Preparing for PGCE interviews

Why hello there! This post has been in the works over the past two weeks because, once again, I have applied for a PGCE course. I am hoping for a third time lucky situation here.

The first time, I applied for PGDEs at Nottingham and Sheffield, but it was late summer and there were too many conditions for me to get onto the course that I didn’t have the time to meet working full time. The second time, many of you know, I started at Sheffield Hallam but due to my health I had to leave the course. This year I’m in Manchester and have applied for a SCITT with Consilium.

Not many people know this yet, so I suppose this can be my announcement: I had an interview on the 5th, was offered a position the following morning and I accepted it!

I often have people message me asking for details about TEFL vs ESL vs ESOL or PGCE vs School direct, etc and honestly it’s just easier for people to Google it!  However, for this post I will try and link as much information as possible. Starting with PGCE information, this is a really good post on the different avenues.

For me, I initially thought that I would prefer a University-led PGCE because I thought I would meet many new lecturers and have course mates with a range of backgrounds. However, once I started I realised that I didn’t enjoy it at all. I would rather get straight into the school and start learning in a more hands-on approach, hence why I’ve applied for a SCITT.

If I had not taken the CELTA and been working in EFL for nearly 2 years the university-led approach would have been extremely useful for me, but that’s not the case.

So, the preparations. I applied for another course but received an email saying it was full. I scrambled with UCAS to have my third choice replaced with another, quickly did some extra research and noticed that Consilium had been rated Outstanding by Ofsted, so it was a no-brainer really.

They emailed me back within two days to offer me an interview the following week. I couldn’t believe it! The other two (Manchester Uni and Teach Manchester) hadn’t replied at all.

I was told that I’d be teaching a 30 minute lesson to a Key Stage 3 class on the topic:

How is language used to create effect?

Ah! What class? What age? How many students? What language? What effects? Ah!!

Naturally I panicked, because that’s what I do best. I had a little brainstorm on my own, then went to Google and Twitter to look for any better ideas. I did use my initial ideas, but thanks to some words of advice from others, I changed them slightly.

And since quite a few people have asked what I did, I’ll upload my lesson plan / notes and the texts I used:

Key words and edited extracts from Jekyll and Hyde, Skellig and A Monster Calls.

PGCE texts

I also used a PowerPoint presentation, which I’m quite sure no one paid any attention too.

I got to the ‘could you improve it?’ part and then the interviewers asked me to wrap up. Which was probably for the best as the students had literally just done this (their words) in their first lesson and were getting bored *cringe*

The interview part went well and I felt confident, thanks to the silly number of interviews I’ve been to in the past 6 years. However, I was anxious waiting for the phone call as I thought my teaching part might have been questionable.

So… to anyone preparing for teaching or PGCE interviews, I have a few tips for you:

  1. ASK QUESTIONS. Once you receive the interview invite, check your letter / email to see what information they have asked you for, what you’ll need to take with you and if you will be teaching. It’s likely that you’ll be asked to teach and sometimes, like mine, the instructions can be extremely vague. Better safe than sorry. Ask for specific details: How many children will there be? How long will the lesson be? What are you expecting me to teach? etc…
  2. Ask friends, colleagues or (other) people in Education for some advice if you are worried or unsure. I found this extremely helpful in terms of choosing which texts to use, and also for general support.
  3. Do not wait until the night before to start thinking about it. I received my email 8 days before the interview and was really glad I had the weekend to prepare, get alternative ideas and also work on a few different options for my lesson. However, I did actually change my lesson plan about 3 hours before going to bed the night before the interview and I was really glad that I did.
  4. Plan ahead for some typical PGCE / teaching interview questions.
    This list is extremely helpful. Also be prepared to discuss your weaknesses and areas to improve on – I have been asked this in every interview and the first time it caught me off guard.
  5. BE CONFIDENT. For some of us that’s really tricky and it’s definitely something I’ve had to work on over the last few years. Both in interviews and general self confidence.

    Before the teaching part I was shaking like I had frost-bite, but I just stopped , closed my eyes and took deep breaths for a few minutes. I had a little chat with myself – that if I didn’t calm down, I wouldn’t be getting passed the interview stage. (It sounds cliche, but it worked for me!)

I hope this post is helpful for some of you, but please feel free to get in touch here or on Twitter if you think I should add any other tips, or if you’d like to ask me about the process!

And if you are in the process of applying and interviewing – I wish you all the best of luck!


6 thoughts on “Preparing for PGCE interviews

Add yours

  1. I’m applying right now but I am struggling to stay within the word count I thought it was fine before I copy and pasted it onto UCAS. According to UCAS, my statement is 5 lines too long and that’s just after I get rid of all the paragraph spaces

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