Have you recently landed an interview for a music teaching job but you’re not sure what you should do to prepare for it?
Interviews are one of those things you don’t often receive a lot of training for in your schooling. But a good or bad interview can make all the difference in whether or not you get the job.
I’ve helped coach many new music teachers, and others besides, in preparing for interviews.
Over the years, I’ve developed this guide for how to prepare for a music teacher interview.
Preparing for a music teacher interview takes some work, but the preparation should never be skipped. Make sure you do the following things:
- Gather materials
- Practice answers to common questions
- Do some research on the school
- Mock interview
- Make a plan for the day
Read ahead for more information on what each of these steps entails.
Fortunately, the materials you’ll use for one interview is going to be mostly the same for other interviews. So once you’ve done this step, it only requires minor adjustments for each interview.
For details on each of these, check out our dedicated article on what to bring to a music teacher interview.
Here are the items I recommend bringing to an interview:
- Cover letters
- Sample lesson plan
- Sample unit plan
- Scope and sequence
- Behavior management plans
- Concert repertoire
Practice Your Interview Questions
No matter how innovative an interview panel thinks they’ll be, there are going to always be some key questions that repeat from interview to interview. They may be worded differently, but they’ll always be there in some form or another.
Since you know these questions will be there, this is your chance to make the most of those answers to come off cross as prepared and show yourself in the best light possible.
Here are some common interview questions you may come across for a music teaching job:
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- Describe a favorite moment in your career?
- How would you deal with an angry parent?
- Describe a situation where you had a conflict with a colleague and how you handled the problem.
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- What does a typical lesson look like for you?
- What kinds of things will the students be learning or doing throughout their time with you?
- How do you prevent and handle student misbehavior?
2 Quick Techniques For Answering Interview Questions
Without providing answers for you, there are 2 big suggestions you may want to do when answering these questions.
Be as specific as possible.
Talking about general ideas works fine, but when you tie it into a specific situation, the answer is much more impactful.
When asked about how you would handle a conflict with a coworker, the generic answer would be something like:
“I would calmly talk to the other teacher and discuss our problems and how we might fix them. I would try to see the situation from their point of view.”
There’s nothing wrong with this answer, but it’s very general. A better answer might be something like this:
“I had a situation like this once with a coworker where she kept sending her students to me late, and it was causing major problems with that class’s effectiveness.
Instead of getting upset, I stayed calm and went to talk to her. I tried to look at things from her point of view. What I saw was her class struggling to stay on task during transitions, and she was overwhelmed.
Instead of attacking her, I decided to come in a couple of minutes before that class started to help with the transition.
Over time, the class got better at it, and they were able to make it on time much more often.”
Hopefully, you’re able to see how this would be a clearer answer showing how you handle difficult situations.
Answer questions by showing a problem and how you solved it.
There’s a reason we remember stories better than we remember facts. A narrative sticks in our mind.
Good answers to interview questions can take advantage of this. When possible, but not every time, make your interview answer a story.
Describe a problem that arose and how you solved it. Point out what you learned from the problem and show them that you’re always growing and improving.
Now do these 2 tricks with a large list of common teacher interview questions. This may seem like a lot of work, but when you’re prepared, you won’t forget things in the heat of the moment.
I always make a few notes for myself on how I want to answer questions for me to reference during the interview, and I encourage others to do the same.
Do Research On The School
Most interview panels will be pretty generic and have generic questions. This doesn’t mean that you should be a generic interviewee.
Where possible, you want to drop little hints about what you’ve learned about the school during your research. Relate how something you offer or do would be perfect for their exact situation.
For example, if the school’s mission statement says how they value learning for all students, mention how your music philosophy completely agrees with this as well.
If the school shares about their PBIS program, mention your experience (or at least interest in learning about) with the program.
Note: Mentioning these types of elements looks good on your point, but make sure you’re sincere about it. If you’re faking it, people will see through it, and this will backfire worse than if you never mentioned it in the first place.
This is one a lot of people skip, but it’s really key to coming across as good as possible. Doing a mock interview or practice speaking and showing interview manners is important.
Mock interviews don’t just help you practice saying your answers, but they also show off your nervous habits or things you may forget during the actual interview.
- Are you fidgeting while speaking?
- Do you rush through your answers?
- Do you say “um” a lot?
- Did you forget to shake hands?
- Do your answers tend to ramble?
- Are you clear in your answers?
- Do you make eye contact?
These are the kinds of things only discovered in a mock interview.
At the very least, you need to make a video of yourself answering common interview questions to watch back and critique yourself.
You may find it helpful to check out this video on body language during an interview as well.
Plan The Day
This another step folks tend to skip when preparing for a music teacher interview. You need to have the day planned out.
It’s risky to “wing it” when it comes to these steps, so I always do a cursory check the week before the interview and a thorough check the day before.
Here’s what I plan out:
- Find out how far away and how to get to the interview site.
- Check the weather for travel.
- Plan what time you leave and arrive (plan on being there 25 minutes beforehand, but don’t go in until 10 minutes before).
- Type up and print all materials into a nice collection.
- Pick clothes for the day. Make sure they’re washed and wrinkle-free.
- Run through the questions at least once.
- Have the school’s phone number readily available.
Doing these in this way will allow for you to show up on time and prepared but also be ready in case you get lost or stuck in bad weather.
I hope you found this short guide on how to prepare for a music teacher interview helpful. These steps won’t get you the job, but they’ll go a long way helping you show the best version of yourself.
Did something on this list surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.