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Career Services

Structured Interviewing

What is the structured interview?

Many schools use the structured interview approach in the selection of teachers. The purpose of the structured interview is to ask the same questions of each candidate so that valid comparisons of the quality of responses can be acquired. The questions generally take four forms: situational, observational, personal, and behavioral. All questions are job related.

Situational Questions

Situational questions ask the applicant to respond to a given situation. Examples of this include:

  • A group of students ask if they may organize a week long course of study. This would require a change in your plans. What would you do?
  • A teacher tells you that no matter how hard he tries to explain things, a few students always get mixed up. What would you want the teacher to understand about this situation?
  • You are giving an assignment. A couple of students interrupt your presentation, complaining that it is confusing to them. How would you respond?

Observational Questions

An observational question is one in which the applicant is asked to reflect upon the actions of a third party. Examples would include:

  • Some students have been disruptive in a third grade class. They are reassigned to another third grade teacher and she refuses to take them. What are your thoughts regarding the decision of the teacher?
  • A teacher has a student who constantly daydreams. She tells other teachers in the faculty lounge that the behavior of the child is fine as long as it does not disrupt the learning of the other students in the class. What are your thoughts concerning the statement of the teacher?
  • A teacher is having difficulty getting students to do tasks she assigns to them. What are your thoughts concerning this problem?

Conceptual Questions

Conceptual questions ask the candidate directly their beliefs, personal philosophy, and how they intend to behave as a teacher. Examples of this include:

  • How do you generate excitement about what you are teaching?
  • How important is it for you as a teacher to assist in the development of positive self-concepts in students? How would you do this?
  • To what extent do you intend to continue your education? Why?

Behavioral Questions

Behavioral questions focus on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that are job related. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. Examples include:

  • Tell me about a time that you had to deal with an angry parent, customer, etc.
  • Describe a time when you had to juggle a number of work or school priorities.
  • Tell me about a time when your "best laid plans" did not work out.
Another purpose of the structured interview is to determine how the applicant spontaneously responds to questions. The less thought the applicant has given to the specific question prior to the interview, the more spontaneously the interviewee can become. Such dynamics allow the interviewer to pick up important clues relative to the thought patterns, ways the applicant thinks through a situation and arrives at a conclusion. Rehearsal of specific questions prior to the interview results in "canned" responses, which do not allow the interviewer to gain a total and accurate perspective of the candidate.
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