10 Tips for Nailing Your Teaching Job Interview

Reviewed by Jon Konen, District Superintendent

How to nail a teaching interview

Table of Contents

Teacher Job Interviews

The second you step into that big room and head for the lonely chair on the other side of the table from the hiring committee, you’re just another name on a long list of hopeful candidates for that teaching job. Ahead of you are 30 or 45 minutes during which you get the opportunity to change that reality.

From the instant you first make eye contact, smile that confident smile, lash down all those butterflies rumbling around in your stomach, you get your chance to turn yourself into that standout, gotta-hire candidate that is going to have everyone talking by the time you leave the room.

You just have to figure out how to make that happen.

Your resume got you this far. You have a degree and college transcript with all the right classes and all the right grades to get you in the door. You’ve got outstanding references that even make you blush when you read them. And you’ve got the kind of volunteer experience that demonstrates your commitment and shows your enthusiasm for your students and to the craft of teaching.

But no one gets the job just on the basis of their resume. You are going to have to show up and prove you’re the person who earned all those accolades, not just some paper tiger that snuck in with polish and proofreading. That CV needs one last push in the form of your interview performance to drive it to the top of the stack and get that coveted yellow sticky note that flashes out from the pile with the words “Follow up!” emblazoned across it.

Preparing For A Teacher Interview

So it’s time to get your game face on. Smile big, shake hands firmly, and apply these ten tips to make sure you completely nail your interview for the job that’s going to launch your teaching career.

1. Always Make It More About The Students Than Yourself

How to nail a teaching interview

A teaching interview is a big deal for you personally, but for the principal and other folks on the other side of the table, it’s really about the kids you are going to be working with. Are you talented enough to manage them? Do you have the work ethic to get the slow learners over the hump and the patience to deal with the too-smart and the too-impulsive?

Bullet-point your best features, brainstorm some examples, and practice how you’ll formulate your responses when these questions come up. Always draw from real experiences in your personal or professional life, or even better, directly from your student teaching experiences.

2. Like Teaching, Interviewing is All About Knowing Your Audience

Let’s face it, you have no business at all being in that room in the first place if you are not the sort of person that can get up in front of a group of people and command their attention. You might think it’s different, commanding an audience of experienced teachers and administrators in an interview than a classroom full of eight-year-olds, but they won’t see it that way—your ability to hold their attention and command the room is an important part of the interview process.

Listen closely and read the expressions you see on those faces around the room. Don’t be afraid to pause for a moment to collect your thoughts. When you do speak, though, speak boldly and without doubt. Your first class is this interview committee. Make the kind of first impression they won’t forget.

3. Be Modern, Be Savvy, But Don’t Nerd Out Too Much

You’re coming from maybe the most tech-savvy generation in the history of teaching. That’s going to be key, because the next generation coming up, the kids in your classroom, are going to be even more tech-savvy than you.

A lot of the people on the other side of that interview table are going to be from the last generation, and educational technology might still seem a little bit like black magic to them. Maybe they wrapped their heads around BrainPOP back in the day, but when you start dropping TED-Ed or Floop references, well… you may have a little trouble connecting with your audience.

4. Leave The Textbook Answers in the Textbooks

Let’s be realistic… you weren’t the first person sitting on that side of the table today.

If they heard it all before, they don’t need to hear it again.

So stay away from the buzzwords, and when you do use them, tie them to real-world experiences you can talk about in your classrooms. Vague theoretical concepts don’t land teaching jobs. Real, demonstrated expertise does. You need to have examples that show you have been able not only to absorb all those theories and pedagogical techniques in college, but also that you’ve been able to translate them into real-world results like better student outcomes and fewer disciplinary interventions.

5. Go Beyond the Day-to-Day and Talk About Big Picture Issues in Education

How to nail a teaching interview

Your classroom experiences and expertise are going to be the key to getting in the door, but administrators take the long view—they want to know if you have the kind of head on your shoulders to be worth a long-term investment in this position.

You’ve been learning about major challenges and trends in the world of academia for four or more years now… it’s time to trot out some of your thoughts about the state and future of the profession. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? You had better believe you’re going to be asked that question.

Your answer should show your thoughts not just about your personal prospects, but about the state of the K-12 education overall. It’s not going to stay stuck in the mud for a decade. Trends like remote and differentiated learning, increasing attention to developing cultures of equality, and mandatory testing of state and federal standards tied to funding… you studied all these in school. Now is your opportunity to show your potential future employers that you have thought them through, and understand the impact they will have on your school and your career, and how you plan to adapt for the good of both the district and your students.

6. Few Things Say As Much About You As the Questions You Ask

There comes a moment near the end of every interview when it happens: someone on the other side of the table smiles, looks at the other members of the committee to see if they have any other questions for you, and when they don’t, turns back to you and says, “So, do you have any questions for us?”

Yes you do!

Learn about the district; ask smart questions about it, not the kind of basic demographic stuff you could just Google. Make your questions count. Use them to show you’ve done your homework enough to know the surface level stuff already, and that you’re ready to go a little deeper because you’re serious and hopeful about the possibility of building your career and your life around this very school in this very community.

You should be well-versed in recent happenings in the district, their state test scores, or even non-academic stories like the record of the school football team or recent theatrical productions. Don’t make up any concerns just to show off your research, but don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about things like labor negotiations, concerns with current curriculum or materials, or even financial matters that may be on the horizon. You want to show that you have standards, too, and aren’t afraid to pursue them. In today’s competitive job market, this better not be the only school system that you have an opportunity to interview with, so it’s only natural to see this as your opportunity to interview them a little too.

7. Be Inspired; Be Inspiring

Put yourself in the shoes of the interview committee. They’ve been sitting in this room all day, sifting through a sea of resumes, asking the same questions of a parade of nearly-identical candidates, getting almost the identical replies from most of them.

Consider what brought them to this place in their careers where they are the ones conducting interviews. It all started with the same thing that brought you to the place where you’re sitting in front of a hiring committee, a bundle of nerves hoping to make a good impression. That should make it easier to start thinking about the amazing things you can all accomplish together.

Have a story. Have a few. Tell them what made teaching the only career for you, and why that makes you someone who has a lot to offer. It’s not so much about trying to convince the hiring committee that they need to hire you as it is about telling your story in a way that’s so compelling that they can’t help but come to that conclusion on their own. There is something personal in your story somewhere that will strike a chord with these veteran professionals… dig it out, show it to them, and remind them why this is the best profession and why you are the best candidate.

8. Prepare and Practice so You Nail the Lesson Demonstration

How to nail a teaching interview

Most of these tips focus on the Q&A portion of your interview. But with most districts today, the interview will involve conducting a teaching lesson, a practical demonstration of your classroom skills that can feel like teacher theater depending on the audience… usually other teachers and administrators, and sometimes even students.

Practice in front of people. A few dry runs in front of the mirror may not be enough to prep you for what it will feel like when all eyes are on you. This is where family and friends come in to offer some real help to go along with all their encouraging words and moral support. Get a few folks together who have the patience and time to sit through a few practice runs. Keep in mind that you’ll have a time limit in which to complete the lesson during the interview, and the last thing you want to do is seem rushed at the end or get the buzzer because you ran out of time. Get it down pat, everything from the finer points of the lesson itself to the pacing to make sure you’re able to hit your marks with ease when you show up on the day of your interview.

Proofread your lesson plan! Since most plans are for your own reference, it’s easy to get sloppy here. But this is going in front of an interview committee who is considering your entire presentation – even the things you don’t intend to present. Treat even your notes like an assignment since the committee could very well ask about the prompts you’re using, and even if they don’t, errors in your notes could translate easily to errors on the whiteboard. Small mistakes in spelling or grammar that would be a non-issue on any ordinary day in the classroom could stand out in the eyes of your interview committee and could come up as they discuss candidates before making a final selection.

Keep it simple. It may seem like the way to impress an interview board is to cram in as much information as possible, but you’ll be more comfortable, and more successful, if you limit your focus to a single subject and really concentrate on getting that idea across rather than jumping around to too many topics in a single lesson. Think of it as your opportunity to do one thing extremely well instead of trying to showcase all the things you’re capable of. You’ll have plenty of time for all that in your teaching job in the years ahead.

9. Plan For Anything and Don’t Miss The Basics

Let’s be clear; nobody who shows up 10 minutes late to the interview ever gets the job. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, whether you can command the room, or if your lesson plans are letter perfect… you are always going to be the candidate who didn’t get there on time. There were dozens of other people who didn’t mess up their appointment. Don’t be that person.

Familiarize yourself as much as possible. Are the instructions for getting to the office clear? Are there signs clearly pointing the way, or when you get there does something still not make sense? Don’t be afraid to ask questions when scheduling the interview. You look smarter asking questions about things you can’t know about than you do assuming you know better.

Dress professionally, conservatively, and comfortably. You don’t want to be fixated on that collar digging into your neck while you’re trying to answer questions, but you don’t want to look like you just showed up after doing your weekly grocery run, either.

On the day of, even if you have timed your drive down to the minute, leave 30 minutes early anyway. You’ll be cooler and more collected if you are early, and thankful if some cement truck driver crashed and caused a 20-minute detour on your route that day.

10. Let Your Light Shine Naturally, Don’t Force It

How to nail a teaching interview

You didn’t decide to get into teaching to go into the office and have a boring and miserable time every day. Guess what? Neither did the people who are interviewing you. So keep it light and keep smiling. You want to be the bright spot in their day.

Keeping it in the lanes of professionalism certainly doesn’t mean playing it so safe that you come across as boring and uninspired. After all, many of the people you’ll be interviewing in front of will eventually become your colleagues when you land the job. You want them to immediately get the sense of how awesome it will be working with you – a person who brings their A-game every day as a team player with an effortless blend of teaching fundamentals, love, and self-confidence.


— Update: 03-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Do You Want to Be a Teacher? I’ll Explain How to Prepare For an Interview For a Teaching Position! from the website scienceandliteracy.org for the keyword how to nail a teaching interview.

As a teacher, common questions that I receive from prospective teachers all relate to how to nail a teaching interview. I get these questions so much that I decided to write an article providing advice on how to prepare for a teacher interview. I understand why these questions are so popular because I once was very anxious, nervous, and curious when going through interviews as well.

How to nail a teaching interview

For my educators and future educators reading this, what are ten things that teachers can always count on? The answer is “their fingers.” That was meant to be funny, but in all actuality, we count on each other to help us prepare for any arising tasks. Teachers around the world commonly unite and help each other get through certain difficulties, issues, and challenges. Therefore, I want to help others out who are going through the teacher interview process by providing my insight and advice in this article.

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After reading this article, you will officially know:

  • How to prepare for a teacher interview →
  • What to do and expect during the interview →
  • Essential tips that will help you out →
  • And the most common interview questions that will be asked in a teaching interview along with the answers →

Preparing for The Teaching Interview

There are many different ways that you can begin preparing for the teaching interview. I will provide a list of a few of the best ways below.

  1.  Know your top skills, talents, and knowledge when it comes to teaching.
  2. Be aware of the areas that you know could be improved.
  3.  Memorize parts of your resume and the job description that you are applying for.
  4. Think of 5-10 reasons why the district/school you are applying for should hire you.
  5. Pick out an outfit that shows you are professional, ready for this opportunity, and dressed for success.
  6.  Make sure you know exactly where you are going, the address, and how long it will take you to arrive to your destination before the interview.
  7.  Get the items that are going with you to the interview ready. This may include a resume, references, pen, bottle of water, portfolio, and more.
  8.  Come up with a list of questions that you have for the interviewer. This shows your interest and willingness to learn.
  9. Research! Learn everything there is to know about the school you are applying to teach at.
  10.  Practice interviewing with someone else. Have them call out questions to you while you provide an answer as if it were a real interview.

How to nail a teaching interview

If you would like to see a full teaching portfolio walkthrough, consider watching Pocketful of Primary’s YouTube video. In this video, a teacher will explain to you how she got hired on the spot for her teaching job. It is definitely worth the watch!

When you land your first teaching position and get to see your classroom, you may want to see if it comes equipped with an interactive whiteboard. If not, I recommend proposing the idea of purchasing one to your school. These devices are very handy when it comes to encouraging your students to interact, engage, and have fun while learning in your class.

What should You Do During The Interview

While preparing for the interview may seem difficult, being actually in the interview is the most stressful part. You never really know what will happen, but I can help provide some guidance on what has happened to my colleagues and I during our teaching interviews in the past.

Overall, majority of our interviews have focused on our applications, education, training, skills, work experience, and interests. However, you may be given a tour of the school, given the opportunity to teach a sample lesson, or be required to sit for a panel interview.

No matter the type of interview that you receive, keep in mind that the interviewers are most likely looking for someone with excellent communication, ability to motivate students, manage a class, have the understanding of a certain subject, and the motivation to teach for their school or district. With that being said, be ready to grab the interviewers’ attention, engage them, keep their attention, and show them that you can be entertaining while also encouraging learning in a fun way. Become a display of the perfect candidate that they are looking for and need for their school or district.

You may be asked how to plan a lesson for the interviewers or pupils provided by the administration. Therefore, I suggest watching Teachings in Education’s YouTube video below, which explains everything you need to know about lesson planning before you go in for your interview.

Whether you will be teaching virtually or in person, a document camera is a great investment. These tools allow the teacher to show one item to an entire class of 20 or 30 students. All you must do is place the object or sheet of paper under the camera, and everyone will be able to see it.

10 Essential Tips To Prepare For The Interview

There are so many tips that other teachers and I can provide you to help you with the interview process. However, after conducting lots of research and going through many tips, I have come up with the best tips that I think will help you the most when it comes to how to nail a teaching interview. You can find these tips listed below.

How to nail a teaching interview

The following are 10 essential tips on how to prepare for a teaching interview:

1. Always emphasize how everything is more about your students than yourself

Your teaching interview is very important to you personally and professionally. However, to the interviewer, this interview is more about the students and how well you will do teaching them. Make sure that you emphasize how everything is about your students and striving to help them with their educational needs daily.
How to nail a teaching interview

2. Know your audience

The audience of teaching interviews is usually looking for someone who can get up and gain their attention. Even though grown adults are very different than elementary students, they will not see it that way. They will be looking for someone who listens closely, reads expressions, captures and keeps their attention, and leaves a great first impression.

How to nail a teaching interview

3. Be modern and savvy but do not overdo it

Children today are becoming more and more tech savvy. Most of them will even be more tech savvy than you are. This may stress you out because you want to show the interviewer that you are up to date on technology. However, keep in mind that the people interviewing you are still learning new technology aspects just like you as they are from a different generation than the children growing up today. They will want to see that you can adapt to new technology needs, but you may lose their attention if you start talking about new technology gadgets that are not heard of much. Save this for when you are hired and want to propose the idea of integrating modern techniques into your classroom.

How to nail a teaching interview

4. Personalize your answers instead of focusing too much on textbook answers

The interviewer has most likely interviewed a dozen other candidates for the same position you are interviewing for. Therefore, they are looking for someone who does not bore them with the same textbook answers that they have already heard. Try to personalize your answers and make them sound like casual conversation. Use real-world experiences to help with this.

How to nail a teaching interview

5. Mention a few issues that are happening in education and how you think they can be fixed

If you take the time to mention a few issues that are happening in education today, the interviewer may see that you are very interested in helping fix things and are a great investment in the long run. Show them that you know what is going on in the education system beyond a classroom and what you think will help fix these problems.

How to nail a teaching interview

6. Ask as many questions as possible

In every interview, you will be asked at the end if you have any questions. Take this time to interview the employer. It shows that you are very interested, eager to learn, and want to make sure this position is the right fit for you. Try not to only ask basic questions; focus on intriguing questions.

How to nail a teaching interview

7. Be inspiring

Employers do not always enjoy the interviewing process just like you do not enjoy interviewing. Therefore, show them that you are different than the other 50 candidates that they have interviewed for the position. Tell them about different stories, why teaching is the only job for you, why you are the better candidate, and make your answers personal. The goal is not to convince them you are the best candidate; it is to show them that you have a story that is so compelling that they cannot help but to want to hire you.

How to nail a teaching interview

8. Practice as much as possible so you are ready to nail that lesson demonstration

You may not only be asked questions during your interview. There may be a portion of the interview that requires you to teach a lesson. This shows the interviewer that you have the skills and knowledge to successfully carry out a lesson for students. You may think this will be a breeze, but it can be the most anxiety-ridden part of your interview. Therefore, I recommend taking time to practice as much as possible for this moment.

How to nail a teaching interview

9. Plan for absolutely anything but do not forget the basics

Plan for traffic before the interview. Plan for any question to come up during the interview. Plan for anything to come up on the day of your interview even if you feel like it may never happen. You want to arrive early, find the correct location, and give yourself a few minutes to get settled before the interview begins.

How to nail a teaching interview

10. Be yourself

No matter how you feel the interview is going, remember to keep smiling and remain cheerful. The goal is to ensure that you were a bright spot in the interviewer’s long day. They will have no choice but to remember you even if that means you will be considered for future position openings. Show them that you are professional, have self-confidence, and are a joy to work with and be around.
One of my last tips that I personally recommend is to consider purchasing a camera for recording lectures. When you start teaching, you will realize how difficult and overwhelming it is to keep up the pace. You may not have much time to stop and help out students who need extra assistance. Therefore, I suggest purchasing a camera that can record lectures, so that your students can go back and listen to the lectures that they need more time on.

How to nail a teaching interview

The 7 Most Common Teaching Interview Questions and Answers

There are a lot of questions that may come up in your interview, but there is a good chance that you will hear the ones asked on this list. I will provide the most common questions and example answers for you below. Feel free to tweak the answers to match you personally!

How to nail a teaching interview

1. Why do you want to be a teacher?

Answer: I had trouble with learning to spell as a child, but my teacher took the time to go over the words with me. She introduced me to different methods that helped me learn how to spell, and that became very meaningful to me. Her attention forever changed my outlook on life, and I knew I wanted to do that for other children one day.

2. Why are you interested in working for our school district?

Answer: I highly respect your school district. Your focus on the community, diversity, academics, and putting the needs of the students’ first really spoke to me. I have realized that even creating the best lesson plan cannot help students with various learning styles. Therefore, I feel like your school takes the time to evaluate students and make sure every single one is on the same track.

3. What is your teaching philosophy?

Answer: I enjoy learning my students’ passions and sharing them with the entire class. For example, if a student loves learning about animals, I will make sure that I have books around my classroom about animals that he/she can share with the class. The goal is to get everyone excited about certain things because enthusiasm increases the willingness to learn.

4. How exactly can you help our school and students?

Answer: I have taken the time to talk to some of the teachers who work for this school. They have told me some of the issues that they see every day, such as how hard it is to manage large classrooms. I believe my classroom management skills are excellent, and I will work hard to make sure I use effective strategies that decrease the number of disruptions in my classroom.

5. What do you think is the hardest part about teaching?

Answer: I think the hardest part about teaching is when students are more worried about what their peers are doing than making sure that they are fully comprehending what is in front of them. For example, when tests are given, a lot of students will start rushing through their work because they see their peers getting up and turning in their papers. I feel like I can change this by requiring my students take at least five more minutes at the end before turning in their tests.

6. Why should we hire you?

Answer: I believe you should hire me because I am very adaptable to students with different learning needs. When I see a student struggling, I immediately notice it and take the time to become aware of how that student learns. It may take me some time to figure it out, but it is a great feeling for both the student and I once I do. I think your school district will benefit from someone like me who does these types of things.

 7. How will you get your classroom ready for the first day of school?

Answer: I will come up with different games and activities for the first day of school. I want my students to be entertained and excited about returning to school. I will also make sure that my classroom is colorful and welcoming to all. Posters, pictures, and activities will be all over the walls. I will also include some rules because I want to set the tone for the rest of the school year on the first day!

How to nail a teaching interview

8. How do you evaluate your students?

Answer: I have learned that not every student is a great test taker. Therefore, while some students can be evaluated based on tests and quizzes, others may be evaluated on how well they read or participate in classroom activities. Every student is different, and I think it is important to notice that.

Useful Resources

  • Writing your teaching philosophy
  • Top qualities and skills of a good teacher
  • Classroom management

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you learn how to nail a teaching interview. I have taken my experience and other teachers’ experience around the globe to develop the best tips and advice possible to assist you in the interview process. I know these types of interviews are difficult and nerve wracking, but it will be worth it in the end. It takes a wonderful person to want to help shape the minds of future generations. Good luck and happy teaching!


— Update: 04-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 10 Tips to Ace Your Teacher Interview from the website writeonwithmissg.com for the keyword how to nail a teaching interview.

If you’re reading this post, then CONGRATS! You have a teaching interview! If you don’t have an interview, then this is awkward. Just kidding; you’ll be sure to have one soon. Think of it this way: You are manifesting that teacher interview by reading this post. 🙂

By the way, this post is the third in a series about getting that teaching job. If your teacher resume needs an extreme makeover, then head to this post, and if you want tips for writing a standout cover letter, check out this one.

Today’s post is all about teacher interviews: How to prepare, what to expect, and how to ace them! If you’re ready to prepare for your teacher interview, then grab a cup of coffee, a notebook or a Google doc, and get ready to…GET READY!

How to nail a teaching interview
10 Tips to Ace Your Teacher Interview

1. RESEARCH THE SCHOOL

Do your homework and stalk the school before your teacher interview. I mean internet stalking, of course, but you may want to scope out the school’s location beforehand, too. Hopefully, you did some research when you were creating a resume and writing a cover letter, but you should do even more research before your interview. 

First, stalk the school’s website. Click on every tab. Check out their mission statement, their school improvement plan, their news feeds, the student handbook, etc. Creep on the school and/or the principal’s social media accounts. Search for any recent news articles mentioning the school on Google. Go back to the job posting and read the bullet points, position expectations, and the fine print!

Absorb as much information as you can, process it, and then reflect. Think about what you have to offer and how you can align that to the school’s needs. Take note of the language, buzz words, and mission, and consider how you might weave some of that into the interview. While you’re doing this research, it’s a good time to take note of any questions you have. Stay tuned for tip #8 for more info on that!

How to nail a teaching interview
The more you know about the school, the easier it will be to prepare for the interview.

2. PREPARE YOUR PERSONAL SALES PITCH

Be prepared for the interview to kick off with the classic “So tell me about yourself” line. It can be dreadful and awkward, but it’s going to happen, so it’s better to be ready for it. If you’re ready, you’ll be confident enough to embrace this question and break the ice for the rest of the interview. 

When I say be ready for it, I mean brainstorm what you’re going to say and rehearse it out loud. If you’re like me, maybe even jot down notes on a Google doc, review what’s most important, and go from there. It might sound silly to record notes about yourself or rehearse your story, but it actually makes perfect sense. You know yourself too well, and that simple fact makes it easy to ramble during this question. You don’t want to end up word-vomiting your entire life story, but you do want to deliver an effective personal sales pitch that helps you stand out. 

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For help brainstorming this, you may want to look back on your cover letter and resume (especially the “professional profile” section). Don’t just regurgitate that information, but think of what you can add. Maybe that’s more detail, some examples, and even a bit of your personality. Remember, this question is an ice-breaker, first impression, and important question, all in one!

How to nail a teaching interview
They’re going to ask this, so be ready!

3. PREPARE ANSWERS FOR COMMON QUESTIONS

In addition to talking about yourself, you’re going to talk a lot about teaching! You can almost guarantee you’ll be asked these 3 essential questions, so make sure you have answers prepared:

The Big 3 – Teacher Interview Questions:

  • How do you differentiate?
  • How do you plan? (They may keep it vague or specify unit- or lesson-planning. Ultimately, you’ll want to address both).
  • How do you integrate technology?

Other Common Questions:

  • How do you manage behavioral issues in the classroom?
  • What is one strength? What is one weakness?
  • How do you teach reading? How do you teach writing? (Obviously these are ELA-specific, but think about what they might ask for your content area)
  • How do you use data?
  • Describe your teaching philosophy.

Additionally, I’ve almost always been asked a “What would you do if [insert scenario here]?” question. These can vary, but one I remember from one of my very first teacher interviews was What would you do if the veteran teachers of your department were doing or teaching something you didn’t agree with?

Once again, I highly recommend drafting potential answers and practicing your responses if you can. I like to create a giant Google doc of possible questions and bullet-point answers. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be!

How to nail a teaching interview
The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be during your teacher interview!

4. ALIGN ANSWERS WITH THE SCHOOL’S VALUES

As you’re brainstorming answers to the most commonly asked questions, return to what you learned from researching the school. Then, brainstorm specific ways that you can align your answers to the school’s mission, values, and initiatives. 

For example, if the school is 1:1 with devices, make sure that you are able to highlight examples of how you integrate technology in your lessons. If the school serves a large population of English language learners, be prepared to discuss how you can scaffold students’ language skills. If the school emphasizes college- and career-readiness, show how you will prepare your learners for life after graduation. Don’t know what your school values? Return to your research and read the news. If you can, talk to people who might know more: teachers, parents, or others in the community.

Perhaps you don’t have much experience or knowledge in some of the school’s key initiatives. Whether it’s standards-based grading, project-based learning, or a workshop model of instruction, research it. Then, think about how your teaching philosophy, goals, and ideas align to the school’s initiatives. You don’t have to be an expert; you just have to show that your personality and philosophy fit!

How to nail a teaching interview
It’s your job to show the school that you’ll be a good fit!

5. GO THROUGH YOUR BINDERS, PLANNERS, AND DRIVES TO FIND EXAMPLES

Maybe this is just a tip for #TypeB teachers like me, but I easily forget about some of the most engaging lessons I’ve taught over the years. After years of teaching a handful of different subjects and grades, some of my creative ideas get buried in the back of my brain (or lost in my Google drive). They’re there somewhere, but I have to search for them and remind myself of everything I’ve done. To activate my memory, I always like to go through my binders, planners, and digital drives. This sounds weird, but I even creep on my own teacher Instagram because I’ve shared so many ideas there over the years. 

This part of preparation is so important because it will give you specific examples to discuss in your interview. Anyone can rattle off buzzwords, best-practice strategies, and beat around the teaching philosophy bush, but not everyone can cite specific scenarios and examples. 

Once you’ve refreshed your memory, curate a list of your favorite lessons and activities so they’re at the top of your mind during the interview. Make sure these lessons reflect a wide range of skills so you’re not caught off guard with any questions.

How to nail a teaching interview
This will help you refresh your memory so you have plenty to discuss during the interview.

6. BRING A PORTFOLIO OF LESSONS & ARTIFACTS

Reminding yourself of your favorite examples is great, but don’t stop there. Once you’ve curated your list of lessons, print them out and put together a teacher portfolio that you can bring to the interview. “Portfolio” sounds fancy, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. My first “portfolio” was just a collection of my favorite student teaching lessons. I threw them into page protectors, snapped them into a binder, and hoped for the best. (I got the job!) This last time around, I had enough artifacts to organize my portfolio into a few different categories. I bought dividers and labeled each section so that I could show my interviewers my wide range of skills and experiences. 

In addition to impressing the interview committee with specific artifacts, a portfolio will also help you during the interview. When you’re asked those inevitable questions about differentiating and planning, you can describe how you do things and then show real-life examples in your portfolio. A portfolio gives you something to fall back on, and it will give the interview committee reassurance that you know more than the buzzwords…you actually know how to teach real lessons!

How to nail a teaching interview
A portfolio = the ultimate preparation!

7. PROVIDE EXAMPLES & EVIDENCE DURING THE INTERVIEW

It’s easy to fall into the trap of explaining your teaching philosophy and mentioning your strategies without ever really talking about what will actually go on in your classroom. Yes, the interview committee is looking for certain answers, but everyone can regurgitate the same buzz words, strategies, and (to a point) philosophies. One of the best ways to frame your answers during an interview is through an “If you walk into my classroom, you will see…” approach. This prompts you to think of actual examples, rather than mere ideas or buzz words. 

The more specific you can get, the better. Make sure you discuss concrete examples that show your teaching philosophy in action. Not only will concrete examples offer more “proof” of your competency as a teacher, but they’ll be more memorable, too. Instead of being “that teacher with the student-centered philosophy,” you’ll be “that teacher who loves learning stations, question trails, and escape rooms.” Think of what examples define you as a teacher, and find a way to weave them into the interview. Like I tell my students, cite your evidence and show what you know!

How to nail a teaching interview
Cite your evidence and show what you know!

8. PREPARE A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW

The last question in the interview will almost always be, “Do you have any questions for us?” It’s easy to reply, “No, I think you covered everything,” but it’s much better to have a few essential questions on hand. Not only will this show the interview committee that you are prepared and interested, but it will give you valuable answers to determine if you’re a good fit for the school. It’s easy to forget about this side of interviewing, but it’s crucial, especially if you’re trying to decide between schools/job offers.

Here are a few of the questions I asked in my last interview. Keep in mind that these are the things most important to me, and your questions may vary!

  • How much freedom will I have with the curriculum and planning lessons?
  • What does collaboration look like at your school?
  • What kind of technology do you have? Are students 1:1? What platforms do you use?

One tip is to ask questions that begin with “I noticed [subject] on your website. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?” This is a great chance to sneak in that you’ve done your research and learn more about what teaching would look like at that school.

How to nail a teaching interview
This will show the school you are prepared and help you decide if the job is a good fit.

9. WEAR AN OUTFIT THAT MAKES YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE, PROFESSIONAL, AND CONFIDENT

I love fashion, clothes, shoes, and accessories, and it’s always tempting to go shopping for the perfect interview outfit. It’s also easy for me to completely overthink and obsess over what I’m wearing and what message it might send. While making a professional impression is important, I’ve found that it’s best to keep my interview outfits simple, comfy, and professional. I feel the most confident and calm when I am comfy, even if the outfit isn’t perfectly styled and on trend. 

Resist the temptation to wear those new heels that dig into your feet, the blazer that’s too tight around your shoulders, or the shirt that you have to constantly adjust. Wear something that’s professional and comfortable so that you can focus on the interview and not your outfit.

How to nail a teaching interview
Make sure you are comfortable so you can fully focus on the interview!

10. AFTER THE INTERVIEW, SEND A HAND-WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE

This might sound a bit old-school, but I’m a firm believer in the power of hand-written notes. When you get home from your interview, grab a card, express your thanks, and put the note in the mail that day. Sure, you could email your thanks, but taking the extra few minutes to write and send a hand-written note will show the school that you’re the type of teacher who puts in extra effort. If the position is down to just a few candidates, or the committee is determining who to call in for a second round of interviews, this small act of thanks could make a big difference!

How to nail a teaching interview
This will show the school that you’re the type of teacher who goes the extra mile.

I hope these tips help you land your dream teaching job! Let me know if you’d like to see another post with 10 common teacher interview questions and how to answer them. In the meantime, check out these blog posts & resources to help you during your job search:


— Update: 05-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 5 Cool Tips: Nail Your Mock Lesson for Teaching Interview from the website elementaryassessments.com for the keyword how to nail a teaching interview.

The following powerful tips will help you nail your mock lesson for teaching interview success.

You aced the first rounds of the interview process, and now it’s time to show the hiring committee what you’re really made of.

The mock lesson for your teaching interview is your time to shine.

Following are tips to help you maximize your chances of landing that coveted teaching job.

Tips for Rocking Your Mock Lesson Teaching Interview

1. Investigate Guidelines.

Ask the hiring committee if there are any particular guidelines that you should follow.

  • Is there a specific textbook they want you to use?
  • Anything special about the curriculum that you need to know about?
  • Regarding the students, is there anything particular you need to know concerning their academic and social needs?

Regarding instruction, some schools are much more structured and “rigid” with their teaching standards while others are more laid-back.

Take Action:

Make sure you know what’s expected of you.

If the hiring committee gives you no such guidelines, research the school in more detail to determine what programs are used.

Try to align your teaching mock lesson around one of those themes.

Doing so helps the hiring committee see that you did your research and are able to successfully implement or are willing to learn more about their current programs.

2. Don’t Teach in a Vacuum.

Plan your teaching mock lesson based on something related to what the students are already learning.

What are they currently studying?

Take Action:

If possible, communicate with the teacher whose students you’ll be teaching.

Ask what they are currently learning in whichever subject you plan to teach.

Based on that conversation, decide exactly what you’ll teach in order not to cause a disruption to their normal learning sequence.

3.  Create a Great Lesson.

Create a lesson that’s student-centered and that promotes higher-order thinking skills.

Make it very engaging, hands-on if possible, grade-appropriate, relevant, and interesting.

Math lessons by Marilyn Burns serve as great examples.

Take Action:

Don’t reinvent the wheel too much with your mock demo lesson.

Look online to see what lessons you can adapt and make your own.

There are a plethora of online resources with really wonderful content from which to base your lesson.

Plan very well and fully prepare.

And don’t assume the school knows what materials you’ll need. Kindly make a request if appropriate.

If you need materials above the basics… simply bring your own because you absolutely don’t want to be without.

4. Establish Classroom Management.

When doing your mock lesson, establish procedures and rules with the students before you get into the heart of the lesson.

Besides, the hiring committee most likely wants to see how well you handle classroom management.

Before starting your instruction, consider discussing with students your expectations such as how you would like for them to transition from one task to the next, respond to your signals, etc.

Also review basic rules/procedures.

Take Action:

How will you call students’ attention and handle those who are off-task?

Before starting your lesson…

  • Do a very brief icebreaker.
  • Chat about procedures and transition signals that you’ll use during the lesson.
  • Explain the teaching objective.
  • Check for understanding. Do they understand your expectations?

No, you won’t have much time, but it’s important to do this step. It’ll be relatively brief, but it’s essential.

5.  Be Yourself.

Adhere to job etiquette, but don’t lose touch with your core.

Take Action:

When teaching your demo lesson, do your best of course, but above all, be yourself.

Be energetic (whatever that is for you), and show your enthusiasm for being among the students/staff.

Let your unique personality shine.

You want to be in a teaching environment where you’re celebrated for being you.

6. Ignore the Watchers.

Having a group of adults observe you teach can be intimidating.

It’s best to ignore them and focus all of your energies on teaching the best demo lesson possible.

Take Action:

Don’t let the observers during your mock lesson interview scare you … simply ignore them and focus on the students.

Conclusion: Mock Lesson for Teaching Interview Tips

A demo lesson is a great way for you to stand out from the crowd and show what you can really bring to the classroom.

Follow these tips, and you will be on your way to landing that coveted teaching position.

For more help with your job searching goals, take a look at these 9 teacher interview tips.


— Update: 05-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 30 Interview Questions Every Teacher Must Be Able To Answer from the website www.weareteachers.com for the keyword how to nail a teaching interview.

Interviews are exciting. Stressful, but exciting. Whether you are interviewing for your first teaching position, heading back into the classroom after time away, or looking for a new challenge in a different district or grade level, preparing for your interview is key. By having a clear idea of how you might respond to some of the most common teacher interview questions before you get in front of your future principal, you’re far more likely to appear professional and feel confident. We’ve compiled a list of not only the questions you’d have most likely been asked before COVID-19, but also some of the new questions school districts have added to their interview repertoires. Spend a bit of time thinking about how you’d answer each of the questions below, and you’ll be ready to nail that interview!

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?

It seems trite and like a softball question, but don’t let that fool you. Most administrators are looking for something more than, “I’ve just always loved kids.” If you don’t have a substantive answer, then why are you even applying? Schools want to know you are dedicated to enriching the lives of students. Answer honestly and with anecdotes or examples that paint a clear picture of the journey that you took to become a teacher.

2. How do you cope with stress?

This one didn’t always appear on older lists of commonly asked questions, but it’s showing up now big time. School administrators are well aware of the toll teaching in today’s world takes on educators’ mental health and wellness. While they, hopefully, are taking steps to help their teachers deal with the stress and challenges of the job, they want to know if you have coping strategies in place. This is a great place to talk about hobbies, family/friends, and anything else outside the job that you turn to when things get tough. It’s important to note that this is also a great opportunity for you to ask the interviewer what steps their district has taken to prioritize teacher health and wellness.

3. What is your teaching philosophy?

This question is tricky. Don’t answer with a cliché, generic response. In fact, your response is your teaching mission statement. It’s the answer to why you’re a teacher. It’s helpful if you write out your mission statement before the interview and practice reciting it. Discussing your teaching philosophy is a chance to show off why you’re passionate, what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to apply it in this new position, in a new classroom, at a new school.

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4. What did you like/dislike about working remotely?

If you were working or going to school during the pandemic, you’re likely going to be asked about how you dealt with the challenges of working remotely. Be honest. If you hated teaching via Zoom and couldn’t wait to get back to in-person instruction, you can say so. You may want to add, however, that you appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how technology could be used to engage different learners. Similarly, if you loved teaching from home, but you’re applying for an in-person position, you may want to be clear about the fact that while you loved being able to be at home, you love building relationships with your students in-person more.

5. How do you use technology in the classroom?

Technology is at the forefront of education, so your interview is the time to show off that you’re savvy. Talk about why you’re excited to use technology with students. How did you manage remote classrooms and engage students? What technology did you incorporate and use while teaching at home and in the classroom? Your administration needs teachers who are tech-savvy and have innovative thinking around technology.

6. Describe your classroom management structure.

If you’re a veteran teacher, discuss how you handled your classroom in the past. Give specific examples of things that worked the best and why. If you’re new, then explain what you learned as a student teacher and how you’ll map out a plan to run your first classroom. No matter how long you’ve been teaching, familiarize yourself with the school district’s philosophies on classroom management and discipline. Mention how you’ll incorporate their philosophy and stay true to your own. If you’re unable to find out much about the school’s policies beforehand, ask the interviewer to explain.

7. How do you feel about classroom observations and walkthroughs?

This one sounds simple, but be careful. It’s fine to say observations make you nervous, but most administrators want teachers who are comfortable with other adults seeing what goes on in their classroom. This is a great chance to talk about how exciting you find it to share all the wonderful learning activities that happen in your classroom with students’ parents and administration, even if you still get a bit nervous when watched by other adults.

8. Do you think students are different than they were before COVID-19? What changes have you observed, and how have you dealt with them in your classroom?

This one might actually be easier if you’re interviewing for your first teaching job. If that’s you, feel free to explain that while you don’t have a basis for comparison that others might, your classroom management plan is set up with today’s kids in mind. If, however, you’re a veteran teacher, you may want to think about how you’ll answer this one beforehand. Many educators have been quite vocal about the negative emotional, behavioral, and mental changes they’ve noticed in their students post-COVID. If you’ve had similar experiences, you can be honest about them. But make sure you explain what steps you’ve taken to address these changes in a proactive and positive way. No school district wants to hire a teacher who is going to throw up their hands and proclaim, “These kids just don’t listen anymore!” Let them know you are going to meet your students where they are and help them reach your high standards.

9. How do you incorporate social-emotional learning in your lessons?

Many states and districts have added requirements for social-emotional learning into their standards. Explain how you will not only tend to the academic needs of your students but tie in lessons that satisfy the core SEL competencies. Describe how you will help students build their self- and social-awareness skills, how you will support them in building relationships, and how you will give them the skills to make responsible decisions.

10. What impact does trauma have on student learning? How do you address this in your classroom?

Whew, questions like these are tough. As our understanding of the role trauma plays in learning grows, the need for educators to know about it and how to deal with it in their classrooms does as well. If you’ve received professional development about the topic, this is a perfect opportunity to show off a bit. If not, take some time to learn more about how trauma can affect not only students, but the individuals who work with them. That way, you’ll feel more comfortable discussing the issue when it comes up.

11. What role do you believe diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives should play in your classroom and in the school?

Questions about DEI initiatives, policies, and mindsets are challenging but have definitely become standard in most teacher interviews. Many school districts want to know that incoming educators are open to having the challenging conversations and doing the difficult work of building anti-racist curriculum and policies. In more traditional districts, interviewers might be on the lookout for teachers whose views might be “too progressive” for the parents in their schools. Answer these questions truthfully. If you feel strongly that anti-racist policies are important and want DEI initiatives to be respected and valued in the district where you work, you should know that before you accept a teaching position.

12. How will you encourage parents to support their children’s education?

The home-school connection is imperative yet tough to maintain. Administrators lean on teachers to keep open lines of communication with parents. They even see you as a “publicist” for the school, reinforcing the culture, strengths, and values of the school to parents. So, answer this question with concrete ideas. Share how parents will volunteer in your classroom and how you’ll maintain regular contact, providing updates on both positive and negative events. It’s great to also share your plan for providing resources to parents when students are struggling.

13. What are some methods you use to check for understanding as you’re teaching?

It’s one thing to prepare a high-quality lesson plan, but if students are not following along, what’s the use? Explain how your instruction will be responsive to students’ needs. Will you incorporate tech tools for assessments? Or implement exit slips summarizing what they’ve learned? Do you have a quick-check method, like thumbs-up/thumbs-down, to quickly scan for understanding?

14. How do you assess students’ progress?

Here’s your chance to preview your lesson plans and reveal your methods for keeping on top of students’ social, academic, and physical development. Explain the types of quizzes you give because you know that they’re most telling about students’ strengths and weaknesses. Give insight into how you use oral reports, group projects, and seat work to determine who’s struggling and who’s ahead. And share how you implement open communication with your students to discover what they need to succeed.

15. What are your thoughts about grades?

Grading and assessment are set to become hot topics in education in the next few years. While many feel that we’ve become lax in grading during the pandemic and want to tighten up traditional grading, others are arguing for drastically changing our grading systems. Regardless of what you believe personally about this issue, it’s a good idea to start by knowing how the district you are interviewing in handles grades. You can (and should!) absolutely discuss how you believe standards-based grading to be superior to traditional methods, but make sure you also state that you can and will follow district protocols and believe you can accurately measure student learning in this way.

16. Why do you want to teach at this school?

Research, research, and research more before your interview. Google everything you can about the school. Do they have a theater program? Are the students involved in the community? What type of culture does the principal promote? Use social media to see what the school proudly promoted most recently. Then, ask around. Use your network of colleagues to find out what (current and former) teachers loved and hated about it. The point of all this digging? You need to know if this school is a good fit. If it is a good fit, you’ll demonstrate how much you want the job by explaining how you would get involved with all the amazing school programs you’ve heard so much about!

17. What is the greatest challenge facing teachers today?

Remote learning? Hybrid learning? Diversity and inclusion? Social-emotional learning? Engaging parents? The challenges are plenty! Think about your specific school, district, city, and state. What issue is most pressing, and what can you, as a teacher, do to help?

18. How would you handle a parent challenging your teaching methods/curriculum/classroom management?

Even a district that is going to strongly support its teachers against parent complaints may ask how you will handle such conflicts when they arise. This is a great opportunity to discuss how you stay calm in tense situations. Discussing how you prefer to call parents who are upset rather than emailing, or how you would forward particularly angry emails to a supervisor just to keep everyone in the loop, are excellent ways to show that you are a calm and proactive educator.

19. How can you meet the needs of a student with an IEP?

Today’s inclusive classrooms require that teachers know how to meet each child’s unique educational needs, especially those with disabilities. Perhaps most importantly, meeting the needs of students with IEPs (and 504 plans) is required by law. Districts definitely want to hear that you know that and you will be following those legal requirements. Even if you have not worked extensively with special needs students, educate yourself on the process and be familiar with the lingo. Prepare a couple of examples of ways you can differentiate instruction to support their particular needs.

20. How would you handle a situation in which you believe a student doesn’t need all of the accommodations listed in their IEP?

This is a variation of the last question, and it’s also a bit of a “gotcha” question. It’s important to remember that Special Education paperwork is legally binding. Meaning that if an IEP states that a student gets extended time to complete work, preferential seating, or any other specially-designed instruction, they have to receive it, or the district has broken the law. An administrator or principal who asks this question wants to know that you are aware of how important following a student’s IEP is and that you won’t ignore things when you don’t think they are needed. Make sure you express that you understand that. Even better, however, is if you do that and then acknowledge that part of your job as a teacher is to monitor how a student is performing and let the student’s case manager (or whoever is writing their IEP) know if you believe they do not need a particular support or if they need more. This way, you demonstrate a strong understanding of how the IEP works and that you play an important role as a member of that students’ support team.

21. How will you meet the needs of the students in your class who are advanced or say they’re bored?

School leaders don’t want to hear canned responses about how you can differentiate; they want you to give some concrete answers and support your ideas. Perhaps you help get kids prepared for scholastic competitions once they’ve mastered the standard (spelling bee or chemistry olympiad, anyone?). Maybe you offer more advanced poetry schemes for your English classes or alternate problem-solving methods for your math students. Whatever it is, make sure that you express the importance that all students are engaged, even the ones that are already sure to pass the state standardized test.

22. How will you engage reluctant learners?

Teaching in an age when we must compete with TikTok, Snapchat, and other forms of instant entertainment makes this question valid and necessary. How will you keep students engaged? Share specific incentive policies, lessons you’ve used, or ways you’ve built relationships to keep students on task. An anecdote of how a past student (remember to protect privacy) that you taught was turned on to your subject because of your influence would also help your credibility here.

23. Describe a troubling student you’ve taught. What did you do to get through to them?

This question addresses more than just your reluctant learners. This speaks to any discipline measures you’ve had to address. As a teacher, you need to control the classroom and provide a safe space for all of your students. Think about your approach to troubling students and any successes you’ve had in the past.

24. Tell us about a mistake you made with a student. What happened, and how did you address it?

This is a tough but important question. Your interviewer is asking you to be a bit vulnerable here, but be careful with your choice of anecdote. While we’ve all made mistakes when dealing with students, what you’re really looking for is an example where you made a mistake and then addressed it appropriately. Think carefully about a situation in which you didn’t handle things as well as you could have, but that you got it right in the end. Explain why you handled it the way you did initially, what caused you to reflect and change your mind, and how the situation was resolved.

25. Which activities, clubs, or sports are you willing to sponsor if you are offered a position?

While this expectation may be more real for middle and secondary teachers, being the new kid on the block often comes with a conversion of your title from teacher to coach. If athletics isn’t one of your strengths, you can still get an edge on your competition by sponsoring a science club, yearbook, or academic team. You might also share a special skill, like knitting or creative writing, and offer to teach it to interested students.

26. What three words would your peers, administrators, or students use to describe you?

Having been caught off guard by this prompt at a previous competitive interview, I would encourage you to have some thoughtful options to describe yourself. It’s tempting to say things you think your new boss might want to hear, like intelligent or hard-working, but don’t discount character traits or terms that paint you as a team player among peers and a role model for students. Some options to consider are empathetic, creative, caring, or cooperative.

27. What do you feel you can contribute to our school’s PLC for your subject?

The days of shutting your door to do your own thing are out, and professional learning communities are in! Go in ready to discuss topics such as common planning, benchmarks, and data analysis. This is a key time to highlight your strengths. Whether you shine in making high-level DOK assessment questions or have a plethora of student-centered activities for your subject, let the interviewers know what you have to offer to your prospective peers and what you hope to glean from collaborating with them.

28. Which component of your résumé are you most proud of and why?

Pride may come before a fall, but if asked about your accomplishments, don’t be bashful about conveying your worth. Have you won a grant for classroom materials? Share the details and how they helped your students succeed. Did you receive an award for excellence in instruction? Talk about how the application process helped you reflect and grow. If you’re a recent graduate, you can still brag on yourself: Describe your student-teaching experience and how it prepared you for opportunities like the job opening you’re vying for. Small things, like professional organization memberships, can also help you relay your interest in staying up to date on the latest educational research and best professional development.

29. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?

With more teachers leaving the classroom than ever before, many districts are going to be looking for educators who are ready to stay put for the foreseeable future. That being said, if your dream is to become a principal, reading specialist, or some other role within the district, it is OK to mention that. However, it’s probably wise to state that your main goal is to be the best classroom teacher you can be and see what opportunities arise after five or ten years.

30. Do you have any questions?

While it may be tempting to get out of the hot seat quickly by answering with a simple no, this will generally be the final question and your last opportunity to leave a good impression. This isn’t the time to ask about when they might be making a decision about the position, salary, or benefit questions. The interviewer wants to know that you actually care about their school district. So, grab a journal or pad and jot some ideas down before your interview, and proudly pull these notes out on cue. If you are at a loss for what to ask, peruse the school’s website, check out their goals, strategic plan, or recent accomplishments, and refer to them specifically. Your potential principal will likely appreciate your inquisitive side if it is paired with genuine interest in their school.

If you’ve recently been on the job-hunting circuit, what common teacher interview questions would you add to this list? Share in the comments below.

Plus, what to wear to a teacher interview.

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How to nail a teaching interview

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About the Author: Tung Chi