Teach for America Interview Questions

Updated Jun 24, 2015
534 Interview Reviews

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  1. Helpful (17)  

    TFA Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Los Angeles, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America (Los Angeles, CA) in March 2012.

    Interview

    It is an extensive process. TFA is selective, NOT competitive. There isn't an "x" number of people they choose for the corps every year, they choose everyone who is qualified (that is because some districts are so understaffed that they literally take as many corps members as TFA can give them). Thus, you are evaluated based on TFA's "bar", NOT compared to your peers. The selection rate (of around 11%) has gotten lower in recent years is because the number of applicants increased more than the number of qualified applicants.

    The first step of the application is online (form, resume, essay), which is a primary screening to see a few things:

    1) Do you have leadership experience? Do you have numbers to quantify its significance to an extent? (ex: how many people you managed/led, how big of a budget you dealt with, etc)

    2) Do you understand TFA's mission? Are you really on board? Are you just looking for a place to boost your resume?

    3) Are you a passionate person? Can you handle the work? Have you been through challenges?

    If you come across as someone with these traits, you will move to the next stage in the process. I interned at recruitment the summer before I applied, so I learned a lot about what they were looking for. If you are especially strong in showing these on the initial application, you can even skip the next stage in the process and go straight to the final interview!

    The second step is a phone interview. From what I've heard, they mainly try to get you to elaborate/flesh out the 3 things above based on what you submitted for the first step. Their website actually lists 7 "things", but some of the others don't become as important until the final stage of the interview process. Their list of 7 is below (taken from their website under the page "Who We Look For"):

    -A deep belief in the potential of all kids and a commitment to do whatever it takes to expand opportunities for students
    -Demonstrated leadership ability and superior interpersonal skills to motivate others
    -Strong achievement in academic, professional, extracurricular, and/or volunteer settings
    -Perseverance in the face of challenges, ability to adapt to changing environments, and a strong desire to do whatever it takes to improve and develop
    -Excellent critical thinking skills, including the ability to accurately link cause and effect and to generate relevant solutions to problems
    -Superior organizational ability, including planning well and managing responsibilities effectively
    -Respect for individuals’ diverse experiences and the ability to work effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds

    If you move forward to the final interview stage, the rumors are that they usually take about 50% of the remaining candidates and actually accept them into the corps. However, that number could change drastically from year to year based on how they choose candidates (read first paragraph to review this).

    The final interview is intense. Beforehand, they will have you complete an online activity. They force you to sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the specifics of that, so I will honor that here. If you focus and take it seriously, you shouldn't have any problems.

    The final interview is in-person and is a full day. In the beginning, they have you in an interview group of a max of 10. Each candidate teaches a 5 minute lesson to their "class", which is the rest of the interview group. The time limit is very strict (they will stop you if you're not finished). The purpose is not to impress them with the complex data you can communicate, or to prove you're already a teacher, but to show that you know how to communicate to a class in the teaching environment.

    After the lessons are finished, there is a group discussion activity. They want to see that you can make valuable contributions to the discussion while not dominating and make sure that an outcome is compiled by the end of the time limit.

    After that, you sign up for a one-on-one interview slot and have an interview for about 30 minutes (some are shorter, but not usually longer than that). During the one-on-one, they ask a lot of questions about your resume, why you want to be in TFA, and if you think you can handle the demanding environment. They also do a scenario of some sort than involves talking with a school administrator about implementing a new program.

    Then, you're done!

    They are implementing a new program this year in which you can apply as a college junior to start working after your senior year. If you do not get accepted, they will give you some sort of feedback and let you apply for the fall of your senior year so that you can have another chance to still work in the same corps and apply twice. I'm not sure of the other details of that program, but I would highly recommend it if you are a college junior that feels like TFA could be the right fit for you!

    Interview Questions

    • Most unexpected: Have you ever missed a deadline?   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    There isn't much negotiation. You submit your preferences when you apply, so they know what you want.

    Your offer comes with the content you will be teaching, your grade level range (elem, middle, or high school), and the region (most are cities, some are geographically larger, see their website for details). There are cases where they will make changes for you, but they try all they can not to switch you. If you tell them you will not do the program unless you are switched and they are able to feasibly make the switch, the history I've seen is that they will. It is still very difficult to do, though. Also, none of it is guaranteed and it could switch. This is the case because your placement depends on the district and their needs, which change often. Teach for America does everything they can to get you where your original offer is, but since it is ultimately out of their control, that doesn't always happen. At the end of the day, if you're there to make an impact for kids, it doesn't matter where you are or what you teach. If you are a "professional" (meaning not just out of college), and you have a mortgage or a family to care for or a spouse with a job that limits your regional options they WILL do all they can to honor that. They honestly don't care where your boyfriend/girlfriend is unless you are engaged.

    Also, on the form for your regional preferences, you can place regions into categories of highly preferred, preferred, and least preferred. You only need to put 10 regions, so if you have a specific desire for a region, only put 10 regions and only put the ones you really want in the "highly preferred" column. I say this because if they decide to make you an offer, they decide that before they consider the region. They want you to accept your offer, so if they choose you don't be afraid to make it clear which region you want to be in. I did this and was a later applicant and was surprised that I got my 2nd choice, which was a very popular choice (Los Angeles).

  2.  

    Teacher Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Seattle, WA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America (Seattle, WA) in March 2009.

    Interview

    Wrote essays for first round, phone interview for second round, and group interview for last round of interviews.

    Interview Questions

  3.  

    Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America.

    Interview

    3 rounds of interviews across rolling deadlines. 1. Online application, 2. Phone interview, 3. In-person interview and sample lesson.

    Interview Questions

    • There was a specific simulation question that was very difficult at the in-person interview day. It likely changes by year, interview location, and interview date. It asks you to solve a problem within the school and then the interviewer reacts as a certain actor in the situation.   Answer Question
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  5.  

    Teacher Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Declined Offer
    Difficult Interview

    Interview

    Submit Application, if they like you then you'll then have a phone interview, then submit online assignments, and then final round group interviews in which you'll teach a lesson. followed by an individual interview in which you'll get feedback about your lesson. very in depth interview process but it weeds out the people who aren't truly interested

    Interview Questions

  6.  

    TFA Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Phoenix, AZ
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America (Phoenix, AZ) in March 2009.

    Interview

    Started with a phone interview. Questions regarding how you handle stress, organization, you beliefs about education, background, etc. Interviewer was easy going and friendly. 2nd interview was an all-day process at the regional office. 9 hours- the morning was all individual work and group role playing. I took an assessment, role played a school scenario in a group of four (they were looking for collaborative skills, I believe), and presented a 5 minute lesson to the other 11 interviewees and 4 evaluators. Break for lunch and then I waited until I was called for the one on one interview. They asked about my educational background, organizational skills, motivations for joining the corps, and my visions for my own future as well as that in education.

    Interview Questions

    • I really don't remember. They really want people who are organized, passionate, work well with a group, and driven to make positive change.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    No negotiating. You get paid what teachers in your placement district get paid.

  7. Helpful (1)  

    Managing Director Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America in September 2013.

    Interview

    As many have already mentioned, the hiring process for TFA is very structured, but in my opinion it's overdone. According to the hiring manager, I was actually 1 of 2 top candidates for the job, but unfortunately for me the other person was offered the position. The entire process took 4 agonizing months and a call to my supervisor for a reference, only for them to offer the job to my opponent in the end.

    My interview process was as follows: I first completed the initial phone interview screening. About 4-5 weeks later I was contacted to do a second phone interview with a member from the team I would be working with and the program assistant. A few days after that I was given a 2-part critical thinking assignment, which had a 1-week deadline. Two weeks after submitting the assignment I was contacted once again to interview with the hiring manager. Following that interview, I spoke with 2 additional team members, and a few days later I had my final interview with a VP based in a different location.

    Everyone I spoke to was always extemely polite and seemingly very interested in my ideas, but I did often wonder if they were being genuine. When it was all said and done, I wasn't provided much feedback as to why they decided to go with the other candidate, only that it was a "really tough decision." The hiring manager even went on to say that my references were excellent and how great of a job I'm doing in my present work. Overall, I still believe that TFA is likely a great place to work, but after my long, drawn-out experience I doubt I will ever apply with this organization again.

    Interview Questions

    • The questions were pretty straight-forward, and many of them had to do with corporate relationship building and how well you can handle challenges.   Answer Question
  8. Helpful (2)  

    TFA Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in West Lafayette, IN
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America (West Lafayette, IN) in November 2010.

    Interview

    There are multiple levels of interviews and high expectations of the interviewees preparedness for each level. Do not expect the standard questions or procedures. Show passion and excitement for the cause and a willingness to learn from those who have gone before you. Openness to new experiences and people is also important.

    Interview Questions

    • Teaching a lesson to other group interviewees was the most difficult. Make sure you have an assessment at the end of your lesson to determine if your "Students" have learned the material. Be prepared for difficult questions during your lesson from TFA staff acting as students.   Answer Question
  9. Helpful (5)  

    TFA Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America in October 2013.

    Interview

    Well I'll be completely honest. TFA is not for everyone. The first step is to fill out an online application. This application is very thorough, long, and is not something that you can do last minute. Make sure your resume focuses on your leadership experiences and your essay questions reflect true passion for their cause. Everything needs to be lined up with their mission and their core values. So, do your research.

    Next is the phone interview/online activity. Some people skip the actual phone interview and is invited straight to the final interview. I think it just means that everything they were looking for was given and explained on their application. But, if you're offered a phone interview don't be worried. Just be yourself and be prepared. Be familiar with your resume and leadership experience and be ready to explain specific details. If you say you increased something, know the numbers or percentage and how you did so. Be very specific. The online activity is very long. First there is a watch and respond. You'll watch a video and respond. Then there's a test, there isn't a "correct answer" but they just want to see how and what you would do in certain situations. It's not hard though, just make sure that you think things through.

    Lastly, there's a three part final interview. It consists of a five minute lesson plan, a group interview/activity, and then a one-on -one interview. All I can say is be prepared. For the five minute lesson plan--practice, practice, practice. Make sure whatever you choose to teach, you KNOW well and you can be completely confident in. Don't over think the lesson. Make sure that you're engaging the audience, have some sort of interaction, and use your time wisely. The group interview/activity. I cannot say this enough, Teach for America is NOT competitive it's selective. They are not looking for a set number of applicants. They are just looking for people who meet their standards. So try not to be a know it all and a control freak. Make sure you're heard, but also give others a chance to be heard. Review their core values: TEAMWORK. Work together as a team. I HIGHLY advise that you get to know the other interviewees and learn to support and encourage each other. It makes the day SO MUCH better. The one on one interview. Mine was awesome. The interviewer was SO nice and kind. Try not to be alarmed or feel like they're not paying attention to you when they're typing on their computer. They're taking notes on you. This is their way of painting a picture of who you are to the admissions team. So, be yourself, be prepared, and be passionate. I know TFA only accepts 11 % of their applicants but don't let that worry you. If you are truly passionate about something, it will show.

    Interview Questions

    • I agreed to keep questions confidential. Just know your responses to your application long responses, your resume, and leadership experiences.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    No negotiation . When offered to the final interview, you are asked to pick 10 locations: under the categories: highly preferred, preferred, and least preferred. You will also be asked to pick grade level and subject as well under the same categories.

    If you are offered a position, based off the need of the locations you picked and what you qualify for is how you will be offered a position. Your only options are to accept it or decline.

  10. Helpful (1)  

    Director, Business Analysis Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in New York, NY
    Accepted Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 4+ monthsinterviewed at Teach for America (New York, NY) in January 2012.

    Interview

    Extremely long process. Takes time to get on folks calendars. Multiple interviews in the same day and multiple interviewers in the same interview. The organization is difficult to get into and the interview process is how they manage it. HR is slow to respond even if they are very much interested in you.

    Interview Questions

    • Be prepared to answer questions around the mission and vision of TFA and how they pertain to you. Technical questions are minimal.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Zero negotiation

  11.  

    Corps Member Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    No Offer
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online – interviewed at Teach for America.

    Interview

    Several steps- online application, phone interview, final interview.

    Interview Questions

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