How to Ace Your Next Job Interview

It’s that time of year: Interview season!

Many of you may be looking for your very first job, and others might be on the move on to something new. Recently, I got an email from an art teacher looking for a new position asking, “What are administrators looking for when hiring an art teacher?” So, what are they looking for, and how can you communicate that you have it?


First, you need to show them that you are a master of content and the pedagogy that best delivers that content. Bring examples of your best lessons, and not just the products (but bring those too!), bring your lesson plan, photos of students working, maybe even a video clip of students reflecting on their learning, and how you assessed it. Ready for some advanced stuff? Be prepared to discuss lesson disasters or failed projects and how you used the experience to improve your teaching and student performance. Administrators will see you as competent, reflective, and prepared.

Second, demonstrate your strengths in classroom management. You want administrators to know that you can handle the challenges a room full of kiddoes with scissors brings. Don’t just talk about your negative behavior management. What do you do for positive reinforcement, how do you handle the logistics of messy materials, what are the ways you make the art room run like a well-oiled machine?

Third, show the interviewers that you are abreast of the latest in educational research. Let’s be real, using a few buzz-words can help your cause, but only if you authentically back them up with real-world experience and examples. Do you use technology? Highlight your innovative practices.

Finally, ask questions. You are interviewing them too. What are you looking for in a school or administrator. Be active in the process and show that you are interested in what they have to offer. Don’t let it end there, either. I am still a proponent of sending a hand-written thank-you note after an in-person interview. Leave them with a lasting impression of a passionate, well-rounded educator who knows their stuff.

Not sure what to wear to your next interview? Amanda has you covered – “3 Tips to Get Dressed for Your Next Interview.”

What do you bring to an interview?

What was your most interesting interview experience?

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Sarah Dougherty

My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.


  • Kassie

    I have been doing a lot of interviews lately and I know one big thing has helped me… I look up commonly asked interview questions for teachers online. I then write down and think about what my response may be. At my interviews, almost every question the interviewers have asked me have been questions that I had found online before and thought carefully about my answer. It is helpful so that you don’t have to stumble to pull something out of your memory or think of an answer that you weren’t prepared for.

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  • MJ

    Please advise:

    I graduated in 1997 with a BA in Art. In the spring of 1998 I completed my student teaching and received a life time state certification. At the time there were no art teaching jobs available so I went into insurance. It paid the bills. After 10 years I left to create a home furnishings design studio. Two years ago, I worked one semester as a sub-teacher and realized I wanted to get back into the classroom as an Art Teacher. Although I applied to a few positions, I didn’t get an interview.

    Now 2 years later I am selling furniture full time and still want to get back into the art classroom. I have applied for several local art teaching positions. I have had one interview but they selected another candidate.

    I do not have a teaching portfolio to show off my work. Where should I start and with what wisdom can you advise me so that I can land a position and make a difference?

    • Joy

      MJ – I would advise substitute teaching for awhile. This way you can get to know schools and districts, different age groups, teachers and staff. When I couldn’t find a position I started substitute teaching and introducing myself to the art teachers so I could sub their class, get on a preferred list. Classroom management is a huge part of teaching, so substitute teaching helped give me more experience with this. You can also start building a portfolio from that experience, especially if you are subbing in an art classroom. If students created work that day, take photographs of it and start building a portfolio from it. Good Luck!

  • Suzy

    Thank you so much! Lots of helpful tips!