First of all, let's get the bad questions out of the way. That will help you focus on the good questions.
Never ask questions which impute anything negative about your present or former schools. The private school community is small. Everybody knows everybody. It just doesn't make sense to speak ill of colleagues, even though what you say may well be true. Any display of negative energy will be a potential red flag in your interview. Too many red flags will eliminate you from further consideration. A single red flag, no matter how minor or insignificant, could still be something your future employer might ask about when he checks your references. You certainly don't want to unleash a torrent of criticism from your old boss when he is asked why you disliked the faculty meal arrangements.
Do your homework carefully before asking any question which could even remotely be considered negative. That means you need to find that trusted friend or mentor who helped you with your interview attire and did some role-playing with you. Ask him those questions which you aren't sure about. See if they sound negative to him.
Avoid questions which are irrelevant to the position which you seek. Extraneous questions, unless they are part of small talk while standing in line waiting to get into the dining room, should probably be avoided.
The Characteristics of Good Questions
Good questions in a private school interview situation are questions which indicate some of the following characteristics and traits about you:
- Your passion for your subject
- Your knowledge of your subject
- Your enjoyment which comes from teaching young people
Let's frame some sample questions based on the characteristics listed previously:
Assuming you teach classics, ask something such as "Would St. Agnes be agreeable to having its Latin students enter the National Latin Exam?"
Assuming you teach French, ask something like "How did the French Club trip to Lyons last spring work out? Did the students learn a lot?"
Each question indicates that you have done your homework about what has gone on at the school in your subject area. Be sure to ask the questions with genuine enthusiasm for and interest in the fact that St. Agnes' students have attained such a high level of accomplishment in the subject. Implicit in the questions is your intent to build on this solid foundation and hopefully with the school's support and blessing take the students to even higher levels.
The objective with asking good questions at your job interview is to improve your chances for getting hired. Don't make the mistake of being silent. Good questions can show your strengths in a favorable light. Good questions can make the difference between being a finalist for the position or just being interviewed for it.