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Teacher training interview questions

So, you’ve been offered an interview for teacher training. It’s very exciting news and it’s natural to feel nervous too. But no fear, we’ve put together a list of teacher training interview questions to help you prepare and get you one step closer to your dream of becoming a teacher.

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We’ll start with some general tips and then go on to explore some teacher training interview questions. You’ll hopefully find that the interview process is a supportive one – the interviewers are trying to find out whether this is going to work for you. The interviewers are typically university tutors and teachers from placement schools. They are not trying to catch you out. Generally, there are no right or wrong answers.

Man is speaking while looking at the interviewer

The interviewers want to see who you are, what you are passionate about and how you present yourself. Sally Eales, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Plymouth Marjon University, explains what her team look for: "What we are looking for is potential. We always stress at the beginning of the interview that we are not looking for the finished article, otherwise, you wouldn't need to come on the course. We’re looking for your personality to come through, we want to see a passion for the profession and that desire to make a positive impact on children’s lives.” 

First impressions

Before we explore teacher training interview questions, let’s take a quick look at first impressions. First, make sure that you are on time, or early, and that you are dressed professionally i.e. simply dress like a teacher. Think about how you behave from the moment you walk into the building. Your behaviour towards everybody will be noticed so be sure to act professionally and respectfully when talking to everyone including other candidates, current trainees and any of the staff team you interact with. You’re on interview the whole time you are there. You might like to check out more tips on how to ace your teaching training interview.

You are not expected to have in-depth knowledge of teaching at the interview – you will learn that on the course. But you do need to show that you have the potential to become a teacher. You want to be confident, but not arrogant. Your overriding aim is to show that you have the right characteristics to go into teaching, that your potential is there. Consider both the positives and negatives of teaching before going to an interview. You want to come across as positive but also it is important that you do not appear to be naive.

Be enthusiastic, show off your passions and be polite to everybody you meet. Showing you have the right characteristics to be a teacher is the most important thing.

How to prepare for teacher training interview questions

The exact questions will vary between teacher training providers, but broadly speaking, teacher training interview questions typically span the following topics:

  • Why you want to teach?
  • Your subject knowledge and understanding of the national curriculum
  • Your understanding of a teacher’s role
  • Your understanding of how children learn
  • What most interests you about the course? Why did you choose this one?
  • Your awareness of current issues in education

Read up on the national curriculum and if applicable the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework online. You can develop your understanding of current issues in education by speaking to current teachers or by reading the TES, BBC Education or Guardian Education websites.

Three teacher training interview questions

We’ll now explore in detail three questions you’ll likely be asked at any teacher training interview. We’re all different so there isn’t a model answer, but you can go into this understanding exactly what the interviewers are looking for.

1. Tell me why you want to be a teacher?

You’ll almost certainly be asked this one. This is personal and specific to you – so make sure to give an honest answer. Explain how you got to this point. Talk about the experiences that led you to choose this career path, why you enjoy working with children, what makes you passionate and how you hope you can support the children who will be in your care.

Top tip! Watch your language, or more precisely, take care over your spoken English. If your language is very sloppy, that might raise a question mark over your ability to teach. You’ll be expected to model well-spoken language in the classroom, indeed the Teachers' Standards (which all teachers must stick to) include the correct use of standard English and high standards of articulacy.

2. What do you think are the qualities of a good teacher?

Questions like this are designed to get you thinking, not just about the characteristics of a good teacher, but about also your qualities and how they match up. 

Perhaps you can think of an inspirational teacher you remember from when you were at school, what made them so great? Or maybe you can remember a teacher who struggled to get the classes attention – again think about what qualities they lacked?

After that, you can discuss your own qualities. Talk about how you will communicate and how you will support and care for the children. 

3. Which subject do you feel most/least confident to teach?

Top tip! There are two parts to this question. If you are asked a question with multiple parts, it may be useful to repeat the question back to the interviewer or ask them to repeat it. This will help you form an answer in your head and clearly define the three separate points to consider.

It is important to remember that questions like this are not asked to trip you up. The interviewer is not going to say, “You are not confident at teaching science and therefore, you can’t become a teacher.” They are trying to assess your self-awareness and ability to judge yourself fairly. 

The question is about seeing if you are taking responsibility for your own subject knowledge development. It’s crucial because teachers must always keep up with their subject knowledge.

They are looking to see that you have a realistic view of your own subject knowledge, so talk about your relative strengths and weaknesses. They want to see that you can identify your abilities and be reflective about where you are at. Talk about your strengths and give examples to support your case. The subject that you're least confident in, talk about what you might do to improve that. If you say you are fine with everything then this may indicate that you’ve not adequately considered this.

We ask about curriculum subjects. It's just interesting to see what people think are the most important ones. Candidates will nearly always come up with English and Maths as being core curriculum areas that you need for life. But we’re also interested to see what else candidates think is important and why they feel that way. This gives an indication of how they view education in the primary years.
Sally Eales – Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Plymouth Marjon University

Be prepared

While you were reading about the questions, did any ideas pop into your mind about what you might say? If so, make a note of those ideas right now and you can add to them over time. Try saying your answers out loud, it's one thing to have a mental answer prepared and another to vocalise it in a clear and convincing way. Say your answer a few times until you get smoother. Next, ask a family member or friend to put the questions to you and then answer them. Practice makes perfect and all that. Work on it until your answers are clear and concise, this way you demonstrate that you’ve got the communication skills you’ll need in the classroom.

What else might they ask?

You’ll be asked questions about core aspects of the teacher’s role, things like classroom management, managing behaviour, safeguarding, inclusive learning and supporting children with special educational needs. The interviewers will want to see that you understand all the different influences on the child, including the teacher, what is happening in the classroom and wider aspects of the child’s life. You’re not expected to be an expert, simply to outline what you understand so far and if possible, give some examples which you’ve seen in schools or other child and youth orientated organisations.

Your interviewers want to see your commitment to the course and to teaching. They may ask you why you choose this course and this particular route into teaching. If you are interviewing for School Direct then they are also looking for commitment to the training school. You can express this by talking about what you’re most looking forward to studying. Are you excited to go on placement? Are you looking forward to learning more about supporting children with special needs? Are you excited to study the theories behind different teaching approaches? Whatever it is that you are most interested in, this is your chance to talk about it!

Ask your own questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want to make sure this is the right course for you. Do you have practical questions about how you’ll travel to placement? Do you want to make sure that you have a personal development tutor? Do you need to balance study with caring for your family? If so, you may want to find out how the training provider can support you.

Speak openly about the challenges you might face on the course, for example it may be that you are returning to student life for the first time since leaving school, you may want to find out how the university will support you academically. Ask away, remember the interview is a two-way process.

By the end of the interview process, you may find that all your questions have already been answered. Don’t feel that you must ask something. But if you do have questions, take this chance to ask the experts! Also, if current trainees are around then this is an opportunity for an informal chat to find out even more about the course.

We’ll end by going back to Sally for some last words of encouragement: “We’re looking for transferable skills that you’ll bring into teaching. These include things like communication, leadership, planning, problem-solving and relationship building. Remember that teacher training interviews are designed to explore your potential to teach. It could be there whether you’re 17, or you’ve already worked in schools, or you’re coming into teaching as a career change. Good teachers can come from all walks of life, and it’s a richer learning experience for the children when they do.”

Good luck, and if you’re interested in teacher training you might like to check out our teacher training courses.

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