13 PGCE interview questions and how to answer them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A PGCE, or postgraduate qualification in education, is a teacher training course that can help graduates achieve a qualified teacher status. The PGCE interview is an important stage of the application process for admittance to the course. Learning more about the questions that frequently arise in teacher training interviews can help you better prepare and increase the likelihood of your success. In this article, we discuss 13 PGCE interview questions you may encounter in your PGCE interview and give a sample answer for each.

Related: Postgraduate teacher apprenticeships and how to apply

13 PGCE interview questions

Here are 13 PGCE interview questions and sample answers for your reference:

1. Why do you want to become a teacher?

The interview panel may want to know whether you have a genuine interest in teaching and working with young people. Try to avoid clichés in your answer and focus on your personal reasons for wanting to enter the teaching profession. If you've wanted to be a teacher since you were a child, you can speak about what began your initial interest.

Example: 'My interest in teaching grew from my experience as a child. Academics weren't easy for me, and I struggled quite a bit at school. But there were a couple of teachers who really helped me improve my academic life. I think experiencing how much of a difference a caring and dedicated teacher made in my own life made me want to have the same impact on other young people's lives.'

2. Why do you want to teach this particular age range?

PGCE training courses typically prepare graduates for teaching a specific age group, such as early years and primary school children or secondary school students. Interviewers may want to ensure that you have a real interest in working with the age group you're applying to teach. They may also wish to see that you're aware of the different challenges and stages of development that children or teenagers go through.

Example: 'I want to teach early years because I think it's a vital stage in a child's development. It's a time when they're exploring the world and developing their social skills and academic abilities. That's why I think it's a really rewarding age group to work with.'

3. What makes a good teacher?

This question allows you to share your views on what qualities and attributes typically make a successful teacher. In your answer, you can talk about the key qualities of a good teacher, such as patience and excellent communication skills. Give reasons for why you think they're important and include a personal example if you can.

Example: 'I think a good teacher is someone who's patient, flexible and has excellent communication skills. The best teachers have these qualities both in and out of the classroom. Strong communication skills typically enable teachers to communicate information, ideas and theories effectively to their students. They also help build rapport with students, which I believe is essential for creating a positive learning environment.'

Related: 14 essential teacher skills

4. Why have you chosen a university-based route?

There are different routes to becoming a qualified teacher. Asking this question allows interviewers to find out more about your motivations for wanting to become a teacher. It can also indicate to them whether you've considered other options.

Example: 'I chose this path because I think I might benefit from gaining a deep understanding of the theories behind modern teaching. I also wanted to learn from experienced tutors and receive their feedback.'

5. What attracted you to our PGCE training course?

Your answer to this question can show that you've researched that particular training course and understand what it involves. In your response, you might mention specific elements that you're looking forward to and anything unique to the course that appeals to you. Explain why the aspects you mention make the course suitable for you.

Example: 'I reviewed many different courses before deciding to enrol on this one. What impressed me the most was the opportunity to complete a professional placement in rural schools as part of the course. I think it's great that you enable trainees to experience rural schools, as new teachers often overlook them in favour of working in urban areas.'

6. What part of the course are you most looking forward to?

The answer to this question can show that you've read the course information and understand what the trainers may expect of you. It also allows you to talk about any specific elements of the course that interest you. Consider explaining how you think the course might benefit your development as a teacher.

Example: 'I'm looking forward to the professional placement element of the course. There has been a lot of talk about the closure of smaller schools recently and I think your professional placements can provide valuable insight into the challenges they face.'

Related: What does an assistant teacher do? (and how to become one)

7. What qualities do you have that make you a good teacher?

This common question provides you with an opportunity to emphasise your unique qualities and attributes and link them to the teaching profession. Give reasons for why you think these qualities are important for a teacher. You can also include examples of times when you've demonstrated them.

Example: 'I have a lot of empathy, which I think is an important quality for a teacher. Teachers who can empathise with their students are more likely to understand their needs.'

8. How would your colleagues describe you?

Teachers work as part of a team, so it's usually important to have a good relationship with your colleagues. This question can give an insight into how you interact with others. Be honest in your answer and only mention qualities that you possess.

Example: 'My colleagues would describe me as being approachable and easy to work with. I'm always willing to assist them when necessary and I enjoy learning from them.'

9. What aspect of teaching would you find most difficult?

A good answer to this question may show that you're aware of the challenges of teaching. It can also indicate whether you're ready to face them. Including some action that you've taken to address such challenges can keep the answer positive.

Example: 'I think the most difficult aspect of teaching would be giving each student the individual attention that they need. I try to address this by using different methods of instruction and providing opportunities for one-to-one help.'

Related: How to change careers

10. Can you tell me about a lesson that didn't go according to plan?

This question is about your ability to solve problems and remain calm in difficult situations. You may describe what you had planned and what problem occurred. Focus your answer on how you coped with the situation and what you learned from the experience.

Example: 'In one lesson, I had planned for the students to listen to actors reading a part of Macbeth, but the audio failed. Instead, I put the students in pairs and had them read to each other.'

11. Can you tell me about a time when a child struggled with their learning? How did you support them?

Answering a question like this can show your ability to understand learners' individual needs and empathise with them. Describe the child's struggle and the steps you took to support them. If you haven't experienced this, you could talk about what you might do in such a situation.

Example: 'I had a student who was struggling with their reading. I helped them find books that they had interest in and showed them what to do when they came across an unfamiliar word.'

Related: 8 common problem-solving interview questions to understand

12. What is a challenging issue that schools face today?

Your answer to this question may show your awareness of modern education and the challenges that schools can face. Some possible issues to discuss include class sizes, curriculum changes and reliance on standardised testing. Choose an issue that you feel strongly about and explain why it's a challenge.

Example: 'One of the challenges that schools are facing today is an increased use of standardised testing. It puts a lot of pressure on students and teachers to meet certain benchmarks. An effect of this is teaching for tests rather than teaching for understanding.'

13. How do you manage classroom behaviour?

Classroom management is a key teaching skill. Interviewers may ask this question to find out if you're familiar with behaviour management techniques and discover the approach you take. When answering, it might be helpful to provide examples.

Example: 'I think it's crucial to establish ground rules whenever you start working with a new group of students. I also make sure that students are aware of my expectations. Once I've created the rules, I enforce them consistently and follow through with the consequences of breaking them.'

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