1. Why do you want to teach?

This is the fundamental question! They will be looking for evidence that teaching is your first choice career and not something you are going for because you couldn't get in to what you really wanted to do.

Teaching is a tough job and the PGCE also demands resilience and determination, so the selectors are looking for evidence of strong motivation which will keep you going when things get tough. Remember that there may be several applicants per place and they will take the best all-round candidates.

Your answer should stress that you are aware of the demands on teachers - perhaps giving examples from the time you spent in school as an observer, but give evidence of the things in teaching that you would find satisfying - e.g. when you helped out at a youth club and you were able to bring out a particularly reticent adolescent. Try to give your answers from the heart - show some enthusiasm!

2. Why are you applying to this particular teaching course?

The interviewers will be looking to see that you appreciate the strengths of different courses and have made an informed decision. For example, Birmingham schools will have substantial ethnic minority populations, so courses there may be looking for an understanding of multi-cultural issues and how this would effect your teaching of your subject. Read the prospectus carefully before your interview.

If you know the area well mention how this could benefit you by allowing you to settle in quickly on the course

If the institution has a good reputation then feel free to give this as a reason. Beware focusing on the quality of the institution more than the qualities you yourself will be bringing. Use any opportunity you get to demonstrate your own strengths. As the question is "Why are you applying..?" you could answer that you feel this particular institution will give you the best opportunity to develop your strengths and qualities.

3. What were the qualities of a teacher you admired?

Talk honestly about a teacher you liked at school or perhaps one at university, or during your period of observation in the classroom - try to analyze what qualities made them successful. They will be looking for evidence of enthusiasm for teaching in your reply.

Qualities could include using a variety of different teaching methods, being able to hold the attention of the class, ability to enthuse, energy, resilience, empathy, subject knowledge and making children think rather than being told. Here they will not be looking for a specific answer.

A government recruitment campaign for teaching was very much along these lines. In it celebrities described what they liked most about their favorite teacher. The single attribute of caring for their pupils is one that is often missed in these circumstances. In order to teach effectively it is vital that a teacher enjoys the company of young people and wants to make a positive contribution to their well-being.

4. What would you find difficult about teaching?

Teaching is a tough job and selectors won't choose you if you tell them how wonderful you would find teaching with no appreciation of the negatives. Teachers complain about bureaucracy and paperwork, badly behaved pupils, Government interference and lack of resources.

You need show that you are aware of these issues - the best way is to talk to teachers about them, but still have a positive, if pragmatic, view of the teaching profession. Talking about a current classroom where you have spent some time will add weight to your arguments.

Give an example of a difficulty. This could be the idea that new initiatives introduced by government appear to undermine or conflict with the previous initiatives. This is a common complaint among teachers. Show in your answer that while you might find it difficult you would nonetheless do your best to continue with the best interests of the children in mind. In other words you will get over the difficulties whatever they may be.

5. What have you got to offer as a teacher?

Some of the main qualities required are:

A professional approach - make sure that you dress very smartly for your interview.

Good handwriting and spelling - especially for primary - make sure that you have a pen with you as you may be given a written test.

Clarity of speech

Openness to new ideas

Ability to take criticism

Listening and sensitivity to others.

You need to be able to put across your strong points during the interview - if you can't do this effectively your selectors may be entitled to reason that you wouldn't be able to put your ideas across effectively in the classroom.

6. What experience do you have in schools?

For primary teacher training, school experience is crucial. You may be asked to describe the school and asked to comment on what interested or surprised you.

You should make sure that you have spent a few days helping out in a school before your interview. For secondary teaching courses this experience is not so essential, partly because the competition for places is less great, and partly because such experience is more difficult to arrange.

You should approach schools several months before you would like to spend time with them as they may have to take up references. Of course, the easiest school to get a placement may be your old school. Experience can either be for a number of consecutive days or perhaps for one morning or afternoon per week over a number of weeks.

If you haven't spent time in a school try to emphasize anything else you have done with children or in a teaching role such as youth clubs, playschemes, Sunday school helper, drama activities, Scout or Guide leader.

7. What is the relevance of your degree to the National Curriculum?

You need to show how your degree course relates to the National Curriculum. This is relatively easy if you have done a relevant degree, but if you are applying for primary with a non-National Curriculum degree in psychology, for example, you need in this case to carefully relate the elements in your psychology degree to the elements in the primary curriculum.

Similar questions might ask you what you think you would be teaching in your specialist area, or about areas of your subject in which you feel weak.

You must concentrate on the positive. You should be prepared to dissect your degree up into the appropriate component parts and show evidence of particularly English, Maths and Science if you are applying to Primary teacher training or your chosen subject area if Secondary.

8. How would you make your subject interesting to a class of uninterested low ability pupils?

Selectors will be looking for someone who shows ideas and creativity, trying to interact and stimulate, rather than just talking at the class. This is a chance for you to show your enthusiasm for teaching.

They won't expect your ideas to be polished, but you could mention games, wall charts, projects and case studies, role playing, splitting up into small groups - whatever might be appropriate for your subject. You could also talk about the transition from a literary to a screen-based culture for many young people and how you would react to this. You may have been able to glean ideas from the time you spent helping in a school or from discussions with teachers.

Your answer could include how you would canvass advice from your colleagues on what to do in these circumstances. Perhaps they have taught the particular class in question and can make some suggestions.

A similar question you could be asked is about the resources you could use to teach your subject.

9. Would you be able to manage/discipline a group of 35 pupils?

This is a crucial ability and of course a successful teacher will be able to manage groups of pupils by the carrot, only needing to resort to the (metaphorical!) "stick" as a last resort.

Good organizational skills, self confidence, a robust personality - able to take criticism, maturity, presence, a sense of self confidence and a sense of humor are the qualities that will help you to manage a class without too much conflict.

Give some examples, if you can, of related situations you have experienced. Have you been involved in any other types of group work that could be described as similar? How do you know you will be able to manage/discipline unless you have already tried it? What kind of presence you have and how loud your voice is could be important.

10. Can you cope with a very intensive course?

The PGCE is an intensive course - burning the midnight oil preparing for your next days teaching practice. Selectors will want to know that you are aware of this and have the commitment and stamina to cope.

Perhaps you have already undergone such a demanding course. If so you should describe it now and in detail. If you have had experience of working and studying at the same time then you should certainly bring that up. Part of the intensity is the act of juggling the study elements of the course with the practical elements during teaching practice.

If you have previous experience of work, or perhaps a hobby or interest, in which a lot of preparation was demanded this would also be relevant. Any teacher will tell you that a successful day's teaching results from the hard graft put into preparing it the day or week before. And the bottom line is that if you can cope with the intensity of the teacher training course you are very likely to be able to cope with the demands of teaching proper.

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11. Do you think that extra-curricular activities are important?

They will be looking for evidence that you want to contribute to the school as a whole rather than being a teacher who leaves each day as soon as school finishes. A simple "Yes" answer won't do here.

Talk about areas in which you could get involved. These could include musical events, drama, sports teams, computer systems, fund raising, crafts, trips abroad and many others. Great skill would not be needed, just enthusiasm, but if you can give evidence of involvement in any of these areas it may go in your favor.

Clubs and societies at university could be mentioned, especially if you have taken on an organizational or management role. Also, if you have a particular ability, such as you are a good swimmer, tuba player, tap dancer etc, then you should declare it. It could be the means by which you add that little bit extra to a school and are able to get the attention and interest of the pupils.

12. Testing in schools - is this good or bad?

Here they are testing whether you have done your research - if you had no views or knowledge of this, it might call into question your commitment - bear in mind that most courses will have many more applicants than places to choose from.

All they will be looking for will be an ability to talk intelligently on the subject for a few minutes. They will not mind which side of the argument your views fall on as long as you can appreciate both the positive and negative points - don't be didactic!

Similar questions might cover the pros and cons of grant maintained schools, how would you deal with a disruptive pupil or other issues in teaching. Simply make sure you've read around the subject a little and talked to teachers about these issues. A good starting point is the Education Guardian on Tuesdays, and the Times Educational Supplement. These questions might be asked as part of a group interview.

13. Have you any questions about Teaching?

You could ask questions about where your teaching placements would be and how these would be chosen, or about how you are assessed on the course. The best questions to ask are those that you really would like to know the answer to, rather than those you can find in books on interview skills. If you research the company well enough, you will find a number of questions naturally arising that you wish to be answered.

You should, though, concentrate on questions that show your interest in, and motivation to do, the job itself, rather than the rewards it will bring. So, for example, you should ask about training and career progression in preference to pay and pensions!

Other questions you might like to ask include:

"How are practical and academic assessments weighted on the course?"
"How are previous students doing now?"
"What plans do you have to cover the Literacy Hour initiative?"
"What sort of curriculum and teaching resources do you provide?"

14. Teaching interview questions on professional experiences:

1. What is your philosophy of education?
2. Describe your student teaching experience(s). What are some of the most significant things you learned from your cooperating teacher(s)? What did you like/dislike?
3. What is your knowledge of and experience with standards-based education?
4. What experience have you had with students from culturally diverse backgrounds?
5. When did you first become interested in teaching?
6. What opportunities have you had to bring multicultural education into your classroom?
7. Describe your experience(s) working in an urban setting.
8. How well has your college/university prepared you for the field of teaching?

15. Teaching interview questions on instructional skills:

1. Describe the teaching techniques or strategies that are most effective for you.
2. How would you include cooperative learning in your classroom?
3. How do you meet the wide range of skills and needs commonly present in a non-ability grouped classroom?
4. What do you include when you write objectives?
5. How do you assess your students to determine how well they are learning? (formally and informally)
6. What techniques do you use to keep students actively involved during a lesson?
7. Describe different student learning styles or modalities of students and how you adjust lessons to benefit those differing styles.
8. Do you feel that the teacher should be responsible for developing objectives or should they be provided in the curriculum?
9. How do you deal with the unmotivated student?
10. Is drill and practice important? How and when would you use it?
11. What would you do if 50% of the class did poorly on a test?
12. How do you increase the chances that students will understand what you are teaching?

16. Teaching interview questions on information technology and computer skills:

1. How would you incorporate technology in your classroom?
2. What are your computer skills?
3. What software have you used for instructional or classroom management purposes?
4. How are students allowed to use technology in your classroom?

17. Teaching interview questions on classroom discipline:

1. Describe your philosophy regarding discipline.
2. What techniques would you use to handle discipline problems that may arise in your classroom?
3. What was the most challenging discipline problem you have encountered and how did you handle it?
4. Were you prepared to handle this situation? In hindsight, would you have handled this situation any differently?
5. What kind of rules do you have in your classroom? How are they established?
6. How would you create and promote a safe atmosphere in your classroom?

18. Teaching interview questions on classroom management:

1. What is your classroom management plan/style? What are your goals?
2. Describe what you consider to be the model classroom. What would a typical day look like in this classroom?
3. Share three interesting techniques used in your classroom.
4. When students say they want their teacher to be fair, what do you think they mean?
5. A student tells his teacher that he forgot to bring his paper, which he had written the night before.
The teacher says, I understand. I sometimes forget things like that too. How do you evaluate the way this teacher responded to the student?

19. Teaching interview questions on knowledge of content and materials:

1. What kinds of materials have you used to assess pupil strengths and/or weaknesses?
2. What kinds of tests do you like to give?
3. Are there any materials you have used that you find are especially effective for slow learners or bright students?
4. What coursework have you taken that has made you especially suited for this position?
5. What kind of materials and supplies would you need to do your best job?
6. How do you stay current in your field?
7. What curricular changes do you hope to see over the next few years?

20. Teaching interview questions on planning skills:

1. What do you include in your daily lesson plans? How closely do you follow your plans?
2. What are some of the considerations you make when planning your lessons? How do you plan a unit?
3. How much homework will you assign? How do you know how long it will take your students?
4. How do you feel when you do not meet a deadline? What do you do when students do not meet their deadlines?

21. Teaching interview questions on teacher relationships with students:

1. What kind of students do you like to work with? What type of students could you teach most effectively?
2. You give an assignment. A student ridicules the assignment, saying it does not make sense. What would you do?
3. How do you help students experience success?
4. How would you individualize instruction for students?
5. What procedures do you use to evaluate student progress besides using tests?
6. How would you challenge the slow learner and the advanced learner within the same class?
7. What would your students say about you?

22. Teaching interview questions on teacher relationships With Colleagues:

1. What kind of teachers would you prefer to work with? Why?
2. What activities would you like to work with in our school?
3. What quality or qualities do you have that would enhance our teaching staff?
4. What are some personality characteristics you find undesirable in people?
5. Who should be responsible for discipline in a school? Why?
6. What needs and/or expectations do you have of the school administration?
7. How do you collaborate with your colleagues?

23. Teaching interview questions on teacher relationships with parents:

1. What do you feel is the most effective way to communicate with parents? Describe how you have used this/these technique(s).
2. Describe the reasons why you would contact parents.
3. What would you include in your Open House presentations to parents?
4. What community activities would you like to be associated with? Why?

24. Teaching interview questions on Instructional Techniques:

1. Describe any school experience you have had, particularly in student teaching (or in another teaching position) that has prepared you for a full-time position at our school.
2. How would you integrate technology into the curriculum you would teach?
3. Describe any innovative projects you have been involved in developing.
4. Give an example of how you have used cooperative learning in your classroom.
5. What four words would students use to describe your teaching strategies?
6. What rules do you have for your classroom?
7. Describe your teaching style and how you accommodate the different learning styles of the students in your classes.
8. What do you consider to be your strengths and how will you use them in your teaching?
9. In what ways do you keep students on task and well behaved during collaborative group activities?

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25. Teaching interview questions on personal qualities:

1. Why have you selected teaching as a profession?
2. What are your career goals, short term and long term?
3. What makes you an effective teacher?
4. Describe yourself with three adjectives and explain why they were chosen.
5. What distinguishes you from other candidates?
6. Describe your fears of being a teacher.
7. If I were to contact your references what do you think they had say about you?
8. Would you describe yourself as a team player or an individual achiever?
9. What is your most successful accomplishment?
10. Tell me whom you would like to emulate. Why?