All teacher training providers have their own format for interviews. Some Higher Education Institutions and School Centred Initial Teacher Training providers will have individual and group tasks as part of their selection process. My tips below are therefore not an attempt to second guess interview questions, rather to act as food for thought.
Key areas to consider
A provider may wish to explore these key areas:
- Why you feel you want to become a teacher.
- How your experience and qualifications to date have prepared you for the role.
- What specific qualities, skills and knowledge you'd bring to the role/school.
- Your ability to reflect on lessons you've observed.
- Areas of strength and areas you feel you'd need more support with.
- How well you understand their course (vision, structure and aims etc.).
On the day
If your interview is at a school it is wise to attend in a suit or appropriate smart clothing. You may well be asked to interact with students or teach a short activity so it’s best to be dressed for the occasion. Tasks on the day will vary between providers but expect some/all of the following:
- Panel interview.
- Written task (lesson plan, review of a student’s work etc.).
- Teaching task or lesson.
- Group task / discussion.
- Meeting with students.
If you are asked to prepare a lesson or to talk through a lesson for the day – always bring a copy of the plan for the panel.
What are we looking for in a great applicant?
Through your answers and the activities of the day, we’d hope to uncover most/all of the following:
- Passion - for the subject or phase you want to teach.
- Knowledge – good teachers have a breadth of knowledge beyond their formal qualifications.
- Confidence – we know you will grow and develop as a teacher but we need to see potential!
- Care – this is a profession where putting the student first is a given.
- Highly Literate – Able to speak well in formal situations and be comfortable in correcting the spelling, punctuation and grammar of students.
- Motivation – Do you have the drive for the multifaceted nature of the role? Can you motivate others?
- Empathy – Can you see both sides? Can you demonstrate you’d be firm but fair especially when under pressure?
- Sense of humour – if I need to explain this one… you’re probably not quite what we’re looking for :)
It’s a cliché but above all else – be yourself in the interview! The process is a supportive one, we are trying to find a good fit for us as the trainer, and you equally want to feel that you can work with us. At the end of the formal panel interview you’ll be asked if you have any questions, the most common two questions are:
- Will I be here (the school doing the interview) for my placement? ANSWER – often, but not always. This is the point to mention any travel issues you may have (no car, moving house etc. so that school placements can be made which work for both parties)
- How does the training work? ANSWER – Most providers run some ‘block’ training at the start of the course with ‘training days’ scheduled throughout the rest of the year. The rest of the time you will be in your first placement school (often called your host school) followed by a half term placement in a Second School Placement (SSP) before returning to the host school for the rest of the year.
David Douglass is Director of Sacred Heart Newcastle SCITT. He has over 20 years’ experience of working in Secondary schools in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne. He is currently Deputy Headteacher at Sacred Heart Catholic High School. This was originally posted on the Sacred Heart Newcastle SCITT blog and is published with kind permission. Follow him on Twitter @NewcastleSCITT