Category Archives: potential interview questions for candidates

8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset (Interview Questions)

8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset


This was an awesome idea from Emily Day Harrison, and I wanted to build upon it.

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As many people are going through the interview process right now, I have drafted some questions that may help display “The Innovator’s Mindset” in potential candidates, or could even be potential blog posts for those not applying for jobs at this point.   Here is the first draft of some of the questions:


Characteristic Interview Question Your suggestion for questions?
Empathy Describe your classroom from the viewpoint of a student.  What would they tell me if I was to walk in?
Problem-Finders/Solvers How do you encourage students to make an impact both locally and globally?  

What are some ways that you help tap into their passions for learning?

Risk Takers Share a time that you tried something that didn’t work with students.  What did you learn from the process?
Networked Outside of teachers that you have worked with, who is a “current day” educator (or thinker) that has influenced your teaching? How have you connected with them?
How have you made connections both locally and globally?  What does being “networked” mean to you?
What opportunities will students have in your classroom to make connections outside of it?
Observant Share a time you were inspired by something outside of education and brought it into the classroom.

Where do you find your “best ideas”?

Creators What have you created from your own learning?  What impact did it have on you?
Explain opportunities you have developed, or you would develop, for students to “create” to delve deeper into the curriculum. What about outside of the curriculum?
Resilient Talk about a time that you overcame adversity in your life, either personally or professionally.  What did you learn from the experience?  

How do you model resiliency to students?
How do you develop resiliency in your students with varying levels of learning?

Reflective How do you make time for reflection in your practice?  What impact has “reflection” had on your teaching?
How do you implement reflection time in learning for your students?


A few things to consider…

  1. Although these are called “interview questions”, it does not mean you have to do them in a traditional “interview style”.  Candidates could have access to questions before and discuss what they choose, or they could develop their own questions based on the traits and prompts and answer as they choose.  We do not want to promote “innovation” in candidates by necessarily using the same process we have used for years.
  2. These wouldn’t be the only questions that would guide an interview for me.  As an administrator, I need to know how important relationships are for potential candidates (both with colleagues and students), as well as other questions pertaining to the situation of the opening.  It doesn’t matter how smart someone is if they are unable to connect with those they serve. I have seen this time and time again.These are not “set in stone” questions, but just prompts or suggestions.  Consider them in beta.
  3. If you are going to ask these questions, you should be able to answer them as an administrator or educational leader.
  4. “Innovation” is not in lieu of best practice.  The two should be connected. That being said, I think it is important to find people who are problem-finders/solvers, critical thinkers, and have access to ideas and people outside of their organization.  People need to be comfortable with “not-knowing”, but also have an urgency and sense of wanting to find out.

I would love your thoughts, feedback, and sample questions.  All I know is that if we continue to ask the same questions we have always asked, will we get the same output from school?  We need to not only think different, but act different, to get different that is better for our kids.