Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Montessori Opportunities: Preparing for Interviews

NAMC montessori preparing for interviews two women in suits talking

Going on a job interview can be very stressful. In fact, changing to a different line of work ranks 18 out of 43 on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. (Holmes & Rahe) Whether you are a new Montessori teacher going on your first Montessori interview or a seasoned veteran looking for a new opportunity, knowing what to expect in an interview will help reduce your stress ahead of time.

In general, employers want to know about you. They want to what your strengths are (they will understand that you have weaknesses, too) and how you will fit with their Montessori family. They also want to know that you are articulate and able to communicate with both students and adults.

Montessori Interview Preparation Tips


Here are a few questions that you can expect to be asked at your job interview. Consider these questions and practice your answers ahead of time. Being prepared will help reduce your stress and will make the interview process go far more smoothly.

NAMC montessori preparing for interviews male teacher helps girl

General Questions

1. What are your personal and professional goals? What are your career goals?
  • Your goals should be about how you can benefit the school. For example, you may want to improve your knowledge of Montessori philosophy. Or you may have a more specific goal of developing your knowledge of peace education or community service. You may be interested in learning web design, which you could use to build a class webpage. Whatever your goals, they should focus on a combination of personal growth and your investment in the school community.

2. What qualities do you look for in an administrator?
  • This question is asking you to express how you think your administrator can help you be an effective Montessori teacher. It also provides some insight into how you will fit in with the current staff.

3. What will you do when a lesson doesn’t go the way you planned?

  • Think about your observation skills and what you know about presenting Montessori lessons. Remember, to keep the focus on what you can do to change the situation – not on how the students received the lesson. It’s not about the students being unreceptive. When something goes wrong in the Montessori environment, it’s about lack of planning or observation from the teacher.

4. What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?

  • Women, in general, have a hard time listing their strengths. Now is the time to say you are amazing at preparing the environment, or that you are a terrific story teller, or that you are able to remain calm in the face of crisis. And remember to provide specific examples when you can. How are you amazing at preparing the environment? What have you done to show this? Now is your time to shine!
  • Be careful about listing your weaknesses. Your future employer doesn’t want to know that you hit the snooze button eight times every morning or that you like go to out socializing on Thursday nights!
  • Some people tell you to turn your strength into a weak point. I once told a prospective employer that I am a perfectionist. She just looked at me and told me that was to her advantage and didn’t see that as weakness! A better way to state your weakness is with a solution. You may say, “I’m really a perfectionist, and I used to have a hard time allowing my assistant to help. I’ve really worked on learning to delegate some of my responsibilities.”

5. Why did you leave your last position?

  • Be honest but positive. Avoid speaking badly about previous positions or managers.

6. Why should we hire you?

  • Again, practice this answer until you have a positive, strong statement. Make a list of your strengths and write a paragraph that you can use in any situation.

Montessori Interviews

You can expect a Montessori interview to go beyond a typical teaching interview. Expect the interviewer to want to see you teach. During my very first Montessori interview, I was asked to present an activity in a real class before I spoke with any administrators. I was called back a few days later for a formal interview.

You should be prepared to be asked about Montessori philosophy, especially if you are a lead teacher. You may also be asked about preparing the environment, presenting activities, record-keeping, and your discipline and management style. As well, the interviewer may ask how you became interested in Montessori, how Montessori differs from conventional education, and what your favorite area of the classroom is.

NAMC montessori preparing for interviews student and teacher work with multiplication bead board

Be Honest

This seems to go without saying, but it’s crucial. If this is your first position as a Montessori teacher or working with children, be honest about it. Prospective employers do check references. And while former employers may be limited to what they can say, how they say it and what they leave out can be very telling. Falsifying academic records, former work experience, or history is considered fraud and is terms for dismissal.

Before you go on your interview, write out the answers to the above questions. Practice reading your answers aloud until you feel confident. Then, role-play the interview situation with a friend.

With practice, your confidence will grow and you will represent yourself with poise as a true Montessori professional.


Works Cited
Holmes, Thomas and Richard Rahe. “Holmes-Rahe stress inventory.” Accessed from The American Institute of Stress. http://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

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