STEM subjects have been in the spotlight in recent years. The Equity in STEM Education report – which was released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM in June 2020 – highlighted the importance of recruitment and retention of STEM teachers in schools and colleges.
Reports such as these emphasise the significance of your training and expertise, and how needed you are in secondary education. So, whether you’re recently qualified or you’ve been in education for a while, if you’ve been invited to an interview for a science teacher job, it’s important that you know what to expect.
To help you, we’ve spoken to our education recruitment specialists who reveal some essential tips and ideas to help you prepare for your high school science teacher job interview. These questions and answers will steer you through the application process and hopefully bag you the teaching post.
top pre-interview tips
Before we look at some of the most common science teacher interview questions, it’s worth thinking about the prep to do before the interview. Here are the main things to consider before you meet the interviewer:
- Are you prepared and organised? A successful candidate for any teaching position will be one who is well organised, and it's important this key quality comes across at the interview stage. A science teacher needs to straddle two worlds, so brush up on current trends and developments, both in the field of science as well as education.
- Dress smartly. A science teacher should be as open and accessible as any other member of the teaching faculty, so a formal yet comfortable outfit is ideal. Try adding a bright (but not silly) accessory to throw off the 'white lab coat' image completely.
- Arrive on time. As with any interview, you’ll need to make sure you get to your teaching interview around 10 minutes before you’re due to meet your interviewer. This gives you a chance to showcase your timekeeping skills, which are crucial in all aspects of teaching.
- Be polite to the school receptionist. Your interview starts from the moment you enter the school, and if your attitude towards the receptionist doesn’t match the one you have for your interviewer, it won’t paint you in the best light – especially as the support staff in any school are just as essential as the teaching staff.
Remember that an interview for a science teacher job is similar to any other job interview in a school. Keep calm, take the time to provide a considered answer, and refer to specific experiences to illustrate how to tackle hypothetical scenarios. An organised and professional approach, combined with the right skills and experience, is a great way of winning over the interview panel.
what employers want: everything science teacher job candidates need to know.
When you apply for a science teacher job, your prospective employer is looking for certain qualities that match their school. But there’s also some common ground shared by interviewers looking for their next high school science teacher. In the interview, as well as the questions and answers you give, there’s also some additional expectations. By knowing what these are, you can think about how you’ll meet them.
First, to be successful as a science teacher, you should be able to make the scientific environment and new technology accessible and exciting – employers want teachers to encourage and foster intellectual curiosity. If your interest and enthusiasm is clear to the interview panel, it will grab students' interest, too.
Also, candidates should be able to project themselves as individuals who are just as comfortable around children as they are around test tubes. Knowing and understanding particle physics is no use whatsoever to a school if the voice of the person explaining it sends everyone to sleep. Remember to be interesting, amusing, and likeable.
A science teacher generally teaches in a lab, with equipment lying around that is far more dangerous than other classrooms. During the interview, it’s very likely that you will be asked specifically about how you would deal with safety and potentially unsafe situations that may come up in the science classroom. You should be well prepared and know current health and safety procedures.
Also, remember that it’s not a one-way discussion. You’ll be expected to have questions to ask as the prospective science teacher in your interview. Therefore, have some questions prepared so that you can find out everything you need to know about the role and the school.
common science teacher interview questions
When starting a new topic with your class, how do you approach planning?
The planning process is the nuts and bolts of any teaching role. This is something you’ll have mastered during your NQT. Here, they’re checking to see how you set out your lessons and how you plan short and long-term.
Describe a teaching method you have successfully used to help students understand a difficult scientific concept.
This question is designed to showcase your ability to make a complex topic accessible. You’ll be used to differentiating for the ability levels in the classes you’ve taught before, so think back to a time when all strategies used worked well.
How do you use computers in the science classroom?
Tech is a primary resource in the classroom. Show how you use student-appropriate apps and websites to illustrate what you’ve taught.
Describe any motivational techniques you have found to be successful in a classroom environment.
Any teaching role, not just a science teacher job, will require teachers to keep students engaged. This can be tricky when you’re trying to explain complex or dry parts of the curriculum. This question is designed to see how you keep everyone engaged.
There’s another part to this question, too. How do you keep pupils motivated to succeed in the subject you’re teaching them as a whole? Interviewers want to know the techniques you introduce to keep spirits high when some might be finding one area of the subject difficult.
How do you help your students become independent learners?
Do you have any tricks to inspire your class members to find out more about a topic? Give examples to the interviewer.
general interview questions
As well as the dedicated questions for your science teacher interview, you’ll also be asked some general questions. These are included to give your potential new employer the chance to find out more about who you are and your experience so far.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What are your career goals?
- Why do you think you would enjoy being a science teacher?
- How do you keep up to date with new developments in technology?
- What do you know about our school?
- Why are you the right candidate for this job?
get a science teacher job interview with Randstad
These are some of the common science teacher interview questions that might come up. Hopefully, you feel prepared and ready to visit your potential new school. To prepare some more, click here to brush up on the 10 most common interview questions you could be asked.
If you’re searching for a science teacher job, take a look at our current teaching vacancies. Submit your CV to receive emails about the latest vacancies or speak to our experts if you have any questions about our education roles.