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teacher answering interview questions during virtual hiring fair

About The Author

Jane has considerable experience in the world of international education. She first became involved in teacher and educational leader recruitment while working in Abu Dhabi. Over eight years, Jane worked with colleagues and agencies organizing extensive recruitment campaigns around the globe. Today, Jane uses her knowledge and experience to support schools and organizations in the design and fulfilment of their recruitment goals.

Preparing for your upcoming interview, you know you will be asked, “Tell me, why did you decide to become a teacher?”

The truth is that there is no single and correct answer to the above question. However, having posed this question to prospective teachers many times, I have learned that most answers range from honest and pragmatic to philosophic and idealistic. 

Assuming you have thought about what motivated you to enter the teaching professions, let’s see if any of the responses below resonate with you.  

  1. “There are a lot of teachers in my family.” Many teachers grew up surrounded by immediate or close relatives who were teachers and often assumed that teaching was an acceptable and logical professional choice. 
  2. “Growing up I liked to work with kids through coaching, baby sitting or volunteer teaching.” Again, these teachers learned that they enjoyed working with children and, in most cases, discovered that they were good at it.
  3. “I couldn’t get into my first-choice college, so I decided to go into education, and I found that I liked it.” The reality is that some teachers enter the profession by default. The good news is that for many, fate may have had a hand in heading them in the right direction.
  4. “I had a great teacher who inspired and encouraged me to teach.” Mentors are powerful as they not only serve as successful role models but also provide a lasting and positive influence.  
  5. “The mobility. I can teach in other countries and travel the world.” Yes, a teaching certification can open exciting career opportunities and pathways for teachers around the world.
  6. “The routine and benefits such as regular salary, hours and holidays appeal to me.” Although initially this may be true, research shows that most teachers soon recognize that depending upon routine and reward is not part of a successful teacher’s repertoire.
  7. “It’s who I am.” American author and educator, Parker J. Palmer believes that when we respond to a vocational calling, we honor our true selves or our identity. Palmer tells us that teachers who listen to the voice of their inner teacher, are listening to a voice of identity and integrity. 

Although most teacher candidates offered one of the above responses to the question, why did you decide to become a teacher, pretty well all prospective teachers added the following as a postscript: 

  1. “I want to make a positive difference in the lives of children.” Without question, good teachers do make a positive difference to a child’s educational experience and this response is one that contributes to and sustains a teacher’s sense of professional satisfaction and well-being over time. To quote Parker Palmer again, “Good teaching comes in many forms…the imprint of good teachers remains long after the facts they gave us have faded.” 

Teacher candidates know that they will be asked the question and as mentioned above, there is no single and correct answer.

However, I do know that preparing a reflective and genuine response can open a valuable and rewarding dialogue during your interview.

Read more about answering challenging interview questions.

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