teaching list, or interviewing for long-term occasional or permanent contracts. Being granted an interview is difficult enough but landing a position is even harder. Below are some practical pointers for interviewing.

Let’s start with some basic dos and don’ts:


  • Do some research in preparation for your interview; know about the board and the specific position you are being interviewed for.
  • Arrive at the interview early so that you have time to take a breath and prepare yourself emotionally and mentally.
  • Practise how you wish to present and articulate your professional and personal strengths to the interview committee or principal.
  • Dress professionally. Make sure you are dressed up from what you would usually wear in the classroom.
  • Put your cellphone on silent and out of reach.
  • Introduce yourself with confidence. Try to remember the names of the people interviewing you, and use them periodically during the interview.
  • Realize that you are going to be nervous and have some strategies ready to deal with any jitters.
  • Listen carefully to the questions and ask for clarification when needed.
  • Pause and take time to formulate your answers.
  • Reinforce your answers with examples of personal and professional experiences.
  • If you are unsure about an answer to a question, admit it, and state that you know where you could seek out the answer.
  • Stress positive experiences of growth and progress.


  • Don’t ask to change the interview time; make it work for you.
  • Never be late for an interview. • Do not try to “bluff” through answers; be honest.
  • Do not speak negatively about past employers, colleagues, parents, or students. • Remember not to wear heavy cologne or perfume.
  • Do not chew gum. • Do not touch or look at your mobile device.
  • Don’t make excuses to avoid issues or questions.


  • Set up a mock interview with a friend or a colleague ahead of time and ask them to take notes for you and discuss areas that may require improvement.
  • Be aware of your body language.
  • Make sure that you are not using too much educational jargon to impress people and that you can demonstrate a depth of understanding about the concepts you use.
  • When possible use examples from classroom or work experiences.
  • There will most likely be questions around literacy and mathematics. For example: How would you describe what your balanced and effective literacy program would look like? Prepare an answer ahead of time,
  • In your answers always give specific examples that connect to the curriculum.
  • There may be a question about assessment. Make sure you are familiar with the Ministry’s Growing Success assessment policy.
  • Be prepared to speak about the importance of ongoing communication with parents in relation to student growth and achievement.
  • Consider ahead of time how you would respond to questions about managing the classroom and accommodating all learners in an equitable way.
  • Be ready to speak about your own professional learning and its impact on your work in the classroom, the school, the board, and in the community.
  • Always have a thoughtful question of your own to ask the team.


There is often a team of two to five people conducting the interview, which may be held at the board office or at a school. You may be intimidated at first but being prepared will help you rise to any challenge. Make sure that you express your passion, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t land a contract right away. Not everybody has a successful or positive interview every time. Ask for feedback and gain wisdom that you can apply to your next interview. Most of all, stay positive and keep trying. You are ETFO members – Go For It ! n

Joanne Myers is a member of ETFO Executive Staff.

ETFO has a new interview workshop called “The Art and Science of Interviews” that is available for booking by locals through the Presenters on the Road program.