Tough Interview Questions

Long-Term Substitute teacher interview questions

Potential substitutes might be asked about their classroom management abilities.Potential substitutes might be asked about their classroom management abilities.


Substitute teaching has its challenges, including having to quickly adjust to new school environments, following lesson plans and adjusting to last-minute assignments and scheduling changes. But working as a substitute teacher can be excellent preparation for landing a full-time teaching job. Many schools hold interviews before hiring substitute teachers to determine suitability. Reviewing potential questions that can be asked during the interview process is an efficient way to prepare for success.

Classroom Management

School districts and principals know that students can behave differently when a substitute teacher is present, so substitute teachers are expected to have highly honed classroom management skills. Principals want assurance that substitutes will not be constantly sending students to the office rather than handling issues effectively in the class. Be prepared to describe your classroom management strategies in detail, including how to handle disruptive or off-task students. Some interviewers might ask you to describe a situation that you feel you mishandled in the past, and to state how you might have done things differently. Keep the story brief, noting the correct steps that you took before identifying an element that could have been handled a different way.

Content Areas

Schools often operate in high-stakes environments when it comes to preparing students for state-mandated standardized tests, so most principals need substitutes to capably handle the required content areas. Rather than dwell on your sing-along skills with kindergartners, or your joking manner with high school students, refer to your content-related skills. If you’re familiar with guided reading, differentiated instruction or calculus, highlight these capabilities when asked about content area knowledge during the interview.

Grade Levels

Substitute teachers are expected to teach whatever grade level is assigned to them at the school, however, principals sometimes ask which grade levels are preferred. Although you can state that you feel comfortable in all grade levels, interviewers genuinely want to know where you shine so that substitute placements are an effective fit. Substitute teachers at an elementary school might prefer teaching fourth-graders or fifth-graders compared with kindergartners and first-graders, for example. Being honest about your preferences indicates self-knowledge and confidence. It’s also a good way to discuss your prior experience. For example, you might state, “I have substantial experience teaching U.S. history, so I would make a great fit for eighth grade and 10th grade history classes.”


Schools sometimes hire substitutes for long-term teaching positions that could last for weeks, months or the majority of the school year. Not all substitute teachers like long-term assignments, because it can require substantial amounts of time for lesson planning and grading, which might not be incorporated into the daily substitute rate. Long-term subbing is, however, a great way to make connections with teachers and administrators on-site and can sometimes lead to full-time hires. When asked about long-term substitute teaching assignments, consider whether you can commit to the entire contracted time period before agreeing.

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