Whether it’s your first time conducting an interview, or your 100th, it’s always a good idea to spend time thinking about which questions you should ask and what sort of responses you are looking for. While the question focus may change slightly depending on whether you’re advertising college vacancies or teaching posts in other FE providers, the type of information you are hoping to glean from their answers will be remain the same. For me, the interview questions are split into two areas: their knowledge and their teaching.
Why did you choose to teach in FE?
This question should give you some indication as to their understanding of what it is like to teach in FE and whether they are still enthusiastic about the sector. They need to demonstrate that they understand the differences and challenges in teaching in FE as opposed to a secondary school, and a community-learning provider or other learning environment as opposed to a college if required.
What are the major issues in FE at present?
Asking this question will help you determine if the candidate is one who keeps up-to-date with the issues and news regarding FE, or if they wait to be told what is relevant to them by their managers/senior members of staff.
What makes a successful provider?
A candidate’s answers to this question will give you an idea of what they are looking for in an employer and the sort of environment they wish to work in. Hopefully, their ideas with tally with your view of your service.
How would you react if a senior member of staff queried or criticised some aspect of your teaching?
This question is important because at various points through the year the candidate should be expecting someone to pop in or do a formal observation. Senior members of staff will also be keeping an eye on data, progress and student feedback/satisfaction, and it is their responsibility to discuss any issues or concerns with the teachers. This question, therefore, could help determine how a candidate will fit in with their team.
How important do you think it is to make links with other subjects?
Is the candidate going to stick to their team and subject area, or are they willing and eager to be part of the community as a whole?
How would you like to see your career develop?
Another important question as an effective teacher is one who is always seeking to improve, to develop new skills and gain new knowledge.
What is the relevance of your previous experience?
Their answers to this question should demonstrate their ability to reflect on experiences and therefore learn from any mistakes and make improvements to their teaching practices.
What personal interests or hobbies do you have that could be of value?
Another question which will show whether the candidate is one who aims to be offer more than just a single subject and become part of the community.
What are your particular strengths as a lecturer?
This is another opportunity for the candidate to reflect on their skills and knowledge of what a successful lecturer is like. Ideally, you want someone who matches what you listed as your ‘essential’ characteristics. The candidate should also demonstrate here that they have read your job description and thought about how they meet your specifications.
What are your main areas for professional development?
A lecturer should always be aiming for improvement and their answers to this question will show you if this candidate is someone who reflects on their development regularly, whether they can give you specific targeted areas they want to focus on, and also whether they have thought about how you in particular can help them grow.
How would you respond to the different needs and abilities of your class?
This question is important as it will demonstrate that they understand about personalisation and differentiation, how far they have incorporated these ideas into their teaching practice, and will also give you some insight into their teaching style.
What do you like about teaching your subject?
In this instance, you are looking for their enthusiasm and passion for their subject, their understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the barriers and challenges for students.
How do you motivate students and ensure high levels of engagement in your classroom?
How would you promote and develop the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the students in your classes?
How would you deal with disruptive behaviour?
These three questions all help to give a clear indication of a candidate’s teaching style, as well as their knowledge of teaching and what makes a good lesson. Better answers will include specific details and clear examples of things they have tried in the classroom, or ideas they have read about or observed that they wish to try.
How would you cope with a lack of enthusiasm from some colleagues, or those with difficulties or reluctance to use ICT and technology within their teaching?
This question is a useful one for confirming how well the candidate will work as part of your team and how well they meet some of the challenges they could face outside of the classroom. Questions of this type – such as, coping with challenging parents or aggressive students – establish how well the candidate may manage stressful and high-pressured situations.
I hope these questions have helped you think about the questions you may ask in your next interview, as well as what sort of information you are hoping to receive in their replies. Your first step in recruiting effectively, of course, is writing a clear job description. Your questions and answers will lead on from there.
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