Teacher Interview Questions, Answers (UK Guide 2024) For Primary Secondary SLT Headteacher.

Go to Blog Home | By: Andrew Reed | Updated: 26 March, 2024 | Category: Interview Advice

Teacher interview questions uk

Have you got an interview for a teaching job coming up? Want to know the types of questions they may ask and how to answer them professionally?

Being a teacher here in the UK can be challenging and as we are seeing in 2024, core issues include, dealing with staffing shortages, lack of funding, overcapacity and pressure on schools to hit targets. Time will tell if these are alleviated over the coming years with potential Government changes.

Notwithstanding, a career as a teacher can be a rich and rewarding one on so many levels. You are able to make a real and tangible difference to the life of your pupils both as a primary and secondary teacher. As part of the senior leadership team (SLT) you can influence strategy and policy and you can have an impact at a whole school level.

The Challenge in Teacher Interviews

In the UK, recruitment of teachers is a priority whether at primary or secondary level or as you progress into the senior leadership team. Perhaps the time is right for you to now become a deputy or headteacher.

Whatever level you are at, you will need to pass the selection and interview process and answering interview questions successfully will be vital.

This guide contains a sample of the types of questions you will encounter in teacher job interviews at all levels and helps guide you in how to answer and what to say and do to succeed.

Succeed in Your Next Interview and Get the Teacher Job You Want

Boost Your Chances of Success in your next interview with InterviewGold for Teaching – see how it works here.

Teacher Job Interviews UK: What to Expect

The process for most teacher interviews in the UK typically involves several stages designed to assess your suitability for a teaching position.

While procedures can vary by school or Local Education Authority (LEA), a general framework often includes the following steps. Keep in mind that specific details might have evolved since then, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest guidance from relevant educational bodies or the specific institution you’re applying to.

  • Shortlisting: Your application will be reviewed against key criteria for the role and if aligned you will be invited for interview.
  • Interview Invitation:  Shortlisted candidates are invited for an interview. The invitation may detail the interview format, which could include a teaching demonstration, a formal interview, and sometimes written tasks.
  • Teaching Demonstration: Often, candidates are asked to prepare and deliver a short lesson on a given topic or one of their choosing. This assesses teaching style, interaction with students, and command of the subject. This is not expected for recruiting to SLT posts.
  • Formal Interview: A panel interview with senior staff members, including the headteacher, department head, and sometimes a governor or an external advisor. Questions typically cover teaching philosophy, strategies for classroom management, curriculum knowledge, and how to support diverse student needs.
  • Task-Based Assessments: Some schools include written tasks (such as marking student work or planning a lesson), presentations, or group exercises to test candidates’ subject knowledge, communication skills, and suitability for the school environment.
  • Tour and Interaction: Candidates might be offered a tour of the school and an opportunity to meet staff and students. This can be a chance to ask questions and get a feel for the school’s culture.
  • Feedback and Offer: Following the interview, candidates receive feedback. Successful applicants are made a job offer, which is conditional upon satisfactory background checks, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
A top tip is to find out all about the interview process and this can usually be found on the school or LEA website.

Typical Teacher Interview Questions and Topics

As mentioned above, expect to be assessed using a variety of methods. Within the formal interview, written tests or presentation, expect an exploration of the core key result areas of the post which can include:

  • Commitment to teaching and reasons for getting into teaching
  • What you bring and how you can make a difference as a teacher
  • Behaviour management, lesson planning and safeguarding
  • Subject knowledge and the link with the values of the provider
  • Prior experience both in and out of school and transferable skills and understanding of how these can be of value
  • Understanding of current issues, policies and potential changes in education and teaching

Teacher Competency Based Interview Questions

In addition, you should expect to be asked competency based interview questions exploring the core aptitudes and attributes you will be expected to bring including:

  • Communicating and Influencing – not just in the classroom but also when dealing with parents or your colleagues
  • Planning and Organising – especially lesson planning and managing a classroom
  • Problem Solving – dealing with difficult situations including those related to safeguarding
  • Decision Making – making the right decisions with regard to behaviour management situations
  • Conflict Management – within the classroom or outside
  • Creative Thinking and Innovation – how you can make your teaching engaging for all
  • Developing Self and Others – related to continuous personal development
  • Working Together (Team Work) – both within and outside of the school

If you are applying for a promotion to the SLT such as deputy or headteacher you should except questions exploring:

  • your leadership skills
  • your ability to lead and motivate and to
  • deal with staffing and recruitment issues.

Primary Teacher (Key Stage 1-2) Interview Questions

If applying for a primary teacher post at KS 1 or KS2, you will find that the interview questions can vary between those traditional ones that crop up time and again to others exploring your ability to plan a lesson and manage a class.

Here are some typical primary teacher interview questions – see how you would answer.

  • Considering the lesson you taught earlier today, is there anything you would change if you were to teach it again?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths in your subject knowledge? And what areas of subject knowledge need development?
  • How do you assess whether all pupils have understood a new topic?
    Give an example of how you would question pupils to ensure that they have understood what you have taught.
  • How would you respond if a pupil was disrupting your lesson?
  • Based on your experience to date what are the main barriers to pupils learning?

* Questions taken from the InterviewGold Interview System. Click here for more question plus expert answers.

Secondary Teacher (Key Stage 3-5) Interview Questions

You will find a lot of similarities in terms of the recruitment process between primary and secondary and indeed some of the above questions may come up in your interview. However, with the later the key difference will be to do with chosen subject knowledge and you should expect questions exploring your reasons for choosing and others specifically curriculum related. In addition, teaching older pupils will bring additional in terms of behaviour management and safeguarding.

Here are some typical secondary teacher interview questions – see how you would answer.

  • How do you encourage both excellence and enjoyment in your classroom?
  • Tell me, what principles would you follow when dealing with pupils with special educational needs?
  • Let me give you a scenario: One of the pupils in your classroom is disrupting lessons and causing unrest among the rest of the pupils, based on your experience what do you think the most likely cause is and how would you address the situation?
  • How would you deal with conflict in the classroom between yourself and a pupil?
  • Tell us about a decision you made which improved learning for one of your pupils.
  • Tell me about a classroom situation or project where you had to apply an unusual level of creativity

* Questions taken from the InterviewGold Interview System. Click here for more question plus expert answers.

Senior Leadership Team (Head of Department, Deputy, Headteacher etc.) Interview Questions

As you progress into senior posts, not only will your responsibilities change the interview process will become much tougher.

Your knowledge not just of policy and key issues will be explored but also your ability to direct and develop the school, to implement new policies, develop strategies, organise and implement the appropriate curriculum for the school and liaise with governing bodies and the local authority.

Sample Interview Questions for Senior Leadership Team (SLT) Posts

  • What is it about your track record that makes you suitable for senior leadership?
  • We have a number of newly qualified teachers here at the school, some of whom are performing better than others. What initiatives would you implement to support these lower performers and how would you inspire them to become great teachers?
  • What steps would you take to ensure continuous quality of education in the light of reduced funding for our school?
  • What steps would you take to increase parent involvement with the school?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to influence a group of people in order to deliver a particular result.
  • Give an example which involved organising, leading or group activities and where the use of initiative on your part was vital.

* Questions taken from the InterviewGold Interview System. Click here for more question plus expert answers.

Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and Headteacher Job Interview Presentation

For senior posts such as heads of department, deputy and headteachers, in addition to the process above and the formal interview you should also prepare to give a presentation.

You will normally have advance notice of the presentation topic and these might focus on critical issues that reflect your ability to contribute at a strategic level. Here are some potential topics that could be relevant, depending on the specific role and the institution’s current priorities:

Strategic Vision for the School

  • Outline your strategic vision for the school, including how it aligns with the school’s values and the wider educational landscape. Discuss specific initiatives you would prioritize to enhance student learning outcomes, staff development, and community engagement.

Ofsted Scores and how to Improve the Schools  Academic Performance

  • Present your plan for raising academic standards across the school. This might include interventions for underperforming students, strategies to challenge high-achievers, and how to use data effectively to inform teaching and learning.

Mental Health and Well-being 

  • With an increasing focus on mental health, propose a comprehensive strategy for supporting the well-being of both students and staff. Include preventive measures, support services, and a culture that prioritizes mental health.

Inclusion and Diversity

  • Develop a presentation on fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity. Discuss how you would address issues of inequality and ensure every student has access to the same opportunities, regardless of their background.

How to Pass Your Next Teacher Interview with Ease

pass your teacher interview

Arriving at the interview with the view that you can just talk through the application will not work, especially in the current environment. The secret to success in any interview is proper preparation and to make your interview preparation really easy I fully recommend InterviewGold for Teaching and Education interviews.

InterviewGold is the leading online interview skills training system which has helped thousands of candidates win jobs. It is tailored for interviews in the Education sector and includes interview questions, model answers and expert advice.

See how InterviewGold can help you get your next teaching job.

About the Author |
Experienced interview coach with Anson Reed and co-author of the bestselling interview guide Top Answers to 121 Job Interview Questions. With over 20 years experience of recruiting and leading large teams Andrew is well placed to know just what is required to secure a job offer.