Miamiflute's Blog

Interview Questions for Recent College Grads

Posted on: May 29, 2011

Between public school, business, and higher education, I have probably participated in hundreds of position interviews of the course of my career – on both sides of the table.  While supervising student teachers, I always made sure that we created some mock job interviews to get them thinking more like teachers, and less like students. This is a good time to sit and think about many of the following questions.

You’ll notice, many of them are NOT subject specific. A school principal doesn’t know enough about music to ask you for alternate tuba fingerings — that’s your job. I once had an interviewer take out my CV, put it in a closed folder on the table and tell me, “this is not about credentials — anyone who gets to this table is qualified. This is about fit, are you RIGHT for us?”  So take some time to think about your fit for those schools where you will interview. The principal wants to know if your are right for them.


  1. Describe your discipline style.
  2. How would students describe you?
  3. Is it important that students like you?
  4. Tell me about a parent encounter and how you handled it.
  5. How do you motivate students?
  6. In this age of standards and testing, how can you incorporate reading across the curriculum.
  7. You have a student who wants to participate in your music class, but their parents don’t want them to (or can’t afford it) – what do you do?
  8.  Tell me about a difficult encounter you had in your classroom and how you handled it. How would you have handled it differently?
  9.  How do you set goals?
  10. Why should we hire YOU?

These are just some sample questions, but they should have you thinking outside of your music room and see how you fit into the team that is a school. The other — very important question — that ALL interviewers will ask is: DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US?

If you don’t have any questions prepared for this last question – let me tell you right now – you will NOT get hired. As you research each school – which is very easy to do nowadays – you will have questions. Ask them! I’m pretty sure I got hired for my current position because when they asked me that question, I said, “yes, I see that your new music education program doesn’t currently meet NC standards – how are you going to address the fact that you are not prepared to teach ____ class?”  I then proceeded to pull out their curriculum, along with state  and NASM accreditation requirements and go through each deficiency I perceived them to have. [And FYI, they didn’t have a music education person to know these things prior to me; and yes, this year they were granted NC accreditation.]  But, the fact that I did my homework – and  knew more about them than they did showed  them that I was serious and professional.

Here are a few things that you should discover before any job interview:
  1. Did this school meet AYP last year? No — why not?
  2. What is the SES of the school? What is the total enrollment of the school?
  3. How many/what kind of outside school activities did the music ensembles do this year?
  4. What scores did they receive at the state assessment? Why was that? What size ensembles? What level music did they perform?
  5. What comes up on Google for this school? Have they been in the news — good OR bad?

I also like to ask the Principal directly: What do you feel is the role of the arts in your school? (Also, be sure to Google the principal ahead of time. What area did they teach before they were an administrator? Lot’s of good music teacher go into administration.)

For all of the veteran teachers out there — feel free to add to this list. Good luck to everyone this job hunting season!!


5 Responses to "Interview Questions for Recent College Grads"

Great questions! I especially like number 1. If someone is looking for an Elementary position they really need to pay attention to the answer. Many schools that do not meet AYP have the targeted sub-group(s) pulled from Music and Art and made to attend in-school tutoring to raise scores in that area. You could ask as a follow-up to number one, “How does that impact the music program at this school? Are students pulled for tutoring in class time?” Another elementary topic in low performing schools is music teachers expected to stop teaching music pre-state testing and to instead focus on reading/math/ and test taking strategies. Not all schools are like this but it’s good to get a feel for it from the admin.

To see if the school is a good fit for you question 3 must be a match with your philosophy.

An great list with lots of excellent tips! I recently wrote a similar piece on my blog, geared specifically toward music teachers. I am adding a link to your post because I think it would be very helpful to prospective teachers. Thank you!

[…] International University has these additional great interview tips for teachers of all disciplines. Interview Questions for Recent College Grads Share […]

Great list!!! I had thought about what they would ask me, but didn’t think of what I could ask them. Now I definitely have a few questions in mind. Thanks Dr. K!

[…] Interview Questions for Recent College Grads – Dr Kathleen Kerstetter […]

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