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Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
Dead Poets Society

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.
Albert Einstein

Try a mock interview for teacher training, answering typical questions and also getting tips on how you should answer. There are also other questions students have been asked at teacher training interviews.


TEACHERS obviously need to be good at TEACHING, INSTRUCTING and MAKING PRESENTATIONS, but they also need to have good LISTENING skills to understand the problems a pupil may be having. They need to be able to ANALYSE (for example) the reasons why a potentially bright student is not making progress, to have good WRITING skills, and be able to PLAN the next term's work.

Selectors will be looking to see how you can talk about and demonstrate these skills at your interview. The sort of evidence you could offer includes:

  • Listening - to childrens' problems on a BUNAC summer camp in the USA.
  • Planning - a holiday with friends.
  • Writing - a dissertation.
  • Analysing - the best methods of publicising a society's events to members.
  • Presenting - acting as compère to a charity fashion show.

Before you arrive ...

Teaching interviews tend to be relaxed. You may get a group interview: this is extremely common for primary and becoming more common at secondary interviews. You would be asked to discuss a number of topics in a group of perhaps six to eight candidates. Sometimes you will get a written test - this is common for primary courses and your spelling, handwriting and grammar will all be under observation.

See our Teaching Interview Reports for more on this. Also see our Teaching Careers page and Example Teaching Applications

Mock interview for teacher training

There follow some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students at interviews for teacher training courses. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews as well for standard interview questions that can be thrown at any candidate, also our answers to 150 common interview questions.

Click on "First Question" to begin. Think carefully about how you would answer, then click on "Show Answer Tips" to get an idea of how you should be answering.

Other questions students have been asked at PGCE Interviews:

If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.

Basic questions

  • Why do you want to become a teacher? (ALL courses ask this!)
  • What do you think makes a good teacher? (Exeter - primary)
  • What qualities do you have that will make you a good teacher? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • What are you looking forward to about being a teacher? (English - Christ Church)
  • What are your concerns about being a teacher? (English - Christ Church)
  • Why do you want to come here for your PGCE? (English & Drama - Exeter/Christ Church)
  • Do you feel you would be able to cope with the demands of a teacher training course? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • Why do you want to do a PGCE course now and not later? (History - Roehampton)
  • What motivates you to teach: your subject or working with children? (History - Roehampton)
  • What have you done since graduating? (History - Roehampton)

About your skills

  • What skills should a teacher have? (Exeter - primary)
  • What makes you think you would be a good teacher? (Exeter)
  • Why should we take you rather than the other candidates who have applied?
  • What qualities do you have that will make you a good teacher? (Christ Church Primary Languages, History - Roehampton, London Institute, English - Christ Church, Science: Bedfordshire)
  • What skills do you need to work on to improve? (History - Roehampton)
  • What skills could you bring to a school? (Exeter)
  • Describe a situation when have you had to use your initiative.
  • Why will you be able to handle the pressures? What is it about you that will enable you to cope with the stress and demands of this profession which has a high turnover? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • On the scheme you will always be under pressure. How will you organise/cope? What experiences have you had to prepare you for this? (English - Christ Church)
  • Explain why you think it is important to show enthusiasm and interest when working with young people? (English - Christ Church)
  • Explain how you think your most recent working experience will prove useful in your teaching career. (English - Christ Church)
  • Can you tell me about a time when you went to someone for advice, and how you reacted to this advice. (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • Other than [Primark and your time in schools] what other experience do you have working with young people? (Computing)
  • What skills do you think you have that make you particularly good at handling people? (Computing)
  • How would you like to be described by the pupils you teach? (History - Roehampton)
  • Choose any topic and say how you would go about teaching it (They are looking at your subject knowledge and whether you can think on your feet)

Questions about your classroom experience

  • You mentioned a teacher that inspired you in your application. What qualities did he have and do you see those qualities in yourself? (Strathclyde)
  • What did you enjoy about your work experience? (Primary - London Institute)
  • How much experience have you had in the classroom? (English - Christ Church)
  • What did you learn from your experience? (Exeter - primary, Christ Church)
  • What makes a school effective? (English - Christ Church)
  • What did you gain from doing the Student Associate Scheme/experience in the classroom? What did you learn? (Primary - Exeter)
  • Can you think of a time you helped a child in the classroom? Why was it memorable? (Primary - Christ Church)
  • Talk about the day spent in an early years classroom and describe the layout of the classroom. (Primary - Christ Church)
  • What would be your ideal classroom setup? (Primary - Christ Church)
  • What difficulties did the children have with Maths and how did you help them? (Primary - Exeter)
  • Have I done any teacher shadowing? Where? (Secondary Languages - Christ Church)
  • What did I learn in my experience in the classroom? (Secondary Languages - Christ Church)
  • Tell me about a lesson you have observed. What do you think the strengths of this lesson were? (Secondary)
  • What in your opinion constitutes good teaching? Did you observe any good teaching taking place? What made it effective? How could you tell it was effective? (Secondary)
  • How was good classroom management achieved? How important is this aspect to effective teaching? (Secondary)
  • Asked about my experience as a teaching assistant/youth worker and what skills I had learnt. (Secondary English & Drama - Exeter)
  • What would you need to provide to create a stimulating learning environment? (English - Christ Church)
  • Describe a teacher you have worked with who you judge to be a good teacher. (English - Christ Church)
  • Give an example of your work with children? (History - Sussex)

    Interview Dress.
    See our page on this

    • Everyone was VERY smartly dressed.
    • Dress the part!  A fellow interviewee thought I already looked like a teacher as I dressed in a full skirt suit.  It will make you feel confident and I'm sure it makes a good impression. (Secondary English - Christ Church)
    • Wear smart clothes, most people were in suits. (Christ Church primary)
    • Dress smartly but comfortably - I saw one girl in my group who had obviously bought a brand new suit and 3 inch heels - her nerves got the better of her, and she twisted her ankle by teetering along, 5 minutes before the interview, so my advice definitely is FLAT SHOES! (Greenwich Primary)
    • Dress smartly, but don't wear a full business suit, as they will be looking for someone who is approachable to children. Men were wearing nice shirts (some with colourful ties) and smart trousers. Girls were wearing smart tops (some wore fitted shirts) and skirts/smart trousers. I would advise wearing FLAT shoes, as people in heels struggled, and bring a smart handbag - some people looked a bit tatty.
    • Dress smartly. A Shirt and tie if you are a man, and a shirt and skirt/trousers if you're a girl. A suit is good. (Secondary History - Sussex)
    • I dressed in a smart suit and was one of two girls dressed smartly, many were very casual, hippy skirts and Adidas trackies, cropped trousers and lots of bling! (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • How many days work experience do you have? (History - Sussex)
  • Describe a difficult scenario you faced in your work experience. (Greenwich - Secondary Science)
  • General questions about my own school experience and to describe its positive and negative aspects. (Secondary English - London Institute)
  • The head teacher concentrated on school based questions such as past experience, what these experiences have taught you, why you would want to teach and even possible future scenarios (such as problem pupil) and how you would deal with such problems.
  • Try to get some work experience in schools: you will see different teachers using different teaching techniques and methods which will give you material to talk about/use in your interview or written piece. I went to both primary and secondary so was in a good position to argue why I wanted to teach secondary. (English - Christ Church)
  • I would strongly recommend visiting the Schools in your area for 2 - 3 days to give you a realistic impression of the career you are choosing. It will also be a valuable talking point in your interview and will show the interviewer that you are keen and have taken initiative. Read around the subject. (Secondary English - London Institute)
  • Make sure you have some work experience: they seem to place immense importance on this.
  • Tell me about the school you visited. What kind of school was it? What impressions did you gain about the school? (History - Roehampton)
  • Describe the best lesson you observed. What made it good? What was learnt in the lesson? What did the teacher do to bring this learning about? (History - Roehampton)
  • Talk about a less successful lesson. Why didn't it work? How would you have done it differently? (History - Roehampton)

About the National Curriculum and Educational Issues

  • Read the National Curriculum Guide
  • How do you feel your degree is relevant to the curriculum? (Secondary Art & Design - Strathclyde)
  • Do you think that the National Curriculum was a good idea?
  • Be aware of the current National Curriculum.
  • There was lots of stress on the specific qualities/skills of teachers: it helps to be up-to-date on educational issues, especially the National Curriculum.
  • Try to have an awareness of the syllabus but you won't need to know it in detail. (Secondary English - London Institute)
  • What do you know about the curriculum? Read up on anything they specifically ask you to like 5-14 curriculum. Relate answers to your experience as much as possible.(Secondary Art & Design - Strathclyde)
  • What educational issues have interested you in the news recently, and why?
  • Which current educational issues are concerning you? (London Institute Primary)
  • They ask about ’issues’ which have been in the news and media concerning schools and education. (Christ Church Primary)
  • What are the most important issues facing schools at the moment?
  • What improvements could be made to schools?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities facing secondary teaching? (Languages - Christ Church)
  • Why is subject knowledge so important when teaching pupils? (English - Christ Church)
  • Could you tell me the new levels set out in the Curriculum for Excellence for Scotland? (i.e. levels national 1 - 5, to higher and adv. higher) (Strathclyde)
  • Read up on current educational issues.  Although I was not questioned on any of these I know they do sometimes come up as a friend was questioned on her knowledge (she applied for PGCE full-time upper primary).
  • Make sure you do your research on current issues in education as you will be expected to talk in depth on something.(London Institute primary)
  • We had to write at most a page on a current issue in education. (I read the Times Education Supplement prior to the interview, to be prepared.) (Exeter primary)

About Equal Opportunities

  • How would you make sure students had equal opportunities in the classroom. (Exeter primary)
  • Questions involving Equal Opportunities are asked to every candidate unless, like myself, you wrote about it in the exam (Greenwich primary)
  • What are the differences in teaching in inner London schools (London PGCE course)
  • What do you think about placing children with Special Educational Needs in mainstream schools? (London Institute primary)
  • What is Every Child Matters? (History - Sussex)
  • How would I approach teaching a mixed ability class? (English - London Institute)
  • What would you do to help less able children?
  • Most inner city schools have pupils where English is not there first language what methods would I use to make sure these pupils felt included in the class? (English - London Institute)
  • You must know Inclusion and Equal Opportunities inside out, as you will either decide to write on it in the exam, or you will be asked about it in the interview, and they really want to see that you know what you are talking about. (Greenwich primary)

Class Discipline/Motivation

  • What would you do if a pupil refuses to participate?
  • Would you be able to manage/discipline a group of 32 fourteen year olds?
  • How could you control a class?   (Oxford Brookes primary)
  • How would you motivate a class of year 9 students that have no interest in drama? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • What makes a good lesson?
  • Do you think you have the ability to work with difficult students? (Computing)
  • How would you combat bullying? (Computing)
  • What do you understand about child protection? How important would you say child protection was? If a child confided in you and asked you too keep something a secret [related to question 1 and 2] how would you respond to this? (Computing)

Extra-curricular activities

  • What hobbies do you have that could be applied to extra-curricular activities?
  • What interests have you got that could help the school and how (e.g. music, sport)?
  • Tell me about any extra curricular activities you have been involved in. He referred to things I had written in my Personal Statement, so the more diverse and varied you can make it, the better - if you have a talent (i.e. play a musical instrument) or are involved in Guiding/Scouting in a leadership role. (Greenwich - primary)
  • What do you think about after-school clubs? (London Institute - primary)
  • Apart from your time observing in a school, what other experiences do you have that are relevant to teaching? What have you learnt from these? (History - Roehampton)

Primary Questions

  • Is there an element of your degree that enthused you to go into teaching? (Christ Church)
  • Were there any teachers that inspired you? Why? (Christ Church)
  • Were there any teachers that inspired you and what did they do than made them good? (Exeter)
  • What aspect of teaching concerns/worries you? (Christ Church)
  • Why do you want to specialise in Maths? (Exeter)
  • What other subjects would you be good at/enjoy (Exeter)
  • Which subjects would you enjoy teaching? (London Institute)
  • Which subjects would you least enjoy teaching? (London Institute)
  • What subject do you think you are strongest at?
  • What subject do you think you are weakest at?
  • How do children learn?   (Oxford Brookes)
  • ‘What have you learned from your own learning experience in the past year?’
  • Had to previously read an extract on ‘Children and Creativity’ and research it in preparation for the interview. (Oxford Brookes)
  • What books have you read recently for pleasure?   (Oxford Brookes)
  • Who is your favourite children's author and why? (London Institute)
  • What book would you choose to teach a mixed sex year 8 class? (English Secondary)
  • What teaching methods are most effective?   (Oxford Brookes)
  • How would you decorate a classroom? Which colours would you use? Why? Advantages of colour vs black & white (Christ Church Primary Languages)
  • How in your opinion could you tell if it is a good school by walking in through the door? What would you look for? (Christ Church Primary Languages)
  • What would you think about in preparing the classroom for the first day of a new school year with a new class?
  • How would you go about trying to include different methods of teaching for a very uninteresting subject?
  • A ‘high achiever’ in the class has not been working to his/her potential over the last two weeks or so.  What would you do? (Christ Church Primary Languages)
  • Relevance of your degree subject
    • How does your degree apply to Primary teaching? (Exeter)
    • What is the relevance of your degree subject to primary teaching? (London Institute
  • Why do you want to teach this age group?
    • Do you prefer Key Stage One or Key Stage Two, and why? (London Institute)
    • What key stage are you most interested in and why?
  • The lecturer asked more educational based questions such as what qualities and qualifications you have (Christ Church)
  • I wasn't asked any questions specifically related to the PGCE, because in the test that I had to do, I covered all the questions that the interviewer was going to ask - he read my responses in the test just before my interview, then called me into the room for a chat, more than an interview. "Why do you want to be a teacher?". The questions I was asked helped the interviewer do more of a character analysis on me, rather than ask specific PGCE/Teaching orientated questions. (Greenwich - primary)
  • The interviewer varied her questioning technique; either putting the question to each individual or throwing open a question to the group. Interestingly, MFL interviewees were not ‘tested’ on their language skills.  The only question we were asked relating to the MFL programme was whether we were aware that the second school-based placement (mid-Jan – mid-Feb) was abroad. (Christ Church Primary Languages

Secondary Questions

  • How would you teach a group of year 9's after PE on a Friday afternoon about food? How would you teach the same group if there was a large difference in ability i.e. very bright children to children barely able to read and write? (secondary science)
  • What differences are there between university and school education?
  • What is the role of the Teaching Assistant in the classroom?
  • Asked how I would use the things I learnt in my degree in a classroom. (Science: Bedfordshire )
  • How would you place students in the classroom? Do you think this has any relevance to effective learning? (Secondary)
  • What do you understand by the term 'teaching methods'? Why is this an important consideration? (secondary)
  • When did you first come to Britain? (I’m from France).  (Languages - Christ Church)
  • How are your studies going?  (Languages - Christ Church)
  • Do I enjoy studying? (Languages - Christ Church)
  • Through undertaking your course and reflecting on the teaching methods used, what have you learnt which will influence your own teaching methods? (Secondary)
  • Can I use the research involved in my MA when I do PGCE? (Languages - Christ Church)
  • What could a PGCE bring me? (Languages - Christ Church)
  • What are you most looking forward to teaching? (English & Drama - Exeter)
  • How have you prepared for the interview? (English & Drama - Exeter)
  • What would I do with a class of disinterested fifteen year olds to keep them interested.
  • How would you track your students' progress, and do you feel it is important to do this? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • English
    • What/who are your favourite childrens books/writers? (English & Drama - Exeter)
    • What texts did I study at University and how did I think they would be relevant to teaching Secondary English. (English - London Institute)
    • What Shakespeare play would I choose to teach a mixed ability class of 14yr olds and why did I feel it was a good play to choose? (English - London Institute)
    • How would I structure the first lesson on Shakespeare and how would that relate to the lessons that would follow? (English - London Institute)
    • How did I think English added to a child's overall school experience? (English - London Institute)
    • If budget was no problem and you were able to take a group of students anywhere in the world to study English, where would you take them?  Having studied a lot of American literature at Kent I had no problems with this question but it completely threw the other girls at the interview. (English - Christ Church)
  • Art
    • Why do you want to be an art teacher? (Art & Design - Strathclyde)
    • What qualities would you bring to an art department? (Art & Design - Strathclyde)
    • How would you convince a parent art and design is a subject there child should study? (Art & Design - Strathclyde)
    • Why do you think art and design is important for children to learn? (Art & Design - Strathclyde)
  • History
    • Why do you want to be a history teacher? (Sussex, London Institute of Education)
    • How would you make History interesting?
    • Why teach history to children? (London Institute)
    • What do you like about history? (Sussex)
    • What will you do if you don't get the place here? (Sussex)
    • If you have a paper from the 1870s (in the Wild West) about women's role within society, is it a primary source or a secondary source? Please explain your answer. (Sussex)
    • What subject of history would you say you know best? They then asked me about it. (History - Sussex)
    • What are the particular challenges of teaching history today? (London Institute)
    • Briefly explain your dissertation's conclusion. (History - Sussex)
    • What type of sources and historians did you use on your dissertation? Name one. (History - Sussex)
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of the history National Curriculum? (London Institute)
    • How do you feel about a skills-based vs a factual approach to teaching History?
    • What history did you see in the school you visited? (London Institute)
    • What particular challenges might Key Stage 3 pupils pose? (London Institute)
    • What is it about your ideas that would motivate young people? (London Institute)
  • Drama
    • Why do you want to teach drama? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • What will make you a good drama teacher?
    • What particular practitioners or drama theories do you like and why? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • What practitioners do you like? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • How would you use ICT in the drama classroom? (Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • Choose a dramatist or a practitioner you admire and explain how you would introduce that person to your pupils.
    • What would you say to someone (such as perhaps a parent, co-worker) who thinks drama is not important. That is, please explain the value of drama in school. (Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • Science
    • Explain the diffusion of potassium permanganate in water as if I was teaching a pre-GCSE class. (Science: Bedfordshire )
    • How does a small plant turn into a big tree? (Greenwich)
    • What is voltage and current? (Greenwich)
    • How does salt dissolve in water? (Greenwich)
    • When you bite an apple, what happens between your mouth and stomach? (Greenwich)
    • How does a microwave work? Why does the plate inside rotate? (Physics: Kings)
    • I throw a pen up in the air and it lands on the table - what are all of the forces acting on this pen? (Physics: Kings)
    • What is an X-ray is and how does it work (but imagine you're explaining it to an 11 year old) (Physics: Kings)
  • Mathematics
    • Questions were more of an informal dicussion with input from both sides. (Mathematics - Hull University)
    • Tell me about your A level choices (Mathematics - Hull University)
    • Tell me about your university choice (Mathematics - Hull University)
    • Why do you want to teach maths? (Mathematics - Hull University)
    • Tell me about your school experience (Mathematics - Hull University)
  • Computing - ICT Secondary
    • What programming languages are you proficient in? (Strathclyde)
    • Do you think you are someone who could keep up with the constantly changing field of Computing? (Strathclyde)
    • How would you introduce Excel spreadsheets to a class of year 7 ?
    • What are the options available for students to take in Key Stage 4 ICT ? (Vocational Qual/GCSEs )
    • Do you support group working in computing?
    • What is your understanding of normalisation with regards to databases?
    • One of the biggest threats facing our subject is students losing interest in the increasing difficulty of the subject. Computer science is now estimated to be as difficult as a Physics GCSE. How would you actively work to ensure uptake numbers increased and students enjoyed the course but still achieved good grades?
    • How are you going to approach the ever expanding problem of students abilities gap being very broad in this subject?
    • How are you going to approach teaching programming (of any language) to younger students?
    • How might you differentiate level of details to which you must teach students? (this was in relation to the fact I was interviewed by both Dartford Grammar and Leigh Academy).
    • What specifically do you enjoy most about computing?
    • Do you think there is enough emphasis on e-safety in the curriculum?
    • Do you think its possible to overuse ICT and multimedia in lessons?
  • PE
    • Do you feel confident in being able to teach GCSE theory PE in a classroom? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
    • What areas of the PE National Curriculum do you feel you need to improve in? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
    • How do you feel about inclusion? (PE - Greenwich)
    • How would you implement the 6 areas related to the curriculum? (invasion games, exercising safely etc.) (PE - Greenwich)
    • Are mixed classes or separate sex classes better? (PE - Greenwich)


The Top 10 questions teachers are asked at job interviews


Post-compulsory teaching interview (Christ Church)

  • First had a group discussion where tutor explained the course and we (6 applicants) could ask questions.
  • Then had to do a written piece (20 minutes) on what qualities make a good PCET (Post Compulsory Education & Training) professional.
  • We then had to get into pairs and ‘interview’ each other and give a presentation on that person.
  • Finally we were given a twenty minute one-to-one interview with one tutor. She asked why did I want to become a teacher? Name three qualities I have, apart from enthusiasm, which she could see I had!
  • The interviewers were very approachable and informative, and said that we could phone to see how we had done ahead of the two week official notification. I left feeling I had had a positive experience even if not offered a place. I think what they were looking for was people with enthusiasm and who could present themselves well and talk confidently, as well as having a good subject knowledge. They were very ‘PC’ . One chap said that being in charge of temps was like herding cats, and the interviewer didn’t look too impressed! I think it is important to be positive and be yourself. The interview certainly wasn’t too scary although rather long. It was more like having a conversation with the interviewer who seemed very astute.

Tests given to candidates. See our example tests

  • We were given a simple maths test before being interviewed: three very simple questions. E.g. if John has sandwich shop and has X types of bread and Y types of filling, how would you calculate how many kinds of sandwich he can make? (primary)
  • Asked some mental arithmetic questions.   (Oxford Brookes)
  • The maths test was much simpler than I had anticipated. Simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions. You are given half an hour though it will only take about 15 minutes The English test is an article from a newspaper which you are required to read and write about. (Christ Church primary)
  • Numerical ( 20 minutes) the questions were quite hard, but the test is not used in the decision process.  It is used to see what standard you are, so that when you get in they can use it during the course.  They may ask you to brush up on maths before the start of the course. (Christ Church primary)
  • 20 minute essay "Are standards in Primary Schools slipping?" to test grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Read an article on a current issue in education before the interview. During the interview we discussed it briefly and were then asked to write a short piece giving our views on the issue raised (15 minutes)
  • Short writing exercise: at the beginning they gave me a newspaper article (on league tables in mine) and give you ten minutes to read it, then later get you to write a short piece on the issues the article raised – they gave you 15 minutes for this. (Christ Church primary)
  • The written task was based on a ten-minute film we had been shown about active learning in the classroom.  The film was in two parts.  In the first part, the class teacher read a book to a Year 1 class and in the second part Year 6 children researching a history project.  The question was (something like): ‘How does the teacher in the film promote learning in the classroom?’ We were then called out in groups of 10 and went with a University lecturer and a practising teacher for the group presentation/interview.  No distinction was made between language and non-language applicants. (Christ Church Primary Languages)
  • Written test - piece of paper with about 3 inches of space to write about an educational issue in order to check our spelling and grammar, and 2 reasons why we chose Exeter, but we were told this was for marketing reasons not to test us. (Exeter primary)
  • Write a page on a current issue in education. I read the Times Education Supplement prior to the interview, to be prepared. (Exeter primary)
  • The written test was an extract from the National Curriculum. (30 minutes). You had to pick 2 topics (I chose Equal Opportunities and the use of ICT in classrooms), and write about how these are important in today's classroom, and relate them to your own teaching experience. I wrote about the Inclusion of a young Turkish child into a Year 1 class, where he was kept inside the class with fellow classmates and although he did slightly different worksheets to the others, he was not separated/segregated from the rest of the class, because his English skills were poor, as his native language was Turkish. I also spoke about the addition of interactive White Boards in the school I visited, in Nursery right up to Year 6. (Greenwich primary)
  • The English test included: correcting a student's spelling mistakes, giving examples of punctuation, answering questions about a passage, giving definitions of terms such as 'adverb', 'antonym', 'synonym', and writing about my favourite children's author. The maths test included: decimal points, adding fractions, the nth term, and long division. Each was 30 minutes. (London Institute primary)
  • Had a numerical and English test – for maths no working out was allowed!   Maths questions e.g. 25% of 96; 3002-1976; 64x4.   English questions e.g. write about a memorable moment; write a book review. (Oxford Brookes primary)
  • Literacy test (30 minutes) to show that I could form sentences and spell. This included answering questions on a short article and then writing about what I thought "Inclusion" meant. (Secondary Science: Bedfordshire )
  • A couple of written pieces: a couple of paragraphs required to each question.  Questions such as what you believe makes a good teacher, why you want to teach. (Secondary English - Christ Church)
  • Literacy test (15 mins): a paper on challenges and opportunities facing secondary teaching and why do I want to do PGCE (Secondary Languages - Christ Church)
  • None, but if your degree is NOT in English you will have to do a piece of analysis. Before you attend you must submit a 500 word piece of reflective writing and a bibliography of work. (Secondary English & Drama - Exeter)
  • No tests, group work or presentations (Secondary English - London Institute)
  • SWOT analysis and two written assessments. We also had to carry out a subject audit which was writing about what we've studied and rating how well we know it. We also had one interviewer pretend to be a year 9, and had to take her phone off her. There was no time limit on the SWOT or written assessments. Assessment subjects were: 1. Describe what characteristics make an effective History teacher? 2. A friend is looking at secondary schools for his/her children. They ask your advice. What types of characteristics would you suggest they look for in an effective school? (Secondary History - Sussex)
  • One page on a definition of what drama is. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • Written task consists of being given two pieces of GCSE coursework and marking scheme and grading the coursework with comments to justify the grading. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • Small written task to test our literacy skills. (Greenwich - Secondary Science)
  • A short written test based on some of the current national curriculum guidelines and had to choose 1 of 3 questions asked (Do you agree with these aims? How would these relate in a real situation? and How would adjust these aims to meet the required audience?). (PE - Greenwich)
  • Asked to prepare an answer to a maths problem, that required some out of the box thinking before going in to the interview, that I was asked to talk through. It was of an A* GCSE standard Also asked some questions to check my maths reasoning and rationale. (Mathematics - Hull University)
  • Written test 40 minutes. How would you introduce Hockey to a group of year 7 mixed ability students? (PE Secondary, Carmel College)

Non-cognitive Assessment Tests (NCAs)

The Department for Education's 'Training our next generation of outstanding teachers: Implementation plan', (November 2011), stated that initial teacher training (ITT) providers will have access to a range of high quality tools to assess non-cognitive skills such as self-organisation, adaptability and emotional resilience which have been identified as the most important for teachers as part of selection for entry on to ITT courses.

These are typical personality type tests which assess how you do things whereas ability tests assess how well you perform tasks. They help the selector find out your style and way of doing things. Sensible organisations will use the questionnaire in conjunction with your application form and interview to make decisions rather than in isolation. It is unwise to try to fake the answers as these questionnaires usually have some internal checking where the same question is asked with different wording early and late in the test to detect dishonest answers. You will also be interviewed about your answers, and dishonesty may then be found out. Ultimately, there is little point in pretending to be the kind of taecher a course is looking for if you are not right for them. Find something else you will enjoy doing!

NCAs are typically used to inform the interview process so candidates should normally take the assessment before interview. Teacher training course providers don't have to use NCAs and if they do, they are allowed to purchase these from a range of recommended test designers which for 2012 are the following where you can find example questions:

(Taken from the Department for Education page on NCAs)

For example, the Pearson TalentLens questionnaire is completed online, contains 80 questions and takes 20 minutes to do. You can see a Pearson example report at It assesses the following skills:

Group exercises. See our teamwork page

  • Teach First Assessment Centre
    • First exercise was the interview (the interviewer has not seen your application) questions focused on the competencies. I felt that the most tricky question was ‘Tell me about a mistake you’ve made in your life and what you did to resolve it? ’ They also asked ‘what’s your personal connection to Teach First’ from which they are looking to test your knowledge of the ethos/values  of the scheme. For the last question I was given a minute to read through a scenario which centred around setting up an activity and asked how I would go about organising it.
    • Second Exercise was a case studyin groups of 6. Given ten minutes to read through silently and then 25 minutes to come up with the answer as a group. We had to rank a number of options in order. Straight after the exercise I  met individually with one of the assessors who had been observing and was asked to give feedback on how I felt I had performed and also on the performance of one other candidate
    • Third Exercise: deliver a seven minute pre-prepared lesson. Following this I asked for a written evaluation of how I felt the lesson went and to grade myself  between 1-10. I graded myself 6 as my lesson over-ran. Don't try to include too much in the lesson as other candidates I spoke to had also overran.
    • Group discussion task (45-50 minutes): how you would collaborate with other teachers use knowledge to come to decisions
    • Questions asked at the Teach First interview (35-45 minutes)
      • Why you want to join TF?
      • Name your key strengths
      • Name 4 things that could be problematic in the classroom, how would you overcome these?
  • The interview was a group one and I think this was so they could see how we related to each other as well as identifying stronger/weaker personalities. (primary)
  • Groups of 4 or 5 were interviewed first by a teacher and then by someone from the course. Questions were directed both individually and to the group.
  • There was a mixed group of about 14 applicants. Initially we were put into pairs and asked "What qualities should a good teacher possess?". Then we had to report back to the other groups. We were then put into groups of 4 to 5 to discuss "What influences form outside the school could be brought inside the classroom and affect you as a teacher?". Finally we had to present a poster of the issues to the other groups.
  • The interview itself was a group discussion, in groups of 4.  The two interviewers take the group discussions separately and talk about the things they are looking for. (Christ Church primary)
  • Shown a video of someone teaching and asked questions: how good the lesson was, what we would do next, benefits of different styles etc.  Then in groups of 3 we were given a a sheet of 2 statements (multiplying makes the number bigger, a half is bigger than a third, and the more digits in the number the bigger it is.  We had to discuss whether we thought these statements were always, sometime or never, and what we thought the children would think - and why these might be different.  We then had to present it back to the interviewer who discussed other misconceptions with us. (Exeter primary)
  • Discuss a poem in groups. We shared our first impressions on the poem and then discussed how we might create a lesson around it. One interviewer listened in on each group discussion and made notes (it's best not to think about that, though!) And then all the groups shared their ideas at the end. (Exeter primary)
  • No, the only time I was in a group was when you are split into groups of 3 and assigned a particular interviewer (all of them lecturers on the PGCE course)and we were then lead to the cafe where we waited until one by one, we were called to the individual interviews. (Greenwich primary)
  • Had to discuss in groups of 5, "What makes a good school?". Was observed by an interviewer. Also had to be prepared to discuss my dissertation. (Secondary Science: Bedfordshire)
  • We were split into groups to present "What makes a good teacher?" (Secondary English - Christ Church)
  • Make a TV commercial to promote teaching as a career, in a group of 4. (Secondary Languages - Christ Church)
  • Small group and whole group discussions on teaching today and our observation. (Secondary English & Drama - Exeter)
  • About 15 of us applying for a variety of courses watched a live link to a school and then were split into groups. We were then asked to comment on what we thought the teacher did and whether we thought their actions were significant and why. We were then asked to think of three questions (as a group) that we'd like to ask the teacher we saw. (Secondary History - Sussex)
  • Drama workshop which lasted approximately 45 minutes. This consisted of games and an improvisation task. The interview began with theatre games. Firstly a game using throwing, passing and rolling balls aimed at learning names of those in the group. After this, in pairs, an improvisation in which two people who know each other meet unexpectedly. After each improv there is a brief discussion in which you have chance to comment on the qualities of the improvisation. After the theatre games/improv we split into two groups (there are eight candidates at interview and are all together for games and improv but then split for tasks and group interview. A practical task is set. This involves using newspaper and sellotape to "create an object". Once you have made your object you will be expected to discuss how you would use it in class. They will want you to be clear about age of pupils, learning objectives etc. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • Small workshop which was really just games where we learnt each others names. Only one boy there. After that we were put in to groups of five for group interviews. Only three questions were asked to each of us. Very brief. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
  • A group exercise of roughly 6 people. We had to discuss how we would plan a school trip to France. (Greenwich - Secondary Science)
  • We were split into groups and given a task. The task was based on a scenario which was a school trip that had to be organized due a teacher being ill and we had to consider who should be allowed to go, means of transport, health and safety i.e. first aiders and teacher to pupil ratio. We had to discuss the task while one of the teachers observed us. (PE - Greenwich)
  • We were split into groups of 4 and had a group interview/discussion. We were asked individually first why we wanted to teach and why study at Greenwich, then we were asked what were the strengths and weakness of the courses we study. After this open questions were asked where anyone could answer. Some of them were how we felt about inclusion, how would you implement the 6 areas related to the curriculum (invasion games, exercising safely etc) and whether mixed classes or separate sex classes were better. (PE - Greenwich)
  • Work in a group of 3 with other candidates on the day to decide and present what we deemed to be the 2 most important factors that make a good teacher. (Computing)
  • Be interviewed by a panel of senior students and a subject specialist. (Computing)

Presentations. See our page on presentation skills

  • We were each given a presentation to do on any topic. I did mine on variables. I showed a small simulation of the sun, earth and moon, I then showed how you could change the simulation by manipulating these variables. I then got the audience to participate and let them change the variables themselves. Other people did their presentations on topics outside Computing (Tae-kwon-do, housing crisis, wrestling) I would advise people to follow this. Generally try to avoid your subject. (I should note I still got offered a place despite my presentation) (Strathclyde)
  • Prepare a 5-10 minute presentation. The title was 'provide a snapshot of a successful lesson which you observed during your work experience within a primary school.' I was told they would be looking for an understanding of a lesson's structure, teaching techniques, the role of the teacher and a clear understanding of how children learn. (London Institute primary)
  • Five-minute presentation (which we had been asked to prepare in advance) on a children's book of our choice, and discuss the learning resource in groups and write about a current education issue. (Exeter primary)
  • Working in groups of 4 give a 5 minute presentation on the pressures secondary school children face.
  • Presentation to the group on part of our degree subject.
  • The title for our presentation was: ‘What do children need in order to learn successfully?’ (ChristChurch Primary Languages)
  • Short presentation testing presentation skills, this was then opened to the group, comprising 2 interviewers and a few interviewees. The key here was to sound confident, making very brief notes and present the topic whilst looking at the audience. (Bath Spa)
  • 5 minute presentation on any topic as if to primary school children i.e. teach a class of about 7 people. Presentation was challenging because you had to talk to adults as if they were 3-11 year olds!Bring lots of visual aids. Class interaction is key, involve them as much as possible. (Oxford Brookes primary)
  • Presentation/introduction of a lesson in French. (Secondary Languages - Christ Church)
  • 5 minutepresentation on a text. They were strict about the 5 mins! Don't pick a long extract, keep to a couple of points and spend time on presenting it clearly. (Secondary English & Drama - Exeter)
  • 3 minutes to present to the rest of the group and 2 mins for questions. (Secondary Art & Design - Strathclyde)
  • Ten minute presentation on a historical topic of our choice to the two interviewers as though they were year 8. They monitor your interaction with other candidates. They asked why I chose that presentation topic. Choose a simple easy topic for your presentation. (Secondary History - Sussex)
  • Group presentation in front of a panel. 20 minutes to prepare a presentation on the impact of technology on education, and 15 minutes to present. (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • Teach a 30 minute lesson on Computer Memory to year 9 group of 30ish students (Leigh Academy) - This actually had quite a large presence in the interview too. (Computing)
    Teach a 15 minute lesson for a small group of year 9s about Public Demonstrations (Medway Alliance @ Maths school) (Computing)

Tips from PGCE interviewees

  • Spend a good amount of time preparing your presentation. Practice makes perfect! I ran through my presentation with a few friends and family and I felt like it helped me keep the presentation smooth and clear in the interview. I would also advise that you should do your research on topics in teaching. If you live in Scotland look up the new Curriculum for Excellence (try and remember the changes they made to your course since standard grades and intermediates). Take a bottle of water in when they call you in to the interview. Luckily I didn't need it but it's always good to have just in case.
  • They are generally very friendly. Christchurch told us that they don’t operate by people competing for places: there is a place for every person who is called up for interview. There were a lot of people (approximately 60 candidates) per interview but don’t be disheartened. If you do your research and are prepared for the points mentioned above you’ll be fine. (Christ Church primary)
  • Relax, be punctual, do talk about your own experience in the classroom and what difference you could make to pupils’ lives. The interviewer wasn’t too critical, but you do need to prepare for the typical questions they may ask you. (Secondary languages - Christ Church)
  • Flaunt any talents/skills you have in your Personal Statement as this is read and used as a basis for the character analysis. (Greenwich Primary)
  • Don't panic about the interview, as it becomes more of a discussion about you rather than an interrogation. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed.
  • Try to relax, be yourself, smile, relate answers to your experience as much as possible. Not as scary as I'd imagined, interviewers were quite stern though. (Secondary Art & Design - Strathclyde)
  • Be confident, but be real. Be yourself. They monitor you constantly. Be happy - even if you're nervous. They take nerves into account. I made a big mistake when they asked me about historians I used on my American west dissertation and I named a civil rights historian, and it didn't matter. Do your research. You need to know about current teaching issues. DO NOT BE COMPETITIVE. It gives a negative impression. It was very informal, and relaxing. (Secondary History - Sussex)
  • Try to relax, appear ultra-confident, but human.
  • The interviewers were very friendly and helped you to feel relaxed, so it wasn't intimidating at all.
  • It was relaxed and friendly, and fairly informal. (Exeter primary)
  • Recap on your Maths and English skills beforehand (I would advise looking online for SATs Papers) as the questions were harder than expected. (London Institute primary)
  • Revise GCSE Science! (Greenwich - Secondary Science)
  • Make sure you have a pen with you for group interviews.
  • They gave a talk about the course for 30 minutes at the start.  You don’t get a break, therefore if you need to before you go in buy a drink to take in, go to the toilet etc. do so beforehand.  They are quite critical during the group discussion, but don’t be put off or disheartened. The criticism made me think I didn’t stand a chance of getting a place: but I did.  I think they wanted to see how you handled it. Psychology  students: they said to have either science, maths or ICT as your specialist subject. (Christ Church primary)
  • Computing is rapidly becoming a key subject. Students on the course are expected to reach a level of knowledge in IT to pass the course. If you can offer it as your specialist subject do! If not brush up your skills (primary).
  • They impressed upon us that it is a very demanding course.
  • Order of events:  1)  given article to read.  2) talk on course.  3) group discussions.  4) maths test.   5)  writing task.  6)  any questions. They stress the intensive nature of the course throughout. They also give you a chance to ask them any questions you may have, both the interviewers, and the person who gives the talk at the start of the afternoon. (Christ Church primary)
  • The whole thing was about 3 hours long. First we (the interviewees) got shown around some places on campus. Then we went into a classroom, sat in groups and examined a poem. We talked in our groups about how we might use it as a learning/lesson resource, and had one of the Exeter interviewers observing each group and taking notes. (It's all very relaxed, though.) Then we had to each give a five minute presentation. After that, we had to write at most a page on a current issue in education. (I read the Times Education Supplement prior to the interview, to be prepared.) Then we got taken in for the individual interviews, and those only lasted about ten minutes. (Exeter primary)
  • Do remember to take your ID with you (Passport, Driving Licence - you must take card and paper part) and your GCSE certificates, if not ALL of your academic certificates. The letter which tells you what to bring is rather confusing so please please read it carefully, and you MUST take the ID and certificates. Relatively relaxed afternoon. (Greenwich primary)
  • The day lasted about 3-4 hours, some people were out earlier than others as the day is structured for you when you arrive (some people had 30 minute breaks between tests etc, so their day was longer).
  • London Institute was fantastic! Very modern inside and clearly a reputable place of study. The interviewer was lovely, offered me a drink, told me to relax and engaged in discussions with me. The receptionist was very helpful in directing people to rooms. I was very impressed with the Institute. (London Institute primary)
  • Need a national curriculum based degree.  Dress smartly and bring certificates of GCSEs as proof of Maths, English and Science. Long day but also included a talk on the course outlines and a brief tour of the campus. Be well prepared. (Oxford Brookes primary)
  • Read the Times Educational Supplement religiously for a couple of weeks beforehand as it reports on current issues in education. Log onto and use the forums to talk to other applicants - someone may have just had the same interview as you a couple of weeks before and so could give you some specific advice. It was a lot less formal than I thought it was going to be. I thought that I would have people firing scientific questions as me but as the interviewer explained, they already know how "good" you are at a subject from you degree results etc and what they are looking for is a personality that will work well in a classroom. (Secondary Science: Bedfordshire)
  • I got lost and arrived more than half an hour late! They really value enthusiasm, so act keen. This is clearly a very good course. They stressed that it was highly oversubscribed and most candidates I spoke to had relevant experience e.g. TEFL, teaching assistants etc. That said they offered me a place so they can't be too picky! (Secondary English & Drama - Exeter
  • Over-prepare! Better to have too much to say rather than not enough. Try to link your answers to your school/life experience. Smile, and be enthusiastic. Read the University of Kent Careers website, it is invaluable (Mathematics - Hull University)
  • Be enthusiastic about your subject area, and talk about experience you have that is relevant to teaching. (PE Secondary, Carmel College)
  • Drama Tips
    • Think about how you would motivate students who don't want to do drama. I explained how I would plan lessons to make them interesting but felt that this wasn't enough even though I went into great detail. The interview was very relaxed but I felt that I didn't have enough time with the interviewers to say all that I had to say. The interviews took place in groups of three so you couldn't really pause or stop and think about your answer because someone else would jump in or they would ask a question to one of the other applicants. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • Get plenty of experience in secondary drama classrooms. I was not offered a place. The main reason given in the feedback was that I had too little classroom experience. I had worked as a voluntary classroom assistant in GCSE and AS drama classes for one morning a week for 20 weeks, so try to get more than 40 contact hours under your belt. This is a very popular course and you will need to deliver a strong interview performance to get in. At the beginning they tell you to just relax and enjoy it: Don't - only act that you're relaxed and enjoying it - stay alert and on your toes the entire time. One of the interviewers appeared to be the personification of displeasure throughout the interview. There was no tour of facilities and no real chance to ask questions. (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)
    • There were 500 applicants for 20 places and 20 people there on the day. Really think about where you are applying. On day I was the only candidate still at university, many failed actors and people with performing arts qualifications. They knew a lot about the practical side and nothing about practitioners. Many were there for the fourth year in a row! (Secondary Drama - Goldsmiths)


Back to the mock interviews menu or Answers to 150 common interview questions


General Areas of Interest:

  • Web service management
  • Business Intelligence & Data warehousing
  • Content management
  • XML Query Processing & optimization
  • XML database management
  • Data query  in Mobile computing & Sensor networking
  • Distributed Transaction management Systems

Topic 1: Big data storage allocation in Cloud computing

The challenge to efficiently archive and manage data is intensifying with the enormous growth of data. The demand for big data storage and management has become a challenge in today's industry. There are multiple types of information and the number of locations stored on the Cloud. Especially, an increasing number of enterprises employ distributed storage systems for storage, management and sharing huge critical business information on the cloud. The same document may be duplicated in several places. The duplication of documents is convenient for retrieval and efficient. However, it will be difficult to update multiple copies of same documents once the data has been modified. How does the data management provide the retrieval of data stored in different locations consistently, efficiently and reliably is a complicated task with multiple objectives.  One important open problem is how to make the systems load balancing with minimal update cost. Furthermore, how to make the systems be elastic for effectively utilizing the available resources with the minimal communication cost. Providing effective techniques for designing scalable, elastic, and autonomic multitenant database systems is critical and challenging tasks. In addition, ensuring the security and privacy of the data outsourced to the cloud are also important for the success of data management systems in the cloud.

Topic 2: Adopting NoSQL for Big data management

Big data is well on its way to enormous. It has the great potential to utilize big data for enhancing the customer experience and transform their business to win the market. Big data enables organizations to store, manage, and manipulate vast amounts of data to gain the right knowledge.

Big data is a combination of data-management technologies evolved over time.

How does a company store and access big data to the best advantage?  Are traditional DBs  still the best option? What does it mean to transform massive amounts of data into knowledge? Obviously, the big data requirements are beyond what the relational database can deliver for the huge volume, highly distributed, and complex structured data. Traditional relational databases were never designed to cope with modern application requirements — including massive amounts of unstructured data and global access by millions of users on mobile devices that require geographic distribution of data.

In this research, we will identify the gap between Enterprise requirements and traditional relational database capabilities to look for other database solutions. We will explore the new technology NoSQL data management for big data to identify the best advantage. We will gain an insights into how technology transitions in software, architecture, and process models are changing in new ways.

Topic 3:Top-k queries in uncertain big data

Effectively extracting reliable and trustworthy information from Big Data has become crucial for large business enterprises. Obtaining useful knowledge for making better decisions to improve business performance is not a trivial task.  The most fundamental challenge for Big Data extraction is to handle with the data certainty for emerging business needs such as marketing analysis, future prediction and decision making. It is clear that the answers of analytical queries performed in imprecise data repositories are naturally associated with a degree of uncertainty.  However, it is crucial to exploit reliability and accurate data for effective data analysis and decision making. Therefore, this project is to develop and create new techniques and novel algorithms to extract reliable and useful information from massive, distributed and large-scale data repositories.

Topic 4: Feature-based recommendation framework on OLAP

The queries in Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) are user-guided. OLAP is based on a multidimensional data model for complex analytical and ad-hoc queries with a rapid execution time. Those queries are either routed or on-demand revolved around the OLAP tasks. Most such queries are reusable and optimized in the system. Therefore, the queries recorded in the query logs for completing various OLAP tasks may be reusable. The query logs usually contain a sequence of SQL queries that show the action flows of users for their preference, their interests, and their behaviours during the action.

This research project will investigate the feature extraction to identify query patterns and user behaviours from historical query logs. The expected results will be used to recommend forthcoming queries to help decision makers with data analysis. The purpose of this research is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OLAP in terms of computation cost and response time.

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