How to ACE your Interview!

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Sadly, this is the last day of extracts from Andy and Mel‘s new book ‘Getting into Secondary Teaching‘… but oh what a good last extract it is.

In this snippet the text discusses what to expect and how to best prepare for your interview.

Chapter 10- Successfully applying for a secondary ITE place

Student teacher voicesRebekah:I think in general the application process, especially the interview, is very daunting, but it gives you an insight into the year to come. It is a very challenging course, but extremely worth it in the end!

James:             The interview was perhaps the hardest part, due to a lack of previous interviews. It tried to prepare for the possible questions that could come up and made sure that my personal statement was not exaggerated.

Tom:Prepare for questions and be aware of current changes in education. Answer truthfully and honestly. Don’t try to lie about gaps in your subject knowledge!

What might you be expected to do at your interview?

You may be asked to make a brief presentation on a given topic, or you may be asked to teach a lesson on a particular theme. In these cases, if you are in school, you can anticipate that you will be asked to work with pupils in some way, though not all schools will expect you teach a full lesson to pupils. You could be asked to reflect on this at a later stage of the interview.

If asked to present, make sure you follow advice given on style and content. Stick to time limits (and make sure you have rehearsed the presentation, allowing for the nervous impulse that will speed your speech up under the duress of the moment). Address the people present in the room, your audience, and interact with them in as relaxed manner. A presentation is an opportunity for you to be seen in the communication mode that secondary school teachers use in almost every lesson:

  • addressing a group of people as an audience, engaging and holding attention, articulating a train of thought;
  • communicating ideas clearly and succinctly;
  • sign-posting the talk for the audience with verbal emphasis and appropriate gesture; summarising and managing visual aids or resources.

Try not to over-rely on a prepared script or prompt cards, as this will tend to make your talk rather dull. Have the confidence to know your major points and talk freely around your subject; it will always be more interesting and engaging.

You will be given the opportunity to respond to questions in a personal interview which will probably be with one or two tutors or school-based colleagues. Some interview panels can have more people present. You will have an opportunity to talk about your reasons for coming into teaching; what makes you choose your subject as your specialism in secondary school; and what you have learned about teaching and learning from your recent experiences in school. You should always answer with your own thoughts, making use of your preparation and research without trying to give a ‘correct’ or complete answer. The interviewer will ask supplementary questions, probing to see how much thought you have given to your future in teaching.

If you want more advice on prepping for your interview then read this blog post from our trainee teacher blogger Taylor Cornes.

For more details on book then go to our website where ALL titles are currently 15% OFF.

Otherwise please feel free to message in with any questions for us or for Andy and Mel at

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How to survive a University Interview

Happy New Year everyone!

So you’ve narrowed down the universities you want to go to, you’ve completed your application forms and you’ve passed the skills test. Now they’ve invited you to interview- DO NOT PANIC. Taylor Cornes, our trainee teacher from the University of Worcester, is back with some great advice for surviving and thriving in university interviews.

The journey of getting to University is made up of different stages: attending open days, choosing the University you wish to study at, completing an application form, and for some courses – mainly Primary Teaching – being interviewed.

The content of each interview varies between Universities, but for Primary Teaching they follow a similar structure. In addition to passing your skills tests, you might be asked to sit a numeracy or literacy test. In the numeracy test, the University is mainly checking to see if your capabilities align with their expectations. This is the same for the literacy test, but some Universities also check for quality of handwriting to ensure that it is legible – as clear handwriting is crucial in a classroom.

For me personally, I got very worked up at the thought of sitting these tests, and the pressure I put on myself, in hindsight, was completely unnecessary. My first tip therefore would be to remain calm and relaxed, and do not let the nerves get the better of you. The whole purpose of a University interview is for members of staff to see the person behind the writing, they want to know you, but this is made difficult if you are extremely nervous.

My second tip for surviving a University interview would be to do some reading around educational changes. This does not mean sitting for hours on end with a stack of newspapers – the internet and apps are useful tools, but you might be asked to discuss any changes within education during your interview, so it is better to be as prepared as can be. One important aspect to remember is that the members of staff who interview you do not want to hear a regurgitated news article; they want you to have your own opinion – and don’t forget you can be critical.

More often than not, at a University interview for Primary Teaching, you will be asked to share any experiences you have relevant to your career choice. Utilise this time and tell the interviewers what you have been up to, what you have learnt from it, and how it will help you in your professional practice as a teacher. Interviews are brilliant for expanding on any points that you have made in your personal statement, and you might be questioned by the interviewers so make sure you are ready.

Professionalism is key when attending interviews for this particular career, you not only need to look the part but try to carry yourself in a way that would portray an individual who was committed to teacher training. Do not be afraid to ask any unanswered questions you might still have – the interviewers don’t bite and have probably been asked the same questions many times before!

The two University interviews that I attended were both positive experiences, and hopefully, after following my advice, you will feel the same.

Our book ‘Getting into Primary Teaching‘ has some further advice to make sure you absolutely ace your university interview so check it out here.